Becoming a Writer

The first video from ‘A Personal Journey’

Best selling crime author Joel Goldman takes us on his journey to becoming a writer.

Episode 1 Transcript – Becoming a Writer

From trial lawyer to budding novelist …
You can’t make this stuff up!

One of my law partners came in my office one day in the summer of 1992, and he was complaining bitterly about another partner in the office – how this other partner was making his life miserable. He was looking to me for advice. And at that time, I was reading lots of murder mysteries. And so he poured his heart out to me, and then he looked at me like what was I going to do about his problem. And I said – well let’s just write a murder mystery. We’ll kill the son of a bitch off in the first chapter and spend the rest of the book figuring out who did it. And that’s what I did.

The character Lou Mason is born. The hunt for a diabolical killer reveals a hidden passion.

When I started writing that first book, I found something in me that I knew I was not going to turn away from. I didn’t know where it was going to lead. I didn’t know whether I would ever get anything published, whether I would have any commercial success. But I knew I had to write.

Success in publishing is like shooting a BB through a Lifesaver. It may not happen. And even if it does, it can take a long time.

I started writing in 1992. My first book was published in 2002, which made me a 10-year overnight success. And I was practicing law all through those years. But in 2004, I developed a movement disorder called Tics, which makes me shake, spasm, stutter and other things. And ultimately, my doctor told me that I couldn’t continue to practice.

What to do? Joel swapped one storytelling career for another.

A trial lawyer is a storyteller. A novelist is a storyteller. The framework in which the stories are told are different. But when you try a case, you’re telling a story. When you’re preparing for trial, you’re assembling that story. You’re doing the research. You’re fleshing out the characters, the strengths and weaknesses of your case and how you’re going to deal with all of those things. And then you’re going to present it to the jury in a way that you hope is compelling and persuasive. When I write a book, I have to create the world for those characters. I have to create the characters. I have to do the research that lends authenticity to that world and to those characters. And I have to tell that story in a way that’s going to engage and entertain and satisfy the reader.

These days, Joel’s passion is a great way to make a living.

Before Amazon changed the landscape, I was like any other writer. I was just hoping to hit it big in a traditional publishing way. And if that didn’t happen, I didn’t know what the future would hold. My wife and I would talk about that, but we didn’t have an answer.

Amazon changed all of that with the Kindle. And with that technology self publishing became a legitimate enterprise not a vanity event. If you sell your books on Amazon between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon pays you a 70-percent royalty. So that became a viable business model.

What does this mean for fans? There will be many more Joel Goldman crime thrillers.

The great thing about writing fiction – and it doesn’t matter what genre it is … It’s an exploration of humanity. It’s the exploration of ourselves. What happens when things go wrong? How do our strengths lift us up? How do our weaknesses challenge us? And writing gives me the chance to explore that. And I love doing that. And being a crime thriller writer elevates the stakes for the people involved in those stories. I think that’s one of the reasons that crime fiction resonates so well with the public because they want to know – in a world filled with uncertainty and terrible things happening – that there is a place that they can go to experience and explore all of that, and it will be safe and there will be accountability. There will be justice.