Sunday, November 8, 2009

INTERVIEW: World-Renowned Bestselling Author and Playwright: Warren Adler

Welcome to “Up Close and Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing his views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.

Today’s interview is with World-renowned writer, and playwright, Warren Adler. Mr. Adler has written fourty books and published thirty novels two of which, “The War of the Roses” and "Random Hearts," were made into successful films.

"War of The Roses," the film, debuted in 1989. Two time Oscar winner, Michael Douglas , Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner, Kathleen Turner paid tribute to this sophisticated film noire with scintillating performances under the direction of Oscar nominee and Emmy award winner, Danny De Vito. It remains one of the most popular film noire genre movies of all time.

“Random Hearts” was released in theatres in 1999 starring Oscar nominees, Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas. Academy award winning director, producer the late Sydney Pollack was credited with much of the critical acclaim, but clearly much of the credit rightfully goes to the author.

Mr. Adler has optioned twelve of his books for film ensuring a film legacy equal to that of his publishing career. The manuscript for "Private Lies" sold for $1.2 million, which at the time was the highest price paid in the early 90’s for an unpublished manuscript.

Adding there short story to his accomplishment this prolific author also wrote the Fiona Fitzgerald Collection of five short stories. "The Sunset Gang" was selected by the American Playhouse for public television and presented in a three hour television series running from 1991 to 2002.

His 29th novel, "Funny Boys", was published by Overlook Press in the spring of 2008. "New York Echoes," his 30th novel, which was taken from one of the short story collections, was expanded into a novel and published in the winter of 2008 by Stonehouse Press.

In addition to his accomplishments as a writer Warren Adler was an enterprising business man. He founded WHAG-TV, the NBC affiliate in Hagerstown Maryland in 1970. Before getting into television, he acquired WQCM-FM, a Hagerstown radio station in the late 1960’s.

Mr. Adler is the founder of the Jackson Hole Writer's Conference, and has served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jackson Hole Public Library.

E.I. Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager? What were you like? Please tell us more about Warren Adler -- the man behind the author.

W.A. I was child of the depression. My father was mostly unemployed through that period and we shuttled back and forth from my grandparents house in Brooklyn. I was a boy scout, marched as a bugler in the WW 2 victory parade, loved my childhood, my parents and grandparents. We had no money, but who cared. Life was sweet. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to tell stories, write works of the imagination and I haunted the library, loved books and movies. Still do. I have never lost faith in the promise of America.

E.I. What is it about the art form of writing that enchants you the most?

W.A. By my lights, writing is a calling. You either feel its power or you don’t. Writing is my life. I never attempt to analyze the urge to create parallel lives through novels, short stories and plays.

E.I. How do you imagine audience as you are writing? Do you try to do character development, chapter outlines, various novel-related brainstorming? Do you have sheets of newsprint covered in a story boards all over your walls?

W.A. I never imagine an audience, never brainstorm, never cut clippings, never outline. I research on google these days. I compose my books like a jazz man, create the characters and they work out their own destiny. If I knew how a story would end I would never write it. I have written forty books, published thirty so far and continue to write daily.

E.I. Do you let anyone read your manuscript, before you send it to your editor?

W.A. I never show my books to anyone until I am satisfied that they are finished. Never did. Never will.

E.I. When your novel “RANDOM HEARTS” was adapted to film, where you involved in the casting process? Had you considered Kristin Scott Thomas and Harrison Ford for the starring roles in the movie? And did you served as production advisor on the film location?

W.A. I have sold or optioned 12 of my books to the movies, a record of sorts. I do not write my novels and stories with the movies in mind. They have made two major pictures, of which “The War of the Roses” has become a classic. Random Hearts was a mess and I wrote a piece in the New York Times telling how much I hated it. I was quite satisfied with “War” and I loved the trilogy “The Sunset Gang” adapted from my stories. It appeared on the PBS network. I was on the Warner Lot for a year trying to get my other books made into movies. Frankly, I had no impact on the making of the movies and find the process boring and weird and many of the people associated with that business shallow and narcisstic. Today most movies are made for a target audience of people under fourteen.

E.I. What was your biggest challenge in developing the character, Kay Chandler in Random Hearts?

W.A. I never over-analyze or think in terms of challenges. Developing a character sounds like movie speak. I don’t know what it means. I eshew all this creative writing talk and I find it counterproductive. A writer is a writer is a writer. Deconstruction is for literary academics not for creators of literature.

E. I. If you were asked to read a chapter from your latest book “Funny Boys’”, is there one that you would personally select to share with your fans?

W.A. There are lots of jokes in Funny Boys. I do read those parts with the most jokes. After all it is about a comedian and people like to laugh. Authors who read tend to be boring and as an experienced public speaker I am very careful not to rely on reading my works before audiences. I would rather talk about the book, its origins and read only bit parts. I’m made hundreds of appearances and found that formula the best.

E.I. What inspired you to write “FUNNY BOYS” And has the book been optioned for film yet?

W.A. Yes, the book has been optioned for a film. I know the turf, have been to the Catskills in its hey day and have experienced relationships with Jewish gangsters when I grew up in Brownsville Brooklyn around the corner from the headquarters of Murder Inc. This will make a great film if the producers can assemble a perfect cast and understand the characters and the environment. I live in hope since I have been down that road many times before. I was quite lucky with The War of the Roses.

E.I. What was your biggest challenge and obstacle while writing and creating Mickey Fine and Mutzie Feder in "Funny Boys"? Did you work them out in advance, or did they evolve as you wrote the story? Are any of the characters in the story actually based on real people in your life?

W.A. Once again, I don’t think in terms of challenges. Everything evolves in the creative process. Characters form, inter-react and become real people in the parallel world imagined in the creative process. As I said before I am against deconstruction and the language of the creative writing classes. Talent is a mysterious force that happens. If you have it you know it and you must nurture and respect it. As for being based on real people, all fictionalized characters are an amalgm of those people who the writer has met in his life. But the process is subconscious and I try not think about how it pops into the writers mind. The less you know of the process, the better the performance. Just ask any painter, composer or “real” writer.

E.I. If you were allowed total control of the Hollywood version of (FUNNY BOYS) who would be in it? And in your opinion who do you think should direct?

W.A. Milton Berle, if he were still alive and in his twenties would be perfect and Speilberg, who lives, is my first choice. I’m sure there are people around who could play the part of the Tumler and many can play the parts of the gangsters. I can see the picture in the movie of my mind. I hope the producers can take a peek.

E.I. Mr. Adler, Thank you for contributing to my blog. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know your work a little better. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?

W.A. You can get more on my website If I sound somewhat like a curmudgeon forgive me. I tend to be too outspoken…but what the hell. Good for you to keep writing. Best Warren

To purchase Mr. Adlers books please visit

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