Novelist disappears into illness, addiction

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Kaye Gibbons, author of the 1987 debut best-seller Ellen Foster and several subsequent novels, is the subject of an Associated Press profile published in several newspapers and Sunday book sections over the weekend. The article traces her downfall from “vivacious” best-selling author to her 2008 arrest for forging hydrocodone prescriptions to her disappearance into mental illness.

Enriching the picture is a 2006 Minneapolis Star-Tribune profile which says Gibbons declares “I decided and had it confirmed that I’d been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder for years and years… I stopped taking all medications.” Unfortunately, when someone who has been treated for bipolar illness for years “decides” she has been misdiagnosed and stops taking her medications, little good usually comes of it.

Curiously, there is a hint of addiction even on her author page on her literary agency’s website, where she says finishing a book requires “more Diet Cokes than most people can or want to tolerate.” The statement is undated, as is the accompanying picture, clearly taken long before her arrest mug shot.

After pleading guilty to misdemeanor drug charges and serving a 90-day suspended sentence, Gibbons is reported to be delivering anti-drug talks at high schools and working on a new novel set in Reconstruction-era New Orleans.


Mark Pritchard is the author of the novel How They Scored and the collections of sex stories "Too Beautiful" and "How I Adore You." He lives in San Francisco. More from this author →