2010-12-30 / Community
Calabasas writer develops stories for familiar characters
Television’s ‘Monk’ is his latest
In his latest book, “Mr. Monk on the Road,” Calabasas author Lee Goldberg takes a brilliant but obsessive-compulsive detective on a new adventure to the open highway where “crime is a hitchhiker that won’t be ignored.”
Goldberg, 48, wrote numerous scripts for the “Monk” television show starring Tony Shalhoub. His novel for the complementary Penguin Group book series will be released Jan. 4.
“Books based on television shows do well because people enjoy reading about familiar characters,” Goldberg said.
Although Adrian Monk’s phobias and tics leave him incapable of handling the simplest aspects of day-to-day life, the detective is able to solve baffling murders.
“People love the character of Monk. He’s funny and everything works out in the end. People want that, especially in this economy,” said Goldberg, whose credits include “Monk,” “ Diagnosis Murder,” “ Baywatch,” “ Spenser: For Hire” and “The Cosby Mysteries.”
Goldberg also has produced shows and written dozens of novels and nonfiction books.
Goldberg said he works in an array of genres, including science fiction, crime, the occult, comedy and mystery to stay competitive in his trade.
“As a professional writer, I can’t wait for inspiration to strike. I go where the work is. I’m an artist, but at the same time I’m practical,” he said.
Alan Chisholm, owner of the Mysteries to Die For bookstore in Thousand Oaks, said Goldberg’s stories appeal to the readers because they contain interesting characters and situations.
Goldberg “has a tremendous wit and sense of humor and tremendous personality, as well as being a talented and intelligent man,” Chisholm said.
The son of a San Francisco television news anchor and a reporter who worked for daily publications, Goldberg developed a love for reading and writing early on—as did his siblings.
His sister Karen Dinino of Westlake Village is a lawyer and author. Another sister, Linda Woods of Castaic, is an author and artist. Goldberg’s brother Tod is the director of the Masters of Fine Arts Writing Program at UC Riverside.
“He’s very much a literary writer. But I pulled him to the dark side and got him a deal to write “Burn Notice” novels,” Lee Goldberg said. “Burn Notice” is a USA television series.
Goldberg wrote stories for several publications while attending UCLA. At that time, he also published his first book, “.357 Vigilante,” under the pen name Ian Ludlow.
“I chose the name so my book could be next to author Robert Ludlum on book shelves. The book came out the same week a vigilante blew away some muggers on a New York subway. So it became a best-seller, and I was hired to write a screenplay for a movie based on the same story,”
After his graduation in 1984, the aspiring author covered entertainment news for a weekly magazine until a television network purchased his freelance script in 1987 for the series “Spenser: For Hire.”
“They bought it and shot it and my TV career began,” said Goldberg, who earned two Edgar Award nominations from the Mystery Writers of America. He added that being a reporter taught him to develop strong leads and good structure for any story, regardless of the topic.
Goldberg has lived in Calabasas for 15 years with his wife, Valerie, and daughter, Madison, a sophomore at Calabasas High School. He is president of the homeowners association of Westridge Calabasas Park, a gated community of 111 homes.
“I like to take an active role to give something back and help to shape the community,” said Goldberg, who often injects personal and local references into his writing.
In his 2007 short story “Jack Webb’s Star” for the book “Hollywood and Crime,” Goldberg tells the story of an Acorn reporter and failed screenwriter who, in a bid to spice up his marriage, hatches a plot with a guy he meets in traffic school to steal Jack Webb’s star from Hollywood Boulevard and give it to his wife as a present.
In the novel “The Walk,” Goldberg describes the adventures of a Calabasas television network executive who is stuck in downtown Los Angeles when a major earthquake hits. The character encounters many obstacles as he slowly walks back to his gated community in the midst of chaos.
“The book came out in 2004 and sank unnoticed, but I re-released it a year and a half ago on the Amazon Kindle, where it has become a tremendous success,” Goldberg said.
Lee and Tod Goldberg will co-host a book signing at 2 p.m. Sat., Jan 8 at Mysteries to Die For, 2949 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. The event will include a screening of Goldberg’s latest short film, “Remaindered.”
“The film is about a writer whose career is in the toilet and he’s on a self-financed book tour through the Midwest selling old copies of his fifth novel. He then meets his ultimate fan,” the writer said.
The movie will be featured at two independent film festivals, said Goldberg who plans to create a series of direct-to-DVD western films in the near future.
“There is a huge appetite for westerns in Middle America. It’s just not being served by Hollywood.”