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Thursday, October 15, 2015

31 Days of Horror: Day 15-- Two Authors in One Post...Cross and Thorne On Their Favorites

Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne are two horror writers who have found success writing alone and together.  They also host a show on the Authors On The Air Global Radio Network called Haunted Nights LIVE!! Tonight, they are hosting horror legend Douglas Clegg.

The podcast is very useful to librarians as they interview horror authors and discuss genre related issues.  Click here to see more about their show.

Alistair and Tamara each contributed a post about their favorite scary books for my public librarian audience. 

First up is Alistair Cross. Bio:
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.
For more info about Cross and his works go to his website. Here is his contribution to 31 Days of Horror:

When it comes to horror, I like it all. From hard-hitting, in-your-face screaming terrors, to distant whispers, creaking floorboards, and the soft, subtle seduction of the unknown, horror has enraptured me since the night I discovered it in the pages of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I was only eight years old and because most of the story was over my head, I didn’t finish the novel until many years later, but I did make it far enough that fateful night to have my imagination forever reshaped by images of the Count climbing the castle wall, as seen through the eyes of Jonathan Harker. I must have re-read that scene a dozen times, becoming more and more captivated - and horrified - with each reading. It haunted me … and I liked it.

From that moment on, I made it my mission to be terror-stricken, and as I consumed scary movies and gorged on horror novels, I realized I’d found a great sense of peace, of home, in that lingering feeling of foreboding. That low buzz of exquisite dread that chilled my skin, shortened my breath, and set my teeth just a little on edge … this was, and is, my natural habitat. It reminds me that I’m alive and that there is more to life than what we see every day - and that not everything can so easily be explained away.

It was only natural, of course, that I would go on to write horror, and when it came time to write my own vampire novel, I thought a lot about Dracula - the way it shocked me, the way it seduced me - and I tried to scandalize my readers in a similar manner within the confines of my own tale, The Crimson Corset.  I wanted to caress and coddle the reader with real characters, make them feel comfortable in my home, offer them a cup of tea - then, and only then, going for the jugular. And I wanted to show that not all vampires are bad, just as not all humans are good. Some of the most horrific characters aren’t monsters at all, not vampiric ones at any rate, and I drew this from how charming Dracula could truly be one moment, and how bloodthirsty the next - and how very believable he was. I wanted to do Bram Stoker proud in my own work, to pay homage, and to thank him for his book.

But while I would certainly consider Dracula one of my favorite horror novels, I can’t fairly say that it is my only favorite. There are simply too many to choose from, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another of my personal go-tos. On the other side of scream-out-loud terror-fests there is a cozier kind of horror, a quieter - and in that sense, more dangerous - kind, and steeped in this territory is where I discovered Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca. While Rebecca might not be considered horror in any traditional sense, this novel is a treasure trove of sinister suggestion, hints of heinousness, and mumblings of the macabre.

Rebecca is the kind of story that sneaks up on you. It moves silently and speaks just above a whisper, but it touches you on the shoulder, making its eerily still mysteries known to you at the appropriate times. Rebecca is one of horror’s hidden treasures and my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I make no secret that we channel it frequently in our Gothic serialization, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. And when it comes to personal favorites, I’d put Rebecca right up there with Stephen King’s Misery, John Saul’s Suffer the Children, and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby. But again, Rebecca is a lady. She won’t jump out at you from dark corners and grab you by the throat. Rather, I’d say Rebecca is quite gentle. In fact, I’d consider it a great Halloween read for the reluctant horror reader.

And this is what I love about horror. It spans the entire spectrum, dabbling a little in all genres, and adding a touch of spice. Horror is more than blood-splatter, slasher flicks, and torture porn. It’s everywhere - in fiction and beyond. It’s the creak on the stairs, the whisper of sheets at night, the tapping of tree limbs on the window. In short, horror exists mainly in your own imagination, and that’s what makes it so much fun. The movies and the books are manifestations of someone’s idea of what is scary, and anything can be scary.

So to choose a definite favorite? I simply couldn’t.

Now it is Tamara Thorne’s turn. Bio:
Tamara Thorne's first novel was published in 1991. Since then she has written many more, including international bestsellers Haunted, Bad Things, Moonfall, and The Sorority. Tamara's interest in writing is lifelong, as is her fascination with the paranormal, occult, mythology and folklore. She's been an avid ghost story collector and writer all her life. 
Today, she and her frequent collaborator, Alistair Cross, share their worlds and continue to write about ghosts and other mysterious forces. Their latest novel is The Cliffhouse Haunting, and The Ghosts of Ravecrest arrives in novel format in September.Tamara and Alistair co-host Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! every Thursday night on Blog Talk Radio.
For more info about Thorne and her work visit her website. Here is her post:

My mother told me I was born begging for ghost stories and I know it’s true. All I ever wanted to read were books about haunted houses, haunted caves, haunted sidewalks, haunted anything - if it was haunted I would devour it. Around second grade, she got out my sister’s old Nancy Drew novels and I began reading those, eternally dissatisfied because the ghosts in those books always turned out to be fake. To me, that was a big, disgusting cheat. I turned to collecting non-fiction books about hauntings and American folklore and science fiction stories.

Then, the summer before third grade, I discovered Ray Bradbury and tore through his books so quickly that my mother bought them all for me that Christmas. And thus began a ritual. I read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine each June, and Something Wicked this Way Comes every October. I continued this all the way through high school and still reread them every few years. These two books contained both beauty and horror and transported me into Bradbury’s Green Town, Illinois, where young boys in the late 1920s and early 1930s flirted with mysteries and magic, lightness and dark. With his poetic prose, Bradbury taught me to appreciate all six senses and to notice the small details of life, from the slightly sinister aroma of dark cellar dirt to the bounce of new sneakers on the first day of summer. He made me feel a boy’s fear when Douglas Spaulding explored the old ice house in the ravine, and I shared Will Halloway’s excitement at the sound of a carnival train’s midnight whistle and shivered with strange new terrors when he encountered the deadly but alluring blandishments of the dark creatures in Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show.

Ray Bradbury was my first and best writing teacher. He taught me to pay attention to every sense, to watch for dark things hiding in the light, to know that horror lurks in your own backyard, just waiting for you to uncover it. I understood, too, that older people had fears I did not yet comprehend, like fear of aging, fear of death and failure, and I took these lessons and remembered. He was - and is - my favorite writer. He was my mentor. I see his influence in my work - the delight I feel as I describe a dark forest or the darkness at the top of the stairs in an old house or the sigh of the wind as it caresses an abandoned grape arbor at midnight. That’s Bradbury’s influence, all of it.  Books like my own October-based novel, Bad Things, and Halloween-centric Moonfall are homages to Bradbury.

At that early age, I continued to hunt for ghost stories, but found Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes instead. It satisfied my love of murder and mystery and taught me even more. My favorite, of course, was The Hound of the Baskervilles, though I still wish there could have been some indication there was a supernatural hound lurking about, not just one live dog dabbed with phosphorescent paint. Around the same time, the TV serial, Dark Shadows began and renewed my need for ghosts and haunted houses. I began writing Dark Shadows stories in addition to all those Star Trek “novels” I wrote when no one was looking.

And then, the summer before sixth grade, I found a book by Shirley Jackson in the library. The Haunting of Hill House would set the course for this lifetime.

I brought it home and read it, then read it again. All told, I probably read it half a dozen times before I had to take it back. I was entranced and my search for ghost stories went into overdrive. At that time, gothics were at a peak - books with covers that usually featured a spooky old mansion with a single light on in a tower room and a windswept girl running away in abject terror. I checked them out by the dozens at the library, but was rarely satisfied because they usually lacked ghosts. Marilyn Ross had begun writing a line of Dark Shadows novels and my mother bought each one as it came out; those were better. But none came close to Jackson’s novel.

Until I found Richard Matheson’s down-and-dirty homage to Hill House, Hell House.  Once again, I rode the terror. I read and reread both books and so many others, digesting novels like Rosemary’s Baby in an evening. In just a couple more years, Tom Tryon released Harvest Home and The Other.  Soon after, a young writer named Stephen King hit. That was the era of gothics and horror, the 70s and 80s, and I ate them all up and begged for more.

I first published in the early 90s, but it was almost a decade before I would attempt my own haunted house novel, Haunted, which remains my best-selling book to this day, perhaps because it is an homage to Houses Hill and Hell, with nods to all my other loves from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir to the evil doll genre that my editor insisted I include.

In all the years I’ve been publishing, I have never wanted to write anything but horror. I love to celebrate strange noises, phantom perfumes, glimpses of ghosts from the corner of the eye. I love to wonder - and hope my reader wonders along with me - if there’s really a ghost or if it’s someone trying to gaslight my protagonist. (And oh, how I loved the novel, Gaslight!) My sci-fi loving aspect enjoys wondering what science might tell us about ghosts (The Forgotten) and my murderous side wants to know who Jack the Ripper really was (Eternity). But it’s usually all about the ghosts.

Most recently, I revisited The Haunting of Hill House and other classic horror novels, when my collaborator, Alistair Cross, and I wrote The Cliffhouse Haunting. It takes place in a mountain lodge and features an elemental spirit, lots of ghosts, and a couple of serial killers along with a town full of eccentrics. That’s our basic recipe for fun.

We are also about to release The Ghosts of Ravencrest, a gothic complete with a cover featuring a young woman in front of a spooky old mansion. This novel is the first in a series called The Ravencrest Saga, and pays homage to Dark Shadows, Rebecca, and all the other great gothic thrillers Alistair and I have loved throughout our lifetimes. Ravencrest features a young governess encountering all sorts of mysteries, romance, ghosts, witches, and other creatures in a grand mansion called Ravencrest that was moved, stone by stone, from England in the early 1800s. Ravencrest allows us to visit different eras of history - to meet the people who later haunt the mansion - much as the time-hopping Dark Shadows did. We simply adore this kind of work.

All the writers who contributed wonderful scares to my imagination over the years have made me what I am today. There are so many, but Bradbury, Jackson, Matheson, Tryon, and King are my favorites. I hope to discover many more before the Reaper grabs my trusty Mac from my hands and tries to make me retire. He’ll fail though. I’ll just become a ghost writer. Boo!

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