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Thursday, August 11, 2011


Kate Gallison has been at various times a store clerk, a bill collector, a computer programmer, a technical writer and a museum docent. As Kate Gallison, her writing credits include three private eye novels and five traditional mysteries. Under the name of Irene Fleming, she writes a series about silent movie production in the early twentieth century. THE BRINK OF FAME will be released this coming Tuesday. Visit Kate/Irene at her website to learn more about her and her books. 

Kate is offering a copy of THE BRINK OF FAME to one lucky reader who posts a comment to the blog this week. Be sure to check back on Sunday to find out who has won. -- AP

Irene Fleming and The Brink of Fame
First of all, thanks to Anastasia for offering me a platform on Killer Crafts.
It's been my experience throughout a long career of writing that the stuff I invent is more attractive to readers than the truth I tell them. Still I try to be truthful. I think of myself, most of us think of ourselves, as Artistes with a capital A. We may be successful in the eyes of the crass material world, or we may be failures, but if we respect ourselves, we adhere to our visions and we try to tell the truth. In order to do this effectively we make things up.
As for me, I'm a middle-class half-Canadian, brought up never to make a scene or talk about my private life in public.  As an Artiste, however, I'm free to blat about anything I like, as long as I cast it in the form of fiction.
To further protect my privacy I started writing under the name of Irene Fleming. Irene's first book was all about early film making. Called The Edge of Ruin, it was packed solidly with historical research, not only about film making in New Jersey and Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Trust, but also about the wild labor movement of the time, left-wing politics, the smell of the Hudson River.  What did I know about any of this stuff, aside from what I read? Nothing. The critics loved it. Publishers Weekly loved it.
At the end of The Edge of Ruin it became clear that the marriage of the plucky protagonist and her neglectful husband was on shaky ground. In the next book Emily and Adam were going to have to break up. Here was a chance to go back and visit a place in my head that I had kept sealed for thirty years, a really ugly place; here was a chance, perhaps, to wring a few laughs out of it.
I wrote the book, calling it The Brink of Fame. The marriage fails. Emily and Adam break up. In the course of dealing with this she has to solve a crime, but, hey, I'm a crime writer; my publisher and my readers are expecting a crime novel. I threw a crime into the stew and tried to keep it relevant.
Publishers Weekly hated it. Harriet Klausner hated it, for God's sake. The story of the plucky heroine abandoned by her husband, betrayed, humiliated, impoverished, her professional competence shaken, and how she works her way back from that, was not what they were looking for. They wanted, I guess, to go on the set and ogle the Hollywood movie stars. Or maybe they wanted a tighter murder mystery.
Not me. I love that little book. (You might love it, too.) When the first copy came in the mail last week I unwrapped it and held it the way you unwrap your newborn infant. I experienced pangs of guilt for paying the smallest attention to the slighting remarks of Publishers Weekly. I said to myself, I have to have a party for this sweet little book. It will take place at the Lambertville Free Public Library next Tuesday, August 16, which is the official release date, between 7 and 9 PM. Drop by if you're in the neighborhood. There will be wine and cheese.

Best of luck with the new book, Kate. Readers, if you’d like to see for yourself whether PW and Harriet are wrong, post a comment to enter the drawing for a free copy of The Brink of Fame. -- AP


Liz V. said...

Best wishes on success of The Brink of Fame. Looked at reviews, and "hated" is too strong. Sorry they weren't more supportive, but scrappy Emily won't let that get her down.

Anonymous said...

Been there! Love your attitude and sure I'm going to love your book. :)

Kate Gallison said...

You're right, of course, Liz, "hated" is too strong. I am ever the queen of hyperbole. What they both complained about was that the characterizations were too thin, and I thought, What! How can this be? Every one of these souls stood before me as though in the flesh, except maybe for Etta, the plump one, whom I stole from the old Wonder Woman comics. I almost had her hollering, "Woo woo!" Instead of that I married her off to the moody Russian actor. They were all real to me.
I hope you love it, Rebecca. I love it. It has qualities. But then, I know all these people. Perhaps my powers of description are becoming too subtle.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this entertaining, interesting and fascinating post about The Brink of Fame and your writing experience. The cover artwork shows that era and this book would be something that I would cherish. Best wishes and much succes with the release. Ellie.

Esri Rose said...

What a fantastic setting for a mystery series! I love that era. Hope I get it!

Malena said...

Love your post, Kate, especially the first paragraph about telling the truth/making things up. You are a true Artiste! Best of luck with the book.

Anonymous said...

An era which has always held my interest for the uniqueness and noir aspect. Your book, The Brink of Fame is definitely an appealing book and your post special. Anne.