How to Get Published is a continuing feature at The Book Bin where we ask authors to tell us their publishing stories. Was it a rocky road or did it come easy for them? Did they start with an agent and get a NY publisher interested in their book or did they self-publish? What words of wisdom do they have for all of us who would like to be published one day?
Today’s guest is Carla Malden, author of the memoir, AfterImage, published by Globe Pequot.
When my husband died, I needed to make sense of my bizarre, new, through-the-looking-glass reality: widowhood too soon. The only way I knew to do that, instinctively, was to write – to try to give words to the experience, to try to come to terms with the fact that this had really happened. So I wrote AFTERIMAGE: A BROKENHEARTED MEMOIR OF A CHARMED LIFE.
Once I began writing, I realized that I didn’t want the book to be exclusively about trauma and tragedy. I wanted it to be about my husband’s life and who he was, about small moments of human connection. I needed to write a love letter. So the book became a fiercely personal account of the devastation that had flattened my life, but also a sort of celebration of a life and a relationship.
My husband and I were screenwriting partners, but our long-time agent as screenwriters would did not have the connections in the publishing world necessary to handle this project. I gave it to an old friend who is a literary agent in Los Angeles and he partnered with an East Coast agent. I knew she was the perfect person to sell this book when she said to me, “This is not a cancer book. This is a love story.”
A number of years ago, I had co-written my father, Karl Malden’s, autobiography (WHEN DO I START?) and it had been published by Simon & Schuster. But AFTERIMAGE was a trickier project. Some publishers were scared of the subject matter. My agents kept reminding me that as with having your photograph taken, you just need one good one. And we found that perfect match in Globe-Pequot. My editor there responded immediately and wholeheartedly with enormous sensitivity.
Finding Globe-Pequot was worth the wait. I guess that’s the moral of the story of getting this book published. It just takes one “yes.”
Carla Malden grew up in Los Angeles, California. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from U.C.L.A. with a Bachelor of Arts in English and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society for her academic achievement. She worked extensively in the film business, both in production and development.
With her husband, filmmaker Laurence Starkman, she wrote twelve feature screenplays; they also served as rewrite guns-for-hire. The team of Malden & Starkman wrote and produced the short romantic comedy Whit & Charm, which screened at eight major film festivals, including The Hamptons, and won several awards. They also wrote and created a series of Cine Golden Eagle Award-winning Art History films produced in association with The Detroit Institute of Art and The National Gallery.
Along with her father, Academy Award-winning actor Karl Malden, Carla co-authored his critically acclaimed memoir, When Do I Start?, published by Simon & Schuster.
AfterImage: A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life delivers a fiercely personal account of her battling the before and surviving the after of losing her husband to cancer. It offers an alert for an entire generation: this is not your mother’s widowhood.
Carla Malden lives in Brentwood, California where she is currently completing her first novel as well as a children’s book illustrated by her daughter, Cami Starkman.
Visit her website at www.carlamalden.com.