Warren Adler

How did you become a writer?

As a teenager I knew that was the life and career I wanted. I started writing at the age of 15. Although I had published short stories and poems in my early twenties, I didn't get my first novel published until I was 45 years old. It was pure luck. I ran an advertising agency in Washington D.C. at the time. A man came to my office and asked if we promoted books. I said we promote everything. What is the fee for this promotion, he asked. This was the eureka moment that changed my life. My fee, I said, was that your publisher, a tiny publisher in Philadelphia, publish my first novel. He said "fine, send me the book and I will give it to my publisher." He did. My first book, Undertow, was published and that was my fee. It completely changed my life and became the realization of my life’s ambition…to become a novelist. Since then I have published a total of 42 novel including my latest thriller, Treadmill. I guess you might conclude that talent by itself is not enough. You need luck. I am grateful to this many who became my friend and has now passed on. 

My passion for writing will never extinguish. I will be 87 soon and I can no more stop writing than I can stop breathing. That’s what a real writer or artist knows in their gut. Write what you know, but write.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

My mother was a prodigious novel reader and I watched her read day after day, getting her books out of storefront lending libraries for what I think was ten cents a day at that time. When she finished her daily chores and I returned home from school, she would be sitting and reading, waiting to serve the evening meal. That image of her engrossed in this parallel world seems to be the root of my own obsession to create works of the imagination. It is almost as if I am writing my stories and novels to feed her with the content that she required for her own fulfillment. It has taken many years to discover this as the seed that grew my own obsession to write. As a child and even now, storytelling has also offered me a paradise away from the reality of a contemporary world of struggle and strife.

My freshman English teacher in college, Don Wolf, also inspired me. I was passionate about wanting to write stories and I loved my English literature courses. In the class that Professor Wolf taught were two enormously talented writers, William Styron (Sophie’s Choice) and Mario Puzo (The Godfather). We bonded. We had kitchen sink readings. I was really inspired by my fellow writers. We published three books of short stories.

When and where do you write? 

In my study. I have always had a room dedicated to my work.

What are you working on now? 

As mentioned earlier, I've just released my 42nd novel, Treadmill, and I have a lot of film/TV/stage developments in the pipeline. My stage adaptation of The War of the Roses will premiere on Broadway in 2016, to be produced by Tony-Award winning producers Jay and Cindy Gutterman (All the Way, Spring Awakening), The War of the Roses: The Children is in development with Grey Eagle Films and Permut Presentations as a feature film adaptation along with Target Churchill (Grey Eagle Films and Solution Entertainment), Mourning Glory, to be adapted by Karen Leigh Hopkins, Capitol Crimes (Grey Eagle Films and Sennet Entertainment), a television series based on my Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series, and Cult which is being adapted by Alex McAulay (Eastbound & Down) who is also adapting The War of the Roses: The Children.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

I believe there is no such thing as writer’s block. If you don’t surrender to that notion it will all go away. I know this sounds ridiculous, but the fact is that you’re telling yourself that you are bereft of ideas. Going on a reading orgy for a week or so always works for me. Do that and then try getting back to work. 

What’s your advice to new writers?

Write on, dear friends. Share your dreams and aspirations with the like-minded. In the great battle between art and commerce, art always triumphs. The serious novel, the story, the urge to know “What happens next?” is the lifeblood of the human experience, and will continue until the end of time. If you want to know more about my perspective on rejection then read my essay On Rejection and Renewal: A Note to Aspiring Novelists. Most of all never, never, never give up. 

Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. Adler's international hit stage adaptation of the novel will premiere on Broadway in 2015-2016. Adler has also optioned and sold film rights for a number of his works including Random Hearts (starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas) and The Sunset Gang (produced by Linda Lavin for PBS' American Playhouse series starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts). In recent development are the Broadway Production of The War of the Roses, to be produced by Jay and Cindy Gutterman, The War of the Roses - The Children (Grey Eagle Films and Permut Presentations), a feature film adaptation of the sequel to Adler's iconic divorce story, Target Churchill (Grey Eagle Films and Solution Entertainment), Residue (Grey Eagle Films), Mourning Glory, to be adapted by Karen Leigh Hopkins, and Capitol Crimes (Grey Eagle Films and Sennet Entertainment), a television series based on his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series.