By Emily Williams-Robertshaw
It is Anne Glass’ philosophy that everything comes in its own time.
The Arizona native entered the workforce as an actress in Los Angeles. Decades later, she has her juris doctorate, lives in North Shelby County and is a tax advisor at H&R Block, also serving as a professor of tax law at the Birmingham School of Law.
Come Nov. 2, she will achieve a dream that began in 1994. Her first novel, “Back to One,” will be released under her pen name, Antonia Gavrihel.
It’s a story inspired by her own fantasies about a married woman from Alabama and a bachelor movie star living in Los Angeles who meet by chance and form a deep and lasting friendship.
“It’s about true friendship,” Glass said. “True friendship is the basis of everything. Whether you go on as friends or it eventually turns into romance, you have to have the friendship.”
Out of Showbiz
While Kyle and Catherine’s story is fiction, Glass wrote what she knew.
She grew up in the entertainment industry. Both of her parents were in showbiz, having performed all over the world. In addition, she began acting at a young age.
The title “Back to One” is not only a reference to the story but an industry term. When it’s time to do another take of a scene, a member of the crew will call out “back-to-one,” signaling everyone back to their starting positions.
Her father, August Malatia, was an actor and comedian, better known by his stage name Bob G. Anthony. He worked the comedy circuit in nightclubs and toured with big name acts such as Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole.
His successful career in film and television include feature film roles, including the films “Mixed Company” and “Campus Man.” In the television series “Father Murphy,” he played storekeeper Wendell Griffin, and he made appearances on shows such as “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Wonderful World of Disney.”
Glass’ mother, Anne, was a professional big band singer. She performed under the stage name Toni Rami with Bennett and Cole, Rosemary Clooney and Red Skelton. She even made it to television, performing on hit programs such as “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
In her youth, Glass spent a lot of time alone, and her imagination became her constant companion.
“My parents being entertainers, my mom would work a regular job during the day and then would entertain at night, and my dad was always on the road. My brother was older, so he would work after school,” she said.
Glass would return home after school and write, beginning with poems, then short stories, a few plays and even one screenplay.
The screenplay was the biggest challenge, because she had to see things from the director’s point of view – camera angles, cuts and the like. Yet, film seems to be a big influence in her method of writing books.
“That’s the way I see them, as movies,” she said. “I always write the dialogue first and then I go back and fill in the scenes.”
While she always loved to write, Glass envisioned a career as a lawyer. But after graduating from college, she moved to Los Angeles to become an actress.
One of her neighbors worked in industry training films and helped her land consistent jobs acting in non-broadcast roles for things you might watch when hired by a new company.
While she enjoyed the work and was successful, living in LA and working in the competitive nature of the entertainment industry made it difficult to build friendships.
“Los Angeles was lonely,” she said. “I’m Italian and come from a very close-knit family, and I missed them. I really needed to go home, not because I wasn’t successful, but it was secondary to wanting to be with my family.”
Alone Again, in Alabama
After marrying and relocating to Alabama, she found herself alone at home in the evenings again. She would work all day, pick up her son from day care, have dinner, put her son to bed and then stay up until 3 a.m. working on her book.
“It was all my own fantasies,” she said. She fell in love with her characters, Catherine Leigh and Kyle Weston, and enjoyed spending time creating a world that brought this unlikely pair together.
After spending a year editing her book, she started aggressively pursuing publishing houses as well as production companies.
She quickly found that you can’t just submit a book to a publishing house. Most publishers won’t event glance your way if you don’t have a literary agent.
But she did have two near misses. A Beverly Hills agent loved her book and even had her fly out to meet with him.
“By the time I flew home, he said, ‘We have too many people in your genre,’” she said. “I had no clue what my genre even was, because it’s not a romance. At the time, I don’t think there was anything like ‘women’s fiction.’ It was just general fiction.”
She also took a leap of faith while visiting her family in Arizona. She knew a major production company was filming in Tucson, so she drove from Phoenix and met with the producers.
“Nothing came from that,” she said. “For all I know they could have just thrown it in the trash.”
After giving it the old college try until about 2009, she decided to pursue another dream and go back to school.
“Law school was pretty demanding and I was working full time, so the book found a comfy little home under the bed,” she said.
Cut to 2020.
“My son lives in New York and came home to escape the city during COVID,” Glass said. “When he got here, he said, ‘Mom, I really do not want to sit here and watch marathons of television with you. Let’s do something constructive.’”
Knowing the book was still set in the mid-90s, he suggested she revisit the story and bring it up to date.
“I only brought it up 10 years, to 2005, because I realized that there was a second book with the same characters knocking at my brain and I didn’t want to go up to 2025,” she said.
She said the work was easy because she genuinely loved spending time with her characters.
With renewed vigor, she set out to find an agent but found herself connected directly to a publisher through a friend.
“The first thing out of my publisher’s mouth when I met him was that he loved the characters so much, ‘Have you considered a second book?” Glass said.
She had already written the sequel.
“He told me to keep going,” she said. “’Let’s try for a third and a fourth.’”
Do Something You Love
Throughout her career changes, she has followed a rule she learned watching her parents make a living doing what they truly loved.
“When my mom was on stage singing, it looked like she was a little girl,” she said. “There was this glow and vibrancy about her. The same went for my father … he looked like a little boy.
“That kind of exuberance was something that I patterned my own life after,” she said. “My dad used to tell us that you’ve gotta love what you’re doing and enjoy it, because life is too short to do something you hate every day.”
Often that comes with a great need for adaptability and hard work, just as it did when she went back to school. Many of the students she teaches at Birmingham School of Law followed a similar path to her own pursuit of her juris doctorate.
“I always compliment my students, we did law school the hardest way possible,” she said. “Many of them are working full time, most with families, and going to law school.
“It’s a completely different way of handling your education,” she added.
As for her dream of publishing her book, she’s happy with the timeline.
“I kind of think to myself, if this had happened 24 years ago, would I have been as happy and appreciative?” she said. “Probably not, or at least not as much as I’m feeling now. I’m so thrilled with it.”
She plans to celebrate this new chapter on Nov. 11 with her first book signing and wine-tasting at Giovanni’s in Sylacauga.
For more information and to pre-order, visit antoniagavrihel.com.