MITCH ALBOM is an internationally renowned and best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold over 33 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.
Mitch was born on May 23, 1958 in Passaic, New Jersey, the middle of three children to Rhoda and Ira Albom. The family moved to the Buffalo, N.Y. area briefly before settling in Oaklyn, New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia. Mitch grew up wanting to be a cartoonist before switching to music. He taught himself to play piano, and played in bands, including The Lucky Tiger Grease Stick Band, throughout his adolescence. After attending high schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he left for college after his junior year. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1979 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, majoring in sociology, but stayed true to his dream of a life in music, and upon graduation, he worked for several years as a performer, both in Europe and America. One of his engagements during this time included a taverna on the Greek island of Crete, in which he was a featured American performer who sang Elvis Presley and Ray Charles songs. He also wrote and produced the recording of several songs. In his early 20’s, while living in New York, he took an interest in journalism and volunteered to work for a local weekly paper, the Queens Tribune. He eventually returned to graduate school, earning a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, followed by an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. During this time, he paid his tuition partly through work as a piano player.
Mitch eventually turned full-time to his writing, working as a freelance sports journalist in New York for publications such as Sports Illustrated, GEO, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. His first full time newspaper job was as a feature writer and eventual sports columnist for The Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel in Florida. He moved to Detroit in 1985, where he became a nationally-acclaimed sports journalist at the Detroit Free Press and one of the best-known media figures in that city’s history, working in newspapers, radio and television. He currently hosts a daily talk show on WJR radio (airs Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m. EST) and appears regularly on ESPN Sports Reporters and SportsCenter.
In 1995, he married Janine Sabino. That same year he re-encountered Morrie Schwartz, a former college professor who was dying of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His visits with Schwartz would lead to the book Tuesdays with Morrie, which moved Mitch away from sports and began his career as an internationally recognized author.
Tuesdays with Morrie is the chronicle of Mitch’s time spent with his beloved professor. As a labor of love, Mitch wrote the book to help pay Morrie’s medical bills. It spent four years on the New York Times Bestseller list and is now the most successful memoir ever published. His first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, is the most successful US hardcover first adult novel ever. For One More Day debuted at No.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and spent nine months on the list. In October 2006, For One More Day was the first book chosen by Starbucks in the newly launched Book Break Program, which also helped fight illiteracy by donating one dollar from every book sold to Jumpstart. His most recent,Have a Little Faith, was released in September 2009 and selected by Oprah.com as the best nonfiction book of 2009.
All three of Albom’s best sellers have been turned into successful TV movies. Oprah Winfrey produced the film version of Tuesdays With Morrie in December 1999, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. The film garnered four Emmy awards, including best TV film, director, actor and supporting actor. The critically acclaimed Five People You Meet in Heaven aired on ABC in winter, 2004. Directed by Lloyd Kramer, the film was the most watched TV movie of the year, with 19 million viewers. Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day aired on ABC in December 2007 and earned Ellen Burstyn a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Most recently. Hallmark Hall of Fame produced the film adaptation of Have a Little Faith, which aired on ABC in November 2011. It starred Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford, Martin Landau, and Anika Noni Rose.
An award-winning journalist and radio host, Albom wrote the screenplay for both For One More Day and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and is an established playwright, having authored numerous pieces for the theater, including the off-Broadway version ofTuesdays With Morrie (co-written with Jeffrey Hatcher) which has seen over one hundred productions across the US and Canada.
Read the rest of Mitch's bio HERE
Q. What inspires your writing?
I look to the moments in my life when I was overwhelmed by emotion, when I felt tears behind my eyes or when I felt my breath leaving me. And then I think what was behind those moments: what happened to push me to that point? I try to see if it is something universal, something many people feel. If so, I know I am I standing in the soil of something inspiring, and I begin to create a story from the stardust of that moment.
Q. When writing a novel do think about how many lives are changed, for the better, by your written words?
After Tuesdays with Morrie was published, I saw what writing could be like if it really affected people on a visceral level. And I think from that point forward I felt that’s what you should do if you write. Or should at least aspire to do something like that. I try to write about something that if I’ve done my job right, when people close it they’re not done with it. They finished it, but they’re not done with it. And I hope that it comes back to them somehow and makes them look at their life a little bit differently.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?
The satisfaction, as an author, to know your book can have a lasting message. As a sportswriter and columnist, the deadlines are tough but the reaction from readers is instantaneous, but the piece is gone almost as soon as it’s published and you’re on to the next story. But with a book, if it reaches an audience, the satisfaction with your work can be longer and deeper.
Q. What is the toughest part of being an author?
With a book, it’s hard to feel the satisfaction day-after-day as you’re writing it. It’s just you in the story and a computer and you start to wonder,where am I going with this? Are people going to like it? What if no one reads it? It takes a lot of discipline to stick with it.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
The book of Psalms.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
Every time I go on the road, it’s both exhausting and exhilarating. I really enjoy meeting my readers, and I get to hear a lot of personal stories about how my books have comforted them through difficult times. But I do remember that the last time on tour, for Have a Little Faith, which was back in the fall of 2009, the swine flu was all over the news. So there were bottles of hand sanitizer in just about every green room, bookstore, and venue I was in. I even made a video of it and called it “Have a Little Soap” and put it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Q. Are you working on something new?
I'm hoping to write a little faster than I have been. Having said that, I do like to absorb the impact of each book and see where it takes me next. I have a novel that is percolating in my head right now and could end up being the next project very soon.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
Thank you for embracing my words, and for humbling me. The simple thought that you find my work interesting is more than I ever dreamed for when I first sat down to write. So thank you many times over.
BUY THE BOOKS: