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BWW Interview: Multi-Medium Writer Gary Goldstein, Now Published Novelist

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Gary Goldstein just had his first novel The Last Birthday Party published and available to all

BWW Interview: Multi-Medium Writer Gary Goldstein, Now Published Novelist

A working writer in stage, screen and newsprint, Gary Goldstein just had his first novel The Last Birthday Party published and available to all. Gary managed to carve out some time from prepping his upcoming Book Soup podcast to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Gary!

The last time I interviewed you, you were world premiering your then-new play APRIL, MAY & JUNE at Theatre 40. Were you satisfied with the run of the production?

Super satisfied. The theatre was a terrifically supportive place to work and my cast and director were so talented and collaborative. Definitely one of my best theatre experiences!

When was your script set in stone? At the first dress rehearsal? The night of the premiere?

I'd say it was pretty much set before the first dress rehearsal. We had made most of the changes during readthroughs as our director, Terri Hanauer, was putting the play on its feet. From then on, during the rest of rehearsals, it was about removing, adding or clarifying a few words or a line as needed, but no quantum changes. Still, a play is a living thing and I'm sure we tweaked a few things once it was in front of an audience.

How hands-on are you with the pre-production of your premieres?

I like to be there as much as needed during casting, rehearsal, and of course as the final script is taking shape. If there comes a point when the director needs time alone with the actors, I'll back away and return when the time is right, usually closer to the opening.

Do you like to attend your premieres, whatever city they're in?

Wouldn't miss them!

Unfortunately, there have been no premieres or shows whatsoever until recently. What had you been doing to keep creatively sane during these past pandemic months? Writing a new play? A new screenplay? A new book?

BWW Interview: Multi-Medium Writer Gary Goldstein, Now Published Novelist I began writing The Last Birthday Party, my first novel a few months before the pandemic began and finished the first draft by mid-year. I then spent time editing it and submitting the manuscript to agents and publishers. Once I found a publisher there was much more to do to get the book ready for publication, including further editing and lots of marketing. Kept me very sane.

What is The Last Birthday Party about?

The Last Birthday Party is a romantic comedy about an L.A. writer who's hit by a series of calamities the day after his 50th birthday party and how he pulls his life back together in a most unexpected way.

Writing 101 suggests one writes what one is most familiar with. In your new book The Last Birthday Party, the central character is a writer/film critic named Jeremy. What elements of Jeremy are Gary Goldstein's?

There are some external similarities: We both live in Laurel Canyon, both write film reviews and scripts, and both love movies. Also, our senses of humor and observations on life may be more similar than I even realized while writing it.

What are the fictional, embellished parts of Jeremy?

We approach the world pretty differently. I'd say at this point in life I'm more proactive and a bit more confident and relaxed than he is. He's been somewhat detached from the world for a while and not as attentive to the things and people around him as he should be. We have very different marriages, plus he has an adult son. Unlike me, he's not much of a dog person and he's not big on exercise.

The Last Birthday Party contains many realistic details describing Jeremy's critic's position, his screenplay submission process, his shoulder injury and rehab. Did you yourself go through a shoulder mishap and recovery?

Yes, about five years ago I had a terrible rotator cuff tear which landed me in this huge abduction pillow brace for six torturous weeks. I tried not to let it get the better of me, and was pretty productive during that period, but it was really awkward and painful. There were also humorous aspects to it that I've tried to relate in the book as well. Honestly, it was too memorable and unique an experience not to give it to some character somewhere. Jeremy was just the lucky one, I guess!

BWW Interview: Multi-Medium Writer Gary Goldstein, Now Published Novelist A major plot point of The Last Birthday Party has your character Jeremy missing a deadline and suffering its consequences. Has Gary Goldstein ever missed a deadline? And if so, what were your consequences?

Well, I'm sure I've missed a deadline or two but not where work is concerned. I'm proud to say that, unlike Jeremy, I've never passed out drunk while writing a film review!

Do you have a script, like Jeremy, that you've shelved and come back to for years?

I don't think I've ever gone back to an unfinished script years later and completed it. If I felt it was working, I probably would have finished it to begin with, or at least gotten to some first stage of closure. But I am always returning to finished, older scripts, at least the ones I still feel are viable, and updating and rewriting them as needed. Especially if I'm going to submit one to a producer or potential buyer.

Only a Los Angeleno could name-drop L.A. streets (Laurel Canyon, Ventura Boulevard) and hangouts like you do (Pace, formerly Caioti). Were you born in L.A.? Or just lived here for a while now?

I was born in New York but have lived here so long that I feel like a native. I'm a big fan of L.A. despite its issues.

Are you still involved with WGA hosting their podcast "3rd & Fairfax" or chairing the WGA's LGBTQ+ Writers Committee?

I have only been a guest on the WGA podcast, have never hosted, though I'd like to given the chance. I am no longer chairing the LGBTQ+ Committee but remain a member. That was a great and valuable experience for so many years and I'm grateful to the WGA and my committee members for all the time I spent in that role.

What's in the near future for Gary Goldstein?

I'm a few chapters away from finishing my second novel, which is tonally different than The Last Birthday Party, a more serious family story. (During the lockdown), I also wrote a new, half-hour single-camera TV pilot called Correspondent!, which is a very dark comedy about a cable TV news foreign correspondent. I'm working now on a Christmas movie for TV, and I'm continually pitching new projects to producers and networks.

Theatre, unfortunately, has taken such a hit during the pandemic. And even though it's great to see it slowly coming back, I haven't been making my usual inquiries and submissions to theatres since things have been so up in the air for so long. I have several newer plays I'm trying to find homes for and hopefully can get back on the theatre hunt soon.

Who knows, maybe there's a movie or limited series in store for The Last Birthday Party. That'd definitely be the icing on the cake, no pun intended.

Thank you again, Gary! I wish you great book sales of The Last Birthday Party.

Gary will be discussing The Last Birthday Party in conversation with Ken Pisani on Book Soup's Online Events August 27th @ 6pm PST. Log onto www.crowdcast.io/e/gary-goldstein/register to view this episode of Live Streaming on Crowdcast, free with registration.


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