ELIZABETH FORREST ROCKED THRILLERS & ICKY BUG
Around the time I discovered Carol Davis Luce (this was the early 90’s), I haunted the icky bug (horror) section in the Hastings book store in Altus. Never drawn to the big authors like King and Barker and McGammon, I spotted this novel called Dark Tide. I was never the same after that.
Dark Tide takes place in a small town on the Calee’fornia coast, reminding me of where I once lived in Lompoc. It involves an incredible icky bug of a monster. The author, one Elizabeth Forrest, didn’t have any other stories on the shelf. Here we go again! Like Carol Davis Luce, I kept on the lookout for the next installment.
Eventually new titles appeared. Turns out I’d missed the first one, Phoenix Fire, which came out the year before. I later acquired it and it was another icky bug involving a monster in the LaBrea tar pits in Los Angeles. From there, the novels arrived, one-a-year and evolved into supernatural thrillers in the Dean Koontz vein with Death Watch, Bloodfire, Bright Shadow, Killjoy and Retribution.
Somewhere around the time of Killjoy, the Internet came into play, or I should say I obtained a computer where I had access to the Internet, and I discovered her e-mail address. I contacted her and she responded.
Elizabeth Forrest is the pen name of Rhondi Vilott Salsitz. She grew up in Southern Calee’fornia. Turns out, we’re not too far apart in either age or where we grew up. One thing we have in common is that we both remember a character called the Laguna Greeter. After my grandparents were kicked out of Playa Del Rey due to eminent domain (the buffer zone at the end of the LAX runway), they moved to Laguna Beach. When we went down to visit them from either Lompoc or Palmdale, as we entered town, this old guy with long white hair and a long white beard that kind of looked line Sandy Claws stood in the middle of a street island. He used to wave to everyone and welcome them to Laguna, thus the name Laguna Greeter.
Rhondi remember that guy when she was a little girl and he used to scare the crap out of her.
We became e-mail buddies and since she was an established author, she mentored me a little bit on my budding writing. She provided some great help and advice and even read an early draft of The Greenhouse and gave me a few tips.
We continued to keep in touch and just before I lost contact, she said she’d retired Elizabeth Forrest because the name wasn’t selling anymore and she needed to change her strategy. I learned second-hand that she’d gone in a different direction. She started writing as Emily Drake and developed a wonderful young adult series called The Magickers. The latest I’ve seen, she’s writing under her own name and has a fantasy series with the latest title called The Unicorn Dancer.
Rhondi had a unique voice that inspired me, and still does. She’s grabbed me with her sense of tension, darkness and mystery, especially with her supernatural thrillers. I hold her up to anything Dean Koontz put out during that era. As for her icky bugs, they were unique and up there with the best of them.
Elizabeth Forrest holds a special place in my world.