Halloween, Green Men, and Greenjacks

Halloween is my favorite season and I wanted to write a book about the holiday as well as childhood terrors, about the panic that children feel when the lights go out and they know that something is there, lurking in the dark, watching, waiting to steal them away. That book became Bad Things and it began with a poem.BadThingsMan_1000

Big Jack

Winter cold, winter dreary

Winter leaves

No sap, no fool

Winter bones

No need to panic

Big Jack sleeps, the little ones too.

March buds, April flowers

May blood

So green, so new

Spring veins pump

And children panic

Big Jack wakes, the little ones too.

Summer heat, summer passion

Summer nights

So hot, so hungry

Dark desires

The children cower

Big Jack stands, the little ones too.

Autumn red, autumn brittle

Autumn cravings

So harsh, so clear

Child, run

Before he gets you

Big Jack walks, the little ones too.

                        © Tamara Thorne

As a child, there was nothing I liked better than going outside at twilight, especially in the fall, when the crisping leaves whispered and cackled about the arrival of Bad ThingsHalloween, making the night sounds even spookier. Oh, how I loved to scare myself! The good kind of scare, involving misty ghosts, eerie birdsong and, most of all, the greenjacks. The greenjacks were the best. They still are.

I became aware of green men when I was very small; my parents took me into Los Angeles to visit the museums at least once a month. I loved the natural history museum where the dinosaur bones towered and roared, where and the dioramas of cavemen and mammals in that great dark hall threatened to move if I so much as glanced away.

I loved peering into the mummy’s case, waiting for his papery whisper, wondering if he was aware of my shameless stare – and imagining what he might do if he could find the magic to reach out and grab me. At that point I would giggle and flee the room.  

In the space museum, there were rockets. I loved them, too, because my brain was locked and loaded with Ray Bradbury’s stories about Mars and outer space. Mars, I thought, really was heaven.ween

But most of all – next to the mummy and dinosaurs – I loved part of the history museum where huge old English tapestries festooned the walls. That’s where I first spotted green men hiding from hunters and ladies and dogs, peering around trees and through the leaves, watching… and waiting. They often had puckish goat legs, and always leered, full of wicked humor. I could – and did – spend hours sitting on a bench studying my latest find, telling myself endless stories about these green tricksters.

At home after dusk, I would go out in our vast backyard and sit cross-legged on the grass and stare at the ivied wall behind the swing set until the faces would come. They moved in the breeze, the shadow-faces, green eyes glinting, green lips moving. I could pretend the soughing wind and the mockingbirds’ cries were their calling voices, and that the chittering leaves were their whispers as they plotted and planned what they’d do if they caught me.Ruth Sanderson green man

The fear was delicious and I’d fight it, trying to stay put, to remain outside in the dark, but inevitably I’d run inside, frightened in the best way possible. Soon, the thrill would subside and I’d go back out to play the greenjack game again.  

Back then, I called them green monsters or green men and I made up stories to tell my friends when we camped out in the backyard on sleepover nights. Inevitably, we’d land in the safety of my bedroom long before midnight, where we’d hold a seance and try to talk to lingering ghosts or call up Bloody Mary.

But the green men were always my favorites. A little research led me to watch for them on the corners of old buildings, so I loved it when we’d go into the city because I could watch for them there too, and make up stories about how, at midnight, they would come to life and climb down to cavort in the meager trees and bushes by the buildings.

When I decided to write Bad Things, the green men became greenjacks.  “Jack” is a name  commonly used in conjunction with green men in England.  “Jack in the Green” was my inspiration.  May Day, May Poles, fertility rights are all tied up with this version of the green man.

greenknight1Around the world, there are many variations on the green man, but mine are American with English and Scottish roots. (In The Sorority, the Green Knight (from the Arthurian tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) makes several appearances and he’s pure Britannia.)

There are plenty of other modern green men. Tolkien’s Ents are probably the best known but the forest sprite, Tom Bombadil, from Tolkien’s The Hobbit, captured my interest even more. Groot, of Marvel Comics fame, is popular in these days of superhero worship. Bad ThingsTom-bombadil

The Green Man is also known to change with the seasons, becoming a holly king by winter and oaken royalty cloaked in a riot of fall colors in autumn. As the ruler of spring, he is festooned with tender young flowers, and in summer he is seen with bright blooms, corn, and wheat.

I wanted to create my own green man to match southern California since green men are always local deities. My Big Jack would be darkly green and lush, even at Halloween, alive and growing and terrible, and his minions, the greenjacks, would be nature spirits that only a cursed few (like our hero, Ricky Piper) can see. Normal people see only catch glimpses of whirlwinds and dust-devils, if they spot anything at all.

Bad Things TomOldManWillow

In my lore, the greenjacks, like many “little people” of legend, and Big Jack, their master, are tied to changeling myths, but mine are also tied to All Hallow’s Eve. Poor Ricky is afraid to say anything because his parents already think he’s overly sensitive and imaginative – but he is tormented by these capering, terrifying entities as they search for a proper sacrifice as Halloween approaches. Ricky can’t even enjoy the holiday because of his fears. He is a boy terrified of the dark and what it holds. As an adult, he must confront those fears once more in order to protect his own son.

As Halloween nears, take a moment to sit outdoors and enjoy the leaves on the trees and shrubs and see if you can find any greenjacks. And if you see them, be especially careful on Halloween night  – don’t let Big Jack, a monster made of branches and leaves that pulse with green blood, catch you!

Books Halloween 3_1000

1990’s books

Tamara Thorne:

Moonfall is a book I wrote in honor of Halloween! You can find it most anywhere on line in paper or e-format, or order it from your favorite bookstore.

Originally posted on horroraddicts.net:

The first book I want to talk about is by one of my favorite authors, Tamara Thorne. I was first introduced to Tamara through an interview on horrorworld.org. In the interview, Tamara mentioned that for easter she was planning on painting some mice to look like Easter eggs,  so her cats could enjoy the holiday also. I liked her sense of humor and ran out and bought her book Moonfall. Moonfall was written in 1996  and is centered around Sara Hawthorne and John Lawson.

Sara Hawthorne has been away from the small town of Moonfall for a long time. She was a student at Saint Gertrude’s school for girls but left town after the suicide of her best friend. She has now returned to teach at St. Gertrude’s or St Gruesome’s as the townspeople call it; but not all is well in Moonfall. There have been quite a…

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David’s Haunted Library: The Cliffhouse Haunting

Tamara Thorne:

A Cliffhouse review from Horroraddicts.net

Originally posted on horroraddicts.net:


The Cliffside Lodge has a history dating back to 1887. Not only has it been a place to stay for people enjoying the beauty of Blue Lady Lake, but it was also a place with a dark history. In the twenties a serial killer called the Bodice Ripper terrorized the town and a ghost called The Blue Lady was seen when a death was about to occur.

Flash forward to the present and a new serial killer is terrorizing the town and the Blue Lady is making her presence known again. At the Cliffside Lodge, wet foot prints are being spotted in rooms, disembodied voices are being heard and when people look in the mirror they see the face of the Blue Lady.

What can I say about The Cliffside Haunting by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross other than it left me with a huge smile on my face. I’ve…

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It’s Alive! Alive! And on Amazon!

The Ghosts of Ravencrest is a traditional gothic, complete with a young governess, handsome millionaire, a houseful of mysterious staff members… and hot and cold running ghosts. There are mysteries and family curses and a historical novella within each volume of The Ravencrest Saga. Just because it’s traditional, like Rebecca, Turn of the Screw, or Dark Shadows, doesn’t mean you should expect the expected. This is a modern gothic, with the kind of extra helpings of terror, sex, and surprises you’ve come to expect from a Thorne & Cross novel!

“The Ghosts of Ravencrest delivers on every level. Delicate, creepy, detailed, and beautifully crafted, this reinvention of the gothic ghost story into a sexy, sleek modern chiller is a marvel of suspense and atmosphere. A knockout of a horror yarn!”  -Jay Bonansinga, the New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: Invasion, Lucid, and Self Storage.

In The Ghosts of Ravencrest, you’ll travel in time back to the London Frost Fair of 1788 to meet millionaire Eric Manning’s ancestors and explore some of the mysteries and spectres plaguing the house in contemporary times. You’ll celebrate Christmas with the Mannings too, and meet the mysterious Bran Lanval, a Knight of the Order of the Mandrake, as he works to stop a plague of witchcraft meant to destroy the Manning family for all time.

In modern times, there are witches afoot and spirits galore. As governess Belinda Moorland unearths the mysteries of her new home, she realizes the house – and all of its inhabitants – is mired in terror, scandal, and deadly secrets. From the hellacious house administrator, Mrs. Heller, to the long-dead nuns, Sisters Faith, Hope, and Charity, who rule the ghost-soaked east wing – to the screaming, cold presence in the indoor pool, and the unnatural creature who watches her from the vents, everyone – and every thing – seems to have an interest in Belinda.

From her first night at the manor when she’s seduced by a handsome phantom who sends her on a deadly quest, Belinda knows she must unravel the secrets of her own identity before she, herself, becomes yet another ghost of Ravencrest.

“Ghostly secrets abound. Tortured spirits wander the hallways. Star-crossed lovers walk the paths of time. Servants connive, and the heroine faces an uncertain future… Run, do not walk, to get The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross take the reader on a delicious journey of twisted family secrets, troubled dreams, and barely-concealed passions. Wrap yourself in the silken robe of this story and escape to Ravencrest.” — Sylvia Shults, author of Hunting Demons: A True Story of the Dark Side of the Supernatural

At last, the complete first volume of The Ravencrest Saga: The Ghosts of Ravencrest, is available to purchase on Amazon.com.  Other formats (including paper) will follow in the not-too-distant future.

Watch for the first installment of Volume 2 of The Ravencrest Saga, coming in October, just in time for Halloween.

Just click the pic to buy:


It’s Coming …

Tamara Thorne:

Next week… The Ghosts of Ravencrest novel!

Originally posted on Thorne & Cross:

The Ghosts of Ravencrest

Volume 1 of The Ravencrest Saga

Darkness Never Dies …

Ravencrest Manor has always been part of the family. The ancestral home of the Mannings, Ravencrest’s walls have been witness to generations of unimaginable scandal, horror, and depravity. Imported stone by stone from England to northern California in the early 1800s, the manor now houses widower Eric Manning, his children, and his staff. Ravencrest stands alone, holding its memories and ghosts close to its dark heart, casting long, black shadows across its grand lawns, through the surrounding forests, and over the picturesque town of Devilswood, below.

Dare to Cross the Threshold …

Ravencrest Manor is the most beautiful thing new governess, Belinda Moorland, has ever seen, but as she learns more about its tangled past of romance and terror, she realizes that beauty has a dark side. Ravencrest is built on secrets, and its inhabitants seem…

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The Real Moonfall and the Headless Horseman

In his short story, The Lake, Ray Bradbury described the day after Labor Day, the start of the fall season, so perfectly that it left an indelible impression – lonely, frightening, and perfect – on my eight-year-old brain. Thanks to the Master’s tale, I look forward each year to the day after Labor Day because, even in southern California, I begin to see, smell, hear and feel those autumnal signs.

The school bus is an early portent of fall as it wheezes and farts and carries its prisoners back to school, thereby silencing neighborhood shrieks, calming grocery stores, and making it possible for me to sneak off to a peaceful weekday matinee. That’s nice, but… There’s so much more. So very much. 

A few days ago, just before another heat wave struck, I walked outside and there, riding an unusually cool morning breeze, I smelled autumn for the first time this year. The scent of leaves beginning to dry and wither on trees? Perhaps. I have yet to smell it again, but I know I will, and soon.


It will happen more and more often until Halloween is a breath away, and then autumn will settle in for good, giving us our most beautiful and nostalgic season of the year as the leaves of liquidambar trees, here near the mountains, turn brilliant shades of fiery orange, shining gold, and deep purplish blood. And so they will stay, slowly falling, scuttling through the neighborhood on crisp evening breezes, racing down streets and hiding behind the wheels of parked cars. This will continue until Christmas draws near and winter takes the last of the leaves.

The same morning I smelled autumn, I saw it in the slant of the sunlight, as well. Conditions were just right – I haven’t seen it again, not yet, but I will, and soon. I look for it each morning.

We are in a spate of steamy dog days now, but in a month’s time there will be the occasional scent of woodsmoke on cool nights, and then, the smell of burnt pumpkin on that most wonderful night of all.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. It’s the season of ghost stories and campfires, toasting marshmallows and warming your hands over the fire and a ghostly breeze tickling goosebumps up on he back of your neck.


I love to write about Halloween and more than a decade ago, I set one of my Halloween-centric novels in a place called Moonfall, which is not-so-loosely based on a real apple-growing community in SoCal called Oak Glen. I opened the book with our hero, future sheriff John Lawson, as a child attending the big festival at one of the orchards. The real Moonfall, Oak Glen, has held Halloween celebrations with hayrides and treats for costumed kids, but in my version, the Moonfall the festival is the grand celebration I’ve always longed for. It features the Headless Horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow riding through an apple orchard as a portent of things to come.


And now, coincidentally, one of the orchards, Riley’s Farm is presenting The Legend of Sleepy Hollow throughout September and October with a promise that the Headless Horseman himself will be riding by.  How fun is that?

While the real Oak Glen doesn’t have a squad of evil nuns running a haunted girls’ school and baking mince meat pies with questionable ingredients, this year, I’d love to go bask in all that Halloween goodness and pretend I’m a kid in Moonfall watching the Headless Horseman ride screaming through the orchards while I sip hot cider and smell burnt pumpkin and woodsmoke in the air. And hear the screams. Lots and lots of screams as the ghosts of Moonfall – and Oak Glen – come out to play.


Pssst … Wanna See Something Spooky … ?

Tamara Thorne:

Our cover! Isn’t it GREAT?

Originally posted on Thorne & Cross:

Have we got an early Halloween present for you! In just a few weeks, the complete and unexpurgated The Ghosts of Ravencrest will be released. Originally published only as a serial novel in ebook format, The Ghosts of Ravencrest will soon be a full-length novel available as an ebook and, shortly after that, in trade paperback.

And guess what? We’ve begun Volume Two of The Ravencrest Saga and the first installment will be available in October. Look for the return of those evil nuns, along with further explorations of the haunted pool, the east wing, the White Violet, the Bride of Ravencrest, Old Peckerhead, and of course, the continuing badness of Cordelia Heller. What won’t she do next?

We also have some special surprises cooked up, but our lips are sealed except to say that in Volume Two, we’ll again be returning to the past, this time to the Mannings’…

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An Interview with Dead People

Tamara Thorne:

Here’s the first in a series of interviews with some very special characters!

Originally posted on Thorne & Cross:

We really didn’t get to know the first victims of The Cliffhouse Haunting’s own serial killer, Hammerhead, so we’d thought we’d take a moment and talk with them about their experience in our novel. First, here they are in action:


Hammerhead heard voices and paused. One male, one female.  It had been a long time since he had taken down two at once. The prospect delighted him, but he was nothing if not cautious; if it wasn’t safe, he would wait until another day.

He stepped into the dappled shade of a huge fir, pulled his water bottle from his knapsack and drank. The prey drew closer, and after capping the bottle, he patted the rip claw hammer that hung from a loop on his belt, hidden by his light jacket.

When the voices were no more than fifty feet away, he began walking toward them, timing it…

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DEXTER creator, Jeff Lindsay, joins Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!

Tamara Thorne:

Dexter author Jeff Lindsay is joining us this Monday on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!

Originally posted on Thorne & Cross:

download (8)

Monday, July 20th at 9 pm EST will be a special Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! podcast with DEXTER’s creator, Jeff Lindsay.

Give Haunted Nights LIVE! a like on Facebook.

To listen to other guests here.


Jeff Lindsay is the New York Times bestselling author of the Dexter novels, which debuted in 2004 with Darkly Dreaming Dexter. They are the basis of the hit Showtime and CBS series, Dexter. He lives in South Florida with his family.


At Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! horror authors Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross talk all things horror with the biggest names in the business. From fiction writers and paranormal investigators to haunted spots and true ghost stories supplied by listeners, Haunted Nights LIVE! features fact, fiction, and that indiscernible gray area in between, so polish your fangs, sharpen your claws, and come take a bite out of the…

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Excerpt: The Crimson Corset

Tamara Thorne:

An excerpt from Alistair Cross’ The Crimson Corset!

Originally posted on Cross Talk:

Following yesterday’s interview at Tamara Thorne’s Little Blog of Horrors, here is and excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Crimson Corset,which will be available in just a few weeks.


Untidy, Ryan Closter had called it. The young deputy had a knack for understatement and when Ethan arrived at the scene, he was prepared to be put off – but this was downright ghastly. This wasn’t the way Ethan liked to start his mornings.

Blood was everywhere, a dried riot of red rust all over the floor, across the bed, and even on the ceiling. It was as if someone had put a bomb in a can of paint. And the smell was unbearable. Flies swarmed like a black cloud above the body.

Closter spoke at Ethan’s side. “A neighbor heard some noises last night. She informed the landlord this morning, and after knocking and getting no response, this is…

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