Interview with Alistair Cross: The Crimson Corset

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Alistair Cross is best known for his collaborations with Tamara Thorne, but now that he’s about to release his first solo novel, The Crimson Corset, it’s time to chat with him one on one about writing, vampires, and his new book.ccblurb

The idea for this novel goes back a ways. Tell us about the history of the idea and how it has evolved since it was first conceived.

The storyline was conceived in 2005, and I began writing it that same year. It was my first earnest attempt at a full-length novel, and I had a lot to learn. At about 100 pages in, I got a virus on my computer and because I hadn’t backed any of it up, it was deleted. Discouraged, I gave up for a while, and spent the next few years immersed in books about writing, and in 2009, I re-started this novel under the title, The White Room.

I completed it in 2010 and I was proud of it, but there were some problems – the main issue being that I’d written it in first person, and in that format, this was an extremely hard story to tell. But for the next two years, it traveled the globe, amassing countless rejections from agents and publishers worldwide. In the interim, I’d gotten something else published, and decided it was time to take The White Room off the market and rethink it.

I continued writing other things, occasionally tinkering with The White Room in my spare time, but no matter what else I was working on, my mind kept returning to this book. I eventually concluded I needed to dive back into it full-force and give it one last, concerted effort. At the time, I was finishing up The Cliffhouse Haunting with my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and as soon as that was completed, I started on The White Room. I quickly found that there wasn’t much to salvage, so I rewrote it from the ground up. All told, there are only three or four small scenes that, after some heavy editing, made the cut. It’s an entirely new novel now, complete with a new title, and I’m elated that it’s finally completed.

So, you conceived of The Crimson Corset a decade ago and have mentioned writing it in the first person before. Why did you use first person? And why did you switch to third?

I initially used first person because it hadn’t occurred to me to write it another way. I used to take too much advice and have since learned that my own instincts are valid. So, I switched to third and it’s the best decision I ever made. I realized that I not only could write in third person, but preferred it. I have nothing against first person and have used it more than once, but this story has way too much going on to be effectively told through only one character’s eyes.

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What initially inspired this book?

Oddly, the inspiration for this novel came when a friend of mine talked me into checking out a nightclub that had recently opened. The place was huge, with three floors and countless rooms that each had different themes and music. At one point, my friend said he wanted to show me the “white room.” That wasn’t its official title, but that’s what he called it, and when we stepped inside, I knew why. There was white carpet, several white couches and loveseats, and gauzy white tapestries that hung from the walls. In the center of the floor, behind a filmy white curtain, were three female dancers and what little clothing they wore was stark-white. I was transfixed. There was something about those women – their dark makeup, the way they moved under the strobing lights, seeming to hypnotize the male patrons – that reminded me of vampires. I spent the rest of the evening alone at the bar, taking notes on various napkins as the ideas unfolded. I know … I’m not much fun at parties.

Where did you come up with the title?

The title has a double meaning. It refers to the club, The Crimson Corset, which is owned by Gretchen VanTreese. This is where a lot of the action in this book takes place. Also, it refers to a corset that Gretchen wears on special occasions. This particular piece has serious meaning for her … and a very interesting backstory.

There is a club called the Crimson Corset in The Cliffhouse Haunting, too. Is it a chain?

I got the idea to name a club “The Crimson Corset” about a year ago, but wasn’t sure where to put it. I liked it so much that I put it in The Cliffhouse Haunting. Then, I wanted to use it again, but give it a bigger part. It’s a business chain, yes, and Gretchen is undoubtedly the owner of them all. I intend to sprinkle a few more Crimson Corset clubs throughout other works as well.

You have a real talent for memorable and appropriate names. Tell us your favorites.

Thanks. Some of my favorite names from this novel are Sebastian Antonelli, Chynna, Scythe, Marcus Massimo, Jazminka, Dora Langley, and Sheila Leventis. Oh, and the tigers, Absinthe and Hyacinthe.

How do you choose your names? I notice that some are quite ordinary and others really stick. Is there a reason for this?

I save the memorable names for characters that I really want to stick in readers’ minds. These can be major characters or minor ones who need to be remembered. Less important characters usually get the more ordinary names. But sometimes “normal” names are important for defining a major character like Sheriff Ethan Hunter. I tried calling him “Squirelman McDoodlehump” but it just didn’t say “lawman.”

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Tell us about Gretchen VanTreese.

Gretchen is proprietor of the Crimson Corset and heads the faction of vampires who believe humans should be servants rather than the dominant race. Her story begins in Rome in 1679, when she and her mother, Astrid, were turned. Astrid fought for peace and equality among vampires and humans, but Gretchen’s philosophy was a little different, and as Astrid’s power grew, Gretchen’s hatred of her mother’s ways deepened. Unwilling to be forced into a lifestyle that didn’t suit her, Gretchen took matters into her own hands and murdered her mother.

After that, Gretchen was outcast by the other vampires, and traveled the world for many years with her companion, Jazminka, until they, along with a small group of followers they’d acquired, came to America. In 1912, she bought a club which she named after a red corset she’d had specially made as a symbol of her new power. In Crimson Cove, California, she continued creating followers of her own, but Gretchen’s dreams are big and a handful of Loyals isn’t enough for her. She wants dominion over the whole city, the country … the world.

Gretchen VanTreese is easily the most heartless character I’ve ever written. Ruthless, self-obsessed, and ambitious beyond her means, she is the epitome of greed and overindulgence. This is woman who keeps handsome young men as pets, a staff of venom-addicted employees to do her daytime bidding, and a basement full of bound human delicacies. When it comes to blood, her favorite vintage is the very rare AB Negative blood type, and she seeks out this luxury with unrepentant and ruthless abandon. She’s beautiful, sexually deviant, calculating, and demanding. She sees no end to her power, no limits to her potential, and this makes her a lot of fun to write. I love to hate her … and all of her self-delusions.

Lilith, Gretchen’s pet spider, is a unique finishing touch to an already creepy character. Where did you get this idea?

Honestly, it was just one of those things that happened. As I was developing Gretchen, she “told” me that she kept a pet black widow that liked to crawl around under her clothes and nest in her hair. It’s hard to explain why some characters “want” things a certain way, and I try never to question these little pieces of information because somehow, they always turn out to be good ideas, but in this case, I did try to resist. It seemed a little too creepy for me and I couldn’t see what it had to do with Gretchen’s story, but I’m glad I kept it. The character is always right.

Gretchen’s corset. How did you think of that?

I can’t really say much about the corset without giving the whole thing away, but in the same way I knew Gretchen kept a pet spider, I knew she wore a very special red corset – though I didn’t know why at first. Then while I was researching the history of corsetry and, specifically, learning the anatomy of corsets, it became clear what made this one so significant. It was one of those moments that I adore. The idea hit me hard … it was twisted, wicked, morbid and macabre … and of course, I loved it.

Who was the most challenging character to write and why?

Jazminka, because of her wardrobe choices. This is a woman who dresses to kill. Literally. The chiffon swatches that flow from her sleeve-gloves are, in fact, garottes – weapons of strangulation. Her boots are lethal as well. With the stiletto heel of her elaborately-designed thigh-highs, she can kill a grown man and drain him in six seconds or less, without spilling a drop of blood. Then there is her hair and makeup which is always very dramatic and outrageous. This woman was just incredibly difficult to animate and properly illustrate. She also speaks with a thick Slavic accent and it wasn’t always easy to  portray that without being disruptive to the flow.

I love the vampire nightclub – that is something I’d expect vampires to create. But the health spa, Eudemonia, is thoroughly unexpected and unique. Tell us how you came up with that!

I wanted the good vampires to have a humane way of surviving that was a little more unique than drinking animal blood. To me, it doesn’t make sense that blood outside of the human species could sustain a vampire anyway, so I really didn’t want to do that. At the same time, the guys of Eudemonia are humane and can’t go around attacking innocent people, so the health resort allowed me to give them a better option.

Also, it gave them a job. Vampires always just seem to have a limitless supply of money that often goes unexplained. This has always bothered me because, although it’s fiction, I think it needs to feel as real as possible. When you write the fantastical, you’re asking people to stretch themselves quite a bit as it is, so creating intermittent life-like references along the way keeps readers relating to the story.

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Is there a character in this book you’d like to write more about?

Yes. Winter. He has always spoken to me at a deeper level than most characters. I want to explore him further. Also, Nick Grayson, one of Ethan’s deputies. The moment he came on stage, I knew there was more to him than I could write about in this book, so I gave him a job offer in the fictional neighboring town of Prominence, where my next solo will take place. That way, he can get the stage time I’d like to give him.

Which character was the most fun to write?

Ethan Hunter’s neighbor, Mrs. Gelding. Gladiola to her friends. And everyone is a friend of Mrs. Gelding’s …

Are there any characters in this book that you really like but feel you shouldn’t?

Ambrose. He makes me giggle.

Do you base any of your characters on real people?

No. Inadvertently, if at all.

Is Cade’s cat, Sir Purrcival, based on your cat, Pawpurrazzi?

No. As one of the remaining creatures from the White Room days, Sir Purrcival precedes Pawpurrazzi by about eight years. I tell her that she’s the inspiration, though. It seems to help her self-esteem. Of course, now she expects every feline I write to be created in her image, but what can you do?

How do you feel about animal violence in horror?

I simply don’t do it. There are a few things I find to be … well, just too easy. Animal violence. Child abuse. The devil made me do it. Senseless blood-spatter. Torture porn. These things can incite powerful reader response – but it isn’t the kind of response I want. If a writer’s goal is to make his or her readers cry,  recoil, shudder, or become sick, that’s fine, but I think they should work for it a little more. And torturing something helpless, like a puppy or an innocent child, is a cheap shot. Also, I have moral issues with some of this stuff. I write horror, but I don’t write it without a reason, and violence against children and animals just doesn’t make sense to me, unless you’re dealing with Cujo or little Reagan from the Exorcist. Again, it’s just too easy.

The character of Coastal Eddie, a conspiracy-oriented DJ, originated in Candle Bay and has now shown up in collaborations and in your solo. There are also cross references to places like Cliffside and Candle Bay in your solo, and vice versa. What made you and Tamara decide to cross-pollinate your worlds and will this continue?

I read Candle Bay many moons ago, and fell in love with that character. I was honored and humbled when his original author allowed me to give him some stage time in The Crimson Corset. We decided to cross-pollinate our worlds on occasion because we enjoy it. Over the course of writing a novel, it isn’t uncommon to become attached to certain characters and places. It’s hard to let them go, and as an added plus, readers love to see their favorite characters from other books pay surprise visits. So yes, it will continue.

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How did you choose the names Cadence and Brooks?

Cadence was the name I’d decided that I’d use if I ever had a son. It has since become a semi-popular name for girls – which baffles me – but I still like the name for a boy, and didn’t want to change it.

I first heard the name Brooks in 2006. It belonged to a young man I met at a pizza place. I loved it and knew I wanted to use it for Cade’s brother.

Why does Sheriff Hunter knit? (You know, instead of fish or shoot hoops?)

It relaxes him. Sheriff Hunter has a lot on his mind, and keeping his hands, eyes, and mind engaged allows him temporary escape. However, I think I speak for everyone in Crimson Cove when I say I wish he’d stop making such loud, ugly sweaters – and crediting them to his fictional Aunt Vanessa in Oregon.

Were there any surprise characters that showed up in the book that weren’t originally part of the outline?

Yes. The missing children. I can’t say anything more about them without giving spoilers, but they weren’t planned. Also, Katrina, Rose Keller, Mrs. Gelding, and Claire Henry were spur of the moment characters who ended up furthering the story and adding to the plot. This is something that’s happened in everything I’ve ever written, and more often than not, these surprise characters end up telling the story better than I can. In fact, in the earliest beginnings of this story, Gretchen herself was a surprise character. She went on to center the entire plot around herself, and I’m glad she did. I always follow surprise characters to see where they’re going.

What made you want to incorporate the tigers, Absinthe and Hyacinthe, into this book?

Chynna’s tigers were part of the original cast when this concept was conceived ten years ago. I was told I couldn’t put them in because they weren’t necessary, but I disagree. Their mistress, Chynna, is a tiger-trainer, and Absinthe and Hyacinthe deepen and further the plot, and define Chynna, so I refused to leave them out this time around.

Michael’s raven, Reaper, is a hoot. How did you come up with his “lines?”

I like paying homage to the things that influenced me and brought me here, so Reaper’s phrases are all lines from my favorite horror movies and books. I’m very fond of that bird and the relationship he has with Michael.

The town of Crimson Cove is set very near the Santa Cruz boardwalk where The Lost Boys took place. Is there a reason for that?

Pure coincidence, although I loved that movie growing up, and surely there is evidence of that in this book. Vampires on motorcycles and all that … good times.

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What kind of research did you do for the setting, history, and character development in this book?

I like forests, mountains, and the sea, so I went to a lot of trouble to create the town of Crimson Cove and to put it somewhere beautiful. I decided on California and this required research on the history of that state, specifically, the area where Crimson Cove is placed.

For the vampire venom and its effects, I did extensive research on snakes and snake venom, as well as spiders, and various drugs such as heroin. I also did research on nightclubs, BDSM, ferns, California laws, the duties of coroners, guns, swords, motorcycles, Hummers, Aston Martins, Ford Fairlanes, and underwater acrobats.

Then there is the history. Each character in this novel has a fully-developed back story, and some of them go back four or five centuries, so to develop their pasts, I researched World War II and Operation Neptune, Vietnam, the Battle of Ticonderoga, The Hudson River in the 1790s, the Red Light District of the Barbary Coast in the 1870s and San Francisco in the early 1900s, the Seven Years War, Queen Christina of Sweden in the 1600s, whore houses during Prohibition, mercenaries, bounty hunters, the Gold Rush of 1849 … it’s a very long list.

Do you enjoy doing research?

I like having done research. Much of it is fascinating, of course, but not all of it. But it’s necessary – sometimes captivating, often tedious … but always worth it.

There is a definite stalking theme in this book. Gretchen is stalking Cade. Piper is stalking Brooks, then Cade, then Sebastian. Is this theme deliberate? If so, why?

Yes, it was deliberate. At its core, this is a story of obsession, of addiction. And addiction to another person is the most terrifying addiction of all. I have seen the effects of obsessive “love” up close and personal, and it scares the hell out of me. People become too enchanted; they become dependant on the way another person makes them feel, and rely on this person more and more to validate them until the other person becomes a kind of milking machine. Eventually, the stalked person puts an end to it, and that’s when it becomes something very dark and very scary. This is not love, it’s sickness, and unfortunately, it’s rampant. I wanted to explore this in The Crimson Corset because I wanted to show the signs – and the inevitable outcome – of this kind of toxicity. It’s something I feel needs more attention.

The “mermaids,” Violet and Scarlett, are a lot of fun. Where did you get the idea for them to swim in an aquarium for the viewing pleasure of the male patrons at the Crimson Corset?

Near Crimson Cove, there’s a very real little town with an famous, perhaps infamous, old nightclub/restaurant called the Brookdale Lodge. It’s currently closed, but it has loads of ghost stories attached to it (and is the real inspiration for the brook running through the lodge in The Cliffhouse Haunting). Some of the Brookdale Lodge’s history, slightly altered, has been added to the Crimson Corset’s. The Brookdale was a favorite place for gangsters running rum during the 1920s and 1930s, and its heyday continued several decades more as Hollywood celebrities like Sinatra and the Rat Pack adopted it as a place to party, along with the gangsters and regular folks. There was (and is) an area of the pool that is glassed in where prostitutes dressed as mermaids swam for the men at the bar and would be chosen as companions for the night, the same way people at restaurants can choose lobsters from a tank. Then, beginning in the late 60s, huge rock stars like The Doors often hid out and rehearsed on a little stage area just a few steps from the infamous mermaid bar when playing gigs in San Francisco.

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Do you have any difficulty writing sex scenes, especially from a female point of view?

No. Squeamishness about sex eludes me. I genuinely find it odd and somewhat juvenile that a person would be embarrassed by it. Sex is a private thing, and personal, but I don’t consider it indecent or shameful in any capacity, so writing about it has never been a problem.

As for writing sex from a female perspective, I find it surprisingly natural. I’ve never believed there are any real major differences between men and women. I’ve seen as many successful business women as artistic men. It’s never occurred to me that men are strictly one way and women another – so I don’t view sexuality as being much different from one sex to the other. The parts are different, sure, but in the end, we are attracted by the same things – a person’s scent, their lips and eyes, the sheen of hair, their smile, their humor, their self-confidence … these are genderless desires until we attach our personal preferences to them. At the root of sex is a natural craving for closeness; it’s only a question of who we want to be intimate with that demands distinction.

How are your vampires different from other writers’?

There are so many variations on these monsters, and all of the vampires seem to think their own variety is the only one in existence. It occurred to me that perhaps my vampires were just one strain of many; that perhaps many kinds of vampires exist. As Michael tells Cade, “As humans, you have many different races, each with its own unique set of distinctions, but are you not still the same species?”

Of course, I put my own spin on the Crimson Cove vampires, but I didn’t want to get too unique. Vampires are fascinating as they are … I don’t think they need to sparkle or be the results of freak science experiments to interesting. I like the integrity of the vampire, and tried to keep that intact.

When did you know how this book was going to end?

From the beginning, I knew it could go one of three ways. The first way would make a sequel impossible. The second way would allow for a sequel, but would require a lot of rearranging, and the third would segue smoothly into a next book. The trouble was that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a sequel, but by the time I neared the end, I’d made up my mind, and went with the third possibility. So, in truth, I didn’t know exactly how it would end until I was almost finished with it.

So, there will be a sequel?

Yes, but not before my next solo novel, which isn’t about Crimson Cove. That being said, you will see some of the vampires of Crimson Cove in the sequel to Tamara Thorne’s Candle Bay, which we’ve decided to collaborate on. The vampires of Candle Bay are going on a roadtrip, you see … and Michael, Winter, and maybe a couple of others will be joining them …

Have you read horror all your life? What other genres do you enjoy reading? Would you ever consider writing out of genre?

Yes, I’ve always read horror, my first exposure being the Bunnicula series by James Howe. While not horror exactly, it fed my imagination and I still see its influence. As for other genres, I truly enjoy them all with very rare exceptions. I enjoyed The Omen and Gone With the Wind equally. I found A Tale of Two Cities as compelling as the Sookie Stackhouse books. I’ve never looked at a certain genre and said I’d never read it. I enjoy reading for the sake of reading and my attitude about writing is the same. If a storyline required it, I would absolutely write in another genre. As it is, I have ideas for future works that certainly wouldn’t qualify as horror, but I do think some authors have a certain “vibe” that makes it impossible to stray too far. For example, when Stephen King or Robert McCammon writes something that isn’t horror, there’s a detectable, lingering feeling of eeriness that’s part of their style. In the same way, I think I’ll always be a little dark, a little macabre.

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As a child, did you enjoy telling other kids – or yourself – ghost stories?

I did! There was – and still is – nothing I enjoy more than scaring people, and this goes as far back as I can remember. On a couple of occasions, I’d bring a friend to tears of terror with some ghastly tale or another, and as much as I’d like to say I felt bad about it, I never did. I considered it a great success. But tears were rare. Generally, my friends joined in the fun as we embarked on various imaginary journeys through the darkness together, and those moments stand out as some of my happiest times. There’s always been something about the feeling of being watched, or not being alone when you think you are … and of cold chills raising your skin in goosebumps, that makes me giddy. I grew up in a spooky little town in a house with a spooky little basement where I spent my most formative years, so the sensation of uneasy trepidation is home for me; it takes me back to boyhood. (I wasn’t forced to stay in the spooky basement ala Carrie in her closet; I simply liked going down there to scare myself.)

You’ve talked before about the morality of horror. Explain this.

It’s assumed that horror writers are dark, depraved individuals – the bringers of evil – and this is absurd. What other genre so naturally explores the philosophical side of life? You can’t bring theology into a Romance novel. There’s not much room for issues of faith in Westerns, and readers aren’t going to tolerate many celestial affairs in Erotica. But with horror, that door is wide open. Horror demands answers to the deeper questions; it requires the contemplation of life and death and the examination of good and evil. I know of no other fictional genre that puts morality as front and center as horror does, and it annoys me that it’s seen as being “bad” or “corrupt.”

When reading someone else’s work, what are your some of your personal pet peeves?

While formula is good, there’s such a thing as too much of it. When technical rules are followed too closely, it shows, and if given the choice between a perfectly-coiffed, rule-abiding novel, and a damned good book with a some serious heart and soul, I’ll take the latter every time.

What do you wish people wouldn’t ask you?

How much money I make. First of all, book sales fluctuate and there is no accurate answer, and second of all, it’s personal. It’s stunning that anyone would ask this, but it happens with enough regularity that I’ve now developed a stock response: “Oh, I do all right, but let’s talk about your sex life now. What are you into? You’re kinky, right?” because, to me, it’s the same thing. It’s private.

Tell us all about your radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! How do you get guests like Laurell K. Hamilton and Christopher Moore and Jeff Lindsay? Do you pay them? Blackmail them?

Haunted Nights LIVE! is a horror/paranormal/thriller-themed radio talk show which Tamara Thorne and I host. It’s an hour-long discussion with authors, paranormal experts, and creators of all things spooky. Haunted Nights LIVE! features fact, fiction, and the gray area in between. You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and listen to previous podcasts at our websites.

Our guests arrive one of three ways. First, we have an amazing producer who works hard to get us the best in the business. The second way is that we contact the author and ask them on, and the third is that the author contacts us or our producer. We don’t pay or blackmail anyone, and haven’t had any trouble getting anyone on. I credit this to the early guests – the big guys who took a big step and came on, which made it into the much bigger show that it is now.

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What are your strategies for (and general thoughts on) marketing?

I have a publicist who works very hard at procuring interviews, book reviews, guest blog posts, and getting me into myriad social media circuits. On top of the work she does, I dedicate two hours each weekday and four hours on Saturdays to marketing on my own. I’m very disciplined about this because I firmly believe that writers must take full accountability for their careers. No one cares about your books as much as you do, and it’s astonishing how many writers kick back and think someone will do it for them. It’s up to you, as the writer. It’s a business, and part of business is marketing. You wouldn’t slap an OPEN sign on the window of your new barber shop, go home, and wait for the money to start rolling in. Awareness is everything, and building that awareness is no nine to five job. It’s ongoing. It’s also exhausting, and the temptation is to relax and let the book “sell itself” or hope your publisher is doing it for you. This is great in theory, but the payoff isn’t satisfying. I work too hard on my books not to give them proper exposure.

In your opinion, what makes a good writer?

To me, it’s a matter of heart. There are all kinds of rules (don’t use adverbs, blah, blah, blah) but at the end of the day, a good writer is one who puts his or her heart into the story and has the determination to make it a success. There are reasons for rules – and you must know the rules before you break them – but it takes a lot more than protocol to write a compelling story.

Any advice on image and branding?

I think it’s important to present yourself as a professional. While writing a good book is critical, nothing will cancel that out faster than behaving like an amatuer. I cringe every time I see an author arguing with a reader who left a poor review, or fighting with their friends on Facebook … or publicly bashing their agents or publishers. It’s embarrassing.

What are you working on now?

In collaboration, Tamara Thorne and I working on the final installment of our serialized Gothic, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Though this is the final episode in this volume, a new story arc begins immediately – same place, same players. Ravencrest is like a soap opera – it just keeps going and we currently foresee no real end. Also, we have begun our next collaborative novel, a psychological thrill-fest that will be due out late this year or early next.

As for solos, I’ve begun a new novel which, although unrelated to The Crimson Corset, will feature Nick Grayson, who made an appearance in Corset. This book takes place in a neighboring (fictional) town, and is full of magick, mayhem, and all things macabre. Once this is completed, I’ll begin work on The Crimson Corset’s sequel.

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Alistair Cross was born in the western United States and began penning his own stories by the age of eight. First published by Damnation Books in 2012, Alistair has since published several more novels. In 2012, he joined forces with international bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write the successful Gothic series, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Their newest novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, is an Amazon Best Seller, and this summer also sees the release of Alistair’s solo novel, The Crimson Corset.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the internet radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! Haunted Nights LIVE! premiered to great acclaim and has featured such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels, and New York Times best sellers Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.

Alistair is currently at work on several projects including a solo novel and a new Thorne & Cross collaboration. His influences include the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty.

You can visit Alistair at his website at alistaircross.com

Dia de los Muertos Booksigning and Halloween Sales!

Tamara will be signing all her books, including the latest release, Thunder Road, Saturday Nov. 1 at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. Come join us for a great Dia de los Muertos celebration, complete with goodies! Read more about the books and other authors here.

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  Mysterious Galaxy:   San Diego ~7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747

If you can’t come but would like autographed and/or personalized books, just contact the store. They’ll take speedy and easy care of you.

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Bad Things, Tamara’s novel of Halloween horror, is on sale through the 31st for just $2.99 in all ebook platforms.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Bad Things, Horror’s Roots, and Rock and Roll

So, my favorite DJ, Mimi Chen, on my favorite classic rock station, 100.3, The Sound,  gave me a Facebook thrill this morning when I found her post about loving Bad Things. Mimi isn’t a horror reader, but she liked it so much she reviewed it on Amazon.

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Bad Things is a coming of age Halloween tale about Ricky Piper, his legless twin, Robin, and the greenjacks who cavort and taunt and try to steal the souls of those who can see them.  As a boy, Ricky is terrified of everything – the dark, greenjacks, his brother, and especially, Halloween.  As an adult, he returns to his childhood home with his own kids, having spent years convincing himself the greenjacks – and their leader, Big Jack, don’t exist…  And you know how that always goes.

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Inspired by my own childhood game – sitting outside at night watching leaves move in the breeze and pretending to see faces and figures dancing among them – greenjacks – Bad Things was a labor of love. Writing it brought back all those nights spent gleefully spooking myself then racing into the house to write ghost stories. But many other things played into Bad Things, too.

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I’ve always loved the Green Man – the guy you see with leaves growing out of his mouth – grinning down from the ornamentation on old buildings – including churches, or staring at you from his hiding place amongst the foliage on English tapestries, and old paintings. The Green Man even has his own story in beloved Arthurian Legends. (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight). A pre-Christian figure, he has been embodied by such diverse figures as Pan, Bacchus, Dionysus, Robin Hood, Herne the Hunter, Shakespeare’s Puck, and Tolkien’s Ents.

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He is the lord of the forest. There are lords (and ladies) associated with the other elements – fire, water, and air – as well. (In fact, my collaborator, Alistair Cross, and I have just turned in a new novel that deals with one of these other elementals.)

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I love the green man so much that I incorporated him into The Sorority as the Forest Ghost, along with tales of greenjacks told by my recurring professor, Dan S. McCobb. (Say it out loud.)

Sororityhand_1000There’s much more to Bad Things than green men, though.  Santo Verde, Rick Piper’s hometown in SoCal, is based on a very real little city called Redlands. It’s an hour east of Los Angeles, a place full of citrus orchards, greenery, and Victorian mansions. Years ago, it was a favorite weekend retreat of Hollywood’s elite.  The cemetery in Bad Things is a clear reflection of Redland’s own fabulous boneyard. Redlands/Santo Verde is also only a few miles from the apple-growing mountain town of Oak Glen which provided inspiration for my  witchy Halloween tale, Moonfall,  (FOr that matter, Thunder Road‘s Old Madelyn is based on Calico Ghost Town, two hours north, in the desert.)m 180x300But I digress.  The next thing you should know about Bad Things is that Todd Browning’s classic Freaks also helped inspire it. Years before I wrote it, I was fascinated by the legless boy, Johnny Eck, who walked on his hands. This grew into an interest in freaks in general; their history, their lives.

220px-Kobel-JohnnyEck-handstandJohnny Eck is particularly inspiring. He lived a long life, was well-loved and a master of many trades.  What I didn’t know when I researched for Bad Things – it wasn’t in the books I used – was that Johnny Eck had a “normal” brother, Robert, with whom he traveled and lived his entire life. Just like Ricky and Robin. Synchronicity rules.

The final thing about Bad Things is that, well, that’s a secret… Suffice to say, I don’t like practical jokers.

41QZH57ZEELBad Things is one of my favorite tales not only because Halloween is a subject dear to my heart, because it helped me understand why I am endlessly fascinated with human nature, especially its dark side. As for my love of ghost stories – there’s nothing to understand. I was just born that way.  Yowza.

http://tamarathorne.com

 

 

 

 

 

Book Signing at Mysterious Galaxy!

I’ll be at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego for a special Dia de los Muertos signing party.  All my books will be available, including Thunder Road.  If you can make it, it’s at 2 pm. If you can’t, but would like an autographed or personalized book or two, just contact Mysterious Galaxy to place an order.

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Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live!

Our new show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live!, is all about horror. We’ll be interviewing your favorite authors, discussing books, movies, and your ghost stories, among other things. Our first guests include Douglas Clegg, Glen Hirshberg, and Michael Aronovitz!  The show premiers November 6th on the Authors on the Air station at Blog Talk Radio. URL coming soon!

ShhfrescoT&C_edited-3By the way, my Halloween novel, Bad Things is currently on sale!

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http://alistaircross.com

Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live!

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A few months back, Alistair Cross and I we were interviewed by Pam Stack at Authors on the Air. We had a great time on the show and the three of us quickly double entendered ourselves into a fast friendship.  A few weeks ago, Pam asked us if we would be interested in hosting some horror-themed shows in October. This sounded like a lot of fun and we agreed, though we’ve kept it under our Halloween masks until today.

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Since, Pam has invited us to host our very own brand new radio show… so starting in November, we will be hosting Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live. We will be interviewing horror authors and other macabre personalities, talking about horror in general, telling ghost stories – ours and yours – and are planning some very special T&A – style features for your amusement.

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Already, we have an impressive list of excellent horror authors on tap, ready to share their personal stories in the horror industry as well as the secrets of their writing processes. But don’t expect deep dark critiquing and heavy duty analysis. If you follow us on Facebook, you know we like to have fun. We’ll talk about books and movies, the publishing world and about our own writing processes, as well as our unique methods for breaking writer’s block and other catastrophes.

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A shiny new Facebook page for our show will appear soon, but you can friend us right now on our individual Facebook pages at Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross. We welcome questions and suggestions.

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We have a vision. We want Haunted Nights Live to be the liveliest show about dead things in existence! It will be Halloween all year long at Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live. Boo!

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Oh oh-oh-oh Thunder Road!

Tamara Thorne, will be interviewed at Conversations Live by Cyrus Webb, on Tuesday, September 2nd, at 3 p.m. Pacific and 6 p.m. Eastern time to talk about the release of her novel, Thunder Road, which hits bookstores everywhere in next week.

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“Evoking Stephen King’s terrifying novel The Gunslinger and the epic adventure film Cowboys and Aliens, Tamara Thorne delivers a tantalizing blend of horror and Western SciFi–in an arid, dangerous world from which there is no escape. . .

The California desert town of Madelyn boasts all sorts of attractions for visitors. Join the audience at the El Dorado Ranch for a Wild West show. Take a ride through the haunted mine at Madland Amusement Park. Scan the horizon for UFOs. Find religion with the Prophet’s Apostles – and be prepared for the coming apocalypse.

Because the apocalypse has arrived in Madelyn. People are disappearing. Strange shapes and lights dart across the night sky. And a young man embraces a violent destiny – inspired by a serial killer whose reign of terror was buried years ago.

But each of these events is merely setting the stage for the final confrontation. A horror of catastrophic proportions is slouching toward Madelyn in the form of four horsemen – and they’re picking up speed. . .”

 

$1.99 – Cheap!

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Bad Things is on sale at Amazon for $2! Meet Ricky and his legless twin brother, Robin. He walks on his hands with the greatest of ease and he licks your butter, too!  Bask in the badness of Aunt Jade and her creepy poodles! Get ready for Halloween with Big Jack. He’s a real scream, as are his minions, the greenjacks.  Do you have symptoms of greenjack infestation? Find out now!

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Oh Oh Oh Oh Thunder Road

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Thunder Road, Tamara Thorne’s novel of cowboys, aliens, serial killers and religious cults in the high desert of southern California, will be available in paperback everywhere September 2. You can pre-order at Amazon and other outlets.

THUNDER ROAD

Evoking Stephen King’s terrifying novel The Gunslinger and the epic adventure film Cowboys and Aliens, Tamara Thorne delivers a tantalizing blend of horror and Western SciFi–in an arid, dangerous world from which there is no escape. . .

The California desert town of Madelyn boasts all sorts of attractions for visitors. Join the audience at the El Dorado Ranch for a Wild West show. Take a ride through the haunted mine at Madland Amusement Park. Scan the horizon for UFOs. Find religion with the Prophet’s Apostles–and be prepared for the coming apocalypse.

Because the apocalypse has arrived in Madelyn. People are disappearing. Strange shapes and lights dart across the night sky. And a young man embraces a violent destiny–inspired by a serial killer whose reign of terror was buried years ago.

But each of these events is merely setting the stage for the final confrontation. A horror of catastrophic proportions is slouching toward Madelyn in the form of four horsemen–and they’re picking up speed. . .

“Tamara Thorne has become one of those must-read horror writers. From her strong characters to her unique use of the supernatural, anything she writes entertains as much as it chills.” –Horror World

“Tamara Thorne is the new wave of horror–her novels are fascinating rides into the heart of terror and mayhem.” –Douglas Clegg, author of You Come When I Call You

Something Lusty This Way Comes

The latest e-poster form the The Erotic Adventures of Belinda series

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When Belinda Moorland steps across the threshold of Ravencrest Manor, she feels as if she’s entered a fantasy world. The mansion is breathtaking, and her new employer, Eric Manning, is as mysterious as he is handsome.

But after just one night, she begins to suspect there is more to Ravencrest than she was told. Haunted by nightmares and seduced by erotic dreams, Belinda realizes her new home has a dark side. By day, the house and grounds are sublime, but the night is alive with dark shadows and phantom footsteps in empty corridors. Eyes – and hands – are upon her, and not all of them belong to the living.

The third installment of Belinda, titled Darker Shadows, is underway and will be available in September. The first two installments, The New Governess, and Awakening, are available now! Click on the titles below to read them.

The New Governess

Awakening

Here’s what people are saying about Belinda:

“If you’ve finished all of Sylvia Day’s Crossfires novels and are craving more, look no further. In The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross have created a world that is rich, opulent, and smoldering with the promise of seduction. You’ll be able to feel the slide of the satin sheets, taste the fizz of champagne.”

-Sylvia Shults, author of Double Double Love and Trouble

“The Erotic Adventures of Belinda” by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross is a fun, intricate read.  The erotica is well crafted and the ornate setting descriptions are breath-taking.  Most importantly, from page one, readers fall in love with Belinda.  We care about what happens to her, and we hope exactly what that is remains deliciously extensive!”

-Michael Aronovitz: author of  Alice Walks

“Shocking and fun!  The Erotic Adventures of Belinda by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross will leaving you shivering with excitement as the innocent Belinda breaks free of a minimum-wage hell hole only to move into a sprawling Gothic estate where her body becomes the focal point of a mysterious specter.  Out of the pan and into the fire?  Only time will tell.”

-William Malmborg, author of Jimmy and Text Message