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:

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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

$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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I Want to Show You My Bad Things

Bad Things is all about childhood fears, night terrors, day terrors, evil brothers who lick the butter and pee in the lemonade, crazy aunts, greenjacks, freak shows, and Halloween. Especially Halloween. It’s one of my favorite – and most personal – books.

Bad Things (Kindle) is on sale at Amazon for $1.99 today through August 24.  Get yours now and get in the mood for Halloween.

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About Bad Things

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

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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Delivered into Darkness

Gothic Erotica by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Belinda is the new governess and is settling into her home at Ravencrest Manor. Her employer, Mr. Manning, is handsome and mysterious, with kind, welcoming eyes, but Mrs. Heller, the head housekeeper, wears black stilettos and studies Belinda with a different kind of gaze… a gaze that frightens her.

After getting through her first day at Ravencrest, Belinda fell into bed and discovered that, after dark, there were more inhabitants of the manor than she knew; lusty, restless, and not of this world, they are ready to introduce themselves – and their passions – to Belinda. How did she sleep? Find out at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

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In July,  find out what happens next! Join her as she explores the house, the spirits, and her own dark desires.

In the meantime, visit Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne at their websites.

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BELINDA HAS ARRIVED!

The Adventures Have Begun…

The New Governess, the first installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.  (We will have Nook and other links soon.)

New adventures will appear every four to six weeks. Expect serious erotica, lots of ghosts, romance, and intrigue as we put our own spin on Gothic Erotica.

The New Governess

THE NEW GOVERNESS

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.

REVIEWS

“If you’ve finished all of Sylvia Day’s Crossfire novels and are craving more, look no further. In Belinda: The New Governess, 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.

 

The Erotic Adventures of Belinda #1

The New Governess

When Belinda Moorland leaves her old life behind to become the new governess to a wealthy businessman’s children, she suddenly finds herself in a dazzling – and allegedly haunted – house called Ravencrest Manor. Her beautiful new home comes with an assortment of unusual staff members, including a handsome English butler surrounded by secrets, an icy power-mad 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, 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, carnal visions of her deepest desires… and her greatest fears.

The erotic adventures of Belinda have begun…