Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your latest novels, Orange City and Runaway Train! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the premise of each book, and what inspired you to tell these stories?
Lee Matthew Goldberg: Thanks! Orange City is a science fiction book about a hidden city that provides a second chance at life for those who come, but they are bound to the city forever and can never leave. Runaway Train is a Young Adult novel about a girl in the 1990s whose sister dies suddenly. She runs away from home to do every item on her bucket list, culminating with meeting her idol Kurt Cobain and becoming a grunge singer. I was inspired very differently for both books. Orange City is a project I’ve picked at for many years. With each draft, the sci-fi aspects heightened. For Runaway Train, I was inspired by my love of grunge music from when I was a teenager in the 1990s. I wanted to write about how music inspires my character Nico to cope with the sudden passing of her sister.
BD: Orange City is a dystopian, sci-fi thriller that will continue its story with the sequel, Lemonworld. What can you share with us about your creative process crafting this larger world and its characters, and what have been some of your creative influences?
LMG: Orange City has had a long journey. First, it was a short story, then a screenplay, and finally a novel. With each draft, more sci-fi elements were added. There are a lot of influences from authors like George Orwell and Philip K. Dick, to J.G. Ballard and Kafka, to films like Blade Runner and Metropolis to painters like Francis Bacon. I put a lot of art in the blender, and Orange City is what came out.
BD: While Orange City may appeal to a more mature audience, Runaway Train is geared towards a YA age group. Do you feel that you utilized different tools as a writer in crafting your story for this younger audience?
LMG: Yeah, it was a challenge for me. The main character is also a sixteen-year-old-girl, but it made it easier to set it in the 1990s when I was teenager rather than now. While it’s for a YA audience, I think anyone who grew up in that time will get a lot from it in a nostalgic way. In terms of tools I used, I had to tone down my writing some. I write thrillers mostly, so my books can be quite graphic. I had to make sure that the audience wouldn’t be offended, so I wound up learning a lot about Young Adult books in general.
BD: Do you foresee expanding Runaway Train into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
LMG: Yes, it is the first of a three-book series. I’m also considering adapting it as a screenplay, either as a feature film or a TV series. I haven’t decided. I’m waiting until it comes out so I can see the response it gets. It would also make a great musical too, since it’s so much about the grunge era.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Orange City and Runaway Train will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that these stories were important for you to bring to life?
LMG: I hope both connect with readers. Orange City is a dystopian world but there are some similarities we can recognize with our own, especially after the last four years we’ve been through. It shows the power and control a government can have and also the power and control of advertising. With Runway Train, I think it can connect to anyone who’s lost someone in their life. For the main character, it’s her sister but death is something that unfortunately unites all of us. There is no clear path to deal with grief and a lot is a learning process. For my main character, she stumbles a lot due to her grief but also learns how to pick herself back up.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
LMG: I’m finishing writing the sequel for Runaway Train now called Grenade Bouquets, which is named after the band that the main character joins. There will be a third book as well that takes place in the 1990s and in the present time.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Orange City, Runaway Train, and your other work?
LMG: You can see all my books at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com or find me on Twitter (@LeeMatthewG).