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PEACE CORPS WORLDWIDE

 

An online magazine featuring interviews, reviews of books by writers who once served as Peace Corps Volunteers; and articles demonstrating the life-long impact of Peace Corps service. 


April 15, 2018 "How She Got Published": Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)

                                                                                                    --An Interview with John Coyne.
 

To read Chapter 1 and 2 of Mary-Ann Tirone Smith's (Cameroon 1965-67) new memoir, First, You Get Pissed, go to her home page www.mary-anntironesmith.com. Consecutive chapters will appear weekly, every Sunday, along with a link to the previous chapters. Comments are welcome by Mary-Ann and might even evolve into a new spin on a book discussion group.

 

Mary-Ann's second novel, Lament For A Silver-Eyed Woman, published in 1987, was the first novel written by a former Peace Corps volunteer, centered on service in Cameroon, set on the side of an active volcano, rising 13,000 feet above the equatorial sea.

 

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.  [ed. note: 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 and give it the OK. One of the twelve was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. When I was offered the contract nine month laters, with  imprimaturs 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.'"

 

That is how Mary-Ann Tirone Smith first got published. She says, "To have made JFK's widow laugh was all I could ever ask for."

 

The Book of Phoebe  and Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman will be be available in new editions later this year through the Authors Guild "Back in Print" imprint, in conjunction with The Independent Publishers Group.