Emil Sher

Emil wears many different hats as a writer, whatever the weather. On any given day he might start out wearing a children’s fiction hat, stop to walk his hatless dog, and then return to his desk with a playwright’s hat neatly strapped to his head. A few hours later the strap is untied, the dog is fed, and Emil is back at his hat rack, deciding what to wear next. He might be working on a screenplay, a script for a cartoon show, the lyrics for a musical. What Emil loves about writing is that you never really stop writing, even if you’re not writing anything down. Ideas and images are often floating in his head. Hence a hat (even if it can’t be seen): he needs something to help catch his thoughts before they drift away.

Whatever the hat, whatever the story, Emil’s work day always begins the same way: he stares at the open sea of a blank page and weeps. How, he wonders, will he possibly fill this gulf with words that count, with language that might last after a page is turned? He feels stuck before he has even started. And then he repeats his daily mantra: “Write.”

And so Emil writes. He writes for the young and once-were-young. He wrote the stage adaptation of Hana’s Suitcase, the beloved Holocaust children’s book by Karen Levine. He also had the pleasure of adapting an Annick book for the stage: Edward the ‘Crazy Man’ by Marie Day. Other plays for young audiences include Bluenose and Beneath the Banyan Tree. Emil founded Breadbox Theatre in 2005 to introduce early-grade schoolchildren to the joys of live theater with a story that unfolds in a breadbox filled with kitchen-utensil puppets. Several of Emil’s poems have appeared in Chirp magazine and he has also written the story for a children’s ballet performed by Ballet Jorgen.

Emil’s works for older folks include such stage plays as Mourning Dove, a feature-length screenplay, and several radio dramas. His plays have been translated into Hebrew, Slovak, and Italian. In addition to his mother’s praise, Emil has received awards for his radio plays and screenplays. He gives presentations in schools about the writing life, and never steps into a classroom without a hat.

Annick Press books
by Emil Sher