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Interview: Carla Malden, Author of AfterImage: A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life

Carla Malden grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from the Oakwood School in North Hollywood, and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from UCLA, with a BA in English. She worked in the film industry, both in production and development. Later, Carla Malden and husband Laurence Starkman wrote 12 feature-film screenplays, worked as rewrite guns-for-hire on various projects and penned and produced the short romantic comedy WHIT & CHARM, which won several awards. They also wrote and created a series of Cine Golden Eagle Award-winning art history films. Ms. Malden is currently completing her first novel — as well as a children’s book illustrated by her daughter, Cami Starkman, who attends the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

Ms. Malden’s web site is www.carlamalden.com

Please tell us a bit about your book, AfterImage: A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

My book is about my transition to widowhood. It is about a last year and a first year: the last year of my husband’s life and my entire life up to that point and the first year after he died and the rest of my life. I have found that different moments and themes resonate with different readers according to their personal experiences with relationships, marriage, and loss. I hope that everyone will think about valuing their loved ones in the moment – which is all we really ever have. Put simply, the take-away is “carpe diem.”

Who/what inspires you the most within your book?

I was inspired by trying to capture who my husband was in this book – not just as a dying man, but as the vibrant, loving, joyful human being he was throughout his life. He inspired me all my life and he inspired me after his death in the writing of this book.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

I don’t have a favorite, but I do love what I call the “Snapshots” which serve as flashbacks to moments throughout my husband’s life. They punctuate the chronology of the story of his illness and death and then their aftermath. They also serve as a sort of comic relief, allowing the reader to come up for air from the intensity of the rest of the book.

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

I have rejected the idea of turning this book into a movie, which is ironic since I have spent most of my career as a screenwriter. It’s impossible to think of anyone playing my husband – or me, for that matter. That’s just a little too weird.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

I most enjoy those moments when you’re truly in the zone, when the world recedes and you’re just along for the ride. The words have a momentum of their own. With this book, which was so intense and emotional and personal, I have big black holes in my memory where it comes to the writing of this book.

You’re least favorite aspects of writing?

I don’t relish re-reading for the umpteenth time.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

I always read David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs. I’ve recently been on a Meg Wolitzer kick. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m a sucker for Wuthering Heights and T.S. Eliot.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading Joyce Maynard’s The Good Daughters and the new biography of Paul McCartney, waiting to get to Keith Richards.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

T.S. Eliot, J. D. Salinger (how can you not?), David Sedaris, William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams.

I’d serve them spaghetti with homemade sauce because it’s easy to make ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to spend half my time in the kitchen. Besides, who doesn’t like spaghetti? (It would be probably be penne because it’s easier to eat.)

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