What can one write that hasn’t been written about writer Warren Adler? At 86 years of age, he has lived a life many, if not most, men and women only dream of. He’s the author of thirty or so books, including The War of the Roses and Random Hearts. Add to that the fact of his being the first writer on the planet to take self-publishing to the next level.
Here, he offers common sense about dollars and cents for those in or getting in the book business. For example, as regards his chosen craft: “Throughout my early career, I would write from five to ten in the morning every day before going to my office, a habit that has stayed with me since.” Recently, Warren Adler and I had the chance to chat about this and that.
Tick Tock Tech
RS: “Hello Warren. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.”
WA: “Hi Rick. Always glad to welcome a fellow graduate of Brooklyn Tech, my alma mater. Be glad to give an interview”.
RS: “Would it be safe to say that when you were still a student at Brooklyn Technical High School it was already apparent to you then that you wanted to be a writer?”
RS: “Do you still read The New York Times each and everyday?”
WA: “I have been reading it since I was 12 years old when I subscribed at a discount as a freshman at Brooklyn Technical High School…And I marvel how they can put such a vast panorama of the living world on my doorstep every day”.
RS: “As a fellow Brooklyn Tech alumnus, I am, of course, well aware of the academic atmosphere within its walls, how did your attendance there hone your obvious habitual attributes, like your far-reaching foresight and such as your intelligent idealism?”
WA: “It gave me insight into the technical aspects of life”.
RS: “What’s your relationship, if any, with our fellow Brooklyn Tech graduate Leonard Riggio, the Chairman of the Board of Barnes & Noble?”
WA: “I have met him, however, only briefly”.
A Writer In His Own Right Writes His Own Ticket
RS: “You give a lot of credit to your freshman English professor Don Wolfe at New York University. So much so, that you went on to study creative writing with him when he taught at the New School along with Dr. Charles Glicksburg. Among your fellow classmates were William Styron and Mario Puzo, was it as enriching an educational environment as it sounds?”
WA: “It was exciting, unforgettable and inspiring”.
RS: “The late great Don Estridge of IBM, ‘the father of the PC’, once told me over thirty years ago that the mantra of any R&D team worth their salt should be ‘tomorrow’s technology today’. What’s your motto as regards your own research and development efforts in “E” products and services?”
WA: “Unless you understand the past, you will never understand the future”.
RS: “When was it you first said to yourself there’s got to be a better way to do business in the publishing industry?”
WA: “It was a no-brainer. The publishing industry was moribund”.
RS: “Initially, what was the reaction to your new direction at the time from your publisher, editor and /or literary agent?”
WA: “Most everybody thought that e-books would never happen”.
RS: “You were front and center when SONY introduced the planet’s first digital reader in 2007 at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics show, weren’t you?
WA: “As an author who had publicly embraced the concept, I was an obvious choice”.
RS: “Speaking of which, shortly afterwards you became one of the only authors on the planet to acquire your backlist and convert your entire library to digital publishing platform format. What was the reaction from your former friends in traditional publishing?”
WA: “They thought I was crazy”.
RS: “What’s the backstage and/or behind-the-scenes story of StoneHouse Press?”
WA: “Well, I re-acquired my rights and re-issued my books under my own publishing company. I was living in Wyoming in a Stonehouse that we had built when founded the company”.
RS: “You hung your shingle and set up shop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with the Writer’s Conference, why there?”
WA: “I lived there for more than a decade and set up the Jackson Hole Writers conference. I was Chairman of the Public Library as well”.
RS: “Recently, you placed a brief blurb on your blog about big doings in regard to Amazon’s book business – as well as their own expanded role in your book business. What can you share with readers about that relationship?”
WA: “Amazon will dominate the book business for years to come”.
RS: “What opportunities for success do you see in the foreseeable future for authors?”
WA: “They will have a tough time reaching an awareness level that will make for a full-time career”.
RS: “You’ve had a very full life, have you ever been really bad at something and/or failed at anything?”
WA: “Yes. I failed at learning French, a language that I wanted to master. It is one of the few failures in my life that I have made peace with. I never allowed an initial failure to stop me from realizing my dreams”.
RS: “How do you think that your wife Sonia and your three sons, David, Jonathan and Michael, would answer that same question about you?”
WA: “They would agree”.
RS: “What kind of employer would Evan Nisenson say you are and what type of client would Nick Harris at ICM state you are?”
WA: “[LOL] You’d have to ask them”.
RS: “I know how proud you are of your work with new writers. Is conducting the Warren Adler Short Story Contest under consideration again?”
WA: “I am debating the possibility. It is very time consuming, since I am determined to keep its intent serious and its integrity without question”.
RS: “I’m aware you have a birthday coming up on December 16, which makes you a Sagittarius, tell me, are you really The Archer?”
WA: “While I don’t believe in astrology, the attributes of The Archer do fit my personality”.
Archer Shoots, Always Straight, Arrows
RS: “Let’s say, I’m a new author who has written a book. The tale I’ve told is a very timely topic. It teaches that there are two battles in life: The struggle to survive and the struggle to succeed. In other words, the tome’s theme is triumph over tribulation. In your learned opinion, what would you suggest is the best way for me to plan my work and then work my plan; which is, of course, to get my name and my title out there into the book buying market place?”
WA: “Beware of starting a book with a preconceived theme that illustrates the author’s alleged wisdom and containing helpful hints for success and triumph. It could turn out to be a lecture with wooden characterizations and contrived plotting. A book must be about people working out their own destiny which, to be true, must allow the characters to follow their own path and excite the reader’s curiosity about what will happen next. Storytellers know this instinctively and a real writer knows that the subconscious will work out the theme that is true to the characters vision. As for getting through the thicket of competing with millions of books, no one has figured it out, especially if it is a mainstream book outside of any genre category. A beginning author will have a tough time finding readers”.
RS: “Speaking of authors, you’ve become quite the poet; how about one as regards ‘Authors‘?”
WA: “Every author in his heart, Believes his work is extra smart, And will earn him accolades and fame, Adding luster to his name, Such dreams are worth a try, Its always better to aim high”.
RS: “How about another poem as regards ‘Writing’?”
WA: “I wrote two thousand words today and thought them fine, Until I read them over and erased them line by line, I understand the secret of the writers’ art, I knew that always from the start, There are times when you just can’t get it right, And often need a second sight, No matter, I never yield to sorrow, I’ll do it better on the morrow”.
RS: “Last but not least, among your thirty or so tomes, two of the most famous volumes; The War of the Roses and Random Hearts, were made into feature films starring Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford, respectively. With all of your accomplishments, do you happen to have an academy-award winner in you?”
WA: “I never look for honors. The work is everything. I love the writing life and its challenges”.