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Author Mitch Albom - Have a Little faith

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mitch Albom

. Mitch Albom has sold over 28 million books worldwide.
. He is 51 years old.
. He is originally from New Jersey.
. He had a great interest in music when he was younger and was a member of many bands.
. In 1979 he received a bachelor's degree in sociology.
. He worked for several years as a performer.
. In his early 20's he started working for a local newspaper in New York. He then returned to college and earned a masters degree in Journalism.
. Mitch has worked for many publications including Sports Illustrated, The Philadelphia Inquirer and has become an acclaimed sports writer for The Detroit Free Press.
. In 1995 he saw his old professor Morrie Schwartz talking on TV about suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. He got back in touch with him and started writing a book called Tuesday's with Morrie. He wrote the book to help pay Morrie's medical expenses as the professor was now in financial difficulty. It spent four years on the bestsellers list and has gone on to sell over 14 million copies. Tuesday's with Morrie was also made into a successful movie with Hank Azaria and Jack Lemmon. Oprah Winfrey was on of the film's producers.
. Other titles include The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One more Day.
. All three of his best sellers have been turned into movies.
. He is married to Janine Sabino.

Have a Little Faith:
This book is focused on two different characters in Mitch's life. One is Albert Lewis, longtime rabbi of Mitch's who has asked Mitch to write his eulogy when he dies and the other is the Rev. Henry Covington, who is a former drug addict who has turned his life around and is now serving his local community in Detroit - Mitch's home town.

Covington is doing great work using the church to provide food, clothing and shelter to the city's homeless. Unfortunately, Covington isn't able to heat the expansive old building or repair the hole in the roof that allows wind, rain and snow to enter.

Mitch becomes aware of Covington's plight and writes about it in his column in the Detroit Free Press.

"As the world struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Mitch and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times.

In the end, as the rabbi nears death and a harsh winter threatens the pastor's wobbly church, Mitch sadly fulfills the last request and writes the eulogy. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself.

Have a Little Faith is a book about a life's purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man's journey, but it is everyone's story.

MITCH ALBOM's first book Tuesdays with Morrie has sold 12.5 million copies worldwide. His books have collectively sold over 28 million copies globally and have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages. Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day are all published by Sphere". Littlebrown press release

Mitch Albom

What inspired you to write Have A little Faith?
It began with a Rabbi of mine who I knew all my life who came to me and asked me to do a favour for him and he never asked for a favour before so I said sure and he said would you do my eulogy at my funeral. I was shocked as I wasn't very religious anymore. I said if I do it I have to get to know you as a human being. I thought I'd only be meeting him for a few times but it turned out to be 8 years. While this was going on I met a pastor where I live in a very poor area in Detroit called Rev Covington. He was the opposite figure he was African American, he was a former drug dealer, a thief who had turned his life around. I was going between these two worlds going to the small suburban town of New Jersey then heading to Detroit about 1,000 miles away. These two different worlds but both men inspired by the same thing. A strong faith. I thought this probably has a great message to the world and that it why I wrote this.

What did you think of Rev Covington when you first met him?
I didn't think much of him - he was huge and he doesn't look like a pastor. He was wearing a white t-shirt, sweating and holding a box. It was in the first couple of minutes meeting him when he was talking about being in prison and being a drug dealer and I thought it was great he was telling me this but I was saying to him won't you be getting expelled from the pulpit at some point. It took me awhile to trust him. I think it's because we don't tend to trust anything that is different than us when it comes to faith. We are always on the look out for the other guy. I think I managed to overcome that by forcing myself to see him in all types of situations outside the church, in his home, taking care of homeless people and it was very obvious to me that I wasn't used to who he was but he was very clearly a man of great faith.

We are great friends now and I am the first official Jewish member of his church. I go there all the time.

We are trying to fix the hole in his roof of his church. I am giving 10% of the money of this book to that and other holes that are like that around the country. We have enough money now to go ahead and start his roof and we start in a few weeks. We hope to have it fixed before Christmas.

If there was one message people could take from this book - what should it be?
Probably towards the end of the Rabbi's life we were talking about Heaven and I was making a joke about what it would be like and he said he hopes to see me there but not soon and we will have a lot to talk about since the last time we will see each other. I said do you really think we will see each other and I don't think I'll be going to where you are going and he said what do you mean? I said they must have a special place for you as you are a man of god and he looked at me and he said but you are a man of god - everyone is. That to me was the biggest moment of the whole process that someone like him a very righteous and pious man would say something like that to me and I wasn't anything like that. But that was the whole point of the book I think that if you look at everyone like a child of god and you don't wag your finger and say I am more righteous than you are and that my religion is better than you are. Instead to say but you are a man of god like me and you will treat each other better and have more respect for one another because you will see faith that can pull people together instead of pulling them apart. I think that is the single biggest message.

I am more religious now, I participate more now and I am much less cynical about it. Ten years ago I wouldn't have had this discussion with you. I think spending these 8 years with these men on an everyday men feed hungry, helpless people - caring for people - I much more compassionate now. These men helped others without people watching - it wasn't for attention it was because they believed in it.

Were you surprised at the huge success of Tuesdays with Morrie?
Yes, that was supposed to be a tiny labour of love. I only wrote it to help pay Morrie's medical expenses. We had a hard time trying to get a publisher to take it on and people were saying you are a sports writer what do you know about that. We found someone to publish it and when they did it was a very small deal about 20,000 copies. Pretty much anything since then was a surprise.

It changed my life. I was a workaholic. I used to work 90 hours a week. It changed things on two levels what I went through with Morrie - he told me to look at my life and then I readjusted things and then the book came out now all of a sudden instead of people coming up asking me about sport they tell me about their sick mother and they tell me heartbreaking stories.

My life is no longer about the trivial. All my subject matter, conversations, thoughts are about these things.

A lot of you stories focus on the stages of life - In 'for one more day' - people would relate to losing someone and wishing to speak to them for one more time / tell them something they never did - it deals with 'regret' as such - Have you had any regrets?
I addressed that in the book about not being a better student and friend to Morrie. People say you deserve a lot of credit for that book but I say I would have been a better friend and student to see him once a year for 16 years instead of 16 times in one year. I was racing to make up for lost time.

This new book I also think I walked away from my home town proudly and I thought I don't need it it's too small. Everything is not for me and then years later I took a different look at it and think I might have been wrong about that. The bad part of that is that I have had regrets but the good thing is I am here to rectify them.

Do you have much involvement in the 'TV' movies?
Yes, Oprah made it and I spoke to the actors and Hank is a good friend of mine. In the next two - I wrote the script for the movie.

Random Fact: Mitch was a good friend of Frank McCourt.