5 Questions with Robert Goldsborough, author of Nero Wolfe mysteries

When you sold your first piece of writing, how did you celebrate?
 
This was at least 45 years ago, and it was an article on the local convention business for a Chicago city magazine. My wife and I went out for a deep dish pizza (Chicago style, of course), which at the time was a real feast for us, given that we were on a tight budget with little ones at home.
 
Tell us about your process: Pen, paper, word processor, noon, night...how do you write? 
 
I've never been a terribly disciplined writer. I work whenever the spirit moves me, at all times of day. In the early years, I wrote on a manual typewriter, then an electric model, but for at least the last 30 years, I've done almost all of my writing on a word processor, although I will do some revising longhand before entering changes back into the computer.
 
Because I worked on newspapers and magazines for many years, I've always been able to utilize relatively short periods of time to accomplish writing. Some writers I know need large blocks of time to get things done, but I often am able to make real progress on a story in as little as an hour.
 
I fall somewhere between the writer who makes a detailed outline before beginning to write and the "seat of the pants" author who just plunges into the story without a clear idea of where it's going.
 
Which fictional character would you like to have a drink with, and why?
 
Archie Goodwin—first, I would want to know how he has been able to put up with the irascible Nero Wolfe for all these years. Then I would ask him to reminisce about what he felt were his biggest challenges as Wolfe's "man of action," the guy who has to do the gritty legwork on the highways and byways of New York and round up the suspects in a case he and Wolfe are working on.
 
Note that I did NOT say I would enjoy having a drink with Wolfe himself. He's too damned grumpy, whereas Archie has a lively and engaging personality. I would probably also ask Archie if he is ever going to marry Lily Rowan.
 
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever gotten, or that you can pass along?
 
Someone years ago—sorry, I can't remember who—once told me that I should never start a book, specifically a mystery—without some idea of where the story is going (see the earlier "seat of the pants" reference). I still try to take that advice seriously. I've never begun a book without at least SOME idea of where I'm heading, albeit even a vague one.
 
Recommend three books, and tell us why we should read them.     
 
The Great Gatsby—Some of the most elegant prose ever turned out by an American writer. The book is beautifully crafted all the way through, and the last several pages are outright lyrical.
 
Winston Churchill's Six-Volume History of World War Two—Wonderfully written and highly detailed saga of the war, by the man who did so much to shape the waging of that war.
 
A World Lit Only By Fire—By William Manchester. A short but compelling look at the Dark Ages, that thousand-year period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance. A reminder of how a great civilization can disappear, and the length of time it takes for the world to remerge into the light.  
Robert Goldsborough is an American author best known for continuing Rex Stout’s famous Nero Wolfe series. The latest, Stop the Presses!, is available now. 
 

Find all of Robert's books here!

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