Forrest, Katherine V. 1939–
Forrest, Katherine V. 1939–
(Katherine Virginia Forrest)
PERSONAL: Born April 20, 1939, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; became U.S. citizen, 1976; adopted daughter of Leland Wilson McKinlay and Mary Elizabeth Gilhuly; partner of Jo Hercus. Education: Attended Wayne State University and University of California at Los Angeles.
CAREER: Writer. Naiad Press, Tallahassee, FL, senior fiction editor, 1984–94; currently teaches writing classes and seminars.
MEMBER: International PEN.
AWARDS, HONORS: Lambda Literary Awards, 1989, for The Beverly Malibu, and for Murder by Tradition; Pioneer Award, Lambda Literary Foundation, 1998; inducted into the Saints and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame, 2003.
Curious Wine (novel), Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1983, reprinted, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.
Daughters of a Coral Dawn (science fiction novel), Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1984, reprinted, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.
An Emergence of Green (novel), Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1986, reprinted, Alice Street Editions/Harrington Park Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Dreams and Swords, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1988.
Flashpoint, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1994.
Daughters of an Amber Noon (science fiction novel; sequel to Coral Dawn), Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.
Women of Mystery, Alice Street Editions/Harrington Park Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Daughters of an Emerald Dusk (science fiction novel; sequel to Daughters of an Amber Noon), Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2005.
"KATE DELAFIELD" MYSTERY SERIES
Amateur City, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1984, reprinted, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2003.
Murder at the Nightwood Bar, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1987.
The Beverly Malibu, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1990.
Murder by Tradition, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1991.
Liberty Square, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 1996.
Apparition Alley, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 1997.
Sleeping Bones, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 1999.
Hancock Park, Berkley Prime Crime (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Barbara Grier) The Erotic Naiad: Love Stories by Naiad Press Authors, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1992.
(With Barbara Grier) The Romantic Naiad: Love Stories by Naiad Press Authors, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1993.
(With Barbara Grier) The Mysterious Naiad: Love Stories by Naiad Press Authors, Naiad Press (Tallahassee, FL), 1994.
Lesbian Pulp Fiction: The Sexually Intrepid World of Lesbian Paperback Novels, 1950–1965, Cleis Press (San Francisco, CA), 2005.
All in the Seasoning, Bywater Books, 2006.
ADAPTATIONS: Curious Wine was adapted as an audio-book, 1994; Murder at the Nightwood Bar has been optioned for film production.
SIDELIGHTS: Katherine V. Forrest is an award-winning author of lesbian fiction. She first gained acclaim with her debut novel, Curious Wine, a frankly erotic portrayal of lesbian sexuality that sold over three hundred thousand copies. Since then, she has won fans with a science fiction trilogy about a group of women who abandon Earth, and a crime series featuring a closeted lesbian police detective. Forrest once told CA: "All my work is directed primarily to a lesbian audience…. My objective in this series is to present entertaining fiction and also a lesbian life in process—a woman in a high-visibility job who must deal with her sexual identity in a totally homophobic atmosphere."
Daughters of a Coral Dawn was Forrest's next book after Curious Wine. The first work of what would become a trilogy, it is a science fiction novel in which the author speculates what would happen if a civilization consisting of only women were to be founded. In her version, the thousands of daughters of a single woman have figured out a way to reproduce without men. They leave the male-dominated society of Earth to establish a colony on the planet Materna, but many of their number are left behind. The sequel, Daughters of an Amber Noon, follows what happened to those women who remained on Earth. It turns out that their secret Unity society is being pursued by the evil dictator Zed, who is resolved to wipe them out. Unwittingly, Africa Contrera, a Unity member who was once Zed's dear friend before his personality somehow changed, has betrayed her sisters. Wracked by guilt, she determines to sacrifice herself to save Unity, but her actions have unexpected results. Lambda Book Report critic Pam Keesey concluded that "lesbian genre fiction aficionados will be delighted with this new installment in the saga of daughters of Verna."
The final book in the trilogy, Daughters of an Emerald Dusk, describes how the Unity sisters on Earth flee Earth to rejoin the others on Materna. However, they arrive only to discover that life on Materna has its troubles as well. The women are experiencing unexpected problems bonding with the newest generation, and the planet itself is exhibiting seismic activity that might indicate that Materna is an unstable world. "Forrest nicely builds the suspense while exploring the deeper issues," reported Devon Thomas in Library Journal, adding that the book makes for a "solid conclusion" to the trilogy.
With Amateur City Forrest debuted her well-known mystery series featuring an independent, self-confident woman, Kate Delafield, who does not shy away from the opportunity for a romantic interlude while working on a case. However, because she is not openly homosexual, she has to be careful about keeping her professional life as a Los Angeles Police Department detective separate from her personal life. At work, she is diligent and patient, with an eye for detail and sympathy for victims and their families. In The Beverly Malibu Delafield and her partner Ed Taylor are working on a gruesome murder case in which the victim is a Hollywood director. Forrest brings in an eccentric array of characters and sub-plots, including Delafield's emotional and sexual involvement with two of the suspects. To the end, the reader is kept guessing at the outcome of this intriguing story. In Murder by Tradition, Delafield is given the case of the murder of a young homosexual man. She finds herself so embroiled in the case that her career and personal life are threatened as she is, for the first time, facing the possibility of exposure. A more recent addition to the series is Liberty Square, in which Delafield attends a reunion with her U.S. Marines buddies, with whom she served in Vietnam. While catching up with them, she realizes that they have now experienced the same outcast status she understands so well.
Apparition Alley has the conflict concerning homosexuals in the police department coming to a head. Kate is shot and wounded by one of her fellow police officers. She believes it was an accident, but when she is told by another cop named Luke that he suspects his partner, Tony, was deliberately killed, she begins to wonder whether she might have been targeted deliberately. Tony, it appears, may have been killed because some of his fellow officers thought he might release information about which cops on the force were gay. Critics of this installment of the series were particularly pleased with how Forrest skillfully combines a compelling plot with serious social issues. For example, a Publishers Weekly critic asserted: "Few mystery writers combine such an intelligent take on issues with such solid storytelling." Although Whitney Scott protested in a Booklist review that the novel "bogs down in the murk of [Kate's] … mind and philosophical and political musings on outing," Women's Review of Books contributor Kathy Phillips argued that "Forrest writes extremely well, and she manages to address the social and sexual issues of being gay,… while never losing sight of the story she's telling and the tension that must be preserved in the mystery genre novel. She's one of the best in the trade."
Forrest followed Apparition Alley with Sleeping Bones and Hancock Park. Sleeping Bones involves the murder of a famous paleoanthropologist, whose body is found at the La Brea Tar Pits; meanwhile, Kate has to deal with a new and disturbing secret about her family that is revealed by her Aunt Agnes. A Publishers Weekly critic enjoyed the "actionpacked scenes" but felt that the author "fails to convincingly develop her various story lines." On the other hand, Booklist reviewer Scott remarked that Sleeping Bones is a better mystery than the two installments that preceded it, which she considered to be "somewhat lead-footed."
Some critics of the eighth Kate Delafield mystery, Hancock Park, believed that Forrest spends so much time focusing on her heroine's personal life that the mystery tale gets lost among the angst. Bett Norris, writing for Lambda Book Report, expressed her frustration with Kate's inability to learn from her previous mistakes, as her continuing insistence on hiding her sexual orientation at work costs her a girlfriend and leads to her increased drinking. "My frustration matched her lover's," wrote Norris. "When will this woman wake up and see what is happening to her?" Despite this, Norris concluded that Hancock Park is a "taut, concise" novel. Scott, writing again for Booklist, predicted that "fans of the series might feel a tad let down," while a Publishers Weekly contributor added that Forrest's "strong yet vulnerable protagonist help[s] salvage a less than exciting story line."
On the After Ellen Web site, Forrest revealed that Hancock Park might be the last novel in the series, though she did not dismiss the possibility of more installments entirely. "There certainly won't be many more," she explained, "because all of the books take place in real time, and if nothing else [Kate's] … going to be termed, out as they say…. It's fine; there's a lot of other books for me to write."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gay and Lesbian Literature, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Advocate, June 21, 2005, Joy Parks, "Standout Sisters," review of Lesbian Pulp Fiction: The Sexually Intrepid World of Lesbian Paperback Novels, 1950–1965, p. 187.
Armchair Detective, fall, 1991, p. 478, review of Murder by Tradition, p. 478.
Booklist, April 1, 1987, review of Murder at the Nightwood Bar, p. 1179; November 1, 1989, review of The Beverly Malibu, p. 527; September 1, 1991, review of Murder by Tradition, p. 32; September 1, 1997, Whitney Scott, review of Apparition Alley, p. 63; August, 1999, Whitney Scott, review of Sleeping Bones, p. 2032; September 15, 2002, Whitney Scott, review of Daughters of an Amber Noon, p. 212; May 15, 2004, Whitney Scott, review of Hancock Park, p. 1601; March 15, 2005, Whitney Scott, review of Daughters of an Emerald Dusk, p. 1275.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of Daughters of the Amber Noon, p. 1084; April 1, 2004, review of Hancock Park, p. 301.
Lambda Book Report, November, 1999, Kathleen De-Bold, review of Sleeping Bones, p. 13; November-December, 2002, Pam Keesey, "The Sisters Left Behind," review of Daughters of the Amber Noon, p. 19; January-March, 2005, Bett Norris, "Private Volcano," review of Hancock Park, p. 11.
Library Journal, April 15, 2005, Devon Thomas, review of Daughters of an Emerald Dusk, p. 81; November 1, 2005, Devon Thomas, review of Women of Mystery: An Anthology, p. 56.
New York Times Book Review, December 10, 1989, Marilyn Stasio, review of The Beverly Malibu, p. 41; September 15, 1991, Marilyn Stasio, review of Murder by Tradition, p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, February 27, 1987, review of Murder at the Nightwood Bar, p. 159; June 14, 1991, review of Murder by Tradition, p. 47; August 12, 1996, review of Liberty Square, p. 68; August 11, 1997, review of Apparition Alley, p. 389; August 2, 1999, review of Sleeping Bones, p. 77; April 19, 2004, review of Hancock Park, p. 44.
Women's Review of Books, July, 1998, Kathy Phillips, review of Apparition Alley, p. 32.
After Ellen, http://www.afterellen.com/ (July 1, 2004), Malinda Lo, "Interview with Katherine V. Forrest."
Art with Attitude, http://www.art-with-attitude.com/forrest/forrest.html (August 31, 2006), home page of Katherine V. Forrest.
GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Culture, http://www.glbtq.com/ (August 31, 2006), Teresa Theophano, biography of Katherine V. Forrest.