A Writer Writes: Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon 1965-67) Makes Jackie O Laugh & Cry

When I finished my second novel,  The Book of Phoebe (the first was really bad), I could not get an agent because I hadn’t been published, and of course, I couldn’t get published because I didn’t have an agent.  Catch-22.  Then I read an interview in my local paper with a writer who mentioned that her editor was Kate Medina at Doubleday. I wrote a letter as compelling as I could make it to Medina saying I’d written a novel but couldn’t find an agent and mentioned the interview I’d read and asked if she’d read my novel. I heard back from her assistant, Anne Hukill, who asked me to send it to her.  I did.  She loved it.  She asked her colleague Adrian Zackheim to read it and he loved it, too.  (Adrian went on to edit Equator, a great travel book written by Thurston Clarke (Tunisia 1968). Anne was then  instructed by Medina to get all 12 senior editors at Doubleday to read my manuscript. One of the twelve was Jackie O.  When I was offered the contract nine month laters, with  impramaturs from all 12, I told Anne how I’d fantasized that Jackie had my manuscript on her bedside table.  She said to me, “I’ll never forget when Mrs. Onassis came into my office with your manuscript.  She plopped it down on my desk and said, ‘This writer make me laugh until I cried.  Let’s buy it.’  And that’s how I first got published. I made Jackie O. laugh and cry!


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