Author Interview: Tamara Thorne

Here’s an interview Jerod Scott, over at the JSAscribes blog, did with me last year. It’s one of my favorites.

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On the phone the other night, a friend of mine asked me what it was like meeting some of my heroes. I thought about it a moment and answered very honestly, “It’s pretty dang cool.” It is cool, and among some of the very coolest people I have been fortunate enough to get to know is one of my first and greatest sources of inspiration, the horror novelist Tamara Thorne.

Tamara Thorne is the author of more than a dozen horror novels. She also had works published under the pseudonym Chris Curry. I came across her work in the ’90s at my local library, and immediately fell in love with her style, twisted humor, and morbid (in a good way) vision of the world. It was around this time that I began to seriously contemplate writing my own novels, and by the time I read her novel Moonfall, I was…

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A Mother’s Day Ghost Story

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When I was a kid, my mother used to joke that because I loved ghost stories so much when she died she was going to come back and say “boo” before taking off to explore the universe.  Over the years between child and adulthood, she must have promised me this at least two dozen times.  Then we’d laugh and I’d ask for another ghost story.

One night in the late 90s, I was struggling with a looming deadline. It was only eleven pm and I was exhausted but determined to get my third wind and keep going until at least two in the morning, as usual. That’s when I looked up from the computer screen and saw my mother.

She was standing in the doorway across the room, wearing a dress I’d loved when I was a kid and her hair was the curly deep red she’d been so proud of back then. She was smiling and her hand was up in a wave. Her mouth moved, saying one silent word. Then she faded away.

Like my mother, I’ve always been  aware during the hypnogogic/pompic states, which occur between waking and sleeping. Some call it a sleep disorder, but she taught me to enjoy playing in this phase and we called it “seeing pictures.”  I knew that’s what had just happened and immediately got up and popped a couple Excedrin for the caffeine buzz. Then I went back to work.

At midnight, my sister called. Our mother had passed away at eleven pm, when I’d had the “waking dream.”

And suddenly I knew.  The word I couldn’t hear was “boo!” Mom had kept her promise.

I went out in the backyard and whirled and twirled, calling goodbye, happy she was finally free of her failing body, free to travel, as she’d always said she would, but already missing her. I still do, but I’m still happy for her, too.  Bye, Mom, you were and are the best mother a kid could ever have.

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Toasting Harlan Ellison

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When I was a teenager, Harlan Ellison was my hero. I loved his stories and his prefaces to those stories. I delighted in his antics, and thought there was nothing better than going to listen to him speak at LA colleges.  Much later, after I was published, he invited me to his home after a book-signing at Dangerous Visions.  His house was every bit as amazing as he claimed, adorned with Nixon-era gargoyles and full of a lifetime of writing. And he was every bit as feisty and quick in private as in public.

I celebrated him in “Toasting Harlan Ellison,” written for the Cemetery Dance horror poetry collection, The Devil’s Wine, edited by Tom Piccrilli.  This is the first time it’s been seen anywhere else.

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Toasting Harlan Ellison

Come all ye young writers, bring ale and cup,

And I’ll tell you a tale that will make you

Proud of the profession that you have embraced:

The story of Harlan, a man with no

Fear and no hesitation;

He threatened producers with painful

Red bricks and dead gophers in boxes,

He scared them so badly, he shriveled their

Cocksureness and shocked them to bits

And Harlan, he said, “You ignorant

Men, you illiterate fools!

You should all drown in stinking

Harlequin  Romances and bunny-soft words,

You deserve nothing more than to be blinded by

Visions of danger and stories with pluck!

Your problem is that you don’t give a

Damn!” he finished and returned to his art,

And settling down, he let a great

Thought through his mind pass

And cried, “I’ll write what I want and you can all kiss my–”

But everyone knows that Harlan’s a

Hard man to fetter and cannot be mastered!

Here’s to you, Mr. Ellison, you’re my favorite

Bastard!

(c) Tamara Thorne 2003-2013

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