Author Spotlight – Lee Matthew Goldberg (ORANGE CITY)
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com
Welcome to the Hive, Lee. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.
Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.
After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.
A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, Orange City is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel Lemonworld.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Ok, I’ve never played D&D before, but I have an idea of what it entails. I think I would be a warlock? Yes, definitely a warlock. Those have to exist in the D&D realm and to have the ability to conjure spells at my whim would be pretty amazing. My class would be whatever the best class a warlock could be, so a warlock in his prime spell-casting years. And my weapon of choice would be a wand to cast said spells. I would have a long flowing white beard, a purple warlock hat, and a robe that looks like a kimono. The monsters in the dungeon wouldn’t stand a chance.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (For example, in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Intense planner or is your system more organic?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
So I write most days in Central Park under my favorite tree when the weather is nice enough. Usually from April through November. I bring my laptop and you could find me there most afternoons. Sometimes I’ll jot down notes. I definitely always start with an outline these days before I begin work on a manuscript. I edit in the mornings what I wrote the day before and usually leave my body and go somewhere else from the hours of 1-5pm while under my tree. That’s when I know I’ve written the best stuff.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences?
Hmm, so I’m more of a Sci-Fi fan, but I’m open to any fantasy author suggestions. For Sci-Fi, I love Ernest Cline, Peter Watts, John Scalzi, Philip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson. Oh, Neil Gaiman, I love Neil Gaiman!
Excellent influences there, particular Philip K. Dick!
Are there any writers or creators whom you’d love to collaborate with?
All of the above. And I’d love to break to writing film so Alex Garland, Christopher Nolan, David Lynch, Damon Lindelof, the Wachowskis. And Neil Gaiman.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
It’s tough and during the pandemic is definitely even tougher. If I have a deadline that helps since I have no choice. It just has to get done. But normally, I find something to inspire me whether that be a trip to the museum, a walk in nature, a great book or film, whatever it is that can become an influence.
We love Orange City’s cover – the simplistic style paired with the imagery and bright colour is really striking! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped they’d portray?
Thank you! I was pretty involved. I told the cover designer exactly what I wanted and they came up with three different choices. The final one grabbed me the most and you honestly don’t see much orange in cover designs so I think that makes it stand out. It’s also ominous and creepy like the book.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Travel somewhere. The thought of traveling anywhere right now seems pretty great. Or just go to the beach. I’m happy at the beach.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
Maybe a liger. I remember that from the movie Napoleon Dynamite and I bet it would be pretty bad ass. A lion and a tiger all rolled into one.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I’m currently reading Vurt by Jeff Noon. It’s weird and trippy and just my kind of book. I just started so I can’t say too much, but I’m into it. If you like out there books, check it out!
Finally, can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
Sure, I’m actually releasing a Young Adult series next. The first book is called RUNAWAY TRAIN about a girl in the 90s who runs away from home to become a grunge singer and meet her idol Kurt Cobain. It comes out on April 29th!
Thank you so much, and good luck with your upcoming releases!