Kate Gallison has been at various times a store clerk, a computer programmer, a technical writer, and a museum docent. Her published writings include three private eye novels (the Nick Magaracz series), five traditional mysteries featuring Episcopal minister Lavinia Grey, and Monkeystorm, a YA suspense novel. Under the name of Irene Fleming, she wrote two mystery stories about silent movie production in the early twentieth century, The Edge of Ruin (winner of the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance fiction prize for 2011) and The Brink of Fame. She is presently at work on Bucker Dudley, a YA historical adventure of the War of 1812.
She is descended from a convicted Salem witch.
Photo by Ballerina Biker Photography
This is where I tell you what I've been doing for the last however-many years. Writing, mostly; I penned, or penciled, my first short story when I was in kindergarten. It was three sentences long. My mother edited it. Educated in Canada, she frowned on any usage that was not Standard English.
My mother was a strong literary influence on me. She enjoyed mystery stories and read paperbacks voraciously, so that was what was lying around the house for me to read, too, as I grew up. She subscribed to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, so one of my earliest ambitions was to write a story that would be published there. I'm happy to say I've had three. None lately. I find short stories very hard to write. You have to start with a brilliant idea, and I don't have that many.
Writing novels is different. All you need there is life experience, dogged persistence, and a gift for written expression. That's to write them. To get them published all you need is a stroke of fantastic luck.
Here's the life experience part. The family moved every four years when I was growing up, Philadelphia to South Jersey to Illinois to North Jersey to Arlington, Virginia. My father worked for a corporation that believed in moving its people around. I attended Douglass College, now part of Rutgers, in New Brunswick, for two and a half years before I dropped out and took a job with the Washington Post as a library clerk. I married my college sweetheart and went back to New Jersey. Ten years later the marriage ended.
After that I took clerical jobs in Trenton, first as a sales clerk for a stationer's and then as a bookkeeper for the State. Then I was accepted into a state program for training computer programmers for the Treasury Department. By putting together the credits from various college-level courses I had taken over the years I was able to obtain a bachelor's degree from Thomas Edison State College. With computer skills and a college degree I was able to earn a respectable living.
Meanwhile I met and eventually married the great love of my life. We moved to Lambertville. All the while I was writing. Then one day I had a stroke of fantastic luck. I met an English professor neighbor at a dinner party, told him I'd written a book, Unbalanced Accounts, and he asked to read it. He liked it. He gave me the name of his editor at Little, Brown, and the editor liked it enough to publish it.
So there you are. I've been getting published off and on ever since. The Edge of Ruin, which I wrote under the name of Irene Fleming for some reason (don't ask me why, I thought it would do something for me, I forget what) won a lovely prize, the New Jersey fiction award for 2011 from the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance. I haven't even mentioned my three sons, who grew up to be wonderful men and a great comfort to me. Life has been pretty good, all things considered.