Mikulski attempts to do the write thing with novel about a woman in the Senate

March 25, 1993|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Barbara A. Mikulski has been a socia worker, civic gadfly, Baltimore City councilwoman, member of the House of Representatives and, for the past six years, a U.S. senator. Now she wants to be an author. And she may even get published.

The Maryland Democrat is the co-author of a novel about the fictional Sen. Norie Gorzack, wife of a Vietnam MIA who, after appointment to the Senate, helps solve some murders.

The book, titled "Roll Call for Heroes," is in the hands of Beverly Hills agent Norman Brokaw -- a fact first reported by Newsweek.

thinks it has some commercial possibilities," Ms. Mikulski said yesterday.

Asked if this is her first effort at writing, she shrugged: "I write amendments."

She is collaborating with Marylouise Oates, a novelist and former Los Angeles Times celebrity columnist. ("I covered celebrities, but I wasn't one myself," says Ms. Oates.)

The book -- not yet finished but in "dealable shape," says Ms. Oates -- could end up being sold as a novel, a movie or a television series.

"Marylouise writes more to be read," the senator said. "I write more to be seen."

The authors initially talked about collaborating on a book at Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's 60th birthday party last year.

"We were joking and laughing and said we should write a book together," Ms. Mikulski said. "After the election, we belted it out. I invented the characters, and she worked on the plot."

Ms. Oates said the two of them "went away" after Ms. Mikulski's re-election to work on the book. She would not describe the writing process, but said, "Barbara has a terrific sense of character, and I am good at killing off people."

Of the writing, Senator Mikulski said, "I do some; she does some. Then we get together over the weekends and put it together."

Ms. Oates said she met Ms. Mikulski in 1985 when she covered a California campaign appearance by the Marylander, then making her first bid for the Senate.

Three years later, they "became closer" when Ms. Oates married Robert Shrum, a political consultant who is Ms. Mikulski's media adviser.

"We're a couple of nice Catholic schoolgirls from urban ethnic neighborhoods," said Ms. Oates, a 49-year-old native of Philadelphia.

Ms. Oates is optimistic about the prospects for sale of the book -- and hopes it will be the first of a series.

"Norie has a long life," she said. "Once you get a good woman in the Senate, you don't want to let her go."

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