`IT took me a long time to find the courage to write at all, and a long time to find the courage to write a novel.'' In a telephone interview from her home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Brooklyn-born Camille Marchetta, the author of ``Lovers & Friends,'' is discussing her years as an ``impoverished'' literary agent in London and her more recent success in Hollywood, where she has been a writer and story editor for ``Dallas,'' and a writer and producer for ``Dynasty,'' ``Nurse,'' and ``Falcon Crest.''
In London, Ms. Marchetta notes, writers move more easily from television and radio to stage and screen to print: ``There's not the kind of pigeonholing as in this country.''
Although she dreamed as a young girl of becoming a writer, she spent years as a London agent before attempting her first screenplay, years as a television and screenwriter before attempting her first novel.
Working on ``Dynasty'' in 1984-85 was a turning point. ``At the end of the season, I found I'd written outlines for 30 episodes - about 20 to 25 pages each. I'd written many pages of prose. I thought, maybe I can write better pages of prose.''
How did writing a novel compare with writing screenplays? ``Prose,'' reflects Marchetta, ``is more difficult. In drama, if you know the point of the scene and have the first line of dialogue, a certain momentum develops. In prose, one good sentence does not necessarily mean another will follow.'' In a novel, she finds, ``the last pages are just as difficult as the first.''
Asked about the absence of explicit sex scenes in a novel about love, Marchetta explains, ``I don't mind reading them, but I don't enjoy writing them. My formative years were in a time when everything happened between one chapter and the next - or, as they say in movies, after the fade-out.''