Homeland Co-Creator Howard Gordon on His New Novel, Hard Target
When Howard Gordon was in 7th grade, he wrote a science fiction novel. He knew he wanted to write early on in life, but it was his love of television that brought him to Los Angeles to try his hand at it. He says that it was luck that initially helped him land work, but it's his knack for spinning creative stories that have kept him hard at work in Hollywood for 25 years.
Claire Danes in Homeland
No doubt, Gordon has written for at least one show you've loved. His credits include The X-Files, Beauty and the Beast, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, amongst others. He's best known, though, as the former showrunner and executive producer of 24. More recently, he co-created the Showtime series Homeland, which just won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, and will serve as executive producer and showrunner for the forthcoming NBC sci-fi series, Awake.
Somehow, Gordon also managed to find the time to write a new novel. Hard Target is the sequel to his first offering, Gideon's War. Like his television work, Gordon's novels are packed with suspense, intrigue and a good dose of action. He'll be signing copies at Diesel Bookstore in Brentwood tonight at 7 p.m.
You've worked in TV for so long. How was the transition into writing a novel?
TV is such a collaborative medium and, in many ways, a competitive medium as well. You're always negotiating with your fellow writers, with the studio, with the network, with the actors. It's a big, collective process under the best of circumstances. Writing a novel is so much more individual. It's truly you and a page and a reader.
In many ways, telling a story is telling a story, but the mediums are very, very different, not just in how they tell a story, but how you get to tell a story. For me, it was a big relief from some of the stresses that come with producing and writing for television.
Yeah, there is a lot of work.
I had a tremendous editor and a lot of very good friends who were part of the process, but it isn't like when you hit a block in a TV show, where you can bring it to a writer's room -- which is hopefully a group very smart people -- and you can solve a problem. Here, you find yourself a little more out on a limb by yourself. But, that also has its advantages.
I would say that my greater stress, and that was specific to me, was trying to do both and maintain my day job and find the time to write a novel. The first one, I did at least most of it, or half of it, during the writer's strike. Because I got a two-book deal out of it, I had to sort of make a deadline.
In my business, when you write a pilot, you don't even know whether the pilot will get shot, let alone they pick up the series. In this case, I happened to have two shows. It was a perfect storm in the be careful what you wish for department. I had both Homeland and Awake that got picked up and the contract for Hard Target that was due. It was a challenge.
Did you develop any tricks to managing your time?
The only trick is to get as little sleep as possible.
I had to be very hyper-focused. That really challenged a part of me that I've cultivated after running shows, which is really that have to have a hyper-intense focus on a lot of things. I think that served me very well in writing the book. I could really achieve a lot if I had half-hour or an hour or two hours. I could really get a lot done in a short period of time.