What has been your most rewarding moment as an author?
Even though I have seen my name in the credits of hit television shows and my work has been viewed by hundreds of millions of people, my greatest personal achievement was completing my first two novels. I now feel like an “author,” not just a TV writer. My hope is that my published works will live on past my days here. (And that one of my kids will actually read one someday!)
What made you consider writing in the first place?
My older brother is a successful standup comedian (with 20 appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson) and I learned to write comedy by helping him write his act. That led me to doing some standup myself and selling jokes to other comics (including Joan Rivers), and then segueing into TV.
Have you ever based characters on real people?
Yes. My second novel was based on my wife and me. She was an international ballerina in her youth. I, of course, was a TV writer. Years later, both divorced in our fifties, we met online and just got married just last year. I took our basic life stories and molded them into a fictional romance novel about two people like us who meet and fall in love in mid-life. I call it a “coming of middle age” love story. The name of the book is Pas de Deux and the cover art features my wife as a young ballerina. It’s not “us” but it’s loosely based on us.
Do you have your books edited, critiqued, and/or beta-reviewed?
Beta-reviewed by friends I respect and trust, then professionally edited. My best reviewer is my wife, Jessica. She’s a voracious reader of fiction and gives me some of the best notes I’ve ever received.
Does the idea of writing energize you or exhaust you?
Energize. I have never felt I was laboring to write. It’s often the best part of my day. I don’t believe in writers’ block and I don’t subscribe to the “tortured writer” state of mind. I do it because I love it. If I didn’t, I’d go become a bad golfer.
What’s the best piece of writing-related advice that you’ve received?
When I was just starting out as a young TV writer, a veteran agent read one of my scripts and told me to give up, that I had no talent and no chance of making it as a writer. That really happened! It was actually the most helpful advice I ever got because it energized me not to give up. Twenty-two TV credits and one Emmy nomination later, I am grateful to him for giving me the motivation to prove him wrong. Lesson: Do not let critics get between you and your goals.
Emmy Award nomination (shared) for Outstanding Writing for Variety Series in1984 for Saturday Night Live; 1997 Humanitas Prize (shared) for producing Something So Right (NBC).
I write fiction, from dark social satire to mushy love stories and everything in between. In an earlier life, I was a television writer-producer for Night Court, Saturday Night Live, Boy Meets World, and many other network series and comedy specials. I also teach TV writing with the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. I moved to Georgetown in 2020 and recently completed my third novel. I’ve also published a book on television writing.