Interview with Author Allen Zadoff - The Unknown Assassin

Please welcome Allen Zadoff to Parajunkee’s View. Mr. Zadoff penned a very unique Young Adult thriller/adventure series called THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN series. The first book is called I AM THE WEAPON, which this reader thoroughly enjoyed…and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into I AM THE MISSION which is sitting on my NetGalley shelf saying read me. But, for right now, let’s check out what Mr. Zadoff has to say…thanks for joining us today Mr. Zadoff.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m single and I’m an Aries… Oh, you probably mean my writing bio. I started my career in the theater, and I went to grad school as a stage director at Harvard. I began writing quite late—around 28 years old, and even then I never dreamed I would write books. I attended the Warner Bros Writing Workshop, and I thought I’d end up as a TV and film writer. But life has a way of surprising you, especially when you’re an artist and you’re open to inspiration. So now I find myself a slightly rare breed—a novelist who happens to live in Hollywood.

In your own words, tell us a little bit about your book?
The Unknown Assassin is a mix of action thriller and coming of age novel. It’s the story of a sixteen-year-old assassin who works for a secret government organization. His job is to befriend the children of high-value targets so he can get to their parents and do what he’s trained to do—make them quietly disappear. The first book in the series is I AM THE WEAPON. I’m pleased to say it got incredible reviews and was a YALSA Top Ten Pick for Reluctant Readers and a finalist for Best YA Novel in the International Thriller Awards. The second book is I AM THE MISSION, and it is a big, bad, exciting book. Don’t expect to sleep once you start reading it.

Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite?
I love all my characters, though sadly, some of them have to die. That’s the thriller genre for you. The assassin himself is my favorite. He lost his childhood and became an adult too soon. Now at sixteen, he’s trying to reconcile his mission as a soldier with the feelings of being a regular teenager. What happens when your feelings begin to interfere with your mission, and the stakes are life and death? That’s the core of the character and the series for me.

What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
Strangely, there aren’t a lot of thrillers in the YA world, at least not compared to adult fiction. I’d like to change that. In The Unknown Assassin, I’m working to combine my love of plot-driven action writing with story and characterization. The result is a thriller that goes deeper into the characters lives and feelings, while giving the reader the incredible ups and downs of great thriller writing.

Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Let’s just say I’m not always easy to be around when I’m writing. To create a book, you have to spend hundreds of hours alone and in your head. The transition in and out of those states can be bumpy. When I finish my writing for the day, I can be angry, sad, intense in a lot of different ways. I’ve learned to think of those emotions as a byproduct of the writing session that has to burn off before I can return to normal civilization. Taking a walk helps.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Growing up I was a fan of Hemingway and Raymond Carver. Both of these men wrote in a very spare style, yet were able to convey intense and complex emotion beneath the surface. While I don’t consciously seek to emulate these great authors, their approach to writing is in my DNA, and I think (I hope) some of that is reflected in The Unknown Assassin series.

What are you reading now?
I often do not read when I’m writing. I prefer not to hear another author’s voice in my head. Instead I let my inspiration come from painting and music. Also, I’m a fan of many television series. I think we’re in the second Golden Age of television, and series writing is superb and novelistic. Breaking Bad is a great example.

What advice can you give to struggling writers?
You get better with every word your write. So write a lot of words today, and don’t worry about the quality.


About Allen Zadoff

Allen Zadoff

Allen Zadoff is the author of the THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN series as well as several acclaimed novels includingFOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE, winner of the Sid Fleischman Humor Award and a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults. Allen's action-packed series debut, I AM THE WEAPON (formerly BOY NOBODY), is a page-turning thriller about a teenage assassin that has already been optioned for film by Sony Pictures & Overbrook Entertainment. The book was featured in the Los Angeles Times' Summer Reading guide and has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA. Kirkus Reviews called I AM THE WEAPON "fast, furious, and fun." Look for the sequel, I AM THE MISSION, beginning in June 2014.  Allen is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. His training as a super spy, however, has yet to be verified. Visit Allen on the web at

Interview with Author Allen Zadoff – The Unknown Assassin

I Am the Weapon by Allen Zadoff

on 2014-05-13
Genres: Action & Adventure, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Also by this author: I Am the Weapon, I Am the Mission

They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die-of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he's assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.

Interview with Author Allen Zadoff – The Unknown Assassin

I Am the Mission by Allen Zadoff

Series: The Unknown Assassin #2
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 2014-06-17
Genres: Action & Adventure, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Also in this series: I Am the Weapon
Also by this author: I Am the Weapon
4.5 Stars

He was the perfect assassin.Boy Nobody: No name. No past. No remorse. At least until he began to ask questions and challenge his orders -- until he fell in love with his target. Now The Program is worried that its valuable soldier has become a liability. Boy Nobody, haunted by the outcome of his last assignment, is given a new mission. A test of sorts. A chance to show his loyalty. His objective: Take out Eugene Moore, the owner of a military training and indoctrination camp for teenagers. One target. Limited time frame. Public place. It sounds simple, but a previous operative couldn't do it. He lost the mission and is presumed dead. Boy Nobody is confident he can finish the job. Quickly.But when things go awry, Boy Nobody finds himself lost in a mission where nothing is as it seems: not The Program, his allegiances, or the truth.The riveting second book in The Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff delivers heart-pounding action and thought-provoking characters, as well as a new, exotic setting; a new mission; and new secrets to be revealed.


The Giveaway

3 sets of THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN books 1 and 2 US only.

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A Rockstar Blog Tour
Tour Schedule:
Week One:
6/16/2014- Fiktshun- Guest Post
6/17/2014- New Adult Addiction- Review
6/18/2014- By the Book Reviews- Review
6/19/2014- YA Book Nerd- Interview
6/20/2014- Swoony Boys Podcast- Guest Post
Week Two:
6/23/2014- The Book Landers- Review
6/24/2014- Crossroad Reviews- Review
6/25/2014- The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia- Review
6/26/2014- Curling Up With A Good Book- Guest Post
6/27/2014- Parajunkee’s View- Interview