While planning her wedding and shopping for a publisher, Tulsa author Elizabeth Ashwood Davis died suddenly in her sleep at the age of 34, of unknown causes.
Set in midtown Tulsa, Davis’s 2004 thriller novel The Red House (published under maiden name Elizabeth Anne Ashwood) is a horrific account of a young woman’s traumatized state of mind. Through haunting sexual traumas and a mysterious murder, readers slowly discover what kind of past protagonist Cera is running from—a character that husband Deric Davis says is loosely based on his wife.
“I don’t know how many of the specifics are true to her life,” he said, “but the character is clearly a fictionalized version of herself.”
The book includes references to Tulsa landmarks, including the Remington Tower, Golf Ball Hill, and the Woodland Hills region of south Tulsa.
“She doesn’t shy away from graphic descriptions or obscenities,” Deric said, explaining that Davis was honest and adventurous from the moment they met.
“I met her in high school,” Deric remembered. “She wrote me secret admirer letters and covered for me when I skipped class. But we didn’t date at the time.”
Years later, after publishing her novel The Red House, Davis found Deric online.
“She had been married twice before, and I was currently married,” Deric said. “But we fell in love, and ended up moving in together. We basically did the common law thing and were already technically married, but I wanted to make it official.”
The Sunday before Davis passed away, Deric called her while she was out for groceries, and suggested they have their “wedding” that weekend.
“I told her I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. I reminded her that the coming Friday would be Good Friday and Earth Day all in one day—which I knew she would love—and it was Easter weekend, her favorite holiday. She got really excited and we made the plans official.”
Early Friday morning on the day of their wedding, Davis woke up suddenly to a strange feeling that something was wrong.
“I turned over and found her dead in the bed next to me,” Deric said. “She had pink foam coming out of her mouth and was still warm.”
The exact cause of death is still uncertain, but Deric said he has become aware of some possibilities. “It seems that she wasn’t taking all of the medication she was prescribed, and was skipping her doctor’s appointments,” he said. “I don’t know why, but I think she was just scared. She didn’t want to hear about what else was wrong with her. She felt she had a lot of inner demons, from a traumatic childhood and what she told me was a difficult past, although I never knew the exact details.”
In the weeks following her death, Deric described his grieving process as “hard,” but his mood becomes lighter as he remembers her personality.
“She was not the 8-to-5 cubicle dweller. Most people work jobs they hate and come home and complain about how they wish things were different, but they don’t know how to get it. Elizabeth knew how to get it. She could find and express happiness in the smallest things, like the little love notes she would leave me— sometimes cute and romantic, sometimes triple-X filthy and absurd.”
Also a professional chef, Davis was shopping for a publisher for a recipe book at the time of her death, as well as a children’s book and a second novel. The Red House is available for purchase online via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.