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One of the first books you’ll see upon walking into Barnes & Noble was penned by New York Times best-selling author (and Minnesotan) Matt Goldman. His works include Gone to DustBroken Ice and most recently The Shallows, which continues the ongoing saga of private detective Nils Shapiro. Goldman perfectly infuses touches of dry humor into the mystery and suspense of this hyper-local series. We chatted with the author about his affinity for Minnesota, his favorite Twin Cities spots and what books he’s reading right now.

I read your first novel on a recommendation and have devoured every book since. What did your career look like before writing novels?

I wrote for television before I wrote novels. Mostly comedies. My career started on Seinfeld. I wrote for The Ellen Show, The New Adventures of Old Christine and a bunch of other programs. Eventually, I shifted to drama, which led me to writing books. The last show I wrote on was called Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency — a very strange show.

What inspired you to start writing?

That’s a tough question because so many things inspired me to write. I’ve always loved books. My favorite authors include Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Chandler, Fyodor Dostyevsky and Gabriel García Márquez. Television shows like All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show also played a big role. My personality has also influenced me to write; I’m an introvert and a daydreamer by nature — two traits that fit well with writing.

I love that your novels are set in Minnesota and reference such familiar places. Why set your books here and not somewhere else?

I love Minnesota. And when I couldn’t be here because I was working on the West Coast, writing about Minnesota helped me feel connected to a place I love. And even though there are wonderful, accomplished writers who set their books in Minnesota, the setting hasn’t been nearly as well covered as places like Los Angeles, where I’ve also lived.

Photography provided by Matt Goldman

What are your favorite spots in the Twin Cities?

Minnehaha Creek, Target Field, the Monte Carlo, Wise Acre Eatery, the Mississippi River running through both cities, and the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, to name a few. It’s a long list; I could go on.

Is there more of Nils Shapiro on the way?

Yes. The fourth Nils Shapiro book is done and will be out next summer. I’ve also written a historical novel called Cathedral Hill set in St. Paul in 1922. I just sent it to my agent, so it hasn’t gone out to publishers yet. Fingers crossed it finds a home. I’m also writing a television script set on Minnesota’s North Shore.

What books are you reading now? Any recommendations? 

I just finished There, There by Tommy Orange; I highly recommend that. I’m currently reading a book called The Shameless by Ace Atkins; I love this Quinn Colson series set in Mississippi that has fantastic characters and a unique voice.

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