Lori L. Lake Presents
The Hall of Fame


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Katherine V. Forrest
The Original Amazon

 

Somewhere around 1980, while I was still wishing for decent lesbian role models, Barbara Grier opened Naiad Press and dedicated it to a readership of lesbians she knew were out there--but who had never had easy access to stories by, for, and about women loving women. In 1984, Naiad published two books by a then-unknown author, Katherine V. Forrest. Curious Wine was everything young women had been missing in terms of positive lesbian portrayal while still acknowledging how hard it is to deal with the negative attitudes of the outside world. This book alone would have been an historical highlight, but Forrest didn't stop there. The same year she published Amateur City, the first in a series of mystery novels featuring ex-Marine, hard-headed cop Kate Delafield. What followed over the next two decades were a number of insightful, well-written, and much-loved novels and short stories.

Katherine Forrest has been a pioneer to two generations of women--soon to be three--who have been hungry for interesting and accurate representations of themselves and their worlds. She's written romance, fantasy, short stories, mystery, erotica, and coming out stories. She also spent a decade editing at Naiad Press and continues to write, teach and lecture around the country. The majority of her books are still in print, which is a tough feat for lesbian literature.

In the history of lesbian literature, Forrest is truly a founding Amazon.

Below is information about her books. If you haven't ever read her work, don't tarry. And I send best wishes to Katherine, hoping she has years and years of continued writing success.
~Lori L. Lake

 

 



 
KATE DELAFIELD MYSTERIES

Amateur City (1984)
When Katherine V. Forrest's Amateur City was published in 1984, introducing LAPD detective Kate Delafield, it not only marked the beginning of one of mystery fiction's most successful series, it also created one of the most lucrative genres is gay publishing: the lesbian mystery. With her next six Kate Delafield novels, Forrest's complex and determined lesbian detective became the most celebrated figure in lesbian fiction.

In Amateur City, Kate and her partner, Ed Taylor, investigate the murder of a highly placed executive, whose body was found by a coworker, a woman who begins to break down Kate's defenses.

Murder at the Nightwood Bar (1987)
Dory Quillin, a homeless 19-year-old cocaine addict and prostitute is found outside the Nightwood Bar, a lesbian hangout, with her head smashed in. Is one of the older lesbians who frequent the bar the murderer? Was it a random "fag bashing?" Was her elusive ex-lover involved? What is the significance of the drugs and john list found in the victim's Volkswagen van? These are some of the questions facing Kate Delafield, an L.A.P.D. homicide detective and a lesbian herself, who must overcome the ingrained reticence of Dory's friends and her own discomfort at her official rolewhich antagonizes women she feels sympathy for. The trail to a solution goes by way of Dory's businessman clients, her wonderfully eccentric psychiatrist (a woman who regularly uses "Goddess" as an interjection), her repressed, deeply religious parents and her former lover. Refreshing in part for not portraying all women as wonderful and all men as evil, this book with its surprising ending makes for a satisfying mystery. ~Publishers Weekly

The Beverly Malibu (1989)
As LAPD detective Kate Delafield investigates the Thanksgiving Day strychnine poisoning of retired movie director Owen Sinclair, she discovers that he turned over names to the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s and destroyed countless careers. But which of his charmingly eccentric neighbors, most of whom have worked in Hollywood since the 1940s, might be responsible for what now appears to be a revenge killing?

Murder by Tradition (1991)
In the brutal murder of Teddie Crawford, co-owner of Tradition, a trendy restaurant/catering business, presence of cocaine, multiple stab wounds, and a blood-spattered crime scene initially suggest a coke party gone bad, but homicide detective Kate Delafield quickly senses that this answer is too simplistic. The first half of the book goes quickly as we watch Kate move through the painstaking process of identifying the suspect and booking him. This is more than just a police procedural, however. The story also explores public attitudes toward homosexuality and the paradoxical nature of a judicial system that sometimes thwarts justice. A high-powered attorney takes the suspect's case and it becomes apparent that he intends to persuade the jury that Crawford deserved his death for attempting to force himself sexually on his straight client. Kate allies herself with Linda Foster, a tough young female d.a., who takes center stage for the remainder of the book. The murder trial that follows is taut and at times more compelling than the police investigation that preceded it. Forrest also lets us see the strains on Kate's life as she pursues the case. The defense attorney knows she is a lesbian and could use it against the prosecution. Kate's male partner is lazy and contemptuous of gays. Her lover, Aimee, appears briefly to provide comfort, although her inability to truly understand the affect of the politically explosive case on her older lover is vaguely troubling. Apart from a couple of strident message scenes in a lesbian bar, Murder by Tradition is suspenseful and wellwritten and Forrest's realistic depiction of the uneven justice afforded gays adds an important dimension to a solid story. ~Independent Publisher

Liberty Square (1996)
Long before high-profile lesbian cops such as Laurie R. King's Kate Martinelli were fighting for our attention, a former Marine turned Los Angeles police detective named Kate Delafield was doing some quietly effective ground-breaking of her own under the expert guidance of Katherine V. Forrest. In Liberty Square, Delafield is in Washington, D.C., for the 25th anniversary reunion of her old Vietnam outfit. When all hell breaks loose, it's Kate the cop who has to sort it out. Forrest's writing is spare and her characters come to life quickly. ~Amazon.com

Apparition Alley (1997)
LAPD homicide detective Kate Delafield is shot in a routine drug bust. It's her first line-of-fire accident, but when it turns out that the bullet that winged her came not from the suspect's gun but from a police weapon, the case takes on a different hue. Was Kate's injury the result of a bias against gays and lesbians in the department? And how does it tie into the charges levied against Luke Taggart, a cop whose partner, a closeted gay man, was killed in what he believes was a hate crime? When Kate is reluctantly dragooned into defending Taggart at a departmental hearing on charges that could lead to a murder indictment, she tries to ignore the homophobia that seems to be the common link between her shooting and the murder of Taggart's partner. But the psychotherapy required after an officer-involved shooting forces her to confront her guilt over the suicide of another member of the department and her ambivalence about outing her gay colleagues or even coming out of the closet herself. Forrest uses both the current tarnish on the reputation of the Rampart-era LAPD and the tangled personal and political implications of sexual diversity to good advantage in this well-crafted mystery, the fifth in the Kate Delafield series. The most effective scenes, in the office of the psychologist she's forced to see, add another layer of complexity to Kate's character. This is a heroine who continues to evolve and grow with every new adventure. ~Amazon.com

Sleeping Bones (1999)
Lambda Award-winner Forrest adds a new Kate Delafield mystery (after 1997's Apparition Alley). The usually cool Delafield, an LAPD detective, is unnerved when she and her new partner, rookie Joe Cameron, are called in to examine the body of well-known anthropologist Herman Layton, who has turned up dead at the famous La Brea Tar Pits with a puncture wound near his kidney. When Delafield and Cameron notify the victim's next of kin, they find out that Layton's daughter, Peri, is herself a world-renowned paleoanthropologist, whose career promises to surpass that of her mentors, the infamous Leakey family. The case takes an unusual turn after the discovery of a jawbone that resembles that of the two-million-year-old Peking Man, whose remains were lost nearly 30 years ago. Later, Delafield and Cameron learn of Herman Layton's involvement in the U.S. government's covert attempt to move the Peking Man from China for safekeeping after the Japanese invasion of WWII, an episode that left the adventurous anthropologist ostracized by his colleagues. The link between Peking Man and Layton's murder seems ironclad after CIA agent Nicholas Whitby appears and begins meddling in the case. Meanwhile, Delafield grapples with a shocking family secret revealed by her Aunt Agnes. ~Amazon.com

Hancock Park (2004)
It wasn't a typical call for detectives Kate Delafield and Joe Cameron. For one thing, the upscale neighborhood of Hancock Park was more likely to be a stop on a "bus tour of the stars" than a homicide scene. For another, everyone seemed too willing to point the detectives in the direction of Victoria Talbot's ex-husband. Now, while the ex is on trial for his life, Kate must piece together a puzzle of secrets and lies before she can uncover the startling truth...
 
NOVELS OF ROMANCE/DRAMA

Curious Wine (1983)
The intimacy of a cabin at Lake Tahoe provides the combustible setting that brings Diana Holland and Lane Christianson together in this passionate novel of first discovery. Candid in its eroticism, intensely romantic, and remarkably beautiful, Curious Wine is a love story that will remain in your memory. An amazing number of women have read this novel and continue to read it.

An Emergence of Green (1988)
When Carolyn, the young wife of an ambitious executive, begins to awaken to the emptiness of her life, it is not long before the conflict starts. Her husband Paul is a textbook case of pathological chauvinism: he rigidly controls his wife's style of dress, job opportunities, contact with friends; and he uses the title "princess" to both exalt and ensnare her. The final showdown is precipitated by Carolyn's growing friendship with Val, an imposingly tall and sharp-witted visual artist who lives in the bungalow next door with her adolescent son. The novel offers many of the classic fantasy scenarios spawned by the early women's movement, from intellectual sparring between the neanderthal husband and the progressive, independent woman to a blushing yet lusty first sexual encounter between the two women. In her narrative, Forrest provides each character and circumstance with enough texture and complexity to make the story interesting. Carolyn's awakening to her need for independence and her love for Val is revealed with knowing delicacy. Paul, too, is more than simply a metaphor for misogyny. The author understands and describes the feelings of inadequacy and fear that are at the root of male supremacy behavior. This book will please Katherine Forrest fans and people trying to catch up to the women's liberation movement, both of whom exist in great numbers. ~Independent Publisher

Flashpoint (1994)
This novel unfolds against the backdrop of California governor Pete Wilson's threatened veto of the gay civil rights bill. A charismatic woman named Donnelly sends out a clarion call to a small circle of friends and ex-lovers, who gather together in Pat's remote mountain cabin. Aside from the collective indignation over the veto, the reasons for this gathering are much more personal than political. In fact, it becomes a neat literary device whereby these friends can bring into the open their past fears, doubts, and jealousies to heal old wounds. Bradley slowly comes to terms with the breakup of his early marriage to Donnelly, while Pat mulls over her loss of Donnelly to flashy golf pro Averill. Forrest (Curious Wine, Naiad Pr., 1993. reprint) skillfully uses flashbacks to lay bare the innermost feelings of her characters-who, for the most part, are imperfect and believable. Since Flashpoint tethers itself to certain political events, it will become dated over time-but solely on this basis. On many other levels, this is a satisfying and thought-provoking book that will enhance Forrest's reputation. ~Lisa Nussbaum

 
SPECULATIVE/SCI-FI/FANTASY

Daughters of a Coral Dawn (1984)
Katherine Forrest’s best-selling Daughters of a Coral Dawn first appeared in 1984 and became an instant classic. Through seven printings, including the 10th anniversary edition published in 1994, this story of women creating their own world after escaping an oppressive society has continued to gain fans and influence writers for 18 years. Late in the 22nd century, 4,000 women escape the tyranny of a male-dominated Earth and colonize the planet of Maternas. The story of how these pioneers created a society and culture in accord with their nature makes up the heart of this exhilarating, erotic, and hauntingly beautiful novel. But men eventually discover Maternas, and the women are faced with a critical choice.

Daughters of an Amber Noon (2002)
The lesbian science-fiction classic Daughters of a Coral Dawn told the story of a group of pioneering women who disappeared from Earth and colonized the planet Maternas. But what of their sisters left behind? In the highly anticipated sequel, Katherine Forrest tells the story of a group of women called the Unity, who have vanished from society but are still living on earth. But Earth, repressive before the most accomplished and indispensable women disappeared, is now a hellish place ruled by the dictator Theo Zedera, known as Zed, and he is seeking the vanished women with ruthless determination. Among them is Africa Contrera, and as she struggles to build a world safe for women, she is haunted by her past, a past in which she and Zed were close friends, a past where she trusted him and shared the deadly knowledge he now uses to hunt her. Is there hope for this new hidden society of women? However resourceful they may be, can they withstand the savagery of a man who uses their own secrets against them? Just as she did 18 years ago, Katherine Forrest has created a brilliant and breathtaking saga of a divided society and the rebels courageous enough to withstand this brutal new world.

Daughters of an Emerald Dusk (2005)
Late in the twenty-second century, 4,000 women escape the tyranny of a male-dominated Earth and colonize the planet of Maternas. Katherine V. Forrest's influential 1984 novel, Daughters of a Coral Dawn, told the story of this exodus. Her 2000 novel, Daughters of an Amber Noon, told the story of the women left behind on Earth. Now she returns to Maternas at last. Fifty years have passed, and the first generation born on Maternas has reached maturity. But their vision of a perfect world is very different from the vision of the founders of the Maternas colony.

 
SHORT STORIES

Dreams and Swords (1988)
A lesbian couple must decide whether to risk their only child in the most daring and unprecedented of experiments... When LAPD homicide detective Kate Delafield visits long-time lesbian friend Jessie Graham, now sheriff of a California seaside town, Kate immediately becomes embroiled in an inexplicable disappearance that Jessie suspects is murder... Joan Bronson Randall is a lesbian helplessly trapped in a sham marriage... but now Joan's father ties dying in a hospital, and inexorable events are set into motion... In a tale of ultimate, chilling horror, a woman awakens in a white room in a place of endless corridors, and soon learns where she is and why she is there... In O Captain, My Captain, a compelling and erotic novella, Lieutenant Harper accompanies space transport Captain Drake on a routine two-woman voyage to the Antares asteroid belt. But the magnetically attractive Drake is an enigma of the first order... and the journey turns into peril beyond all Harper's imagination... and a voyage of passion beyond all her dreams. Plus five more enthralling tales...

 
ANTHOLOGIES EDITED
All in the Seasoning: & Other Holiday Stories (2004)

Women of Mystery (2005)

 


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This site updated at 7:00 p.m. on April 21, 2004.

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