Tanya Shaffer
Services Offered
writing, writing workshops, writing coaching, speaking
Most Recent Book Title
Somebody's Heart is Burning
Book Description
"Somebody's Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa" tells the story of a young woman's wandering and volunteering on the African continent in the mid-90's, painting indelible portraits of the people she lived and worked with during that time. (Vintage, 2003)
Additional Book Titles
Baby Taj (play, published by Samuel French, Inc); The Fourth Messenger (musical, with composer Vienna Teng)
Location (city/state/country)
Ann Arbor/MI/USA
Author bio
Tanya Shaffer Bio

Tanya Shaffer is an award-winning playwright and author of the acclaimed travel memoir Somebody’s Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa. Her award-winning plays Baby Taj, Let My Enemy Live Long!, Brigadista, and Miss America’s Daughters have been produced by major regional theatres such as Berkeley Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, San Diego Repertory Theatre, and ACT Theatre (Seattle); received Bay Area Theatre Critics' Awards and been nominated for a National Theatre Critics' Association Steinberg Award (for the best play to premiere outside of New York City); and toured to more than forty cities in the U.S. and Canada. She now blogs on a range of topics, from parenting to Buddhism to creativity to travel, and hosts the podcast Off-Leash Arts: Conversations on Creativity, in which she interviews artists from a range of disciplines.

Tanya's musical The Fourth Messenger, a collaboration with composer Vienna Teng, enjoyed sold-out runs in Berkeley, Taiwan, and the New York Musical Festival (Check out the soundtrack album). She has also co-written two shows for the Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. Her newest play, Manatee on Mars, had its first online reading, sponsored by Remote Theater and Playwrights Foundation, in 2020.

Her stories and essays have appeared on Salon.com and in more than a dozen anthologies.

In her former life as an actor, she had the privilege to work with major regional theatres such as the California Shakespeare Theatre, the Old Globe Theater, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, and many others.

Tanya leads writing workshops in a practice called Off-Leash Writing, designed to free your words and bring forward your authentic voice, as well as Memoir/Fiction/Personal Essay workshops.
Professional Speaker Topics
writing, creativity, writing for theater, writing for the page versus writing for the stage, unleashing your creativity, living a creative life
Favorite Quote or Personal Motto

"If you wanna sing out, sing out. And if you wanna be free, be free." - Harold and Maude

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.” - Anne Lamott

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