Ohio ó Two old friends decided a while back to write a
novel together. You may have heard of them: Janet
Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.
is author of the best-selling Stephanie Plum novels
("One for the Money, Two for the Dough" and so
on), among other works. Goldberg, meanwhile, has been a
successful TV producer and writer ("Diagnosis
Murder") as well as penning a series of books,
including 15 novels inspired by the "Monk" TV
new collaboration, "The Heist," is about con
artist Nicolas Fox; Kate OíHare, an FBI agent who has
doggedly pursued Fox for years; and a complicated series
of scams and schemes that includes stops in Las Vegas
and Indonesia. Goldberg said the first book resembled a
TV pilot in setting up the premise for a series of
stories about the devil-may-care Fox and work-fixated OíHare.
Indeed, thereís already a short e-book prequel,
"Pros and Cons," and Goldberg is deep into the
draft of a second full novel.
it all started when the longtime friends were talking
over dinner about a year ago.
was saying how I loved being in the world of Plum but I
was itching to go out to more exotic locations,"
Evanovich said in a telephone interview. "Everyone
wants Stephanie to stay in New Jersey and I wanted to go
to New Zealand. I wanted to go to Pakistan. So the more
we talked, the more we realized we were thinking about
the same book.
had been wanting to do a book that had really compelling
characters, that had romance ó not the romance of a
romance novel but the romance of exotic locations, of
Rio, of the South Seas. And we wanted to go after
criminals on a more global scale. Stephanie Plum is sort
of like writing a crime novel in a phone booth. Itís
very self-contained. And I wanted to do something that
was little bit bigger. ... And every time I said I
wanted to do something, Lee would say, ĎI want to do
in a separate interview, also thought "this was
something that hasnít been done in a while." He
sees it in terms of things like the original, Steve
McQueen-starring "Thomas Crown Affair," or TV
shows like "Remington Steele" and "It
Takes a Thief": "Sexy, smart characters,
international locales and a lot of fun. Real energy, and
an escapist adventure."
by the time the pizza was done," Evanovich said,
"we had decided that, why donít we write this
was delighted. "I am working with a
superstar," he said. "She is amazing."
Indeed, "Pros and Cons" recently hit ninth
place on the New York Times list of best-selling e-book
fiction (and ranked 17th among all print and e-book
fiction), which Goldberg credited to Evanovichís
considering their respective busy lives, Evanovich said
it was unlikely that either would write the book solo.
"We figured together we could actually make a whole
person," she said.
with two halves miles apart. Evanovich lives and works
in Florida, while Goldberg is based in Los Angeles. So
there were phone calls, and some visits to Florida by
Goldberg, and help from Evanovichís daughter Alex and
son Peter, both of whom work for her company Evanovich
spent a lot of time talking at first, and coming up with
the characters, and making sure they were the characters
we had been dreaming about, and who they were, what were
their aspirations. We made long lists of character
analysis," Evanovich said.
ó surprising in a crime-novel writer ó Evanovich
said, "I suck at plotting out a book. Itís just
not my thing. And Lee is brilliant at it. So, after we
set up our characters and our mission statement, Lee
went off and set up the plot." A world traveler, he
also knew most of the locations firsthand. ("The
only place in this book I havenít been, and Janet hasnít
been, is Indonesia," Goldberg said. "So I
called people I know who have been there, and did a lot
of research.") But thereís an Evanovich touch in
the romantic-sexual tension between Fox and OíHare.
Evanovich was busy with a new Plum novel, Goldberg wrote
the first draft of "The Heist." Along the way,
he sent pages to Evanovich, who made comments before
the first draft was done, "by that time I was done
with my Plum, and I took it over," Evanovich said.
"I did a very extensive editing of it ... because
we wanted a product that would satisfy my readers as
well as his audience. ... My job was to take all of the
good stuff he did and put it into my voice" ó
while retaining a sense of Goldbergís style.
learned so much from her about writing, and about
telling stories, and about humor," Goldberg said of
their work together. "She has raised my game
enormously. Iím learning all sorts of new things. ...
Thereís a humor that only Janet does. She can take
something that Iíve written, for instance, and just by
deleting a line or two, or twisting the phrasing,
suddenly raises it 1,000 percent. Or she will put in a
female point of view that I never would have thought of
in a million years."
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also has some things she always does in her books.
"I have rules, right?" she said. "Like we
donít kill any cats and dogs. .... And we write about
good people. Theyíre flawed. But theyíre people like
me. To some extent I think Iím writing about myself,
because I think that Iím pretty average, and thatís
just what interests me ó the average person doing
average author of dozens of popular books?
work very hard at (writing) ... and Iíve been very
lucky and very successful," she said. "But
when you strip that away, Iím sitting here in Pilates
pants covered in dog hair. I get up and start work at 5
oíclock (in the morning) so I havenít had a shower
yet. And Iíve got cold coffee sitting here ... and I
actually like eating at McDonaldís. I think Iím
still the person who was born into a blue-collar
who has spent a long career both writing and dealing
with writers, thinks Evanovich understates her
accomplishments. He has nothing but praise for his new
very much used to collaboration," said Goldberg.
"I enjoy collaboration. And I think Janet and I are
bringing out the best in each other. Itís not me
writing Janet, or Janet writing me. Itís an Evanoberg!"