Larry Strauss Bio
A former subway graffiti artist, stand-up comic, television writer, ghost writer, and corporate poet, I write the kind of fiction I like to read: funny, surprising, insightful, and poignant. I teach high school English and coach basketball in South Central Los Angeles, and try to recruit boys out of materialism, violence and despair and into the world of ideas.
I grew up on the Upper Westside of Manhattan, then attended high school and college in Los Angeles. Writing began suddenly and explosively (and, alas, illiterately) one afternoon when a failed stint at door-to-door sales inspired what I thought was a novel. I¹m quite sure that I was the victim of a popular misconception of the times for semi-literate young men: if Sylvester Stallone could write an Oscar winning screenplay, I could write a great American novel. One of my early efforts, Ink a fictional account of my experiences as a 14 year old New York subway tagger (we called ourselves "graffiti artists" back then) got the attention of my first agent, Peri Winkler who, though unable to place the book, was well connected in Hollywood and managed to get me work writing animated television scripts and a few prime time sitcoms. I gave that up after a few years when I told the producer of "Transformers," the show about cars that turned into robots, that we had been tagged the third most violent children's television program and the producer said he would not be satisfied until we were number one on that list. My first published book was ghost written with Gershon Lesser, MD, who was one of the first physicians to answer medical questions by telephone on the radio. He hosted a weekly program on a Santa Monica public radio station and had signed to write a book about holistic health only to discover that he had no idea how to write a book. I think that I was his forth or fifth writer on that project. He must have been pretty desperate when he offered me the assignment; I was his 10 year old son¹s English and math tutor. We wrote two books and a lot of journal articles and radio commentaries together and then our editor, who had moved from Tarcher to Lowell House, hired me to do a variety of other books, mostly with talented and knowledgeable egomaniacs who didn¹t know how to write but also a few books on my own, including The Magic Man, a biography of Magic Johnson for the mid-grade audience which sold 100,000 copies, mostly through bookfairs, and which is responsible for most of my sporadic fan mail. My first three novels Fake Out, One Man One Vote, and Unfinished Business were published by Holloway House, a small press with two cult writers (Iceberg Slim and Donald Goins) and a rather unambitious marketing approach to the rest of their list. Fake Out was optioned (under its original, prepublication title, Recruiting Violations) by Peter Guber and developed by Rob Fried for a feature film by Tri-Star pictures with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as executive producer but, alas, it was never made. The other two novels have also been developed for feature films but with no production approval as yet. Short stories and essays of mine have appeared in Ambassador Magazine, in-flight publication of the now defunct Trans World Airlines. I try to write the kind of fiction I like to read: funny, surprising, insightful, and poignant. I love books -- I sell literature every day in my classroom to young men and women who were raised on pop and street culture -- and I'm devoted to my own writing. In August of 2003, I carried my 600 page half-edited manuscript twelve miles in blistering heat when the big power failure caught me on the Long Island Railroad at the Mineola station.