Sandy Ernest Allen is a writer, journalist and speaker. His work focuses on normalcy, especially to do with gender and mental health. Sandy is queer and transgender and uses he/him and they/them pronouns. He lives in the Catskills, where he grows a lot of food and bakes a lot of bread. 

Sandy's debut book, A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia, was published by Scribner (hardcover in 2018, paperback in 2019). AKOMP is a radical and innovative work, composed in two fonts. It's based on a "true story" mailed to Sandy by his late Uncle Bob, a desert-dwelling hermit. AKOMP was praised by many publications, including The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, O Magazine, Bitch, The New Republic, Psychiatric Times, The Week, Vogue, The Rumpus, and Esquire, which named it one of the best nonfiction books of 2018. In 2020, AKOMP was nominated by New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute as one of the top works of journalism of the last decade. That summer Sandy and the story of how Uncle Bob inspired Sandy's own path were also featured on This American Life

He's now writing its sequel, a reported work examining the future of mental health care.

Sandy’s essays, features and radio stories have run on many publications, including The CutBuzzFeed NewsGay MagazineGuernica, CNN Opinion, Bon Appétit's Healthyishthem. (where he wrote a column called Between the Binary), Pop Up Magazine, and the podcast 99% Invisible. Most of Sandy's writing is online; peruse all his clips here. He has received such honors as a UC Berkeley 11th-Hour Food and Farming Fellowship (which is administered by Michael Pollan), and a fellowship at  the MacDowell Colony. Sandy has been hired to adapt nonfiction IP for the screen and his published work has been optioned for television. He's also writing his own television and film projects. 

Sandy hosts Mad Chata podcast about pop culture and mental health, which he co-created with audio producer Lee Mengistu in 2019. The show's 10-episode pilot season received praise from The AV ClubO Magazine, Self, and the New York Times, which raved: "Listening feels like hanging out with two of your smartest and funniest friends." Much more about the show at its website.

Sandy hosts a sourdough bread baking instructional series called Breb Classwhich was featured in this article in Taste. Sandy created the project along with his husband, TV writer and producer Rob Dubbin.

From 2013 to 2015, Sandy was BuzzFeed News' Deputy Features Editor, helping to establish a longform journalism presence on the site. During that time he aided in the publication of roughly 200 long essays and features; here were some of his favorites. Back in 2009, Sandy co-founded and then ran the online literary magazine Wag's Revue. It's now defunct but its twenty issues are still available for free.

Originally from a small beach town in northern California, Sandy is a graduate of Brown University and has an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa.


Subscribe to his Substack What's Helping Today

Follow him on the bird website at @sealln.