Author interview with Allen Klein -author of The Healing Power of Humor
Please share about your background (where you were born, where you grew up, siblings/family dynamic, career background , where you live now, etc.)
I was born in Manhattan, NY and grew up in one of the suburbs, The Bronx. I have one younger brother who lives in Connecticut. I live in California. When I was 7-years-old, my parents took me to see my first Broadway show. I was mesmerized. From then on, I wanted to be the person who made those pretty stage pictures; it was called a scenic designer. At Hunter College in NYC, I did a lot of the scenery for their theater productions. Then got into Yale Drama School to study the craft. It was a three year masters’ degree program. I was kicked out after the first year. I was told that I had no talent. I was discouraged but kept following my dream. I got into the scenic design union and got a job at CBS television. My fellow classmates at Yale were designing college productions while I was designing such nationwide shows as Captain Kangaroo, Merv Griffin, and Jackie Gleason Shows.
What inspired you to begin writing?
My wife was from San Francisco and I was from New York. When my daughter was young, we decided to move to San Francisco and get our dream Victorian house. Several years after we arrived, we found out that my wife had a rare liver disease. She passed away three years later at the age of 34. It was her great sense of humor and Norman Cousin’s talking about how he healed himself with laughter that inspired me to start writing about the therapeutic value of
humor. My first book, The Healing Power of Humor, was published in 1989. It is now in a 40th printing and ninth language translation.
When did you begin your writing journey?
When I look back, I guess I began writing in grade school. I remember having a poem published in the school newspaper and also reciting one of my poems at a school assembly. But it was after my wife’s passing that I really got into writing because I had the passion to tell the world about the power of humor to help us rise above any situation.
Please share about your latest book.
My latest book, The Art of Living Joyfully: How to be Happier Every Day of the Year (Viva Editions) is a a compendium of advice and plain common sense comprising a guide to good cheer. It is a collection of quips, quotes and instruction that comes from a variety of people and
from all eras of history. The book is divided thematically, covering such topics as Friendship, Laughter, Beauty, Nature, Faith, and more. It is a book to cherish for oneself and to give as a heartfelt gift.
How did you decide to publish this book (self publish or traditional)? Why?
Random House sold over 400, 000 copies of my inspirational and motivational books. Then they closed the doors on that division. I got the rights back and tried to sell the books to other publishers.
I had no luck. Then, after a year-and-a-half of trying, I put a sign above my desk which read: “The Perfect Publisher Will Find Me.” And they did. This is my third book with them. There are three more in the works.
What is the best advice you have received about writing?
It seems overwhelming to write a book but if broken down in small segments, and if you write something everyday, even one page or one-half page, you will get the book done.
What is your advice to beginning writers?
Sit down everyday and write. Schedule a time to do it and do it no matter what.
What has been your greatest reward in writing this book?
Letters and emails from readers telling me how my books have changed
their life. One of the most powerful ones was from a woman who was
violently raped twice as a teenager. She hadn’t told any one about it for 55 years and carried around her anger all that time. Then she found a quotation in one of my books about taking back her life. That quotation alone empowered her to do just that and put those incidents in the background so that she could get on with her life.
Most writers are readers. What books are on your “to-read” list?
I actually don’t read that many books because of my speaking, writing and publicizing schedule. The book I’m currently reading is Awakening Joy by Jamie Baraz.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book? (add in blog/website/social media links)
Readers can also subscribe to my writing on Examiner.com:
Question for fun sake—what was your favorite childhood toy and why?
I believe in toys not only for children but for adults. My favorites are Teletubbies. I have a collection of them in my office. They are so cute.