This year, as the seasons change and we enjoy fall, I’ve launched my FALL BACK TO READING SERIES. The series will feature two dozen leadership and marketing experts, who will share their inspiration in both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully, provide the impetus to read more. To quote New York Times Bestselling author Kristin Harmel, “If you give a person a book, you give him the world.” For today’s post, I’d like to introduce Lee Goldberg.
However, before I introduce Lee, I need to set the stage. I have been a fan of television police and lawyer dramas for a long time, but when the show MONK starring Tony Shalhoub appeared in 2002, I was immediately hooked. Monk was a character that quickly became a member of my family, and when the series ended in 2009, I was very sad. But then, as an answer to my prayers, author Lee Goldberg started writing books to continue Monk's adventures. I read all the books and met Lee at a book signing in Southern California. So, I'm honored to include Lee in my Fall Back to Reading Series, to introduce you to him, and to share his insights.
Lee Goldberg is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nearly 40 novels, including Malibu Burning, Lost Hills, 15 Monk mysteries, five Fox & O'Hare adventures (co-written with Janet Evanovich), and the new thriller Calico (published in November 2023). He's written and/or produced many TV shows, including Diagnosis Murder, SeaQuest, Monk, The Glades, and co-created the hit Hallmark series Mystery 101. He's also the co-founder of Brash Books, which has published over 100 crime novels and thrillers.
QUESTION: Which three business books have made the biggest impact on your career?
LEE GOLDBERG: I'm a writer/producer, so these aren't business-books in the strict-sense of the term. These are books about a career in writing. I'd recommend Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block, Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman, and Storytellers to the Nation by Tom Stempel.
QUESTION: Who is your favorite author, and why?
LEE GOLDBERG: That is such a tough question. But I guess it would have to be Larry McMurtry, and specifically his novel Lonesome Dove, my favorite book. He imbues all his characters, even the "bad guys," with humanity and humor. When I say "humanity," I don't mean sensitivity, warmth, and kindness, but with emotions, and with their own hopes, dreams, and tragedies. There's an amiability to all of his characters that gives his stories an incredible richness.
But if you asked me this question tomorrow, I could easily give you a different answer based on whatever I'm reading. Right now, I'm loving Mick Herron's spy novels...and nobody writes police procedurals better than Michael Connelly.
QUESTION: What book did you read in high school or college that, to this day, you still remember vividly, and why?
LEE GOLDBERG: I read Elmore Leonard, Robert Ludlum, Robert B. Parker, Ian Fleming, John Irving, Larry McMurtry...so many, many authors. But the book that changed my life, because it made me believe I could be an author myself, was Gregory MacDonald's Fletch.
That's not because it was great literature. It was popcorn. But it was a novel driven almost entirely by dialogue that was so good, a page of it was reproduced on the cover. Seeing how he used dialogue to reveal character and move the story forward was a revelation to me - it was the first time I believed that yes, I could do this.
QUESTION: Do you intersperse fiction with your business reading? If yes, what was the last work of fiction that you read, and what caught your attention about it?
LEE GOLDBERG: For me, the question should be reversed, so that's what I will do. The last business book I read was Running the Show by Jeff Melvoin. It's a long overdue, nuts-and-bolts guide to TV showrunning that should be required reading before any writer-producer is put in charge of a TV series. I'll go further than that. Every TV writer who joins the WGA should get a copy of this book with their membership card so that they understand exactly what they are getting into. And the book should also be required reading for network and studio executives, many of whom, it would surprise you to learn, don't actually realize what goes into producing a TV series (ignorance often reflected in their notes).
QUESTION: If you created a nonprofit organization to promote reading to children and young adults, what would you name it, and why?
LEE GOLDBERG: "Adventures In Another World" because that's what books are. They transport you to another world, to another time and place. It's virtual reality without the headset, software, and equipment. And you can do it anywhere.
SHARE THIS: Books transport you to another world, to another time and place. ~@LeeGoldberg #DebbieLaskeysBlog #Reading
Did this Q&A make you want to be a TV writer? My gratitude to Lee for participating in this year’s fall back to reading series and for sharing his inspiring recommendations!
Image Credit: Debbie Laskey's Library.
Connect with Lee at these links:
X (formerly Twitter): https://twitter.com/LeeGoldberg
Check out Lee's previous appearance here on this Blog:
Leadership in the Most Unsuspected Places (January 2012)