Pump Up Your Book Chats with Carla Malden

Carla Malden Carla Malden grew up in Los Angeles, California. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from U.C.L.A. with a Bachelor of Arts in English and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society for her academic achievement. She worked extensively in the film business, both in production and development.

With her husband, filmmaker Laurence Starkman, she wrote twelve feature screenplays; they also served as rewrite guns-for-hire. The team of Malden & Starkman wrote and produced the short romantic comedy Whit & Charm, which screened at eight major film festivals, including The Hamptons, and won several awards. They also wrote and created a series of Cine Golden Eagle Award-winning Art History films produced in association with The Detroit Institute of Art and The National Gallery.

Along with her father, Academy Award-winning actor Karl Malden, Carla co-authored his critically acclaimed memoir, When Do I Start?, published by Simon & Schuster.

AfterImage:  A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life delivers a fiercely personal account of her battling the before and surviving the after of losing her husband to cancer. It offers an alert for an entire generation:  this is not your mother’s widowhood.

Carla Malden lives in Brentwood, California where she is currently completing her first novel as well as a children’s book illustrated by her daughter, Cami Starkman.

Visit her website at www.carlamalden.com.

Thank you for this interview, Carla.  Can you tell us why you wrote your book?

I wrote this book because I had to.  It saved my life in a way.  I needed to tell the story of what I had just lived through – the illness and death of my husband – in order to make it real somehow.  I also wrote it to bear witness to his life, to bring to life the person he was throughout his entire life up until those last few months, because that was also bearing witness to my own life.  Since he was also my writing partner (in the screenplay world), on some level I needed to remind myself that writing was something I could still do.


Which part of the book was the hardest to write?

It was all equally difficult to relive, but the hardest aspect was the re-writing – to go back into that state a year after finishing the book and do the final polish.  In a way, I suppose, it demonstrated that I had moved forward a bit in my life because it threw me back into that state, which meant that I was not living every day in that state any more.

AFTERIMAGE Does your book have an underlying message that readers should know about?

The underlying message of AfterImage is “carpe diem” – seize the day.  This moment is all we really have, so enjoy these tiny moments of human connection instead of being so focused on extraneous things.

Would you like to tell us about your home life?  Where you live?  Family?  Pets?

I live in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, eight minutes from the home I grew up in (when there’s no traffic).  I have a daughter who is 24 years old and is in graduate school; happily, she lives about fifteen minutes away and we see each other all the time.  I live alone but am grateful to have wonderful friends and the most magnificent family.  No pets – just allergies.

Where’s your favorite place to write at home?

I write in my office and, occasionally, with my laptop in bed.  Someone recently asked me if I every write outdoors and that struck me as so bizarre; it had never occurred to me.  I’m very much a creature of habit.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I go to the movies.  I see almost everything even though I genuinely like very little.  I also spend as much time with my daughter as her graduate school schedule permits.

What is the most frustrating part about being an author?

The after-the-writing part.  The trying to get sold part.  And all the waiting that goes along for that ride.

What is the most rewarding?

In terms of my current book, AfterImage, it has been extremely rewarding to have people contact me and thank me for articulating their feelings or their experience of grief in ways that they were not able to.  Some people have told me that they gave the book to family members so that their sisters or brothers or whoever could better understand what they had gone through.

If you could be anywhere in the world other than where you are right now, where would that place be?

Having high tea at the Dorchester Hotel in London.

Your book has just been awarded a Pulitzer.  Who would you thank?

I’d thank my husband since this book is about him and our life together, and also because, despite his death four years ago, he will always inform everything I do.

Thank you so much for this interview, Carla!