Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MMM: Allen Zadoff

Interview with Allen Zadoff, author of My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies

When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

It chose me; I didn’t choose it. When I was young, I dreamed of being an actor, but I was one of those actors who thought about things that were none of my business, like how plays were constructed and how the production came together.
That was the first clue that something was up. I started writing plays my senior year in high school. I was even a semi-finalist in the Young Playwrights Festival, and I got a congratulations letter from Stephen Sondheim! But when I got to Cornell my freshman year, the playwriting class was not popular and was only being taught every other year, so I talked my way into the Directing class instead. That started me on ten year run as a stage director. With the exception of some adaptations, I mostly forgot about writing during that period.

Then, when I was 28, writing came back into my life.
I journaled, I wrote poetry, I kept a log of my dreams. And slowly, very slowly, I realized that I’d been a writer in some form all along. By then I had experience as an actor and director. I’d spent years listening to characters talking on stage. So I had a really interesting skill set to bring into writing.

But I never imagined I’d be an author. I thought you had to be brilliant to be an author.
Now I know that’s not true. In any case, becoming an author was a long journey for me. But I always loved to create things.

How did you come up with the idea of My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies?

I was thinking about my own life in the theater, especially during high school. When I was fourteen, I worked with a brilliant stage director who let me stage manage a show for him. That’s when I became fascinated by what was happening backstage as much as what was in the front of the stage. I saw that there were parallel worlds at work—the world of the techies, the world of the actors, the world of the director and design team. That’s why My Life, the Theater tells its story from the techie perspective. It’s about what happens when backstage and front of stage collide in a forbidden love affair.

Describe Adam in three words.

Funny, shy, brave.

Did you learn anything from writing your book?

In My Life, the Theater, Adam is hiding from life, afraid to participate. It got me thinking about my own fears. I asked myself: Are you taking enough risks in your life or are you playing it safe? Who do you want to be in the world, and what do you need to change to be that person?

What can fans be expecting from you next?

Fans can expect a new novel published by Egmont in about a year. It’s the story of a kid stuck in Jewish school who doesn’t want to be there. It’s really funny and sort of deep, too. I’m writing it right now.

What's it like as a stage director?

Orson Welles said, “A writer needs a pen, a painter needs a brush, and a director...needs an army.”

Directing is about guiding a very large group of people. You have to inspire them, share your vision with them, adjust yourself to the dynamics of the group. It’s a highly collaborative process and also very exciting.
Writing, in comparison, is quiet and solitary. In writing, I’m dealing with my own difficult personality and creative idiosyncrasies. There’s collaboration, too, when it comes to the editorial process, but a lot of it is you vs. you.

Directing is like playing a team sport, and writing is like mountain climbing.
Sometimes I wish I were a director again. At least then you’ve got someone to blame other than yourself.

Share an interesting fact about yourself that not too many people know.

I was born a blond. You can check my blog
for proof!

Thank you, Allen, for answering my questions!

FIND ALLEN ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Blog | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Oh, I love this: "Who do you want to be in the world, and what do you need to change to be that person?"

    That is just the motivation I need to day! And of course, the book sounds awesome. =)

    Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

  2. I enjoyed reading this interview and learning more about Allen. I especially liked how he came up with the idea for this book. I think I would enjoy reading this book!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. “A writer needs a pen, a painter needs a brush, and a director...needs an army.”
    lol this quote
    and Allen interview is an inspiring author because i can understand the aspects of trying to take risks

  4. I've heard good things about this book! I love how he got the idea for his book!


Thanks, I love what you have to say!