Michael Malone, novelist and large-scale television writer, has died at the age of 79

Michael Malone, a novelist and television writer, has moved seamlessly between literary genres, writing serious comedies, serious comedies, and bestselling mystery novels — as well as working on the critically acclaimed television series One Life to Live during his tenure as lead writer for Humorous sense of humor and sensitive explorations of social issues – he died on August 19 at his home in Clinton, Connecticut. He was 79 years old.

His daughter Maggie Malone said he had pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Malone, a North Carolina native who has written frequently about his state, has published more than a dozen novels, including the 1983 thriller Dealing with Sin, Don Quixote in the American South, and Uncivil Seasons ”, which was released later that same year and was his first foray into the genre of mystery. The book introduces readers to a mismatched pair of North Carolina police officers, junk-eater Cudberth “Cody” Mangom and aristocrat Justin Bartholomew Savile V, considered by New York Times reviewer Evan Hunter “two of the most distinguished police detectives ever.” to appear in Mysterious fantasy.”

Mr. Malone went on to write two other mysteries for Justin and Cody, including Watch Time (1989), which explored the relationship between racism and the death penalty, and the bestselling First Lady (2002), about a “guess who’s killer,” a killer. A serialist targeting women in a Helston, N.C. novel, he was working on a fourth novel in the series when he died, his daughter said.

Before turning into the mystery genre, Mr. Malone was known for writing comedy novels with a large cast of characters and offbeat sense of humor. His 1980 book Dingley Falls was set in a small Connecticut town and featured characters such as Habzi Rabies, Rich Rage, and Mrs. Canopy, a patron of the arts who go to the cemetery to speak at her late husband’s grave. “You didn’t necessarily assume he was listening under it,” Mr. Malone wrote. “For that matter, he seldom listened to her when he sat across from her at dinner, or before the living room fire. The change was that he didn’t get up anymore and went to bed before she was done.”

Mr. Malone said he sought to capture the spirit of a place in his work, and found that the crime narrative enabled him to depict a broader cross-section of the communities he wrote about. He told The Guardian: “I am interested in presenting a world that is both politically and socially engaged, and as soon as you write about a police department you write about social problems, you get into the politics of a district. By making your characters policemen you engage them with every rank in society.”

It was in part so that he could tell socially relevant stories to a national audience that Mr. Malone left the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught fiction writing, to join “One Life to Live” as a lead writer in 1991. “I couldn’t resist him,” he told the New York Times. Times. “I think Dickens would have done that. I make up the characters and there they are in the flesh. I have my own Shakespeare company!”

Working under executive producer Linda Gottlieb, with whom he had previously co-starred on an unproductive film, Mr. Malone helped shape a few experimental and popular seasons of the ABC series. The series featured eccentric characters and special stories—one involving an Egyptologist, a jewelry thief, and a sex therapist—while also delving into heavyweight issues such as sexual assault.

Malone and his writing team won the 1994 Daytime Emmy Award after crafting a widely discussed series of episodes about a college student, Marty Saybrook (played by Susan Haskell), who is gang-raped by Jock and his brothers, who later rape them. It brings its attackers to trial. Mr. Malone previously made headlines for a story that featured an AIDS memorial quilt and centered on a teenage boy (Ryan Phillippe) being bullied for being gay.

In a 1992 interview with the Los Angeles Times, journalist Freeman Gunter, managing editor of Soap Opera Weekly and a veteran of the gay press, called the plot line a “breakthrough,” saying it showed “what it’s like to be gay in a hostile world.”

Mr. Malone said he hoped the show would increase acceptance of gays and other AIDS victims.

“Not ever on God’s Green Earth would five million people a week read my novels, but they might see Vicky,” he told North Carolina’s Indy Weeke, “the show’s longtime hero, carrying that AIDS quilt.”

Mr. Malone left the show in 1996 and worked as lead writer for the NBC series Another World before returning to One Life to Live in 2003 and 2004. During his second stint as lead writer, he worked on a thriller novel. , “The Killing Club,” which has been linked to the series, with Mr. Malone and one of the show’s characters, Marcie Walsh, both listed as authors. The book made national bestseller lists and used some of the attention-grabbing techniques that Mr. Malone picked up from his years in television.

My classes were closing very quietly; now, they might end up being, ‘Get out of the car! There is a bomb in the car! “It’s a hook trick I learned from TV. Not a bad lesson to learn either.”

Michael Christopher Malone, the eldest of six children, was born in Durham, North Carolina, on November 1, 1942. His parents divorced when he was young, and he grew up with his mother, a fourth grade teacher who was deaf. Mr. Malone was my ear to her, developing observational skills which he later used in his novels. His father was a psychiatrist, and Mr. Malone liked to say he was in the same profession, except that he was listening to “voices in my head” rather than “voices on my couch”.

At the age of nine, he was writing plays, including a 42-act epic called The Prince of Chinese Elephants. “To this day, my brothers who live in North Carolina would run away from the state if I said anything about making a play, because they know they’re going to have to dress up like a bee or something and be in it,” he told NPR in 2009. By the time When he attended university, he thought he might want to pursue philosophy rather than drama. One professor suggested he move on to the study of literature, noting that Mr. Malone seemed to be more interested in the lives of philosophers than their theories.

Mr. Malone graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1964, received his master’s degree from the school two years later, and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in English from Harvard, where he met his wife, Maureen Quilligan, a scholar. From the Renaissance literature that partially inspired his first novel, “Painting Red Roses” (1975), about a young woman in the 1960s in California.

As Mr. Malone put it, he wrote the novel to avoid writing his thesis, a study of American cinema that later formed the basis of his book Eros Heroes: Male Sexuality in Films (1979). He never earned a Ph.D., but continued to teach at schools including the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, and Duke, leading a film class in which students were divided into teams to write and produce their own 20-minute films. Their films were honored at Mr. Malone’s “Golden Apples” after the Oscars, with the Best Director honor given by Duke’s men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzewski.

Mr. Malone divided his time for many years between Connecticut and North Carolina, where he and his wife settled in the small town of Hillsboro, a literary hot spot that was also home to writers including David Payne, Francis Mayes and Alan Gorganos, with whom he performed a two-stage annual tradition of Charles’ A Christmas Carol. Dickens. “When I got here, I started writing as if I had set fire,” Mr. Malone told the Wall Street Journal.

His other novels include Foolscape (1991), about a college professor tasked with writing the autobiography of an aging playwright, and The Four Corners of Heaven (2009), a family saga and adventure that includes a lost treasure, a con man and a marine pilot.

In addition to his daughter, among the survivors was his 47-year-old wife, Quilligan; Sister and half-sister. Brother and half-brother. and granddaughter.

Mr. Malone noted that “the most important thing I was told as a writer” came from author Eudora Welty, whom he met at a Yale University literary gathering in the late 1970s. When Welty learned that Mr. Malone had written three novels, none of which were set in his native North Carolina, she advised him to “let your imagination grow out of the ground under your feet.” He soon began work on “Uncivil Seasons,” which he described as “my first novel set in the country of Red Clay, that scene from my childhood imagination.”

A few years later, he drove from his North Carolina home to Welty’s home in Jackson, Miss., to say thank you. He told the newspaper he sat there for hours but was “too shy to ring the doorbell”. Finally he returned home. He didn’t tell Welty about the episode until years later, when he happened to spot it in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel in New York. He recalls: “She looked at me and smiled, and said: My dear, is that you? I almost called the police on you. “

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