Howard Michael Gould '84

Howard Michael Gould

Name: Howard Michael Gould

Place of Birth: New York City

Current Home: Los Angeles, California

Education: Amherst College '84, majored in English

Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
All the wrong reasons. But it worked out.

Most memorable or most influential class/professor at Amherst
Hands down, Bill Pritchard and his satire course, plus my thesis work with him on Philip Roth. Honorable mention to Richard Cody (English 11) and Ben DeMott (Contemporary Cultural Studies). Whatever I am as a reader was formed there, mostly under the influence of those three, and of course the writing grows out of that

Awards and Prizes
Golden Globe, three Clios.

Favorite Book
SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE. Same answer I’d have given as a freshman, I think.

Favorite author
Roth still leads Updike by a nose, Richard Price coming up on the outside.

Tips for aspiring writers?
Keep your butt in the chair. Learn to love outlining, it’s your very best friend. Learn to love revising, it’s your second best friend.

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author
I gave up writing fiction while still at Amherst, convinced I had no talent for it, and focused on playwriting. My first two plays were produced there, one of which I directed, too, and I kept at it after college while working in advertising. One play opened a door for me in television, in half-hour comedy, and I stayed at TV for about a decade, much of that time as a showrunner. Then I wrote another play, which Mike Nichols wanted to direct, and his imprimatur launched me into movie work.

Seven or eight years ago I was hired to write a detective screenplay with comedy and it turned out very well, one of my best scripts. It kept attracting various actors and directors, but kept falling apart before we could get it made. They don’t produce many detective movies anymore—they’re kind of too small for studios and too big for pure indies—but it occurred to me that there are still a whole lot of detective books, so I got back the rights and tried turning it into a novel. I actually wrote it and sent it out under a pseudonym, “Ryan Dierker,” because I hadn’t written prose fiction in over thirty years and had no confidence that it would come out well. But Ryan Dierker got himself an agent right away, and then the agent sold it to a top publisher right away, and that was the end of Ryan Dierker.

Howard Michael Gould graduated from Amherst College and spent five years working on Madison Avenue, winning three Clios and numerous other awards. In television, he was executive producer and head writer of CYBILL when it won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series, and held the same positions on INSTANT MOM and THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW. He wrote and directed the feature film THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY LEFAY, starring Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, Andie MacDowell and Jenna Elfman. Other feature credits include MR. 3000 and SHREK THE THIRD. His play DIVA premiered at Williamstown Theatre Festival and La Jolla Playhouse, and was subsequently published by Samuel French and performed around the country. LAST LOOKS, his first novel, was published by Dutton in August.  A sequel, BELOW THE LINE, will follow in summer 2019.  

Learn more about Last Looks on the author's website.