To read Chapter One of Mary-Ann Tirone Smith’s (Cameroon 1965-67) new memoir, First, You Get Pissed, go to her home page mary-
Mary-Ann’s second novel, Lament For A Silver-Eyed Woman, published in 1987, was the first novel written by an RPCV about the Peace Corps.
Back in 2012 I asked Mary-Ann how she first got published and she told me —
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 made me laugh until I cried. Let’s buy it.’”
And that’s how I first got published. I made Jackie O. laugh and cry!