Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a former sportswriter for The Newark Star-Ledger who covered all the New York City teams, including the Yankees, Mets, Giants, and Knicks. I was the Knicks beat writer for nine years and traveled all over the country with them. I covered several World Series, NBA Playoffs, and the NCAA Finals. Currently, the only sportswriting I do is to write fight previews for HBO’s boxing website under the byline Nat Gottlieb.
I have written four books in my new Frank Boff Mystery Series, “The Hurting Game,” “The Punishing Game,” “The Killer Sex Game,” and most recently, “The Payback Game.” The private eye in my series is based on a close friend who was a DEA Special Agent and now is a high profile private investigator. Harvey of the New York Times said of “The Payback Game:”
“Nathan Gottlieb’s The Payback Game is not only a terrific mystery story, but it’s so loaded with twists and turns and compelling characters that it’s nearly impossible to put the book down. Private eye Frank Boff, a former legendary DEA agent continues to defy all genre expectations. He’s a delightful and iconic investigator with a wicked sense of humor and a morally-challenged idea of what constitutes justice in a world riddled with corruption. I defy you to find a more original and funny private eye.”
After a life spent living New York City and Hoboken, I now live in a small upstate town nine miles from Woodstock. This quiet, less hectic life has enabled me to concentrate fully on the writing of my mystery series. I am currently writing the fifth book in the series, “The Death Dealing Game.”
All my adult life I have been a movie fanatic and have seen hundreds and hundreds of films, domestic and foreign. Perhaps that is why friends of mine who have read my books say they are very cinematic and would make good movies. I currently am working with an agent and former movie producer on selling the movie rights to the first book in my series, “The Hurting Game.”
I am also a terrific cook, although I must admit I don’t like cooking. But I do like great food, and so I do the work. My favorite dish is baked ziti with five different cheeses and a delicious Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce. I also make baked french fries which are better tasting than deep-fried one. All I do is cut up potatoes into steak fries shape, coat the slices with olive oil and shake Mrs. Dash’s Steak Seasoning on them and then pop the fries in the oven for about 45 minutes. I also make killer salads with 6-7 different greens, steamed veggies, and a variety of dressings I either make or buy from Annie’s Naturals. My favorite of her brands is the Artichoke Parmesan.
Needless to say I work out daily in my house using a routine I devised. That keeps the weight off.
My life has become very simple and peaceful since leaving New York City. I write during the day, exercise, cook, watch a movie or an NBA game (even though I am from New York, I root for the Houston Rockets because Jeremy Lin is no longer a Knick). Later at night I read mystery books. And that’s the story!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is “The Payback Game.” It was inspired by my longtime admiration for the greatest tabloid investigative journalist of all time, Jimmy Breslin, who is retired now. I got to thinking how a guy like that deals with retirement, and then….
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
One is I turned my computer’s wireless keyboard at a 45 degree angle for reasons unknown to me. Another is at a certain point in the story I let my characters tell me what has to happen next. I do not do massive outlines. I know my characters, I know the beginning, middle, and ending, and then I kind of wing it, although from the complex stories I weave, and how seamless my writing is, you would never guess it. It is actually the same method my favorite mystery author says he uses, Michael Connelly.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Earlier in life I was influenced by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Kerouac. Since I got into the mystery writing game, my two biggest influences have been Michael Connelly and Lee Child, although in truth, I have always had my own writing style. I say they influence me because I study all the great things they do in their books and it inspires me to write to that level.
What are you working on now?
The fifth book in my mystery series, “The Death Dealing Game,” which has to do with gun running up the I-95 corridor, which law enforcement calls “The Iron Pipeline.” The book is also about political corruption and illegal high stakes poker games involving billionaires, movie stars, and professional athletes.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write. Every day. Even on days you don’t feel like it. You need to establish a writing discipline. And accept on some days the work will not be all that good. Which is what editing and multiple drafts are for. Also, do not be influenced by how others judge your work. Know yourself. Believe in yourself, and write with passion. The great poet E.E. Cummings once said: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop.”
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Oddly enough, rejections from publishers inadvertently influenced changes I needed to make in my first book. Their comments contained some thoughts that opened a door in my mind to what needed to be done to write the best book I could.
What are you reading now?
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher book, “The Hard Way.”
What’s next for you as a writer?
More writing on my series. Plus I want to do a spinoff series based on a woman I introduce in book 5, a former Iraq and Afghan veteran who joined the NYPD, rose to detective, and then was indefinitely suspended for drinking problems. She is an alpha female, brutally honest, a black belt in Aikido, and does not work well with others. After suffering through an abused childhood, she masks her emotions in a tough exterior. She fascinates me. I relate to certain things with her.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Whew. That’s tough. Maybe “The Sun Also Rises,” “On the Road,” and Thomas Pynchon’s brilliant opus, “Gravity’s Rainbow.”
Author Websites and Profiles
Nathan Gottlieb Website