Alan Brennert was born in Englewood, New Jersey, to Herbert E. Brennert, an aviation writer, and Almyra E. Brennert, an apartment rentals manager. He grew up in Cliffside Park and Edgewater, New Jersey, always living within a mile of the legendary Palisades Amusement Park. Since 1973 he has lived in Southern California, where he received a B.A. in English from California State University at Long Beach and did graduate work in screenwriting at UCLA.
In addition to novels, he has written short stories, teleplays, screenplays, and the libretto of a stage musical, Weird Romance, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by David Spencer. He has developed screenplays for major studios, as well as miniseries, pilots and television movies, and earned an Emmy Award for his work as a writer-producer on the television series L.A. Law. His short story "Ma Qui" was honored with a Nebula Award in 1992.
His novel Moloka'i, about the forced segregation of leprosy patients to the settlement of Kalaupapa in Hawai'i, won praise from The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and Publishers Weekly, and became a national bestseller in paperback as well as a favorite selection of reading groups across the country and was a 2012 "One Book, One San Diego" selection. His next novel, Honolulu, was also well receivedthe San Francisco Chronicle called it "a moving, multilayered epic by a master of historical fiction" and The Washington Post named it one of the Best Books of 2009and has also become a popular book club selection.
His new novel, Palisades Park - published by St. Martin's Press in April, 2013 - is a return to his roots. Set at the legendary Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey, he calls it "a love letter to a cherished part of my childhood."
This biography was last updated on 03/18/2013.
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In two separate interviews Alan Brennert discusses his first two books, Moloka'i and Honolulu
Alan Brennert discusses Honolulu
Did the idea for Honolulu come out of your research for your
previous book, Moloka'i?
In a way. One of the most colorful periods of modern Hawaiian history was the so-called "glamour days" of the 1920s and 30s. Though I read about it in my research for Moloka'i, it was a time period I couldn't really explore in depth in that book, since my main characters were held in isolation at Kalaupapa. These were the years when Hawai'i made its deepest impression on the American consciousness: the years of Matson liners, the China Clipper, Hollywood celebrities vacationing in Honolulu, and the Hawai'i Calls radio show that broadcasted popular hapa-haole music to the mainland. I found myself wanting to tell a story against that romantic backdrop.
But Honolulu also presents a very different picture of Hawai'i in those "glamour" days.
Yes, there were almost two Honolulus existing alongside one anotheror more accurately, interwoven, like the Korean patchwork quilts I write about in the book. Because at the same time this romantic, glamorous image of ...
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