A Joel Engel invented cell phone technology. A Joel Engel composed early 20th-century music.  And a Joel Engel is the world’s foremost handwriting expert (and a really nice man).  I am none of those Joel Engels. I am the Joel Engel who writes for a living.

I’ve authored or co-authored more than 15 books (including a New York Times bestseller)—narrative nonfiction, essays, sports, satire, pop culture, biography, and autobiography.  As a journalist for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among other papers and periodicals, I reported on everything from politics to hot-air ballooning, pregnancy to cancer research, pop culture to business.  I’ve also sold several feature-film scripts to Hollywood and produced about 60 hours of (cable) television.  Two professional experiences that I remember with inexplicable pleasure are writing an infomercial hosted by a celebrity who insisted on being introduced as “the beautiful and talented actress” when in fact she was not quite either, and getting fired from a documentary about Elvis fans for telling the network executive—who until months before had been a Russian interpreter—that her mundane suggestion for the show’s opening sequence was “not good television.”


L.A. ’56: A Devil in the City of Angels

By Duty Bound: Survival and Redemption in a Time of War

The Oldest Rookie (made into the movie The Rookie)

Rod Serling: The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in the Twilight Zone

Screenwriters on Screenwriting

By George: the Autobiography of George Foreman


What Would Martin Say

Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek

The Book of David


We’ve Got it Made in America

Oscar Winning Screenwriters on Screenwriting