Thorne & Cross on Halloween

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Halloween is fast approaching and we have been having a terrible time deciding what to be. We want our costumes to go together to celebrate our upcoming collaborations, but since we’re several states apart, we have to be really creative or people won’t get it. What follows are some conversations we’ve had on the topic as we try to come to the most appropriate (and we use that term very subjectively) decision on our costumes.

Tamara: Phone trick-or-treating is a must. That way, we can both ask for candy simultaneously.  I’m going to glue some frizzy red hair and a tiny clown nose to my phone so you have a built-in costume.  What are you going to do?

Alistair: I’m going dress up my iPhone with some scars and fake blood to make him into a zombie. He can say, “Argghhhh give me brains!” and scare people. I shall call my phone Tamara, and I shall demand extra candy for your sake. Then, I will eat your candy when no one is looking.

Tamara: Or we could be each other’s imaginary friends.  Or ghosts.  When we say trick or treat through the phone we’d be all OOOOooooooh Tricccckk orrrrrr Treeaaaat!  That might be scary, huh?

Alistair: Yes! The sky is the limit, really. There are lots of things we could go as. A razor and pubic hair for example.

Tamara: Or Little Bo Peep and her missing lamb, which also leads us to the priest and his missing choir boy. Alistair if we do that, you MUST wear underwear.

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Alistair: You know I can’t make any promises.

Tamara: In that case, how about the Liberty Bell – you be the crack and I’ll be the bell – our costume will be heard throughout the land.

Alistair: Let freedom ring.

Tamara: Twig and berries? You could be the twig, and I could be the berries?

Alistair: That might work. Except I’m not quite twiggy enough this year to pull it off, I don’t think.

Tamara: Holmes and Watson hunting for each other.

Alistair: Yes! Or Cher and Dead Sonny – I will be Cher because I’m taller and I want to wear the head dress and the see-through gown. (And I won’t be wearing underwear for that!)

Tamara: Just gonna tuck it?

Alistair: Yeah.

Tamara: Okay.  I’ll be Sonny because I really enjoy being a mustache jockey. And we’ll go to each door and sing “I got you, babe,” then panic and yell, respectively, “Cher? Cher? Sonny, you little puissant, where are you?  You missed your cue!”

Alistair: Nice!

Tamara Thorne: Jimmy Hoffa and a bag of cement!

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Alistair: Lizzie Borden and her stepfather. I’ll have an axe coming out of my head, and you wear a bloody dress.

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Tamara: Sperm and a tonsil. Or, better yet, sperm and a box of Kleenex. We could make a headdress out of Kleenex.

Alistair: We could always go as Thorne and Cross. You would have to have something pointy atop your glorious head. I would just have to walk around with my arms out and feet close together… which is pretty creepy.

Tamara: I know! We could be two serial killers on the prowl. We could dress as our favorite serial killers from our books.  You be Sterling Bronson, I’ll be Jack the Ripper. And we could each show a picture of the other to the houses we visit and say, “Have you seen this killer?” As long as neither of us has to be the helpless victim… Helpless victims are boring.

Alistair: I agree. No victims.

Tamara: Wednesday and Pugsley Addams. Because sometimes being sexy like Morticia and Gomez just gets old, you know?

Alistair: Yes. Let’s not be “sexy” anyone. Yawn.

Tamara: Separated Siamese twins.

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Alistair: Annie Wilkes and Paul Sheldon. We will have to do that one when we go trick-or-treating together though, so you could push me around in a wheelchair.

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Tamara: Agreed!  Danny Torrance and his talking finger.

Alistair: Okay, but I want to be the finger. I hate that little boy’s haircut.

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Tamara: George C. Scott and the haunted wheelchair.

Alistair: The Changeling?

Tamara Thorne: Yes! You have to be the wheelchair.

Alistair: I don’t want to be a wheelchair. How does one even “be” a wheelchair for Halloween… let alone a haunted one?!

Tamara: Well, I’m not going as the wheelchair.

Alistair: Fine. Then we’ll go as Damien and his jackal mama.

Tamara: Or Rosemary and her baby – this would work especially well with the phone. We can wrap it in a blanket.

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Alistair: And push it around in one of those bassinet-on-wheel things for babies!

Tamara: Yes! Or we could go as Dog Man and Tuxedo Man in The Shining. Or Carrie and Mother.

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Alistair: Yes! Or, Carrie before and after!

Tamara: Alistair, you get to be the before because you’re prettier!

Alistair: Well, that’s no fun. I can wear a pink prom dress any time.

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Tamara: Children of the Corn. One of us can wear a straw hat and overalls with a checked farm boy shirt and the other one can be a stalk with corn on it.

Alistair: What about Baby Jane and sister Blanche?

Tamara: We will need a silver tray, a dead bird, and a wheelchair.

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Alistair: Ugh. Yet again, we’re faced with the wheelchair dilemma.

Tamara: How about we just put on our long black robes and cowls and be Candy Reapers and extort all the candy from the children?

Alistair: I get dibs on anything gummy.

Tamara: Skittles and Starburst for me.

Alistair: Well, now that we’ve settled this dilemma, what should we do for Thanksgiving?

Tamara: Be The Shining twins!

Alistair: Squee!

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Thirteen Questions with Alistair Cross

 

Alistair Cross is a man of many talents. His prose is powerful, by turn horrifying, humorous, or humane, his poetry faultless, and his bon mots as sharp and funny as a sixer of knife-wielding clowns.  While you may not yet know his work offhand  — his first novel was published under a pseudonym — I have every confidence you will soon count him as one of the best new horror writers to hit the stands.

Alistair and I met well over a year ago, shortly after his novel was published.  I remember the first night he phoned; the chemistry was instantaneous. Within five minutes, we were both laughing maniacally, barely able to catch our breaths.  We found ourselves accidentally brainstorming and, eventually, despite a promise to myself never to collaborate again, I asked if he’d like to try it because I knew he intimately understood the logistics of such an undertaking.

And, oh, what fun we’re having now.  Look for our first novella later this year with a full length novel to  follow.  While neither of us intend to give up our individual projects, we have three or four other collaborations ready to go after that — and one of them just might trump nearly everything else.  Read on…

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Q: What made you decide to write horror?

A: I don’t think I really chose to write horror. I love to write, and what comes out is just usually classified as horror.

Q: What qualities do you think a good horror writer should have?

A: Any writer of horror needs to at least have a good, solid love of the genre. Also, good horror writers need to have a slightly twisted sense of humor. Without humor, horror just isn’t as good.

Q: What is the difference between good horror and bad horror?

A: Good horror is written by people who understand that fear is one of the cardinal passageways into the core of humanity. Good horror is generally written by folks who grew up on horror; books, movies, etc. You can’t simply decide to write—in any genre—if you don’t first have an understanding of the topic and a strong mental backlog of reference.

Q: What is the scariest book you’ve ever read, and why?

A: The “Space Cowboy” in Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game scared me. The description of that character is just creepy. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin also made me a little ill-at-ease. The scariest book though, was The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule. This book is a non-fiction account of Ted Bundy. Real life is always more terrifying than fiction. Horror is, after all, extracted from the real world.

Q: What are your favorite monsters, and why?

A: Vampires, because at their core, they are the essence of slow death. They are not, to me, romantic or glamorous figures—even though contemporary fiction demands it. They are creatures who depend solely on other life forms to sustain; parasites of the cruelest, most horrifying kind. They are death, animated.

Q: How would you advise a budding horror author?

A: Know your horror. The 80s are over and readers don’t accept slashers-for-the-sake-of-gore anymore. Also, you need to be unafraid of being afraid. You need to be on a first-name basis with fear if you plan to effectively write about it.

Q: What do you think prompts people to read horror?

A: They want to be stimulated. They want to read something that can get under their skin and hang out there for a while.

Q: Do you think horror writers are born or made?

A: Born. Absolutely. Just like any profession, the good writers of any genre will have the personality and character traits that make them good at it. You can get somewhat good at doing something outside of your element, but I don’t believe you can ever excel without the edge of that natural-born understructure.

Q: What surprises you most about the horror authors you’ve met?

A: That they aren’t scary. At all. In fact, they are funnier and quirkier than most writers I’ve met.

Q: Who is the scariest famous horror figure, and why?

A: Jack the Ripper, because we have no idea who he was. Facelessness is one of the core instigators of terror. On top of this, he was savage, shrewd, and elusive. Jack had it all…

Q: Who is your favorite famous horror figure, and why?

A: Aside from Jack the Ripper, I’d say Elizabeth Bathory or Delphine LaLaurie… because these women were truly wicked in a time when we weren’t socially equipped to accept, let alone deal with, evil women.

Q: Is there anything you strictly prohibit in your writing?

A: I have a few rules, yes. One, I never hurt animals. It’s a cheap shot. Two, I never write sexual assault for the sake of titillation, and three, I will not walk reader’s through the abuse of a child.

Q: Recently, an idea you and I are working on has interested a major player, which means we are about to go on a research road-trip in California. What excites you most about this get together?

A: Rolling down the window and singing at the top of our lungs. I’m also very excited about the haunted cabin up in gold country your friend has arranged for us to stay in. That will rock. Finally it’s going to be seriously cool having the meeting with that big guy down in LA.

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Alistair’s website will be live soon, and we’ll announce it here. Meanwhile, you can hook up with him at
www.alistaircross.com