WELCOME KEN GOLDSTEIN
Ken Goldstein advises start-ups and established corporations in technology, entertainment, media, and e-commerce. He served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of SHOP.COM, a market leader in online consumer commerce acquired by Market America. He previously served as executive vice president and managing director of Disney Online, and as vice president of entertainment at Broderbund Software. Earlier in his career, he developed computer games for Philips Interactive Media and Cinemaware Corporation, and also worked as a television executive. He is active in children’s welfare issues and has served on the boards of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles, Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, and Full Circle Programs, and is currently actively in local government. He speaks and teaches frequently on topics of management, leadership, and creative destruction. He and his wife Shelley, who teaches English as a Second Language, make their home in Southern California. He received his BA in Theater Studies and Philosophy from Yale. THIS IS RAGE is his first novel.
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Q&A with Ken Goldstein
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
My first novel, This is Rage, is purely a work of fiction, but it is both intensely personal and drawn from current events. The entire plot is made up, as are all the characters, but the events are extracted from my experiences on the front lines of managing teams through creative and technical innovation and some awfully nasty conflict. I use references to existing companies in the competitive arena today, but only to set a tone of realism, which I then take license to stretch to the absurd. It’s meant to be plausible, but exceedingly outrageous, a form of grounded satire which is essentially the way I talk. Creative destruction is a force I know well and acknowledge as tangible, essential, but unruly. And then the question becomes, could it happen? My answer is – well, you know, I’ve seen stranger.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I started with a premise – what if the unlikely collision of a failed radio talk show host and a voracious venture capitalist resulted in extraordinary impact on the economy at large? I thought I knew how I wanted it to end, but then character development took over and pushed me to a different place. Dialogue comes easier for me than expository, and plot is more fun for me than inner monologue, so I am always challenged balancing what I want to write with what I need to write. About half way through the first draft I got a bit stuck holding story and character development in balance, and a wonderful friend referred me back to Anne Lamott’s inspirational Bird by Bird. Anne joyfully reminded me it was okay to keep writing only as far as the headlights illuminated. That was a lifesaver, albeit the cause of tossing out and replacing about 50,000 words, a lot of rough months.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I wish I had a routine. I am working on that. As a former CEO and now board member I am very structured about my calendar, but just because I block several hours of writing time doesn’t mean any decent words emerge. I am now doing my calendar backwards, when I do write, I enter the block of what I did on the calendar as if I planned to do it, so reading forward, it looks like I blocked out all the time perfectly. Yeah, sure. A bit of self-delusion isn’t all that bad, is it?
Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
Writing is now what I consider my main job, but it’s not my only job. I tried that for a year and I just couldn’t make all the time work hard enough, although our dog did get to listen to a lot of dialogue read aloud. I love to be with people, and I love business, so I stay attached by teaching an executive coaching workshop, sitting on a few company boards, and consulting for several start-ups. I’d say I have one and a half full time jobs, and writing is about half of that, so ¾ of one full-time job, fully mathematically sound.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Tom Wolfe has been a voice for me since I was in junior high school, the whole New Journalism thing resonated with me out of the gate. I think Michael Lewis is consistently brilliant and engaging. Hunter S. Thompson will always be an influence. I mentioned Anne Lamott and I adore her style. I came up through the theater so I’m penetrated by Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett, and most of the crumpled notes scribbled by Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. I’m also a philosophy geek to the core so there are regular revisits with Plato, Aristotle, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre. There are a few top executives turned business writers I admire like Andy Grove, whose concepts I include in the workshop I teach. And when I am most lost, I often wander back to Mark Twain.
What are you reading now?
I am re-reading Bonfire of the Vanities because it’s just so well-written and resonant for me. I am just about finished with Mark Leibovich’s This Town, and about half way through Kurt Andersen’s True Believers. Also the Wall Street Journal, six days a week, 52 weeks a year, source material for several lifetime.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
“Working on” is too strong a description. I have agreed with my publisher on my next two titles, if all goes according to plan the next book will be non-fiction, and the next novel behind that based on a screenplay I wrote in my 20s that has a remote setting and an interesting main character who is unconventionally heroic, deeply flawed, and in big trouble.
Do you have an excerpt I can publish on the site?
Your novel will be a movie.
Who would you cast?I don’t want to say because what if it happens and I say the wrong people, don’t want to upset anyone who might want to get onboard.
Notes: hand written or keyboard?
Handwritten notes are everywhere, on post-its, in notebooks, I keep lists of lists and then stick them in steno pads. But composition is always at the keyboard so I can generously DELETE!
Anything, anywhere, as long as I am sitting across from my incredible wife.
Pizza, the geek inside lives on. No question. And no meat!
Red wine. But I repeat myself. If it’s wine, it ought to be red, no?
ABOUT THE BOOK
This is the story of Investors, Bankers, and Operators in Silicon Valley and the variation on real they’re creating for our consumption.
This is the story of a disgraced shock jock turned Internet radio phenomenon and how he becomes the catalyst he never imagined being.
This is the story of two entrepreneurs-turned kidnappers-turned anti-heroes.
This is business in the Twenty-first Century.
This is the unpredictability of the human element.
This is rage.
Read an excerpt
Paperback: 530 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The
Publicatiom Date: October 8, 2013
THANKS TO MARIA AT MARIAN BROWN PR,
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