August 1, 2010

Made It Moment: Dennis Palumbo

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 11:35 am

I was so excited when I discovered Dennis Palumbo’s work because Dennis is (to my mind) one of those most exciting of authors: someone whose career informs his fiction. CJ Lyons is another such author whose Moment has appeared here, and Dennis’ profession of psychology is actually the same one that led to my writing my very first novel (also mentioned here in the crazy, roller coaster, backstory column). Today please join me in congratulating Dennis on the release of the first book in an exciting new series, out from Poisoned Pen Press, and read how for Dennis this is the latest in a series of Moments!

Mirror Image

Dennis Palumbo

I’ve been writing since my teens, so I suppose there’ve been a number of little “made it” moments. In college, I wrote a lot for the school newspaper. Then, after graduation, I worked in advertising, writing copy. It wasn’t until I moved from the east coast to LA that I began writing commercially. I tried my hand at everything–spec TV scripts, short stories, whatever–and, strangely enough, when I finally started to sell things, it all happened at once. The same year I started work on the ABC-TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, I also sold my first mystery short story to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and my first novel (City Wars, a sci-fi thriller) to Bantam.

So I guess that was the year that I finally felt I’d “made it” as a writer. That I could earn a living doing it. For most writers, however, I believe career success is more like a series of plateaus reached than some one, finite “moment.” For example, despite my years as a TV sitcom writer, I had another “made it” moment when my first feature film My Favorite Year, co-written with Norman Steinberg) was released.

Now, years later, as a psychotherapist who’s long retired from show business, my latest “made it” moment occurred when Poisoned Pen Press accepted my first crime novel, Mirror Image. The first in a new series featuring psychologist Daniel Rinaldi, I’m especially pleased because it’s set in Pittsburgh, my home town. So perhaps Thomas Wolfe was wrong: you can go home again, at least in fiction!

Now I’m curious to see where my imagination will lead me next. As well as what my next “made it” moment will feel like.

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis Palumbo is a licensed psychotherapist and author of Writing From the Inside Out (John Wiley). His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press). Mirror Image, due out in August from Poisoned Pen Press, is his first crime novel.


  1. As someone who has enjoyed your work through the years, it’s nice to finally meet you. Here’s to continued success!

    Comment by Shelley Stout — August 1, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  2. Dennis, it’s nice to meet you and I’m looking forward to reading your new book. That’s a dynamite cover, BTW. Welcome Back, Kotter was one of my favorite TV shows (so long ago!) and My Favorite Year was one of my favorite movies. I’m awestruck to think you were the writer! Good luck in your umpteenth career as a crime novelist.
    Pat Browning
    Author of Absinthe of Malice
    Now on Kindle for $2.99

    Comment by Pat Browning — August 1, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

  3. Pat & Shelley, thanks for stopping by. I think Dennis will be checking in for comments later (so get those Welcome Back, Kotter questions ready, all you fans!) (Is it just me or does everybody hear that theme song and see those poignant 70s images when we think of the show??)

    Comment by jenny — August 1, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

  4. Oo! Oo! Mistah Kottah! Mistah Kottah!!!

    lol. So nice to see you here, Dennis. I cannot congratulate you enough on all your success in a tough industry! It’s fabulous to see someone so open, friendly, approachable, and successful talking about what they’ve gone through. It’s a delight to meet you. Congrats on the Poisoned Pen publication. I can’t wait to see your new book come out

    Comment by Savvy — August 1, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

  5. Congratulations on your new book and such a varied career, to boot!

    Comment by Judy — August 1, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

  6. Dear Judy,Shelley, Pat (and, of course, Jenny!),

    Thanks so much for your kind comments. I’m really excited about the release of my first crime novel, and hope you all check it out. If so, love to hear what you think…especially since it’s the first in a new series of novels.

    Best regards,


    Comment by Dennis Palumbo — August 1, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

  7. I was lucky enough to be able to read the first chpater of
    “Mirror Image” early on. If that is any indication of the rest of the book, then it’ll be a bestseller. I can’t wait to read the whole book.

    Comment by Debbie Stern — August 4, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  8. Thanks for the kind words about “Mirror Image,” Debbie! I really appreciate it.

    Comment by Dennis Palumbo — August 7, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

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