Interview with Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross
I have a special joint interview for you today with both Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross.
What genre do you write and why?
Tamara: I’ve always been put in the horror genre by publishers and it’s a true fit when I write about vampires or other traditional horror tropes. Honestly, I don’t really think about genre - I simply write what I love. No matter what, my work inevitably has a spooky feel to it since that’s what winds my watch.
Alistair: I’ve never thought about genre when I sit down to write, but some kind of dark fiction is what it usually ends up being. Sometimes it’s supernatural, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it has some romance, sometimes not. I don’t know why I write what I write - I just write what feels natural.
Tell us about your latest book.
Mother is a psychological thriller in the vein of Psycho and Misery, with a pinch of Peyton Place and a dash of Gaslight. It concerns a young expectant couple, Claire and Jason Holbrook, who’ve fallen on hard times, forcing them to move in with Claire’s estranged mother. Claire vowed to have no contact with the overbearing woman ever again, but Mother is thrilled at the prospect of a grandchild. At Mother’s, Claire and Jason begin experiencing things that make them determined to leave immediately … but when a cruel twist of fate makes leaving impossible, Claire becomes obsessed with her mother’s motives. Fantasy and fact blur together as her compulsion consumes her, and Jason wonders who the villain really is. When a cache of macabre family secrets is uncovered, Claire and Jason find the answers they’re looking for - answers that will change them forever … assuming anyone can get out of Mother’s house alive.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
Our wonderful publicist sets us up with guest blogs, interviews, radio interviews, and all manner of other opportunities. We do everything we can to bring our books into the public eye.
What formats is the book available in?
The book will be available in e-format and paper.
Who are your favourite authors?
Alistair: Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, John Saul, V.C. Andrews - there are a lot of them.
Tamara: Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Nelson DeMille, among many others.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Write what you love, not what you think will sell, write every day, and don’t give in to nonsense like writer’s block. Just write. And don’t take advice from other writers unless they’re where you hope to be someday.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
Alistair: “A good writer is basically a good story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind” by Isaac Bashevis Singer. This quote resonates with me because it addresses two important points. One is that while a writer can learn the technicalities of “good” writing, the work falls pretty flat without an inherent talent for storytelling; proper use of language is important, but it doesn’t necessarily make for the kind of reading people can’t put down. And as for those who write to redeem mankind, well … when I pick up a book, I don’t want to hear about the author’s sense of self-importance. I want to get lost in a fascinating new world and meet intriguing new people.
Tamara: “Get the facts first, then distort them as much as you please.” Mark Twain.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
Being able to create the kinds of worlds we want to live in and meet the kinds of people we’d like to know. Torturing and killing our enemies keeps us mellow.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
You can find us at our websites, AlistairCross and TamaraThorne and at our mutual blog, Thorne&Cross. We also have a radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! You can find the link on our websites.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Tamara: That’s a toughie, but in the end, Mother - Priscilla Martin - wins out as the most fun to write. The character I like the most is probably Father Andy. He stands up to Mother’s torments like a champ. And he’s not a pedophile!
Alistair: I agree with Tamara. Priscilla Martin steals the show as far as I’m concerned. I also had a lot of fun with Phyllis Stine, a neighbor of Priscilla’s who exhibits all the unfavorable characteristics that make me squirm a little. I’m also oddly fond of Daphene and Delphine Dean (or, the “Shining Twins” as they’re known around the cul-de-sac,) the whey-faced sisters with the strange eyes and sticky hands.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
Mother has a little bit of everything: a secretive plot that reveals itself gradually for the mystery lovers, plenty of neighborhood hijinks for those who like black comedy, a charismatic power couple for romance readers, plenty of shocks and starts for the thrill-seekers, and the impending kiss of death for horror lovers. And there just might be a ghost.
How long did it take you to write your book?
We had it on the backburner for a year or more but active brainstorming began a month before the writing. Once writing began, it was completed in about four months, including editing
Who designed the cover?
We have a wonderful cover artist named Mike Rivera, who takes our visions, waves his magic wand, and makes them fantastic!
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
Mother began as a quick hard-hitting thriller that evolved and spread into a lot of unexpected territories, and we ended up learning a lot about various psychological disturbances such as narcissism, sociopathy, pathological lying, and obsessive hoarding.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
For the time being, Amazon.
What are you doing to market the book?
Guest blogs, interviews, radio, etc. Also, we’re hiring a sky-writer, and Alistair’s moonlighting as an exotic dancer and has had “MOTHER” emblazoned in rhinestones on his thong. Tamara will be stampeding mad cows painted with snapdragons through major cities across North America.
Who inspires you?
Tamara: Alistair inspires me to get to work and keep at it, and so much more. Writing together is inspiring in itself because our level of compatibility is beyond anything I would ever have thought possible. It’s all about synchronicity. The “in the zone” feelings I have when I’m writing alone are hours I live for, but when Alistair and I are in the zone together, there’s nothing better. We somehow do this Vulcan mind meld thing that we don’t understand - we simply accept it and love it.
Alistair: Tamara Thorne, my collaborator, is a genuine inspiration to me. I have been reading her since the 90s, and she is one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer. To be able to write with her is a dream come true - and I mean that. Otherwise, I’m inspired by anyone who has the honesty to identify their calling and the grit to validate their purpose by taking the necessary actions.
How do you research your books?
We have the luxury of having a psychologist on hand who’s been in the field for many decades and this came in very handy for Mother. We also have close contact with law enforcement, doctors of many stripes, multiple scientists, and a mortician. He’s weird but we love him. (And of course, we have the Internet and books. Lots of books.)
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
We have several. First there is our ongoing serial gothic, The Ravencrest Saga. The first book, The Ghosts of Ravencrest, is now available as a complete novel. It’s available on Amazon in e-format and will soon be in paper as well. The new book is called The Witches of Ravencrest. The first installment, Grave Expectations, is available now on Amazon. We are both working on solos that will be out this year. Our new collaboration is the sequel to Tamara’s Candle Bay. It sends her vampires and several of Alistair’s Crimson Corset vamps on a journey to Eternity, California for a big “family” reunion. We’re having a blast.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
Tamara has been traditionally published since 1991, and Alistair has also gone traditional. There are pros and cons to both indie and traditional. Without indie publishing, we couldn’t do our Ravencrest books as serial novels so we learned the ins and outs of doing our own conversions and we’re very happy about that because it gives us both freedom and control of everything from pub dates to cover images. If we find a typo, we can go in and fix it at any time - that’s pretty cool.
The bad aspect is how much dreck is out there for readers to muck through to find books both written and produced in a professional manner. Always - always! - hit the “Look Inside” feature to hopefully avoid this problem.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
Early on, books inspired us - and more specifically - our mothers, who read to us from infancy on. Later on - in early elementary school, Tamara was inspired by Ray Bradbury and considers him her mentor. She also read and reread every book the library had on how to write. Alistair was inspired to write when - in the third grade - his assigned Halloween story was read aloud and ridiculed by his teacher. Then and there, he decided to keep writing.
Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
They support us by understanding that this is our business. They take us as seriously as we take ourselves and they rarely point and laugh.
What are you currently reading?
Candle Bay. We’re reading it aloud each morning because we’ve just begun work on the sequel. For pleasure, Tamara is reading Paul Tremblay’s A Headful of Ghosts. Alistair is currently reading - and loving - Harvest Home by Thomas Tyron.
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
Tamara: Ray Bradbury. From Dandelion Wine to Martian Chronicles and everything in between, he has been a force in my life since early childhood. His prose is poetry, his locales are characters and everything he writes has a spooky tone that I adore. Additionally, Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House was a huge influence. I first read it in sixth grade and it set my course, veering away from sci-fi into more ghostly tales. Tolkien, H. Rider Haggard, Tom Tyron, Richard Matheson - all were influences. So was MAD Magazine.
Alistair: I discovered the books - and movies - of Stephen King when I was eight and this played heavily into shaping me. I also discovered Bram Stoker’s Dracula around this time and was influenced by this. I also read a lot of Agatha Christie, V.C. Andrews, John Saul, Dean Koontz, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ira Levin.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Tamara: Petting cats, reading, hiking in the mountains and deserts, looking for ghost stories in those places and others, and binge-watching Netflix.
Alistair: It’s ridiculous how long it has taken me to answer this question. What do I do when I’m not writing? Read. Think about writing. Pet the cats.