Friday, 16 September 2011

“SINS” AND THE JUDITH GOULD SHOW




For the longest time Judith Gould was churning out one best-seller after the other, the last being 2008 GREEK WINDS OF FURY, which I  plan to read then review on this blog. Unless she now uses a pseudonym, it seems like she’s just disappeared from the face of the earth. Blame this mostly on the arrival of e-books which have revolutionized the publishing industry but at the same time have put many contracted authors aside. Authors like Michael Prescott and Scott Nicholson have all suffered from the consequences of books going digital but have somehow found a way to stay afloat. Which seems not to be the case with Judith Gould. Now, unless you’ve been straying from the computer until recently, you must know by now that Judith Gould is really the penname of two guys who, since the release of the mega-hit SINS in 1982, have been going at it incognito until about a decade ago when they finally decided to come out of the closet and announce their true colors, so to speak.



I’ve been a fan of their work because of SINS. Like many of you, I came to know the novel by watching the mini-series starring the legendary Joan Collins (now on region 1 DVD by Olive Films and on Region 2 by Pegasus Entertainment).  Yes, I was again present when the CBS seven hour television event took place in 1986. Joan Collins was already a superstar by then, having been on DYNASTY for quite a few seasons. Besides Collins, SINS had a powerhouse of big names: Gene Kelly, Timothy Dalton, LACE Arielle Dombasle, Lauren Hutton, and that awful rich fellow who wanted so much to bed Diana Ross in MAHOGANY, Jean Pierre Aumont. In fact, in SINS, he plays… well… a rich fellow who wants so much to bed Joan. What was also interesting is the fact that Catherine Mary Stewart played a younger Joan. You see, fifty-something Collins couldn’t fool anyone with her age, so she wisely hired Stewart to play her character from a teen to a young woman in her 20s. Then in a move only Hollywood could make, Collins fills in Stewart shoes much too early, thus looking still too old for the part. But it’s her mini-series and it’s already highly engrossing by then. So we forgive her.


Anyway, to get back to Judith Gould, the duo authors made it big indeed with SINS and continued so with many other lively titles. TOO DAMN RICH is one of their latter and better work, I believe. It even surpasses SINS as the book to read if you want to savor the authors sheer ability as co-dependent writers. It focuses on the art trade world and delivers a punchy plot with a colorful cast of characters. Of course, one does not read a Judith Gould for its true-to-life drama. One savors its beach read flare like fine wine. Okay, enough with the cliched comparison and let me say this: like you, it took me years to find out who Judith Gould really was. And when I did, I was more than pleased. In fact, I was ecstatic. Explanation: two men wrote these so-called women books. Men. Not any female Judith Krantz–wannabe. But two guys who, for the benefit of selling more books, have used a woman’s name as a front—one that turned out to be as catchy and profitable as… well… the Judith Krantz name.
 

Then it got me thinking, if two guys could easily fool readers, surely others have done the same. Interestingly enough, this is where horror great Charles L. Grant comes in. Before making a name for himself in the horror genre, this talented fellow penned many historical romances as Felicia Andrews. As well as gothic writer Tom Huff, who hid behind the Jennifer Wilde name (and others) for many years. Those are only a few who have used opposite sex pseudonyms as their alter ego. I’m sure many have done the same or are doing it as we speak (Andrew Neiderman as V.C. Andrews comes to mind). I guess what I’m trying to say is that judging a book by its author nowadays is a big faux pas. Because you never know who you could be embracing or—if it comes to that—dissing.


One thing’s for sure, though. Let’s just hope that a new Judith Gould is already in the works. For I really miss those guys and their multifaceted talent, both of which I have come to cherish over the years. In fact, like many other fans, I’ve had the privilege of corresponding with them for a while. They even had the graciousness of sending me a signed copy of DREAMBOAT, which I am ashamed to say that I have yet to read. You may have noticed that I have failed to name them. The reason is that I wanted to wait at the end of this entry before revealing who they are. Why? For the simple reason that I want their name in lights. I want fireworks and confetti and the jolly sound of a bandstand when they’re announced—for if not for them and their wonderful books, part of me would have probably stayed in the dark and never acknowledged the fact that I also love “women’s fiction”. So it is with great pride that I take my hat off and say a heartfelt thanks to Nicholas Peter "Nick" Bienes and Rhea Gallaher for being who they are, and in return, letting me, in a way, be who I am. You deserve the love and more.
 
 
 
 
 

Until next post—Martin