Emmy-winning TV writer Matt Goldman is Minnesotan to the bone-chilling bone. The Rochester native was living in Los Angeles and apparently hating it — though many others find that weather perfect. After 14 consecutive years in L.A. followed by 16 years commuting, Goldman moved back to Minnesota, which has been the backdrop for both his crime novels.
“Broken Ice” is the follow-up to last year’s New York Times bestseller “Gone to Dust,” a murder mystery set in Edina (which is not exactly Chicago) in the winter. “Broken Ice” is set during the state hockey tourney and P.I. Nils Shapiro is back on the case.
Isn’t a hockey tourney a peculiar setting? “It’s not a peculiar setting to me,” Goldman said in this interview done via e-mail. “I grew up with hockey. A lot of people in Minnesota care about the hockey tournament. You don’t have to be from Minnesota to appreciate that, just like you don’t have to be from Texas to appreciate ‘Friday Night Lights.’ And like ‘Friday Night Lights’ isn’t really about football, ‘Broken Ice’ isn’t really about hockey. It’s about the characters who are affected by the sport.”
Goldman will read, sign and discuss “Broken Ice” Aug. 18 at Fair Trade Books in Red Wing, noon to 3 p.m., and Aug. 20 at Barnes & Noble in Edina, 7 p.m.
Q: Why did you decide to make the transition from L.A. to Minneapolis?
A: I love Minnesota. My family is here. My books are set here. Summer is my least favorite season and it’s always summer in L.A.
Q: What’s the story line for “Broken Ice”?
A: Two girls from Warroad disappear from outside the Xcel Center after a hockey game. The parents of one girl hire Nils to help find her. Nils discovers one thing after another that may or may not be related to the missing girl.
Q: Is Minneapolis more interesting than L.A.?
A: I think most places are interesting if you’re paying attention. I’m drawn toward minutia. In characters. In relationships. In family dynamics. So there’s plenty I find interesting in Minneapolis. Los Angeles just has more of everything (except hockey).
Q: Is there some reason for all the musical references in your novels?
A: I am a big music fan, and Minnesota has contributed wonderful music to the world. It’s worth celebrating.
Q: How is the character “the legendary Graham Itasca” worthy of being up there with Dylan and — gulp — Prince?
A: Graham Itasca is a fictional character. I use a lot of real places and people in my books, but I took the license of adding another Minnesota music icon. It’s not a stretch to imagine when Minnesota has produced so many greats like Dylan, Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Dessa, Dan Wilson, Babes in Toyland, Trampled by Turtles … It’s a long list.
Q: Your main character in both books is Nils Shapiro, the Jewish PI. Isn’t that the same name as the guy who reviewed “Broken Ice”? What’s up with that?
A: I wanted a Scandinavian first name for my P.I. (I’m named after a Swede but Matt isn’t so obvious.) So I tried Nels, Per, Leif and others, but I loved Nils. When I googled it in 2015, I couldn’t find a Nils Shapiro. But after “Gone to Dust” was published, he found me. He’s 86 and lives in Massachusetts and yes, in his retirement, he reviews books for newspapers in Florida. Strange, strange coincidence.
Q: Will Nils stay in Minnesota? And how do you get people who are not from here to relate to him?
A: He may go on a few trips, but yes, he’ll stay in Minnesota. And people will relate to him the same way they relate to Sherlock Holmes in London or Frodo Baggins in The Shire. People like to read about other places as long as they are specific and feel real, even if they’re not real.
Q: Are you still writing stuff for TV, even though you have left L.A.?
A: I took a break from working on other people’s shows, but I will be developing original TV ideas.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.