New York -- In a mega-blitz of publicity, Ivana Trump made her debut as a fiction writer this week, charming talk-show hosts and magazine writers with tales of how she spent hours "thinking and thinking" while developing the romance-among-the-glitterati plot of her novel, "For Love Alone."
Deftly, tactfully, Ms. Trump has managed to suggest that she wrote the novel, without ever coming out and actually saying so. All but hidden amid the hype is the fact that, although Ivana's name is on the jacket, the book was conceived by committee and produced by a ghostwriter, Camille Marchetta, a professional writer hired to spin a yarn and then sit back and let Ivana take the credit, using her celebrity to sell the book.
"It's a vunderful, vunderful book," the budding "novelist" gushed to People magazine. "To my surprise, I find out I have a great imagination."
Behind the Trump novel is a story of intrigue and calculation that begins almost two years ago, when Ivana -- in the midst of her sensational divorce from The Donald -- was first approached with the concept of doing a romance novel.
Will the public buy it -- not just the book, but the idea that Ivana Trump is capable of writing a novel? Will readers swallow the fable of the gay divorcee thrilled to discover that, like a barren field that suddenly spouts oil,she has hidden literary talent, "a great imagination"?
"I predict that this will be the biggest book of 1992 in hardcover fiction," boasts her agent, Robert Gottlieb, vice president of William Morris, who was also the mastermind behind "Scarlett," the sequel to "Gone With the Wind" that sold a staggering 2.4 million copies in hardcover. "If Ivana had peaked you and I wouldn't be talking. Look at the gossip columns. . . . Look at Oprah, Sally Jessy Raphael, Barbara Walters."
Indeed, some will be able to resist. "If you put me in a cell in the federal prison in Marion, locked up for 23, 24 hours a day, it would be a long time before I picked it up," said Howard Kaminsky, president and CEO of the Hearst Book Group, including Morrow and Avon, rivals of Pocket Books, Ms. Trump's publishing house.
He added that working on the book must have been "a good way for Ivana to learn English."
But Bill Adler, a New York literary agent who takes credit for inventing the ghost-written celebrity novel in the '60s predicts that "For Love Alone" will be a kind of litmus test for the "female celebrity glamour novel." If it fails, the genre will die. But if it works -- catching on, he suggests, with the bingo crowd -- "You can do one a year."