Baltimore’s own Michael Tucker, an actor perhaps best known as lawyer Stuart Markowitz on “L.A. Law,” returned to Charm City Sept. 30 to read from his first novel, After Annie, at the Baltimore Book Festival.
Our company ChangingMedia was an official sponsor of the book festival and we filmed authors speaking at the main literary salon. I was particularly interested to hear Tucker speak about his novel, which explores life and love after the death of a spouse.
Michael was inspired to write the story based on his own relationship with his wife actress Jill Eikenberry — but not the way you’re thinking. Although Jill’s character dies of cancer in chapter four of the novel, she is in fact alive and well and appeared with her husband at the event. Writing the novel, Michael said, was a way for him to express and explore his own terror of potentially losing his life partner, who in fact is a two-time survivor of cancer.
The discussion was moderated by Tom Hall, culture editor for “Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast” on Baltimore NPR station WYPR, who spoke for many couples “of a certain age” by asking Michael and Jill what it was like exploring the idea of finding love again after the death of your partner.
In the novel, Jill’s character Annie is worried that her husband will not make it on his own after she dies. So Annie actually works to set him up with a young actress in the theater they run so he won’t have to be alone.
Jill joked “that’s probably more than I would do,” much to the crowd’s amusement. She also noted that it’s been annoying to have everyone think that she died in real life just because her husband wrote this novel.
However, Michael said the novel was based on his single greatest fear — losing Jill — and that the purpose of writing and art is to make some kind of sense out of life, and of course, death.
You can watch a brief outtake of the discussion below. I highly recommend watching the full video here, there are lots of funny and poingnant moments.