‘It’s just something that came naturally’

‘It’s just something that came naturally’

Daniel Paisner walked across the street from his job at Simon & Schuster to the NBC studios in New York City in 1986.

On the way back, he had a deal to collaborate on a book with longtime “Today Show” weatherman Willard Scott,  his first collaboration and the first of over 60 books he’s written since.

“I got the gig to write about Willard Scott, and they took a chance on me,” Paisner said. “I was working at Simon & Schuster after graduating college and meeting a lot of people and they gave me a shot.”

On Nov. 15, Paisner is appearing at the Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington promoting his newest book with Mets pitching legend Ron Darling, “Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life,” which chronicles the last game of the 1986 World Series.

“It’s always nice getting back to Port Washington to promote work,” said Paisner, a Port Washington resident since 1989. “It’s great when people come out who don’t know me. I always feel like I’m putting my friends out to come to these things, but it’s so nice when I see strangers come and I get to meet them and tell them about my book.”

Working in the publicity department at Simon & Schuster, Paisner began freelancing for The New York Times, Associated Press and New York Daily News, but he said he always knew he wanted to write books.

Growing up in Roslyn, Paisner attended the Wheatley School and edited its student newspaper, The Wildcat, and also put out smaller newspapers with his friends around the neighborhood, he said.

“I’ve always been writing,” he said. “It’s just something that came naturally, and I’ve always been better at translating thoughts from my head through writing.”

While Paisner has collaborated with celebrities and athletes, including Darling, Ivanka Trump, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Serena Williams and the entrepreneur Daymond John, he has also written four novels, which he said is what he originally wanted to do as a writer.

But when he’s collaborating with someone, he said, it’s their story, not one he’s making up.

“It’s a little bit easier for me to work with something else, because the story has been lived and told,” he said. “I’m not looking at blank page and looking to fill it. I know where I’m going with the story.”

Paisner’s most recent novel, “A Single Happened Thing,” which came out in April,  uses baseball from the 1800s to introduce a contemporary character, he said.

Although he’s written mostly nonfiction books, Paisner said, it wasn’t difficult for him to develop his writing voice, and when  he’s collaborating with someone, he has to try and find their voice and write their narrative.

“I do have my own voice and style, but I try to approach collaborations as if I’m writing about characters,” he said. “I want to get inside their head and learn their voices, lives and personalities.”

In 2012, he collaborated on “Scratching the Horizon: A Surfing Life” with surfer Izzy Paskowitz, channeling the voice of a “surfer dude” throughout the book, he said.

Usually working on books for six to nine months, Paisner said, projects began to find him.

“Not a lot of people do this for a living,” he said. “It’s typically a family member or friend, a journalist who followed them around for a long time throughout their career, or a magazine writer who is expanding a story. If not, it’s usually someone in this small community of collaborators.”

Writing books about high-profile athletes and celebrities has gotten Paisner more deals, he said, but he enjoys telling the stories of ordinary people “who do something extraordinary.”

Paisner collaborated with Port Washington resident Krystyna Chiger to write “The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in the Holocaust’s Shadow,” a book that tells the story of Chiger’s time during the Holocaust. 

“It was such an honest and compelling story,” Paisner said. “My favorite stories will always be the ones with ordinary folks. It was difficult because our sessions were very emotional and real.”

Paisner’s experiences with the people he has written about, he said, have spawned friendships that have lasted years.

Every year, Paisner volunteers for Paskowitz’s foundation, working with children who are on the autism spectrum, he said.

“These relationships and friendships are formed from writing books with people, and it’s allowed me to go back and write a second or third with someone,” he said. “All of these books come with a reward, whether it’s financially, or an award, or a friendship. They are all so rewarding.”

By Stephen Romano

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