Allen, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
I AM THE TRAITOR is the last novel of The Unknown Assassin Trilogy, the book where we find out the secrets of The Program and the real story of the assassin’s past. The hardest scene to write was the last one. I knew how I wanted the series to end, but writing the scene meant saying goodbye to a group of characters who I’ve been living with for more than three years. By saying good-bye, I don’t mean all the characters die at the end (I’d never tell you that in an interview), but I knew I wouldn’t be writing them again, so I was saying good-bye on a personal level. It was very emotional.
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
The Unknown Assassin taught me about persistence and believing in myself over a long period of time. While I was writing the series, I had several moments that were difficult, where I wondered if I could finish a scene, a particular book, or even the whole trilogy. But I did what writers do. I kept going, kept putting words on the page. The writer’s journey is something like the hero’s journey in the novel. Through all kinds of obstacles, reversals, and conflicts, the hero moves forward. I learned to do the same.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
Speaking of persistence, I wrote for about ten years in a variety of genres (theater, TV, and film) before anyone paid me for writing anything. I AM THE TRAITOR is my seventh published book. My career began with a memoir called HUNGRY and then my first novel was called FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN’T HAVE. While the media is full of stories of what seem like “instant” success, my own journey is more typical. I worked for a long time honing my craft before I was published.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
I’m still waiting for the AHA moment where the secret of all novel writing is revealed. But I have one or two things I can share. I was listening to the radio show called The Moth where people tell personal stories in front of an audience, and the producers said their advice for potential Moth participants was to tell a story from their life where something big changed for them. I think that’s a good description of what a novel is. A character goes through a series of obstacles that leads to a transformation, some kind of shift in their perspective about the world or themselves in the world. If nothing changes for the character, the reader is probably not going to be interested.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Julia Cameron said it best when she suggested that writers post a sign over their workspaces. “God, I’ll take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality.” I always say that you get better with every word you write, so sit down and write a lot of words. Don’t worry about what comes next.
What are you working on now?
Sorry. My next novel is currently top secret information.
ABOUT THE BOOKI Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Program has sent Boy Nobody on countless missions, instructed to kill whichever target he was given. But now, after going rogue, he is on his own mission to rescue his friend Howard, who was captured by The Program.
Boy Nobody manages to free Howard as well as Tanya, a mysterious girl who was being held with him. Putting their skills to the test, Howard and Tanya help Boy Nobody collect information about his father, eventually revealing a dangerous secret that teaches Boy Nobody a valuable lesson -- he can't trust anyone.
On the run from The Program, Boy Nobody must face his past, as he's forced to decide where his loyalties lie.
Allen Zadoff packs the final installment in the Unknown Assassin trilogy with even more action, higher stakes, and mind-blowing reveals that will leave readers riveted.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORAllen Zadoff is the author of the new thriller series, The Unknown Assassin which earned starred reviews and has been optioned for a feature film by Sony Pictures and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment. His YA novel, Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have won the Sid Fleischman Humor Award and was a YALSA selection for Most Popular Paperbacks of 2012. His second novel was My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies, the story of a techie hiding from life after a family tragedy. His third novel Since You Left Me is set in Los Angeles and tells the story of a religious school student who doesn't believe. He also wrote the memoir for adults, Hungry:Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin.
Allen is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. Visit him on the web at www.allenzadoff.com.
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