My short bio: Former NY Times reporter, twice nominated fir Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting; currently Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair; author of 14 bestselling books, including Gangland,Wanted!, Dark Invasion. Writer of forthcoming Sony feature "Bury the Lede" based on my experiences as a NYT reporter. The Last Goodnight is to be a feature from Columbia Tri-Star Pictures and Good Morning America reported that Jennifer Lawrence is to star as my heroine Betty Pack.

Ask me anything!

My Proof:

Comments: 62 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

Draco_Ranger18 karma

Do you think that the current atmosphere against encryption and privacy endangers investigative journalism? What are some difficulties in investigative journalism that most people wouldn't anticipate?

howardblum52 karma

The Obama Administration has been very aggressive in prosecuting journalists and demanding then to disclose their sources. This is the Democrats. If there's a Trump Administration, then one can only imagine how the attacks against journalists will escalate. It is a scary time to be a reporter - and what makes it so scary is that in these uncertain times investigative reporting is more essential than ever.

Gutzy3414 karma

What obstacles did you face when trying to first get published, and how did you overcome them?

howardblum20 karma

The key is tenacity: don't give up. I first got published when I was at school in London and submitted an article to the Village Voice. They published it, and then I was on my way. Went to work for them after college, then the NY Times hired me, and soon started writing books.

gummybears20149 karma

What's different about the book publishing world vs when you started writing novels?

howardblum13 karma

Well, just being able to be in touch with readers on sites like Reddit and FB is part of the new age of publishing. That's good. The bad part is that fewer books are being published. And the scary part is that now since all the stores are computerized, you can get sales reports every night. Which so far for THE LAST GOODNIGHT has been gratifying.

history8877736 karma

What's the process of getting a novel into a screenplay into a movie? How long does it take?

howardblum6 karma

The key element is luck. I was able to sell THE LAST GOODNIGHT to Sony on the book proposal; i.e., before it was written. Then there was about a year's wait while I finished the book. As soon as the manuscript was completed, they began looking for a screenwriter. Finally, they hired the writer of the forthcoming "Miss Sloane," directed by John Madden. And now, as Good Morning America " reported, the studio is in talks with Jennifer Lawrence to play Betty Pack. With luck, shooting could begin in a year.

heysarahfu6 karma

What did it take to be a female spy during World War II like Betty Pack?

howardblum12 karma

I took, firstly, an immense amount of courage. Then, even beyond courage, it took a willingness to sacrifice ordinary life and morals to live perpetually on this covert plane. You needed to sublimated your own desires to that of the cause. You were fighting a war and you needed to do whatever was necessary to win. That's what Betty Pack did.

wtbyirish4 karma

Has it been harder now since there are fewer book stores now than even 5 years ago to find place to meet your fans?

Yes ago (5 years ago) i remember authors telling me that publishers would often pay authors exspenses to go to signings/talks around the country. Now not so much....

You really (the author) now needs to do most of their own promotion ,etc...

Do you agree?

howardblum6 karma

Well, HarperCollins, my publisher, has been quite supportive for The Last Goodnight. I've been touring to New Orleans, Washington, NYC, and soon am off to Boston. And they've been making the arrangements and paying the bills. Sure, an author can do a good deal on his/her own. But it sure helps when there is a partnership with the publisher. And HarperCollins has been great.

JeremyHowell3 karma

Is there any part/era of human history, which you haven't written about, that particularly interests you?

howardblum3 karma

I'd like to write about Revolutionary America. I'd like to find a story that takes place at the creation of this nation centered around a person who played an important, but under reported, part in the birth of America.

TakeawayIsNiceM83 karma

Do you like pancakes?

howardblum8 karma

yes, very much. There's a place in New Hampshire that serves the best lemon pancakes. Worth the drive from Ct.

TakeawayIsNiceM85 karma

too bad i live in sweden ;_;

howardblum20 karma

Worth the trip.

Jeffster113 karma

What do you find most rewarding about what you do?

howardblum11 karma

When the writing is going well, when thoughts are connecting in a way you'd never previously imagined - well, it doesn't get much better than that. You look up at the clock, and you suddenly realize the whole day has passed while you were wrapped up in your work.

history8877733 karma

Is it practical to try to write historical novels as a living?

howardblum7 karma

Well, first my books aren't novels. They're true stories. They are character-driven and suspenseful, but also true. But is this a practical way to make a living? Being a writer is not a practical way to live - it's too demanding. You only do it because you rather do it than anything else.

heysarahfu3 karma

Why did they call Betty Pack the "Blonde Bomb"?

howardblum6 karma

When Betty died in 1963, Time Magazine called her "the blonde Bond who used the bedroom instead of a Beretta." What they meant that she was a secret agent who in mission after mission helped the Allies win the war by using the double bed as her operational battle field.

MG873 karma

Was there any point in which Pack was almost caught?

howardblum9 karma

When Betty broke into the cipher room of the Vichy Embassy in Washington to steal the military codes hidden in the safe, she heard the guards approaching footsteps. So what does Betty do? She starts to take off all her clothes, and she encourages her accomplice to do the same. So, when the guard bursts into the room, he discovers a naked Betty; he assumes she and her accomplice were up to something else rather than cracking the safe. And he excuses himself and leaves. And Betty gets the ciphers. And three months later those ciphers were instrumental in the success of the Allied invasion of North Africa.

MG873 karma

That's awesome

howardblum3 karma

Betty had lots of cool missions - and, more importantly, they were very consequential. She helped the Allies win the war.

cgoodwyn3 karma

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

howardblum6 karma

if you ask your question and no one answers, has a question been asked?

cgoodwyn2 karma

Wow - you answered. That's cool.

Mr. Blum, if I still have you attention: as someone on the inside perhaps you may share some insight.

In this media age, whereby everyone has a platform to express their (typically anecdotal) opinion, and no one has an editor to prevent it from being shared (if, in this context, it's a poor one) - how have you seen your industry been affected and is the vapid content blitz we're subjected to on the daily as bad as I feel it is or have we always had some kind of relationship comparative to the current media-machine?


howardblum4 karma

I think that with the internet and places like Reddit there's so much more opportunity to get thoughts and opinions out there - and that's a good thing. I'm all for everyone to have, as you put it, " a platform to express their opinion." One just needs to use judgement in what one pays attention to.

alxumdililah3 karma

What was it like growing up with Marcy Blum and how did you two end up so different-- you cerebral & literary and her focused on the chicest eventiste concepts? Do you think your parents expected you both to be famous?

howardblum4 karma

I was always in her shadow. I'd just be doing homework while she was off being social and creative and entrepreneurial.

wtbyirish3 karma

What will your next book be about? Can you give us a hint?

howardblum3 karma

The next book is a non-fiction Cold War thriller. It's called "WE WILL BURY YOU!" - after the famous warning to the US from Nikita Krushschev,

creativespirit20132 karma

How is writing a screenplay different from a book?

howardblum4 karma

In a book you tell stories. In a screenplay you create pictures for the audience to look at. Also, in a book the narrative can unfold pretty much any way the author want. In a script, there's a three act structure that's pretty rigid, and there are beats in each act that must be hit. Screenplays are largely architectonic - that is, the structure has to be carefully worked out to support the story. In a book, the story comes first.