Monday, September 28, 2009

A Tribute To KATE DUFFY


image Dear Friends,
The publishing world was deeply saddened today as we learned of the loss of Kensington editor and dear friend Kate Duffy. She was much beloved by her authors and even more astonishing, she was beloved by authors who had never even had the privilege of working with her. She was a tremendous supporter of the romance genre and she truly loved the books she edited and promoted with such enthusiasm and devotion. She was also a big supporter of Squawk Radio.

To pay tribute to her today, we’d like to rerun this fun interview Kate did with our own resident curmudgeon Kitty Kuttlestone (a.k.a. Connie Brockway) in March 2006.

God bless you, Kate. We’ll miss you dearly.

KITTY: Okay, Kate. The squawkers have nixed all the good questions as being unsuited to your “exalted position,” a phrase so ripe for comment that I think I’ll probably end up at the pearly gates just onthe merits of resisting it alone. Anyway, Toots, let’s get this over so we can hit the bars.

KATE : Amen, sister.

KITTY: You’re the Editorial Director at Kensington. What does that entail exactly? And feel free to go into long descriptive passages about thrones and scepters.

KATE: I read books, I buy books, I make suggestions for the cover copy and the cover art, I do long range planning and short range planning and family planning. OK, maybe not the last one. I represent the company to the authors and the author to the company. And on Wednesday, I have buttered scones for tea.

KITTY: Let us talk now about Kate Duffy, the woman. Who is she? What experiences fashioned her young life? What were her fragile dreams and at what tender age were they ripped from her like the wings from butterflies and flung—oops. Sorry. Talking about me again. Tell me about you.

KATE: I was talking with Walter Zacharius one day (he owns Kensington ) and I was wondering why some of my colleagues seemed to think I could be difficult on occasion when I am such a pixie and he said, “Yeah, a pixie with a machete.” Frankly, I cannot understand this. I am a giver, I am a people person, I have a Schweitzer-like reverence for every living thing – as long as you do my biding. Otherwise, not. For myself, Kitty, I don’t ask much. Maybe, a little kindness, a little respect and a lot of money to buy great books. That’s not really too much to ask is it?

KITTY: No. You could have thrown in a few Cubano Perfectos and still come off ‘umble.
Let’s say I see you at RWA and I wanta schmooze you. What should my opening salvo be? “Hi Kate. How’s the (fill in the blank)? Been (fill in the blank) lately? What did you think of the last episode of (fill in the blank)?”

KATE: Oh, good I love mad-libs. Just don’t mention if I have rejected your book at any time in the past. It makes me skittish if you make any sudden moves. Other than that, I am very schmoozable.

KITTY: You’ve been an editor for a real… What? Oh, shut up, Brockway. I know how to do an interview. Sorry about that, Kate. Now, you’ve edited ... a lot. Who all have you edited? Name names.

KATE: Like you are younger than springtime. From Jude Deveraux (some of the Velvet books and the Twin books) and Judith McNaught ( WHITNEY, MY LOVE) to my current victims among whom are Janet Dailey, Lori Foster, Susan Johnson and Mary Janice Davidson.

KITTY: Who was your favorite author to edit? And why?

KATE: There are so many things I could say here but I am going to resist. They are all wonderful. Each and every one. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

KITTY: Yeah and JFK and I just “talked.” What’s the most innovative thing you’ve done as an editor?

KATE: Invented whole companies and imprints like Silhouette and Brava.

KITTY: Okay, you’ve started some racy lines there at Kensington. What’s the deal with all this sex? I mean in the books.

KATE: I know it’s been a while, Kitty, but romance sometimes leads to sex and in fiction, it leads to great sex. Which sells a lot of books.

KITTY: Hey, don’t loook at me. Brockway made me ask that one. And now, “Let’s talk James Frey.” Personally, I like the kid. He’s got moxie. True, a case might be made that he’s not too bright but let’s face it, who would have guessed his book was going to tear up the lists?

What’s your take on his book? As a reader and as a member of the publishing community? Where do you think all this outrage comes from? I mean, seriously, if the worse lie the world had to endure is one that makes Oprah look silly, I’d call the world fortunate.

KATE: A couple of years ago, a former colleague of mine here, Tracy Bernstein was asked the following question at a writers conference. Keep in mind, ANGELA’S ASHES was on the bestseller list at the time. This lady raised her hand and asked Tracy the following, “I would really like to write a memoir but my life is so boring. Can I write my memoir about someone else?”

This is going to sound like being brilliant after the fact but I didn’t believe a lot of it (the book) when I read it before the fracas. Fracas is a word I like to write but think I look silly saying out loud. Fracas. Oh, where was I? You know, the part where he hauls his bloody and bruised carcass onto a plane? I don’t think so. But I didn’t feel ripped off. It was a good read. Publishing and Oprah’s response left me breathless and not in a good way.

KITTY: Also, and being practical here, as one of the squawkers put it: “A crack-addict lied? Wow. Imagine that.”

That’s it! You’re free, Kate. Thank you for helping me keep this gig. It’s just temporary, you know. Until I get back on my feet. Did I mention I have a memoir I’m pitching?

KATE: Thank you, Kitty. You leave me breathless, too, and not in a good way.

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