Waldo Mellon is a pen name for Steven Saint Lawrence Adams, a writer of screenplays.
Q: What inspired you to write What's What and What to Do About It?
A: I wrote this book out of fatigue and disappointment after 40 years of writing screenplays that were meant to be both funny and serious. I was never a farcical guy. Funny had to happen in reality.
I had modest financial success but very little satisfaction with the final product. I wanted to feel again that early joy of writing. A fake advice column in which I invented a fake advice columnist--Waldo Mellon--answering fake letters written by me, seemed like just the ticket.
Q: Why did you decide to write the book under the name Waldo Mellon?
A: Waldo Mellon was a name given to me 55 years ago when I was in a delightfully enthusiastic and inept rock band in college.
The lead singer was one of those people you may meet early in life who changes the way you think about everything forever. He gave us all silly names--Penrod Twig, Mort Filpod, Orville McKorkle, and me, Waldo Mellon.
Thirty-five years ago he killed himself, and I've tucked Waldo Mellon away for whenever he might want to pop out.
Q: How did you choose the topics to include?
A: All topics come from my life. I have no appetite for research. The shelves in my head are stocked with nothing but me.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: I would love for it to help them sharpen their opinions about things. And I'd love for them to laugh a lot.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm turning an unproduced screenplay I love into a book. I'm also finishing a sequel to What's What and What To Do About It called What's Death and What To Do About It. If you think I'm joking, I don't blame you.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I know that I am better at writing than I am at talking about my writing.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb