I’ve got two pieces of big news today. The first is that my novel THE WALK may soon be coming to a movie theater near you. Constantin Films has picked up my screenplay adaptation of book. Here’s an excerpt from the story in Variety. :
“Resident Evil” producer Constantin Film has acquired the rights to Lee Goldberg’s movie script for thriller “The Walk,” which he adapted from his bestselling novel. Goldberg has served as the showrunner of “Diagnosis Murder” and “Martial Law.”
Robert Kulzer of Constantin Film is producing “The Walk” with Monella Kaplan of eMotion Entertainment. Constantin’s Alex Westmore and Colin Scully are the creative executives handling the project.
Nick Hanks, Constantin’s senior exec VP of business and legal affairs and operations, negotiated the deal on Constantin’s behalf.
Kulzer said: “Lee’s adaptation of his own novel is a brilliant exploration of the human condition by using the ‘Big One’ as a backdrop to create unforgettable moments of hair-raising tragicomedy.”
Constantin is best known for the “Resident Evil” franchise, with six movies released that generated over $1.2 billion at the box office. A reboot of the series, “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City,” is set to be released on Nov. 24, 2021. Other credits include “Black Beauty” at Disney Plus and “Monster Hunter,” which is still in theaters around the world.
I am so excited and will keep you updated.
In other news, the cover for my next novel GATED PREY, coming out in October, was also released today. Here it is (click on it to see it full size):
Research is absolutely necessary when you’re writing thrillers…and it’s a part of the process I love, perhaps because I come from a family of journalists (and I was one once). The danger, for me, is that the more I learn about a topic, the more I want to learn…and it’s easy for me to end up spending far more time than is necessary on the research (it’s also a great form of procrastination.. you can fool yourself into thinking you’re working instead of actually avoiding work). I can talk to dozens of experts, and read three or four books and countless articles, for what might end up being only a few lines of dialogue or description in the book (or, OTOH, what ends up being the core of the story). But that’s always better than writing pages of exposition, description, or dialogue to show off how much research you’ve done. I’m a big believe that one sentence offering a telling detail is far better than a paragraph of description. That said, having the “extra” knowledge on a particular topic in the back of your mind as you write ends up deepening the story and the characters in subtle ways… and often, at least for me, research inspires new characters or plot twists that I never would have come up with otherwise.
Travel is my favorite part of research (and it was a lot of fun to do for KILLER THRILLER, my latest release). Sure, you can use guidebooks, watch Bourdain or Rick Steves episodes, and do a deep dive into Google Earth to fake it, and I’ve done that a few times out of necessity, but I truly believe that nothing beats “feet on the ground” to get that tiny detail, smell, taste or sound that will bring a place, a moment, or a character to life. It’s important to truly experience the place you are writing about. That means not just hitting the tourist spots, but the places where the “locals” live and work. It also means being gregarious and talking to those people — so you can create realistic characters who truly reflect the places you’ve been. I usually already have my story in mind before I travel for research… but inevitably, my story changes dramatically after what I learn from actually experiencing a place I only imagined as I was plotting.
To write my books, I’ve traveled to France, China, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and all over the United States, among other places. But travel research can mean just stepping outside your door and seeing your own city in a new way.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years. In my novel THE WALK, a guy is stuck in downtown in LA when the big one hits and has to walk across a landscape of destruction back to his gated community in the San Fernando Valley. I know the L.A. well, but I still read a bunch of books and articles on the city, the architecture, and the neighborhoods that make it up, on earthquakes and what experts expect the damage from The Big One is likely to be. I had the story plotted out but then decided, if I was going to do this right, I really needed to take the walk myself. And when I did (not all at once, like my character), I saw things that made me rethink my plot and I picked up the key details of place and character that made the book come alive. When it was over, I had a better understanding, and a new affection, for the city I live in and thought I already knew.
I attended a homicide investigators training conference almost two years ago — I was one of only three civilians invited — as research for a book I was thinking about writing (and had already loosely plotted). While I was there, however, I learned about a case that I couldn’t get out of my head. I was smart enough to throw out my story and to focus instead on using this real case as the inspiration for my novel. I introduced myself to all of the detectives, forensic specialists, etc. who were there to present the case, told them I intended to write about it, and asked if they would let me talk with them in more depth in the weeks following the conference. They all agreed. The novel that came out of that wonderful research experience, LOST HILLS, is being released this fall and I’ve already signed to write the sequel. The book would never have happened if I hadn’t done the research my story…and been open to the inspiration that can come when you begin exploring the “reality” that is the foundation for our fiction.
I was heartbroken to read this weekend that my friend Bill Crider has entered hospice care. He’s been fighting cancer for a few years now and I want to believe he’ll keep fighting it… and beat it. I treasure our friendship, which has meant so much to me in so many ways. He’s perhaps the nicest guys in publishing…and certainly one of the most well-read…a gentle, caring soul who can’t teaching others through his love of the genre. He’s certainly taught me a lot.
Bill introduced me to so many great books and authors who have not only entertained me, but made me a better writer. Authors like Harry Whittington, Ralph Dennis, and Dan J. Marlowe, to name a very few.
He edited two of my books, THE WALK and WATCH ME DIE, for Five Star Mysteries…and his advice made them better. I was thrilled when, thirteen years later, he agreed to write THE DEAD MAN: CARNIVAL OF DEATH for the series that William Rabkin and I created & edited for Amazon/47North. It was so great to be able to work creatively with him again and to share a byline.
And I am honored that Bill has entrusted me with his terrific western novels OUTRAGE AT BLANCO and TEXAS VIGILANTE…first to adapt to the screen (we’re still trying to get them made!) and later to republish them through Brash Books (where he was instrumental in advising me & Joel Goldman on titles we should acquire).
I’ve enjoyed the many hours we’ve spent over the years talking about mysteries and books…and am so glad I got to visit him at his home in Alvin, Texas a year ago and see his incredible book collection for myself
I spent some time with him and his daughter Angela Crider Neary just a few weeks ago in Toronto…and he seemed so happy and energetic, that I believed he’d beaten the cancer for good. I still hope it’s a battle he can win.
I’ve got lots of movie news to share that I’ve been keeping bottled up for some time. First off, my novel THE WALK is being made into a movie, to be directed by Eugenio Mira, who made the clever, stylish Hitchcockian thriller GRAND PIANO (starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack) and did some amazing second unit work on THE IMPOSSIBLE (the tsunami movie with Naomi Watts). He’s fresh off of directing the second unit for JURASSIC WORLD II… so with that big-budget, action and disaster-movie experience behind him, he’s obviously the perfect guy to do THE WALK. The movie will be produced by Paul Hanson, George Paige and John Baca for Covert Media.
Covert Media is also producing my screenplay adaptation of Victor Gischler‘s Edgar-nominated novel GUN MONKEYS , which will be directed by Simon Brand. The development history of GUN MONKEYS goes back years. I optioned the book myself, wrote the script on spec, and for a long while it was set up with actor Kevin Costner and director Ryuhei Kitamura. That project came real close to getting made…and then fell apart. A new producing team came on board, offers are going out to big-name actors now, and we’re on track to shoot in late 2017/early 2018.
Back in September, Simon shot an action scene from my script as a camera/lighting test…and I’ve just been given the okay to share it now that he’s posted it on his site. The key parts are played by his friends and it has a voice-over that isn’t in the script — I wrote it just for this so that the action makes sense out of context. I think the footage looks terrific. Here it is. I hope you like it!
I’ve got lots of exciting news to share…so let’s get to it!
TWO THRILLERS COMING IN 2018
The big news is that I’ve signed a two-book deal with Amazon Publishing/Thomas & Mercer that kicks off with the publication of my new thriller TRUE FICTION in April 2018, followed by the sequel in the fall.
I’ve described the book as a cross between SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR and NORTH BY NORTHWEST. So it was a real thrill when I finally got to meet James Grady, author of CONDOR at the Edgars in April.
TRUE FICTION takes place in Hawaii, Seattle, Los Angeles, Nevada, and Washington D.C…. and I finished writing it in a cafe in Paris on a rainy day in January. It’s about a thriller author who discovers that one of his fictional tales is becoming horrifyingly real. To say more now would spoil the fun. I’ll give you more details about the book, and my research and travels for it, when we get closer to the pub date.
CHASING FOX & O’HARE
Many of you have asked when the next Fox & O’Hare book is coming…especially since THE PURSUIT, which I co-authored with my good friend Janet Evanovich, was such a big success, hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list back in June 2016. Unfortunately, we’re still trying to work out a satisfactory agreement with the publisher for future books. As soon as I have news, I’ll be sure to share it with you. I took an extensive research trip to Australia and New Zealand for that as-yet-unwritten sixth book in the series and I’m eager to take Nick & Kate there for their next adventure.
THE WALK … COMING TO A THEATER NEAR YOU?
A movie version of THE WALK is in pre-production based on my own script. A terrific director has been signed and offers will be going out to A-list actors soon. I wish I could say more than that, but I am bound to secrecy for the time being. There have been false starts in the past but I am cautiously optimistic that filming could start in early 2018.
Brash Books, the publishing company that I launched with Joel Goldman, is going strong as we approach our third year in business. We’ve published close 100 titles so far! Our latest title is Patrick McLean’s new novel THE SOAK, a terrific thriller that evokes the best of Donald Westlake’s Parker novels. I think you’ll love it. I also heartily recommend the new audiobook edition of Jack Bunker’s TRUE GRIFT. Harry Dyson does a fantastic job narrating it and I guarantee that you’ll laugh your way through your next traffic jam or gym work-out.
LOS ANGELES TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS
I had a great time, as usual, moderating panels and hanging out at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Here are a couple of photos from the event:
Lee with former Barnes & Noble events exec Lita Weissman and authors Gar Anthony Haywood, Laura Lippman and Megan Abbott
Lee with authors Eric Jerome Dickey, Chris Farnsworth, Gregg Hurwitz, and Daniel Suarez
Here’s a new video interview with me about my thriller THE WALK, which twice hit #1 on the Amazon bestseller list and, if you don’t count my co-authored books with Janet Evanovich, is the bestselling novel of my career. It didn’t start out that way. It was a bomb when it was originally published in hardcover by Five Star, a small press, in the early 2000s. But I re-released it in a new ebook and paperback edition when the Kindle came along and it was an immediate hit. The novel has been published in a German and, starting TODAY, in a new French edition, too!
Hi Lee. I’m sort of new to your work. I’ve read The Walk, Dead Space, My Gun Has Bullets and I just finished McGrave. I really like reading your books. They’re too funny to put down and I have definitely stayed up way past my usual bedtime just to finish reading one of your gems. Now that I’ve heaped on the flattery, I must say that you should do an entire series of novels featuring McGrave. […] I’m really hoping that you consider it. In any event, you’re my new flavor of the month author and I’m going to read everything that you’ve written. Now go back to work and write me something good to read.
I was all set to write a series of McGrave books… in fact, my plan was to do them in-between new King Citybooks…but the Fox & O’Hare project with Janet Evanovich unexpectedly came along and it has changed everything. We are co-writing two books a year (the third, The Job, comes out in November) and it hasn’t left me much time for anything else, not that I am complaining. I love writing the Fox & O’Hare books. But I do intend to get back to both McGrave and Tom Wade one of these days. Speaking of McGrave, you might enjoy a new, a short video from my good friends at Firelight Entertainment Group about how the book came about.
I have written a movie novel for the DreamWorks film ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ but haven’t published yet because I’m worried about copyright. I’m thinking about self-publishing on LuLu.com. How would I go about getting permission to do it?
Publishing the book yourself would definitely be copyright infringment. If you go ahead and do it, at best the studio will demand that you withdraw the book from sale. At worst, they will sue you. In order to publish the book, you would have to ask DreamWorks, the studio that made the movie, for permission and I think it’s highly, highly unlikely they will grant it. You would have more luck finding a dragon and training it.
I came across this article in the New York Times ‘I Was a Digital Best Seller’ a few weeks ago, and it made me think of you and your blog. The article describes the experience of an established non-fiction author, and his experience with a digital publisher called Byliner, which (at least to me) looks and sounds like a legitimate publisher. The article (and many of the comments on the article) gives me the impression that writers and musicians will still need to work with agents and publishing companies to get their work marketed in the digital world, even though it is at least theoretically possible for anyone to ‘self-publish’. At the same time, it looks like the digital publishing industry itself is still evolving.
I read the article when it was published and I got a different message from it, and that is: Don’t be an idiot. I thought the article showed how incredibly stupid the author was and that he had no one to blame for his misfortune but himself.
My novel THE WALK, originally published by Five Star in the early 2000s, was a critical success but a commercial failure that went quickly out of print. I republished it on the Kindle in 2009 and it has become a bestseller, selling over a hundred thousand copies. As recently as last month, it was #1 again on Amazon. Today, Amazon is featuring the book in their announcement of the new Amazon Matchbook program.
Today, Amazon launched Kindle MatchBook, a new benefit that gives customers the option to buy—for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free—the Kindle edition of print books they have purchased new from Amazon. Over 70,000 books are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook, with more being added every day. Now customers can visit www.amazon.com/kindlematchbook to see all of their print books that are eligible for the Kindle MatchBook edition. Customers can also see when a book is eligible for Kindle MatchBook on the book’s detail page.
The program was announced on September 3 with over 10,000 titles. Since then, thousands of popular books likeHeaven is for Real, The Things They Carried and TheWay of Kings have been added from major publishers such as HarperCollins, Macmillan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Amazon Publishing, Wiley, Chronicle Books, and Marvel, as well as thousands of titles from Kindle Direct Publishing authors likeThe Walkby Lee Goldberg and Falling Into You byJasinda Wilder.
“It’s been great to see the positive response to MatchBook from both readers and publishers,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content. “MatchBook enrollment has grown from 10,000 to 70,000 titles in just a few weeks and we expect it will keep expanding rapidly in the months ahead.”
Author Anne Charnock is a former journalist for such publications as The Guardian, New Scientist, Financial Times, and International Herald Tribune who self-published her first novel, “A Calculated Life” at the end of 2012. It sold so well, and garnered so much acclaim, that Amazon’s 47North imprint quickly snapped it up and is releasing a new edition on Tuesday, rushing it through the editing/production process in less than two months. I had to know more about this book…and a story that people found so immediately captivating…so I invited her here to tell us about it.
My attention is always grabbed by a book that asks, “what if?” So I’m delighted to see that Lee’s thriller “The Walk” ventures into this territory with the question: What if The Big One were to occur and someone had to walk home across a landscape of destruction? That is, what would happen if an apocalyptic earthquake ripped along the San Andreas Fault and demolished Los Angeles?
My debut novel, “A Calculated Life,” is a “what if’ novel, though the starting point is not a catastrophe. Instead, I imagine humanity walking (or sleepwalking) into a new world where genetic tinkering at birth has freed society from addictions – from drugs, alcohol, gambling, everything. No addictive tendencies means virtually no crime. Sadly, life in this near-future world is not all rosy. The population is now compliant and segregated so that high achievers live in the inner cities and suburbs, while menial workers live in subsidized but spartan enclaves.
Although my story is classed as science fiction it gradually morphs into a thriller. One reader told me there are “blink and you’ll miss it” moments. He’s referring to the clues I lay in the book that explain the final outcome. So my worst fear is that readers who skim through their novels will miss these key bits of information! Maybe this is a worry for all authors of mysteries, thrillers and whodunits.
Jayna, my main character, is hyper-intelligent and she’s a star performer at a top corporation that forecasts economic and social trends. A string of events contradicts her forecasts, and she suspects she needs better intuition and more contact with the rest of society. The reader follows her journey as she stumbles into a world where her IQ is increasingly irrelevant… a place where human relationships are difficult for her to decode. And along this journey she crosses the line into corporate intrigue and disloyalty.
In effect, I prompt Jayna herself to ask the question, “what if?” by placing her in awkward social situations and by making her confront the fact that she’s making mistakes. She starts to look more critically at her privileged yet restricted life and it dawns on her that there are attractions to living life in a different way, on the margins. Jayna is not the only character who is dissatisfied – maybe the grass is always greener on the other side.
“The Walk” is set in the immediate aftermath of The Big One and dramatic events occur in frightening and quick succession. In my novel, I imagine society taking a slow walk into a new genetically engineered future, but the impact in the long term could be as seismic as any earthquake.