Writing

As a kid I dreamed of be a writer, and as I grew older, that dream grew. By the time I got to college it had grown larger than I could handle, so I dropped out of Stanford and went to live in Paris, figuring that’s what writers did. I wandered the streets that Hemingway and Joyce had wandered, drank in the same cafes, and thought writerly thoughts. In fact, I did everything but actually write. And, to be honest, I don’t know if I would ever have actually written a book if not for a bizarre twist of fate.

That’s the story I tell in The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, woven together with stories from my travels, ancient tales of wisdom that helped me discover just how it is that what seems like a curse may be a blessing. My new book, Dreidels on the Brain,  is a tale about finding light within the darkness, and spinning life into story. You can learn more about both books, as well as my CDs, on the Books and CDs page.

These days, in addition to upcoming books, I’m writing for other media. You’ll find my blog on this site, which I invite you to check out. I’ve always loved movies, and have been studying the craft of screenwriting. I have begun consulting on various films, and have written the script for the film adaptation of The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness,  which will simply be called The Beggar King. I have also been learning to write for live theater, and am currently co-writing a musical adaptation of The Beggar King. Stay tuned to Storypage.com for information as these projects develop.

My many years of telling stories before live audiences has transformed my approach to writing. There’s something so compelling about a well-told story, a sense of immediacy and connection that comes through, and it can be a real challenge to bring that to the written word. Having developed an understanding of how the techniques of live storytelling translate to the page, I have begun speaking at writers conferences and leading workshops for writers, helping them discover new ways to bring the magic of live storytelling into their own work. If you’re a writer looking to develop your voice and think you might like to attend such a workshop, drop me a line using this contact form. You might also think about attending a master class I’ll be teaching in conjunction with the Kauai Writers Conference in November of 2018. They have an amazing lineup of writers in a truly magnificent setting.  Hope to see you there – Aloha!

National Jewish Book Award Silver Medal

Sydney Taylor Award Honors

A Scholastic Reading Club Selection

“It’s the storyteller’s narrative art, practiced here at its best…Joel ben Izzy is a gifted teller of tales.”

            –Dallas Morning News

While the stories I tell come from all over the world, my own life and my travels, I am especially drawn to those tales where the lines between “story” and “reality” blur. It happens when a character from an ancient Chinese folktale comes to life in a doctor’s office, or when the great Sufi trickster Mulla Nasrudin suddenly shows up in line at the grocery store, or when decisions made by the fools from Chelm turn out to be far wiser than those of our nation’s leaders…

As a kid I dreamed of becoming a writer, and as I grew older, that dream grew. By the time I got to college it had grown so large that I couldn’t handle it, so I dropped out of Stanford and went to live in Paris, figuring that’s what writers did. I wandered the streets Hemingway and Joyce had wandered, drank in the same cafes, and thought writerly thoughts.  In fact, I did everything but actually write. To be honest, I might not have ever have written a book but for a bizarre twist of fate…

Over the past twenty-five years my work as a story consultant has taken me to some fascinating people and places, from coaching CEOs in New York skyscrapers to training women entrepreneurs in the hills of Rwanda, from work with thought leaders at a Washington, D.C. think tank to high-tech cancer researchers in South San Francisco, and from Hollywood movie studios to coffee farmers in Chiapas. Varied as my clients are however, they all have one thing in common…

What’s your story?

Use the form below to reach out with questions,

inquire about booking, consulting or workshops,

or simply drop Joel a line to say hello.