Shortly after I was born in New York City, my parents moved to Roslyn Heights, New York (Long Island). In school my best subject was science. I had difficulty learning to read, and I still struggle with spelling and grammar. Despite those challenges I am now an avid reader.
I went to college for a few years, and then dropped out. I lived on a commune, then lived in Europe where I was a street musician. All the while, I wrote songs and poems and lots of letters to friends back home. After returning to the United States I studied literature and writing at Beloit College.
After college, I worked as a reporter at the Middletown Times Herald-Record newspaper in Middletown, New York, and later at Compton Advertising in New York City. In 1978, I sold my first novel, Angel Dust Blues, and used the money to start the Dr. Wing Tip Shoo fortune cookie company. For the next twelve years, I sold many more fortune cookies than books.
In 1990, my family and I moved to Westchester County, New York. I now divide my time between writing books and speaking at schools and conferences. When I’m at home, I like to read, watch sports, spend time with my children, play tennis, ski, and surf.
Fallout is part memoir and part speculative fiction. It is rooted in my experience as a twelve-year-old boy living through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. What made this event unique for me was that our family was the only one in town who actually had a full-scale bomb shelter built beneath our house. Thus, I not only worried along with everyone else in our country about the very real possibility of a nuclear World War Three, but I had to worry about trying to survive as well.
Many of my anxieties concerned the possibility that a war might start while my father was at work, and therefore too far away to get home before the bombs fell. In that case: 1. Would there be time for me to run home from school before the bombs fell? 2. Since everyone in town knew we had a bomb shelter, would others get there first and demand to be allowed in? 3. What if my mother, brother, and I got inside and our neighbors came and wanted us to let them in? 4. How would we know how long to stay in the shelter? 5. What would we do when we got out?
These worries mixed with and influenced many of the other insecurities that boys that age feel —about relationships, sex, athletics, and school. As a result, Fallout is partly the story of what really happened, and partly about what could have happened. As a memoir, it is a recollection of a young man growing up in a world that may face destruction at any time. As speculative fiction it is an exploration of what well might have occurred had there really been a war. And finally, I hope that, in its own small way, it is a celebration of life in the face of adversity.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I didn’t start to surf until I was fifty-two years old.
2. I can hang both ends of a spoon from my nose, but not at the same time.
3. I share my writing space with a bison named Buffalo Bill.
Stuff I’m Not Sure You Want To Know:
1. Todd Strasser is the author of more than 140 books for teens and pre-teens. His award-winning young adult novels include The Accident, The Wave, Give a Boy a Gun, Boot Camp, and If I Grow Up. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and several have been adapted into feature films. He has also written for television, newspapers, and magazines such as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times. His most recent novels are the young adult thrillers Wish You Were Dead, Blood On My Hands, and Kill You Last.
2. His books for preteens and middle-schoolers include the seventeen-book Help! I’m Trapped In. . . series, The Kids’ Books. . . series, the Don’t Get Caught. . . series, and many other funny books.