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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Riding on Thunder Road – and an Excerpt

Thunder Road, my novel of a small apocalypse, is releasing today in paperback online and in terrestrial bookstores everywhere. Here’s a brand new interview about the book on  Cyrus Webb Presents .

Thunder Road began with a modern cowboy named Tom Abernathy.  One day, he simply emerged, fully formed, and ambled patiently around in my head for quite some time before another character came to life via one of the most horrifying yet fascinating nightmares I’ve ever had.  Not long after that, I read about UFO reports in the California High Desert, out by my favorite historical amusement park, Calico Ghost Town.  (Even if you’ve never visited Calico, you may have seen bits of it in movies like Tremors 4.)Thunder Road Mech.indd

I had cowboys, amusement parks, serial killers, and UFOs – but I needed one more thing.  I remembered that, years and years ago, there had been a cult of sorts surrounding a high desert structure called the Integratron, where people went to try to communicate with aliens.  While I kept some UFO cultists hanging around Old Madelyn Amusement park – Madland, my version of Calico – I decided my main cult would be a religious one.  That was because too many missionaries had been knocking on my door lately and I needed some sweet revenge.

Also, I really wanted to try my hand at an apocalypse novel and where there are cowboys, there are horses, so I suddenly had visions of the Four Horsemen prancing through my skull.  I was now officially in love with the the book.

The mountains around Calico are famous. As the sun sets, they glow with eerie colors cast by all the minerals that were mined there besides silver. One of the most famous was borax, as in Boraxo Hand Soap. The chemical was hauled by a twenty-mule team on a hard road between mining towns (all the way out to Death Valley) and then into the city.  I had walked the road behind Calico and recalled seeing it on TV as a little kid.  What better name than Thunder Road, especially since I knew drag racing was going to be a problem in Madland.  So I named my new novel for Bruce Springsteen’s song. He, in turn, had been inspired by the poster of the 1958 Robert Mitchum  movie of the same name. It was about running moonshine.  It all fit.

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So, there, you have it. Cowboys, sheriffs, tattooed ladies, a sexy shepherdess, horses, rodeos, crazy prophets and crazier followers babbling about the coming apocalypse, aliens, one ghost story (how could I skip ghosts?), a beautiful UFO researcher, lots of quotes by Jacques Vallee, and not one, but two – count ‘em, two – serial killers!

In addition to being a very fun write, Thunder Road gave me some great returns. One was a friendship with Jacques Vallee (the French scientist in Close Encounters of the Third Kind is based on him); and another was a treasure trove of ghost stories.

While I believe the UFO sightings up in that area of the desert are primarily atmosphere or military related, I came to find out – and witness – that the real Calico Ghost Town is absolutely overrun with ghostly anomalies that’ll knock your socks off (though you’ll get nothing but denials if you ask those currently running the park). But that’s a story for another novel…

 

An excerpt from Thunder Road:

‘Justin had never been in here before, and he looked around, impressed with the rich, dark colors, the candlesticks and stacks of cards, the Tiffany lamp in the corner. He sat at the table and reached for the crystal ball.

“Don’t touch that.”

Justin hesitated, then withdrew his hand.

Carlo folded his arms and leaned against a rolltop desk. “What do you need to talk about?”

“Tonight. What we’re, I mean you’re, going to do to Alexandra Manderley.”

“Peel her,” the man said slowly. “What else is there to discuss?”

“You’re going to do it?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re going to teach me?” he added hopefully.

“You may watch. Whether you can learn or not is a question that remains unanswered.”

The doorbell rang, and Carlo stood. “Come back tonight at midnight. You may go now.”

Justin rose, in awe. The man was a king, a leader among men, with a voice so commanding that Alexandra Manderley would probably peel her own skin from her bones if he asked. “Midnight,” he repeated, following Carlo to the back door.’

 

* * *

Related links:

http://www.calicoghostwalk.com/BearDanceObservedg.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-mule_team

http://www.tamarathorne.com

Comic Con Virgin Pops Cherry

I have finally been to a Comic Con.  My friend and fellow writer, QL Pearce, and I headed to San Diego in time to attend Preview Night on Wednesday.  The road trip, as always, was fantastic, and we stopped for a late lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Old Town before heading down to the Horton Grand Hotel where we showered off the effects of the heat wave before taking the short walk down 5th to the Convention Center.  The crowds were thick, but interesting.  On the way, we saw vans plastered with religious slogans and, in front of the convention hall, protesters picketed with signs about drinking Jesus’s blood and bathing in his sins or something. The Jeebus freaks were rebuked with good humor about worshiping Thor and other gods who know how to party.

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I’d been warned repeatedly that Comic Con is a smelly convention, but we figured the first night wouldn’t be too sweaty and, despite the crowds and heat, we were right.  We wandered the huge exhibition hall for two hours looking at everything from masses of storm troopers to adult magazines.  We walked and walked, slowly, stuck in a mass of people who inched along like a great slow earthworm. It was stressful, not stepping on toes or ramming others. But it didn’t smell and that was something. There weren’t many costumes that night. Bummer.

Returning to our hotel, we were accosted repeatedly (in a good way) by costumed characters giving out everything from packs of gum to Hello Kitty tattoo patches. By the time we got back to the room, we had about five pounds of postcards and flyers we turned on the TV and munched a cold dinner we’d brought along.  We slept in.

The next morning our feet were happier and off we went, stopping on Fifth for toast, berries and coffee at a neat little bar and grill that also gave us a drinks menu at 10 am.  The servers were all costumed – my favorite was Captain Underpants. Many  of the guests were in character, too, and quite a few of them had wine or mixed drinks.  (The Green Lantern appeared to have a drinking problem.) We watched costumed conventioneers walk by. There was a preponderance of Wonder Women and Batmen.

After breakfast, we walked on, collecting more postcards and packs of gum. And when we got to the last stop light where overly enthusiastic traffic “cops” blew their whistles like drill sergeants and employed furiously crisp hand signals at cars and pedestrians alike, we smelled it.  The Stench of Comic Con. It’s real, we realized, and it’s bad.  It wafted a couple of times. The third time, I noticed a large postcard I was holding seemed to smell like a dirty bathroom.  I sniffed again.  It did.  I had Q smell it and her nose wrinkled up like Caesar’s in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. She had one, too, and we gave it the sniff test.  It was equally foul.  The light changed and we carried those crappy postcards by our fingertips and deposited them in the nearest trash can before going in and washing our hands. I never knew they made printing ink that smelled bad.  Perhaps the conventioneers do shower daily and the stink is caused by putrid postcards.

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Inside, the costumes were great.  The hall outside the exhibition area was especially loaded with them.  But, oh, the crowds!  It was like ConDor – a San Diego con Q and I like to do each spring – gone insane.  I wanted to climb onto a bench and yell, “It’s a madhouse, a madhouse!”  But I couldn’t, because there were no benches, chairs, or anything else to sit on.  Tired elves and aliens lined the edges of the lobby floor and circled the pillars.  There was a Starbucks but no chairs in there, either.  Finally, we hit the mezzanine level and found a row of chairs where exhausted people sat. We joined them for a few minutes then headed into the art show and other things upstairs.  It was open and airy and huge vents shot cold air. Heaven.  Downstairs again, we hit the exhibition hall looking for goodies and Noel Hynd and his wife Patricia, who own Red Cat Press. We found them and had some fun.

At three, we met up with some friends, Mimi Chen and her husband. Mimi is a jock at The Sound LA, the best classic station in town, and her weekend show, Peace, Love, and Sunday Mornings, is my favorite.  She takes you back to Haight Street in the 60s. The music makes you feel groovy. So, off we went up Fifth, eeling through the throngs of people until we got to a little Italian place that wasn’t so crowded, Firenza Trattoria.  There were only a few patrons at that hour.  A pair of elves sat nearby eating pasta, and out on Fifth the crowds were colorful and noisy.  We all had wonderful pasta dishes followed by the best salted caramel gelato I’ve ever tasted.  Lunch took two blessedly quiet hours. We geeked out over movies and books like we couldn’t at the noisy convention.

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Finally, Mimi and Leslie headed back to the con and Q and I decided to hit the road.  We talked and talked.  We decided that Comic Con was a great experience, that it’s a humongous version the little cons we prefer, and that we hated the lack of places to sit.  We decided, too, that our favorite parts were relaxing in the hotel and going out to eat.

Q is returning with her husband to the con tomorrow, so I’ll let you know if the stench has to do with people or if it’s just the postcards.

Personally, I was going to drive back down today, but I’m on deadline and I missed writing. It’s so nice, sitting here in the quiet, in the cooled air, Skypewriting in the Cloud with Alistair Cross.  While I was gone, my collaborator turned out at least half of the upcoming third installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, Darker Shadows. It’s full of sex, ghosts, and gothica and we’re about to read it aloud.  Then, it’s on to our horror novel, which has reached that sweet spot where everything is beginning to rush to the end. It’s so much fun I can hardly stand it. Indeed, it trumps Comic Con for excitement, at least for me.  The writing is great fun and, well, hurrah for chairs!
On a final note, the second installment of Belinda, aptly titled Awakening, is available now on Amazon (and will be available soon in other formats.)  The first installment, The New Governess is also available.

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Beneath the Lake – On Writing Horror… and Belinda

 

Our article, Extreme Collaborating, is up at Beneath the Lake: On Writing Horror. In it, we discuss our unique form of collaboration – how we get in the Cloud and literally write together, often in the same paragraph.  Go on over to Crystal Lake PublishingAwakening Cover_pink-1 and check it out. While you’re there, look around; you’ll see all kinds of good stuff!

Meanwhile, back at the old Thorney-Cross Ranch, we’ve put the final touches – and strokes – on Belinda’s second installment, Awakening, and you’ll be holding and caressing her with your warm, loving hands very soon! The first installment, The New Governess, is available now.

tamarathorne.com

alistaircross.com

On Writing: Extreme Collaborating

 

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A radio interviewer asked Alistair Cross and me how we write together and that was one of the most eye-opening questions we’ve ever had.  She was amazed when we told her our method and said she’d never heard of anyone writing like that before.  Evidently, many writers split things up with one brainstorming and the other writing. Neither of us can even imagine having any fun doing our job this way.  To not be allowed to brainstorm would be horrible!  And to not write would be just as bad!  We can each imagine this working in non-fiction, but in fiction, if you don’t love both sides – creating and writing – where does that leave you? How can you imagine ideas for your plot and characters without being able to set them down as well, and vice versa? Can a good writer write without his or her imagination taking off and soaring to the heavens?  It sounds absolutely horrible to us.

Our collaborations are a 50/50 effort. We plot together, we develop characters together, and we even transcribe together by getting on Skype, opening the Cloud, and working side by side. Sometimes Tamara takes the lead, sometimes Alistair does – but nothing is written without both of us present. We each have our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and we each are aware of the other’s. Luckily for us – as we learned early on – our weaknesses and strengths balance out; where one of us has difficulty, the other is at ease.

One very important part of our process that we stress very much when asked about it, is the personal side of our relationship. Writing is a job, a business, and although we are business partners, we are also friends. We may share the same vision, the same sensibilities, and even similar writing styles, but all of this is pointless without three very important elements: respect, honesty, and loyalty.

Respect comes first. We are aware of each other’s time. We meet every day, six days a week, and work anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. But if something comes up or one of us is running late, we are okay with that.

As for honesty… honesty is something you have to be comfortable with if you intend to write with another person. If one of us hates what the other is writing – though it hasn’t really happened – we’d say so… but kindly. If one of us isn’t feeling the same vibe as the other and thinks the story needs to go a different direction, we discuss it openly.

No drama. We are similar in that we both avoid drama – and the people who spew it – so one of us getting drawn into the chaos of the other one’s personal life issues is never a problem for us. This zero tolerance for drama, in fact, is probably the glue that holds this whole thing together. (Sure, we each tell the other what’s going on in our lives – we’re friends and that’s what friends do – but we don’t dwell. We go to work.)

So kindness, honesty, and a no drama policy is what makes up the respect facet of this deal. Then there is loyalty.

Loyalty comes into play because we are given a lot of advice by outside forces, and sometimes, the advice is not good. We’ve made a firm pact that no decisions will be made without the consent of the other one. No one is allowed to call one of us and discuss changes behind the other’s back. We are business partners, and we operate as such, no exceptions.

With loyalty comes trust, which could easily be the fourth part of the sum. We trust each other with the characters, the storyline, and on a personal level as well, but this trust is built on the foundation of the respect, honesty, and loyalty to which we adhere.

And now that the personal elements of our collaboration have been covered, we come to the creative part of the process.

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Each day we spend an hour or two in the morning warming up. We chat, we do our PR and marketing work, whether it’s writing a blog, posting to Facebook, or answering interview questions. We spend a little time studying some aspect of our business most mornings as well, whether that’s going through a lot of covers or promotional posters and talking about what we like and dislike, discussing articles we’ve just read on traditional vs indie publishing, or anything else writing-oriented.  We tell some jokes. We laugh a lot.

And then we get down to writing.  If we’re having trouble getting going, we get silly, each sneaking in outrageous dialogue or descriptions for the other to laugh at. That’s actually one of the best tricks we’ve found for getting a scene moving. We’ll add on to the silliness, each of us, and suddenly the scene comes to life and, when we’re done, we remove the goofy stuff.

We each enjoy following certain characters and take the lead on our favorites, but we are also careful to switch off so that we each know every character well.  To us, familiarity with our characters – all of them – is vital to the story.

While, individually, we both do a lot of world-building in order to get to know our characters and their locale, together, we probably spend twice as much time doing this.  When you are collaborating, the littlest details become important and are (usually) best figured out beforehand because both of us must know whether a character has dimples or drives a beat-up old Chevy or hates seafood.  Otherwise, incongruities can get past us, unnoticed.

The characters’ voices, however, evolve during writing and whoever creates the voice sets the tone the other follows for that character. For example, a character in one of our upcoming novels has a unique way of swearing that Alistair made up.  We both love voicing her and work together to get the most insane profanities out of her as we write, always following Alistair’s original style.

While we occasionally write two scenes in tandem – this usually happens when we are writing one scene together and one of us is inspired by something the other writes – we still consider ourselves to be writing together; after all, via Skype, we have instant access to one another.  After that, we go over both scenes together and make sure everything is in synch and do a light edit.  Mostly, though, we quite literally write together. One of us may write most of a scene with the other trailing along fixing things, or simply taking in the tale as it evolves. Sometimes we take turns in the same scene. Tamara often takes over descriptions of locale because she really enjoys it. Alistair enjoys writing certain situations and takes those. We think the main reason one or the other of us takes the lead, though, is character. We each have our favorites.

We write in similar voices and have similar sensibilities, senses of humor, likes and dislikes, and this, of course, is part of our chemistry. But if you have a collaborator you constantly disagree with, our question is why?  If you have nothing in common, how can you enjoy your work – or one another?

We received some great feedback the other day. After reading The New Governess, the first installment of our Gothic Erotica serialized novel, The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, a reader said to us: “Which one of you wrote this? I can’t tell.” To which we happily answered, “We both wrote it.” And we did.  Just like we wrote this blog. Together, in the Cloud.

For more, visit us at: http://tamarathorne.com and http://alistaircross.com

Tamara and Alistair on Tales to Terrify

My collaborator, Alistair Cross, and I were interviewed on Tales to Terrify with Sylvia Shults, discussing the strange events and anomalies we experienced during our stay an allegedly haunted cabin. We were asked to stay three nights – which soon turned into five – and give an account of our experiences afterward to help the owner conclude whether the place was getting a bad rap… or if is officially a hangout for haunts.

Here is our assessment at  Lights Out podcast on Tales to Terrifylightsout.

 

 

Let the Adventures Begin

The Erotic Adventures of Belinda is a true gothic thriller, filled with steamy romance, ghosts, and some of the hottest erotica you’ve ever read.

First Installment

The New Governess

This morning we completed our final round of revisions and sent the first installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda to the publisher.  This  first installment is titled The New Governess. It has lots of ground to cover, so it’s twice as long as the future installments. We plan to release new adventures every four to six weeks.

The New Governess takes Belinda out of the life she knows and places her in a dazzling – and allegedly haunted – manor house called Ravencrest. But her beautiful new home comes with an assortment of unusual staff members, including a handsome English butler who seems surrounded by secrets, an icy power-mad head housekeeper with a chip on her shoulder and a whip in her hand, and – most attractive of all to Belinda – her mysterious new employer, Mr. Eric Manning.

After just one night in Ravencrest Manor, Belinda realizes that the staff, as strange they are, have nothing on the other residents of the house – the ones who only come out at night… the ones who enter and dictate her dreams, twisting them into dark and carnal visions of her deepest desires… and her greatest fears.

The adventures of Belinda are about to begin…

Available in June everywhere ebooks are sold.

Just a Few More Hours…

It’s just a few more hours until Alistair Cross and I will be live on Authors on the Air. They do call-ins, so if you have any questions for either of us about anything else not too impertinent, call the show at (347) 884-8266. The show airs at 5 pm Pacific, 8 pm Eastern.  Here is a direct link to the show.  In the meantime, enjoy a sneak peek at Belinda’s private activities.

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Scandalous Interview!

Gingernuts of Horror has just published a wonderful and scandalously fact-filled interview with Alistair Cross and me. You’ll find out how we met, how we work, news about our horror novel, Grandma’s Rack,  and our erotic serial novel, Belinda. You’ll see news of my Candle Bay sequel, and Alistair’s solo novel, The White Room.

We also give the skinny on how we met, what scares us, what influences us, our favorite brands of breakfast cereal, our preferences in shoelaces, and what makes us fight like cats and… cats.

And at least some of the above is true, we swear it.

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