Sunday, 10 July 2011

WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED, ELIZABETH GAGE?!



I first met author Elizabeth Gage during my mid-20s, as I was rummaging through a bin full of used books down at The Salvation Army. Not a glamorous picture, is it? But rest assured, I was only there on a mission to find the latest gem. You know, the discard book sought-after by those paperback hunters like moi. As it happens, I was not looking for something in particular that day, having gone through the many aisles offering anything from fiction to travel guide books to magazines on such-and-such. But I must admit that one cover displaying a woman shapely leg brushing against a man inner section kept beckoning me. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that I had graduated from horror to trashy books by then, having enjoyed many by the likes of Collins, Susann, Robbins… The more scandalous they were the happier I got. And lengthy, I liked them all lengthy; over 500 pages at least. So imagine how thrilled I felt finding out that this one entitled A GLIMPSE OF STOCKING was about 700 pages. Sheer ecstasy, I’m telling you, sheer ecstasy.


Like a lot of you, I new little of Elizabeth Gage besides the small bio and pic (most certainly fake; read on) at the end of the novel which claimed that she had homes in Illinois and Hawaii and that her name was a pseudonym “for a major new storytelling talent”. Still, this snippet intrigued me. Even more so when I found myself enthralled by the novel storytelling way of conjuring up trouble in Hollywood and beyond. I was determined right then and there to know more about this secretive Miss Gage. But computers were not as hip nor as yet affordable back then (that would be around… hmm, let me check the paperback copyright page… the end of the ‘80s). So people had to do their search the old fashion way, via libraries, bookstores, magazine articles, or by writing a fan letter to the author (which, in hindsight I should have done, just for the kick of owning something from this now MIA storyteller). Suffice to say, I ended up with zilch concerning this author. But I was not through with her yet.


Fast forward to some 20 years later on an evening like this one, when heat and sounds of the night invade my opened window, and wouldn’t you know, all those questions about this mysterious writer are finally answered... well, almost. According to this (scroll down to "Underground" August 17, 2010), it seems that Elizabeth Gage had it pretty rough with Simon & Schuster, her then-publishers. No one over there truly believed in her book, even though it did become a New York Times best-seller later on. She’s supposedly from Glenview, Illinois and did (still does?) have a home in Hawaii. There may have been a team of two authors behind the Gage name, a man and a woman. The post by Doreen Appleton (thanks, Doreen!) hints to that but does not elaborate. But what it makes clear is this: Simon & Schuster did harm the Gage name. Enough so that sales of her four subsequent books suffered, despite the fact that all were as riveting as A GLIMPSE OF STOCKING—believe me. If you have yet to try a Gage, start with her first aforementioned novel, then go on from there. No need to thank me later. As to what happened to the author after her Simon & Schuster debacle? Well, she moved on to Mira who published two final novels, one in 1998, the other a year later. After that, I have no idea of her whereabouts. But one thing’s for sure, seeing a new Gage on bookstands would certainly make my day, especially with the current revival of the eighties-style bonkbusters. A guy can dream, right?


 
UPDATE: According yet again to Doreen Appleton, Gage is now “a literary novelist whose real identity is not known”. The author supposedly has won publishing awards for her many novels under pseudonyms. Well, good for her, I say. But what about the Elizabeth Gage name? Isn’t it time to dig her out of the publishing grave?


 

Until next post—Martin





7 comments:

Tameka said...

I've been asking myself this for years. I miss her terribly. I have a badly beaten up copy of A Glimpse of Stocking on my shelf to this day. I'm sure I've read it over 100 times. It was that good. I enjoyed this post! Thanks! :-)

http://lyricfire.typepad.com/lyric-fire/2010/09/my-blog-lyric-fire-who-are-your-favorite-writers.html

Authorfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
burn agil said...

I was introduced to Elizabeth Gage by My Lady Boss who also quite a bit of fiction novel junkie like me, reluctant at first to read it as I never heard of her. After much convincing by my boss..OMG! glimpse of stocking followed by Pandora's Box, Master Stroke,Taboo & Intimate. I'm wondering as well what happened to her as she's not even in the state library list...

burn agil said...

I was introduced to Elizebeth Gage by My Lady Boss who is quite a fiction junkie like me. After much convincing by her OMG!! glimpse of stocking are followed by Master Stroke, Taboo, Intimate & Pandora's Box..Love her writing style & story telling. I'm wondering what happened to her as well as even the state library do not have hers in the list...

Jan said...

I have a very well-read copy of "the MasterStroke" that made me a fan of Elizabeth Gage and I also set out on a search to see what happened to her. I found the following but don't know if it's accurate, of course.

http://www.trussel.com/books/pseud_g.htm

Will Errickson said...

Ha ha, I shelved so many copies of this at the used bookstore I worked in late '80s/early '90s. Provocative cover to say the least! Had no idea of the backstory.

Shirley Cahill said...

I too loved Elizabeth gage novels, first discovering her

In my local library, a glimpse of stocking! I think this
Being the late 80's I then avidly read all the others
We need more! Shirleycahill603