Finishing Their Friend's Manuscript

Gagliano anthony
Anyone who has been to a mystery writers’ conference knows how most crime fiction authors are among the most generous and giving writers.

Most authors are happy to introduce a colleague to a reader, knowing that more books being enjoyed is good for all writers.

I’ve heard many authors go out of their way to recommend a new author. What author wouldn’t get a boost when Michael Connelly recommends your novel? Which he has done several times.

When Elaine Viets had a stroke several years ago, many of her fellow writers went on book tour for her. (She’s fine now; and published two novels this year—Catnapped and A Dog Gone Murder.

The generosity of crime writers again is on display.

Back in 2007, Miami resident Anthony Gagliano, left, finally saw his dream come true—he became a published crime author whose debut Straits of Fortune (HarperCollins) was garnering many positive reviews, including from Art Taylor for Mystery Scene. The novel about a former NYPD cop, Jack Vaughn, who found a second career as a personal trainer in Miami was based on his MFA thesis at Florida International University.

Gagliano was working on his second novel, The Emperor’s Club, when he suffered a stroke and died at age 53. His wife, family, and friends were, obviously, devastated. His death rallied his former FIU professors, who also were his friends, to do the ultimate tribute—finish his novel for him.

Les Standiford, director of the FIU creative writing program, and Dan Wakefield, who was the writer in residence at FIU for 15 years, began to work on Gagliano’s manuscript.

Gagliano emperorclub“Tony was one of my all-time best students, and most loyal friend, so it's great to have had a small part in bringing his second novel to print,” said Wakefield. “Both Les and I have such respect for Tony as a writer, and admiration of his work, that this is a real triumph. It is also a gift to readers, for Tony was unmatched in his tough, ironic, private-eye dialogue, and his ability to render the underside of South Florida with fascination and flair.”

The two authors, both of whom have a number of fiction and nonfiction titles to their credit, spent a couple of years working on the book.

“It took a few years, but we were not going to give up easily,” said Standiford.

After hearing about the project, their FIU colleague, and fellow author, John Dufresne agreed to edit the finished book. Dufresne also found a publisher, the small but growing MidTown Publishing.

“We want to get what I think is a wonderful book into the hands of the reading public. We want folks to know that the book is out there at last,” said Dufresne.

Anyone who is in the Miami area this week can learn more about how these friends rallied for their colleague.

The Emperor’s Club will be unveiled during a reading/celebration with Standiford and Dufresene at 8 p.m., Dec. 5, at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, Florida, 305-444-9044.

Lana Callen, Gagliano’s widow, has arranged to donate the author's proceeds to the FIU Creative Writing Program in her late husband's name.

“The event will give us a chance to celebrate Tony’s too-short life and career and talk about how we got the book into shape. And we will also have the pleasure of talking about why we think Tony's work is so darn good,” said Standiford.

A portion of this story appeared in the Sun Sentinel.

Oline Cogdill
Saturday, 29 November 2014 11:11