5 Questions with Lee Matthew Goldberg
Current town: NYC. I grew up in Gramercy Park and I live in Murray Hill now, so I haven’t moved very far.
What are you working on now?
I’m always working on a few projects at once so I never get bored. Lately I’ve been switching between novels and screenwriting. I have a series of Sci-Fi-ish books I’ve been writing for years about a cult in the Ozarks, along with a YA time travel book and a YA novel set in the grunge 90s. I’m also collaborating on a Sci-Fi script based on the Malaysian flight that disappeared and a TV pilot that reimagines Norman Mailer as a P.I. I also just finished a draft of a script set a hundred years in the future about a Trump-like villain as our President. Wait, did I say the future? I meant now.
Care to share a moment, a person or a story from your past that made you want to become a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. When I was in third grade, we had to write a journal entry about ourselves every day, and I told the teacher, “Look, I’m eight, every day is pretty much the same, I go to school, I play basketball, I play video games with friends, I watch TV.” Rinse, repeat. I wanted to write a story about my dog who gets stuck in this weird hotel with other talking animals because I loved the books Bunnicula and the Celery Stalks at Midnight. So she let me, and I wrote about 100 pages by the end of the year. Thanks Linda Chu!
If you could change one thing about publishing what would it be?
It’s insanely hard to get published. It took me two years to get an agent and then we had three books rejected before my first one sold. But it made me a better writer with each rejection. I guess I wish there was more unusual fiction that breaks out. I have a book about an underground society of people obsessed with chile peppers that editors have loved because it was out of the box, but then they were afraid because it’s too unique. Unique is good!
Who are your literary heroes?
F. Scott Fitzgerald and pretty much everything he’s written. Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books so Emily Bronte, W. Sommerset Maugham, Jack Kerouac’s, The Dharma Bums, and for more modern writers, Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, Donna Tartt, Stephen King, John Irving and Cormac McCarthy.
What kind of writing excites you?
Definitely a story I haven’t heard before where the plot moves lightening fast and there are some beautiful sentences too. The last great book I read was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I know I really like a book when I’m not judging what I would change and I’m just along for the ride.
What advice do you have for writers just starting out?
Grow a very thick skin and just write as much as possible. Start with short stories and send them out to magazines when they are ready. Use rejection to sharpen your craft. Don’t take no for an answer. Find an agent that really believes in your work. Go to readings and meet other writers. Find people in your life that will be honest about your work so you can make it even better.