Right, this is from my now defunct site. May as well post it here for posterity.
A more in-depth analysis from TRASH CITY of the book and with footnotes on who Pierce might be, had Scott Gronmark in the frame, known to NEL and Hamlyn fans as the author of THE CATS, CHILDMARE and THE SCOURGE.
That was shot down by Scott who answered: Re your review of Eat Them Alive – I’ll admit to writing The Scourge, The Cats and Childmare (and a few others), and I’ll even admit to working for the BBC, but…I’ve no idea why anyone should think I wrote Eat Them Alive – I always thought my prose style was functional but pretty effective. I rarely look at my old stuff, but when I do I’m sometimes surprised and uneasy about the level of violence, but the actual writing strikes me as workmanlike at the very least. As to who actually did write it – again, no idea. The only other jobbing horror merchant I even vaguely knew at the time (apart from the big guns like James Herbert) was Guy N. Smith, and I think he usually wrote under his own name.
Another footnote states the following: John Herrington writes, “Coming across your page on Pierce Nace’s Eat Them Alive, I thought I might share with you something I have come across. I have been going though some old notes and copies I have taken from Contemporary Authors, the massive bio-bibliography from Gale. Anyway, in the bibliography for one Vance Holloway (1916-?), I found the following reference: “…in press, (with Evelyn Pierce Nace) Eat Them Alive, Manor Books” (My NEL copy refers to this as original edition). Unfortunately the Holloway entry is old, only going up to the early 1970s. And I couldn’t find a reference to Holloway after an initial web search on Google.”
In 2008 on this very thread - jkdunham said the following:
Evelyn Pierce Nace intrigues me, even if she may seem like an unlikely candidate. Here’s what I dug up;
In 1937, Evelyn Pierce marries Delmar Otis Nace, chartered life underwriter and member of the Mystic Masonic Lodge, in Minneapolis. They later move to Pampa, Texas.
In the forties, Evelyn joins writing group, the Panhandle Professional Writers. Their website has this to say;”a most prolific member…, published more than 50 novels and more than 300 fact-crime articles, love-pulp stories, detective fiction, and confession stories. She also wrote a column, ‘Mending Mature Marriages’, for the Amarillo Daily News.”
The FictionMags Index lists only 5 of her short stories;
“Knock-Out Lady”, Romantic Love, 1939
“Star-Dust”, Ideal Love, 1942
“Taxi Fare – One Heart”, Gay Love Stories, 1943
“Gobs of Glamour”, Golden Love Tales, 1946
“Big Steal”, Famous Detective Stories, 1956
(“Gobs of Glamour”?)
Died 23rd January 1983.
Not a bad life by the sound of it but, apart from the ‘true crime’ and the detective stories, there doesn’t seem to be much to suggest that she was the writer of Eat Them Alive.
Personally though, I’d like to think she did. It just seems even better somehow if this “new peak in horror” was the work of a woman approaching her seventieth birthday, who’d previously contributed to Gay Love Stories and Golden Love Tales.
Justin Marriot of The Paperback Fanatic didn't agree: I think I mentioned in PF 5 that Pierce Nace was also credited for various sleaze pulps in the 1960s, such as Sex for the Over 50s. So definitely not the original Miss Nace! I’m sure it was a pseudonym for some hack, but I’m positive it’s neither of the nominated suspects! [The other being Donald F. Glut]
And apart from the above information – that seemed to be it. The mystery remained and with Facebook and Twitter I would see people posting about the book and who was Pierce Nace? I would do the odd search on the internet, but there was nothing. I was always of the thinking that it had to be Evelyn, but how to prove it?
Enter Dr Betty Wiesepape. Betty is a lecturer at UT Dallas and not too long ago I picked up a copy of her book WINIFRED SANFORD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A TEXAS WRITER. I really enjoyed it, Sanford is an extremely obscure author; I knew her work through reading the short story collection WINDFALL AND OTHER STORIES. Wanting to read something else by Wiesepape, I ordered her book LONE STAR CHAPTERS: THE STORY OF TEXAS LITERARY CLUBS. It was never read, and then we moved house a and the book resurfaced. So I read it in-between unpacking boxes of books. And found the following:
The writer’s Roundups were discontinued when a group of PPW members from Borger and another group from Pampa became embroiled in a dispute that threatened the very existence of the club. This disagreement centred on the need to define standards of ‘good literature’ to be employed whenever a new writer applied for membership. In the view of some current PPW members who granted interviews, this argument was precipitated by the financial success of a member who wrote true-confession stories that offended the sensibilities of a majority of PPW members […] – the members whose work was at the centre of this dispute was Evelyn Louise Nace, one of the most prolific writers in the history of the club. She wrote a weekly newspaper column, ‘Mending Mature Marriages’ for a period of fifteen years. She also wrote 50 novels, over 300 fact-crime articles/detective stories and countless true confessions under the pen name of Louise Pierce.
I emailed Betty and told her the story about EAT THEM ALIVE and did she think that Evelyn Nace could be the author? Her reply:
I think you may be on to something. If you read my book, you know that Louise Nace’s work caused an uproar that almost resulted in the disbandment of the Panhandle Penwomen’s (now the Panhandle Professional Writers organization.) Her writing that disturbed the members of the Panhandle Professional writers happened sometime after May 1, 1976.
And we all know that ETA was published in 1977. Maybe she had just signed the contracts? She had read them excerpts from the book?
I decided to mix things up a little. I changed my internet searches and started to look for Mrs Otis Nace, with the thinking that as her husband was the head of the household any mail would be delivered to Mr and Mrs Otis Nace.
And I got some hits – these were all on newspaper archives that have been scanned in. And turned up a few photos. So unless anyone digs up anything more to dispute the fact, I think from the following we can be 100% confident in naming Mrs Otis Nace (Evelyn Louise Nace, nee Pierce) born 15.01.1912 and who died in 23.01.1983, 8 days after her 71st birthday, as the author of EAT THEM ALIVE.
She was born in “middle Kansas,” educated in Mo. (A.B. in speech), did graduate work in speech at NW University in Evanston, Ill. Her husband, Otis Nace, owned an insurance business. They lived in Pampa, Texas, a town near Amarillo, Texas, where the Panhandle Professional Writers met and still meet. She worked as his secretary and was an active professional public speaker who “wrote most of her material” and “spoke somewhere almost every week.” She was also an active member of the Methodist church who not only taught Sunday school but sang alto in the choir as well. And she was also president of the Panhandle Professional Writers from 1953-1954.
She published 50 books, more than 300 short stories, articles and a weekly newspaper column in the Amarillo Daily News, a column she wrote between 1979 and her death in 1983 called “Mending Mature Marriages” (So she was actively writing and publishing when ETA was published. 25 of her books were paperbacks and her favourite pen name was Pierce Nace.
So that's it! We can all die happy with the knowledge that a housewife from Pampa, Texis wrote an inane work that still has everyone talking about it 42 years after it was published! Jx
Looking at you all pompously from my egotistical ivory tower
Primrosehildebrand, thank you so much for sharing this! I recall reading a long account in this thread sometime ago about Pierce Nace. What a fascinating story!
One can only speculate whether she was simply a very shrewd, commercially savvy individual who knew how to provide the goods for the more sensationalistic end of the market--or if she cherished some very twisted aggressive impulses that she worked out in these tales (which I have yet to read). Perhaps a little of both?
"Women over 40" simply did not exist as a sexual class in the 1950s and 1960s--I guess maybe the film The Graduate was the first significant big-selling media depiction of a sexually sophisticated "older woman." Before that, one thinks of incredible Simone Signoret in Room at the Top (1959) but most women do not at all resemble such a glamorous goddess as la divine Simone. And that's no fault of anyone's--Nature, as we know all too well, does not dispose of Her favors with an equable hand.
Were I wearing a hat, it would be off to you, Primrosehildebrand!
I didn't suspect that it had become so expensive. Crazy.
I acquired a copy some years ago for very little money. It gives one pause to realize that Vault can have an effect on asset prices.
Depressing but true. Sadly we've reached the point where it doesn't do to post your wants list on here - or anywhere else, come to that. And a feature in any one of Justin's zines, Will's Too Much Horror Fiction blog, or coverage in Grady's Paperbacks From Hell is guaranteed to send Am*z*n/ eb*y prices through the roof.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
The prices for it are just nuts. I got my Manor copy (which is moldering a bit, sadly) for relatively cheap. I'm currently attempting to acquire an NEL edition to replace the two - yes, two - copies I lost as a result of water and mold damage a few years back, a fate which also befell many other books (William Essex's Slime among them), but I suspect I'm still gonna end up paying way more than I did originally...