A retired teacher and a car audio maven are telling Florida’s spookiest stories one hit book at a time
If mysteries and real-life paranormal events that send shivers down your spine sound intriguing, get to know the works of Elizabeth and Bob Randall, a Lake Mary couple finding success in the world of historical and supernatural nonfiction.
Together, the husband-and-wife team has published five books, garnering a following with their tales of documented hauntings and shadowy deaths on Florida’s First Coast. Bob is in charge of photography; Elizabeth is the writer.
“I have always been a writer,” says Elizabeth, 66, who retired last year from her teaching career. “But mostly part-time. Now I am full-time, a dream come true for me. My father and grandfather were journalists, so I have always had that interest.”
Elizabeth taught English locally for 15 years, mostly at Lyman High School. The last five years of her career were with Seminole County Virtual School. A former New Yorker, she earned an undergraduate teaching degree from Florida State University, followed by a master’s degree at Southeastern Nova.
Bob, who has been dabbling with photography most of his life, is still working at age 65, although he thinks of his career more like a hobby than work. He is CEO/president of a long-standing car stereo repair company in Longwood, which he launched in 1987. He learned his trade, courtesy of Uncle Sam, joining the Air Force at age 19 and becoming an Electronic Navigation Systems Specialist.
“I tell Bob that he should retire like me and take on his hobby,” Elizabeth laughs.
But without Bob’s business, the two coauthors may never have met. Following a bad car accident, Elizabeth salvaged her CD player from the wreckage. A friend told her of a guy named Bob in Longwood who might buy it. The two have been married now for 22 years. The couple moved to Lake Mary in 2002.
The Randalls’ first book was far from the world of apparitions. Published in 2011, it was a product of Elizabeth’s experience as a floating teacher when she first entered academia. There was no manual about how to teach without a classroom to call home, so Elizabeth created one: The Floating Teacher: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving. While the book is no longer in print due to a change at the publishing house, it was the launching point for the couple. They had stumbled on a new adventure, something they could do together.
That’s when their attention turned toward Florida’s mysterious past, allowing known facts and archival documents to produce page-turning intrigue.
“I like the organic process of writing,” explains Elizabeth. “It may not come out as planned, because things just come to you.”
The couple’s most popular book, Murder in St. Augustine, was named an Amazon bestseller. A publisher recently paid a high compliment to the Randalls by adapting their book Haunted St. Augustine and St. Johns County into a history teaching tool for middle-schoolers. The pair have also published Women in White: The Haunting of Northeast Florida.
Elizabeth and Bob also have a knack for bringing natural beauty to life. An Ocklawaha River Odyssey: Paddling Through Natural History recounts the couple’s two-year exploration of Florida’s ancient and enchanting river. Their sixth project, which they are currently shopping to publishers, is an Alaskan Passage travel guide based on a cruise they took in 2019.
Elizabeth notes that all of their books are thoroughly researched to ensure factual accuracy, even when they are writing about ghosts.
“I love the research part of the process,” says the multi-talented Bob, who is also a seasoned videographer. “I am either finding old images in archives or shooting something in the middle of the country.”
One of Bob’s most captivating photos depicts two veterans in wheelchairs shaking hands for a freelance story Elizabeth wrote about a World War II monument. He is quite proud of the images he captured at Alaska’s Inside Passage, as well.
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“Not only is Bob a talented photojournalist, he is a great editor,” adds Elizabeth. “He has saved me so many times.”