Eric Olsen was born and raised in Oakland—go A’s!—California and started college as a pre-med student at UC Berkeley, like all ambitious young freshmen at the time. His interest in medicine lasted about half-way through his first quiz in “orgo.” He finished college many years and false starts later with a BA in Comparative Literature (Classical Greek, a long story and we won’t get into that here). He got his MFA in fiction in 1977.
With Glenn Schaeffer, he co-founded in 2000 and then directed the International Institute of Modern Letters, a literary think tank that helped writers who were victims of censorship and persecution. He also helped establish the first American City of Asylum, in Las Vegas, an Institute program. The Institute also ran programs to support emerging writers in this country and abroad.
Before that, he was executive editor of custom publishing at Time Inc Health, a TimeWarner company. He left TimeWarner after that company’s disastrous merger with AOL, in other words too late. And before that, he was a freelance journalist. He has published hundreds of magazine articles, a few short stories, and six nonfiction books, including this one.
He was a Teaching/Writing Fellow at Iowa (1976/77), and after leaving the Workshop, he received a James A. Michener Fellowship for fiction. Most recently, his writing has delved into art and design. He continues, despite common sense, and the advice of family and friends, to work on a novel and screenplay.
Olsen does sometimes wish he’d toughed it out in orgo.
Concrete at Home: Innovative Forms and Finishes: Countertops, Floors, Walls, and Fireplaces, with Fu-Tung Cheng (Taunton Press, 2005)
Concrete Countertops: Design, Forms, and Finishes for the New Kitchen and Bath, with Fu-Tung Cheng (Taunton Press, 2002)
LifeFit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life, with Ralph Paffenbarger, MD, PhD (Human Kinetics Publications, 1996)
Forming a Moral Community (Bioethics Consultation Group, Berkeley, California,1995)
On the Right Track (Bobbs Merrill, New York, 1984)
More than he cares to remember.
“In Turlock,” five short chapters from a novel in progress (and never finished), in Quarry West, 1977 reprinted in Valley Light, edited by Jane Watts (Poet & Printer Press, 1978)
“My Father’s Son,” short story in Carolina Quarterly, Winter 1977
Glenn Schaeffer graduated in four years summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with his BA and MA in Literature from the University of California Irvine. He earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1977.
During his 30-year career in the gaming industry, he served for nearly 20 years as president and chief financial officer of Mandalay Resort Group (sold to MGM Resorts International). He is co-founder and CEO of Perpetual Gaming, a slot-machine company based in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Magazine has profiled him as one of the five inventors of modern Las Vegas and Institutional Investor has profiled him as one of America’s top ten corporate financiers. From 1999-2005, he was the world’s leading site promoter for championship boxing.
A literary activist, Schaeffer assists writers of conscience who face persecution or censorship abroad, having established Las Vegas as the first U.S. City of asylum, and with Black Mountain Institute at UNLV, he fosters the role of the humanities and public intellectuals in issues of contemporary society. He is also principal of Intellectual Property Group, a Hollywood literary agency that represents writers such as Don DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates, James Ellroy, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Dr. Timothy LeHoye and Nobelist Gao Xingjian.
His theatrical production Doors of Perception debuts soon on the Las Vegas Strip. It is a participatory experience featuring installations by artists such as James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Tony Oursler, and Ai Wei Wei. He also played himself in the NBC television series Las Vegas. His honorary doctorates are LLD, University of Nevada Las Vegas and LHD, Victoria University, New Zealand.