Today Ian Skillicorn from Great Stories With Heart has dropped by to share with us the story of Catherine Gaskin, a remarkable talent!
Catherine Gaskin's first ambition was to be a pianist. She was even accepted into the prestigious Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. But Catherine didn't think she was good enough to have a career in music, and decided she would be a writer instead. At this time, she was only 15 years old. Lots of us may have daydreamed about being a successful novelist at that age, but Catherine didn't stop there. She started getting out of bed at 4 o'clock each morning, and writing for two hours before she got ready for school. Her family knew what she was doing, but she didn't tell her friends. She didn't think she could face them knowing if the book wasn't accepted by a publisher.
The novel, This Other Eden, starts off in the US, but is mainly set in Britain during WWII. Catherine had never been to either place. She had been born in Ireland, but was raised in Australia; everything she wrote came from her young imagination.
Catherine finished her novel in the Christmas holidays, when she was 16. She didn't realise that you shouldn't send a manuscript off to more than one publisher at a time; she sent it to four! Luckily for her (and us), one of them wrote and invited her to their offices. Because Catherine was so young, her mother went with her to the meeting. Taking a look at the young girl and older woman, the publisher wasn't sure which of them was the novel's author! The book was accepted for publication and Catherine was given permission for time off school to edit her manuscript. She never went back.
By the age of 17, Catherine Gaskin was a bestselling novelist. This Other Eden sold 50,000 copies in just two months. She moved to London with her mother and one of her sisters, and continued writing. While she was there a friend sent her on a blind date with a US television executive, Sol Cornberg. The date must have gone well; they were married for over 40 years.
Catherine moved to the US with Sol; they lived in Manhattan, on Central Park South and Broadway. Over the years, the couple also lived in the Virgin Islands, Ireland and on the Isle of Man. Almost thirty years after This Other Eden was published, and with real-life experience of living in the US and Britain, Catherine rewrote the basic story as The Lynmara Legacy.
Catherine's writing career spanned five decades, during which she sold over 40 million copies of her books. The 15-year-old schoolgirl with a dream became known as "The Queen of Storytellers". Sadly, Catherine died, aged 80, in 2009. But her wonderful stories live on to give entertainment and inspiration to new generations of writers and readers.
Corazon Books has recently published The Property of a Gentleman, the first digital edition of a Catherine Gaskin novel. It tells the story of a young woman, Jo Roswell, who works at a grand London auction house. She is sent to the remote ancestral home of the Earl of Askew, in England's Lake District. While she is there, she becomes involved in the lives of the residents and staff, discovering long kept secrets and desires. The Property of a Gentleman is a suspenseful tale, full of mystery, history and romance.
To celebrate its release, the publisher has also launched a short story competition in partnership with the Historic Houses Association, with some terrific prizes (including a private tour with the owners around Levens Hall, a historic house in the Lake District!). See www.catherinegaskin.com for more details.