Friday, December 29, 2017

YA Pioneers: Richie Tankersley Cusick

YA Pioneers

Richie Tankersley Cusick was a staple of the YA boom of the late 80's/early 90's.  A new book was constantly coming out from the author with eye-catching slasher titles that propelled several of her books to the bestseller lists.  According to her author site, Cusick grew up in the South and was inspired by the Gothic environment to write horror.  She worked for Hallmark until her first book was published, Evil on the Bayou, which was published in 1984 by Laurel Leaf, as book 21 in the Twilight: Where Darkness Begins series.

Cusick really took off when she began publishing books for Scholastic's Point Horror line, a hugely popular YA line that is known for launching the career of R.L. Stine.  When Cusick published The Lifeguard as book #3 in the series in 1988, she unwittingly became one of the elite YA authors of the time.  She would go on to publish several more books under the Point Horror line over the next four years, including Trick or Treat, April Fools, Teacher's Pet, The Mall and Fatal Secrets.  The last book that Cusick published through Point Horror during that time was Help Wanted, which was also nominated for the 1994 Edgar Allen Poe Award in the Young Adult category.  Several of her books were included in various Point Horror omnibus collections over the years, including Decayed: Ten Years of Point Horror from 2001, which included both Trick or Treat and April Fools.

During this period, Cusick also dabbled in the adult horror market, publishing Scarecrow through Pocket Books in 1990.  Two years later, she would publish another adult horror novel, Blood Roots, before focusing her attention exclusively on young adult novels.

In 1992, Richie Tankersley Cusick wrote a young adult novel for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first in a series of books which adapted episodes of the popular television series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and created by Joss Whedon.  She would write a second book in the series, Harvest Moon, before other authors took over, including fellow thriller author Nancy Holder.  Cusick would also pen the second book in the spin-off The Angel Chronicles, also adaptations from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Cusick published several books through Simon Pulse beginning in 1991 with Vampire, a publisher that Cusick would remain with even when the YA thriller bubble began to fizzle out.  Other books she released during this period include Silent Stalker, The Locker, Someone at the Door, The Drifter, Summer of SecretsOverdue and Starstruck.  With the publication of The Angel Chronicles (Volume 2) in December of 1998, Cusick wouldn't release another novel for four years.

In 2002, Richie Tankersley Cusick returned to the publishing scene with The House Next Door, again from Simon Pulse.  She followed that up the next year with It Begins, the first book in The Unseen series, published by Speak, which would go on for four volumes.  Cusick would also publish two book in the series Walk with the publisher, with her final book, Shadow Mirror (Walk #2), published in 2010.

Richie Tankersley Cusick titles

Evil on the Bayou (1984)
The Lifeguard (1989)
Trick or Treat (1989)
April Fools (1990)
Scarecrow (1990)
Teacher's Pet (1990)
Vampire (1991)
The Mall (1992)
Fatal Secrets (1992)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Blood Roots (1992)
Silent Stalker (1993)
Help Wanted (1993)
The Locker (1994)
The Drifter (1994)
Someone at the Door (1994)
Overdue (1995)
Summer of Secrets (1996)
Starstruck (1996)
The Harvest (1997)
The Angel Chronicles (Volume 2) (1998)
The House Next Door (2002)
It Begins (The Unseen #1) (2003)
Rest in Peace (The Unseen #2) (2004)
Blood Brothers (The Unseen #3) (2005)
Sin and Salvation (The Unseen #4) (2005)
Walk of the Spirits (Walk #1) (2008)
Shadow Mirror (Walk #2) (2010)

Book synopsis samples:

The Lifeguard

"Kelsey's summer should have been paradise: An invitation to rich and famous Beverly Island, complete with sun-drenched beaches and three gorgeous lifeguards on duty. But Kelsey's summer is the opposite of paradise. It starts with the note under her pillow from a girl who's missing. Then there's the crazy man in the lighthouse who won't leave Kelsey alone.

And there have been a number of suspicious drownings.... At least she has the lifeguards around to protect her....

Poor Kelsey. Someone forgot to tell her that lifeguards don't always like to save lives."

Summer of Secrets


Lost on a dark country road, Gayle and her best friend Stephanie are hit by a truck that was following them without any lights. But their damaged car was only the beginning...

They didn't expect to find an arm buried near the road. And when they finally reached the farmhouse of Gayle's Aunt Pat, no one is there to greet them. There's only a note that reads "Be back soon."

What happened to Aunt Pat? Why are mysterious "accidents" suddenly occurring? What about the rumors of other disappearances in this small town?

Gayle knows she must find the answers soon, but whom can she trust? Travis, the hired hand? Mark, who works at the hospital? Or Doug, the helpful neighbor? Friends...or suspects?

Gayle is running out of time.

Danger - and her fate - are only a heartbeat away!"

The Drifter

"Glanton House was Carolyn Baxter's new home, the haunted island retreat her widowed mother was determined to transform into an inn.  As if in answer to her prayer, tall raven-haired Joss Whitcomb appeared at their door and offered to be the handyman in return for room and board.  But Carolyn was wary.  Joss was dark, compelling, dangerous.  He was still a stranger, even after he saved her mother from a near-fatal accident.  And now they were alone in the eerie house he seemed to know so well.  He knew the legend of the jealous sea captain doomed to kill again and again.  But did he hear the ghostly whispers echoing through the halls at night?  Did he know the unseen eyes that followed her every move?  Who was Joss?  Why was he here?  how could she trust this devastating drifter when she feared for her life...?"

The Mall

"He's everywhere...Waiting Just For Her!

Trish smiles into the dressing-room mirror, admiring herself in the gorgeous white dress.  Unknown to her, someone else is watching.  He knows she is smiling just for him.  his soft, strange voice whispers her name from the crowd.  His hooded eyes follow her every move...

At first she thinks he's just a creepy customer, hanging around Muffin-Mania where she works at the mall.  But suddenly he's everywhere, the man with a thousand faces tormenting her day and night.  He knows her secrets.  There's no safe place to hide.  There's no one she can tell, no one she can trust.  how can she escape a madman willing to kill to make her his - forevermore."

It Begins (The Unseen #1)

"Out walking along one rainy night, Lucy becomes convinced that someone - or something - is following her.  Spooked, she ducks into a cemetery to try and lose her stalker.  Panicking in the darkness, she slips and stumbles into an open grave - only to discover she is not alone in there...  Lucy manages to escape, but she doesn't get away unscathed.  She begins having terrifying visions and dreams - and she still can't shake the feeling of an unseen presence, always watching, waiting...  Who was the girl in the grave?  And what has she done to Lucy?"

Walk of the Spirits (Walk #1)

"When Miranda Barnes first sees the sleepy town of St. Yvette, Louisiana, with its moss-draped trees, above-ground cemeteries, and her grandfather's creepy historic home, she realizes life as she knew it is officially over.  Almost immediately, there seems to be something cloying at her.  Something lonely and sad and...very pressing.  Even at school and in the group project she's been thrown into, she can't escape it.  Whispers when she's alone, shadows when no one is there to make them, and a distant pleading voice that wakes her from sleep.  The other members in Miranda's group project, especially handsome Etienne, can see that Miranda is in distress.  She is beginning to understand that, like her grandfather before her, she has a special gift of communicating with spirits who sill walk the town of St. Yvette.  And no matter where she turns, Miranda feels bound by their whispered please for help...unless she can somehow find a way to bring them to peace."

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