Dashes of Dark Fiction


Today, I completed the first act of my current work-in-progress,”TAA,” which places me close to the halfway point, give or take a few thousand words. This deeply in, I can state with relative certainty that this is not a horror novel. Not exactly, anyway.

Because “TAA” is all about temptation, greed, and the battle between the saintly and the sinister, strong elements of horror are a given. But there are also components of romance and urban fantasy … with paranormal highlights and dashes of dark fiction.

It isn’t that I tried to keep it from being a horror story – it’s that this book simply doesn’t require the degree of darkness my other works have. The irony of this is that the theme of “TAA” is loftier than any I’ve previously undertaken.

That said, this story retains the familiar atmosphere of my solo and collaborative Thorne & Cross novels, with references to our other fictional locales, a cameo from Ethan Hunter of my last release,THE CRIMSON CORSET and, of course, sporadic guest appearances by Tamara’s conspiracy-driven radio deejay, Coastal Eddie, down in CANDLE BAY, who always seems to know a little more than he lets on.

In short, this novel is of the same twisted DNA that spawned THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING and THE GHOSTS OF RAVENCREST. As a matter of fact, one of “TAA’s” main players is Nick Grayson, a deputy from Crimson Cove who has taken a new job as chief of police in the neighboring town of Prominence, where “TAA” takes place. And he’s just in time for some mind-bending phenomena, a few soul-shattering revelations, and some very, very nasty weather.

Barring any unavoidable, unforeseen catastrophes, “TAA” will be out next year – but not before the next Thorne & Cross collaboration, due out in a matter of months now – which dives into the blackest, iciest depths of psychological thrills and stay-at-home horror.

But that’s another blog post.

 

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The Crimson Corset: The Story Behind the Story


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The Crimson Corset is a vampire novel, but to me, it is more than that. It is a representation of human descent, the power of influence, the corruption of greed, the savagery of addiction, the lust for domination … it is a representation of the human will, and a testament to the strength of family ties.

It is, after all this time, the story I wanted to tell – the story I meant to tell the first time.

Edits will begin this Monday, and as I start cutting the fat, sharpening the plot, and strengthening the characters, I can’t help but think back to this novel’s humble beginnings.

Although The Crimson Corset is a “new” book, it isn’t actually new at all. My history with this story is a long one, going clear back to 2005, when the idea of writing seriously was just a budding concept. I’d always written, and I had the boxes and bags full of poems, vignettes, and uncompleted novels to prove it, but by 2005, these side-projects left me cold. I was no longer satisfied with hobby-writing. I wanted to do something more – something that I felt had some substance. This was when the concept for The Crimson Corset was born. I began writing it immediately … and I quickly learned that novel-writing is not as effortless as it appears to be.

Although I completed this novel (which was then titled The White Room) in 2010, I had a very long road ahead. Long enough that, had I known it then, I might not have dared to take. But, rather blindly, I kept walking that road, and during the next ten years I found my voice, refined my style, honed my craft, and was lucky enough to collaborate on some incredible projects with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne. I love collaborating with her and I intend to do it until the very end, but collaborating was never my goal. I would never be satisfied if I didn’t also have a body of solo work.

I began thinking about The Crimson Corset again in January of this year because Tamara and I had finished our collaborative novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, and we had several months of less creative, editorial work ahead of us. I had the completed version of The White Room and I thought I could certainly make a strong novel out of the existing material. However, the more you write, the better you become, and as I looked at the manuscript I realized there wasn’t much that could be salvaged. So I started it from scratch – one more time – vowing that I would make it the best story it could possibly be. I changed the narrative from first to third person, re-developed the characters, created a new setting, and weeded out all but two or three minor scenes from the original version. This is not the same book I wrote six years ago.

Many of the characters that populate this novel have been with me for a very long time now. Gretchen, Cade, Brooks, Winter, and Michael all go back as far as ten years in my imagination. Also, having improved my skills, I was able to cohesively give stage time to some of the others who got lost in the previous versions. Scythe, Aidan, Ambrose, Chynna and her two white tigers, Absinthe and Hyacinthe, were all conceived and developed between 2005 and 2008, but were never able to make it to the page before now. And there are new players, as well. There are the “mermaids” Violet and Scarlett, the cryptic and terrifying Emeric, Winter’s little buddy Arnie, the Crimson Cove sheriff, Ethan Hunter, and the local “missing girl,” Samantha Corbett, to name a few.

Old or new, each of these characters has his or her own story, his or her own soul, and learning about them was truly joyous for me. They all signify a part of myself – good, wicked, and otherwise. Some express for me that which cannot, for various (and in some cases, legal!) reasons, be expressed in the material world, while others are just innocent flirtations with my dark side. But all of them are real; all of them are part of my truth.

Regarding publication, The Crimson Corset will be available this summer. I wish I knew an exact date, but it’s too early to say. As soon as I have one, I will post it. Next Friday, I have a meeting with the cover art designer who will finalize the cover’s details, and after that, I’ll be allowed to post the art. I have seen it, and it is beautiful. In closing, I have to give great thanks to two very wonderful people who have helped me with this book: My collaborator, Tamara Thorne, who guided me, read for me, and continues to help me be a better writer. As a side note, for those who are fans of Tamara Thorne’s vampire novel, Candle Bay, you’ll be tickled to see a few familiar faces in The Crimson Corset, as well. Finally, thank you to Berlin Malcom, who gets us all the good interviews, and works as hard as we do to make this happen.

Writing with T & A: Psychic Vampires


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If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve no doubt run into a psychic vampire or two. These passive-aggressive hangers-on will, if allowed, suck your life force away, all the while paying you compliments, asking for advice, and creating drama meant to suck you into their world and make you worry about their well-being.

The most famous psychic vampire in the horror genre – and most others – is Annie Wilkes, Stephen King’s nightmare of a number one fan. While she is extreme, you can take some tips from her that will help you recognize a vampire who wants you to be her very own Paul Sheldon.

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While most readers who ask a writer to personalize a book with “to your number one fan” are utterly innocent and would be horrified if they realized what alarm bells this phrase sets off, there are others who are anything but innocent. They are narcissistic and the goal of any narcissist is to be paid attention. Annie Wilkes is the perfect example. Annie wanted Paul Sheldon to write for her, to her specifications. It was all about her. He was there to amuse her, to serve her, and no one else — including Paul Sheldon – mattered.

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Take this down a few ruined ankles and glassfuls of urine and you’ll still have a milder version of this same dysfunctional personality. Once you accomplish anything notable, such as writing a book, they come out of the woodwork with unbelievable speed and frequency. They want your time, they want your attention, and they want you to apologize for having worked hard and found success.

Psychic vampires are passive-aggressives who suck the energy right out of you. Shoot, they can suck the energy out of a whole roomful of people. You’ve undoubtedly experienced it: you come away from a chat or function that should have been enjoyable absolutely exhausted. You feel like you’ve run a marathon, only worse because you probably have a headache, too. They are truly vampiric, but not in the good fictional way we enjoyed writing about in Tamara’s Candle Bay or Alistair’s The Crimson Corset. We’re talking about the nastiest kind – the real kind.

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(Tamara’s vampire novel, Candle Bay)

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(E-Poster for Alistair’s upcoming vampire novel, The Crimson Corset)

And the very worst of these psychic vampires are aspiring writers, ones who, for whatever reason, have not done as well as you. They seem to feel you owe them something and they are jealous, oh so jealous.  If they ask you to review their book and you decline, they think you’re a snob. If you don’t have time to answer their basic questions about writing, they think you’re a snob. And if you actually write back and suggest that they can find the answers they seek via many excellent websites, organizations, and critiquing groups available online, they are sure you’re a snob. Somehow, to their fragile egos, this is a personalized rejection; it never even occurs to them that you took time out of your workday to reply. They just end up pegging you, once again, as a snob, and will probably whine about it on Facebook. As much fun as we had with Constance Welling in The Cliffhouse Haunting, these kinds of writers are toxic in the real world.

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(Tamara and Alistair’s collaborative novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting)

At the beginning of her career, a well-known writer advised Tamara that when someone gives you something, your only obligation is to say thank you. This author was referring to fans sending gifts, but this also is applicable to a published writer – no matter how sketchily published – who takes you under his or her wing – or seems to – early on and answers a few questions. If they are of the vampiric persuasion, they will try to exact gratitude from you for the rest of their lives because damn it, they deserve it. They’ll also take full credit for your talent once you achieve success; that’s annoying but it’s nothing but the equivalent of a fly trying to land on you – it’s not worth your attention. They’ll never have your talent and they know it.

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Don’t get us wrong, there are some great mentors out there. If someone has truly helped you, they find pleasure in the very act of aiding and don’t expect you to sing their praises. These are the people who deserve to be in your acknowledgments or have a book dedicated to them. But never buckle under and do it for someone who demands thanks. That person is bottomless pit of need and you’ll never, ever hear the end of it. They will tell everyone, forever more, how much you owe them, how you would be nothing without them. This is the type of person who posts the same two or three fan letters on Facebook over and over for years.

If, in the course of your becoming a professional writer, someone offers you help, go ahead and accept it if you want it. And just say thank you. You owe them nothing more.

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How to spot a psychic vampire who isn’t as obvious as Annie Wilkes? Here are some things to watch out for:

Someone – a would-be writer, a collaborator, an interviewer – insisting that the only time they can meet with you is during a time you’ve reserved to (a) write or (b) be with your family or (c) are otherwise engaged. Decline, and a normal person will understand. A vampire, on the other hand, will simply become more insistent. Or sulky. Usually both. Here’s a tell to watch out for: If you inform a vampire that you take Sundays off – or Mondays or alternate Thursdays – they will tell you it’s the only day they can talk to you. It’s all about power and manipulation. They especially need to drag you away from family and friends to prove how important they are. They’re trying to own you: don’t let that happen.

Guilt trips. This is drama. It includes sulking, crying, and self-righteous indignation when you won’t do what they want, no matter if it’s giving up personal time, changing something in your writing (because they think everything you write is about them) or anything else. This kind of emotional behavior is nothing but manipulation of the most childish kind. There are only a couple of behaviors even more reprehensible and outrageous. What are they?

One is feigning illness, physical or mental. Sure, we all get sick, we all get tired. Most of us make a joke, get some rest, and move on. Not the vampire. Nope. The vampire who plays illness like a fiddle has a constant list of ailments, from headaches to explosive diarrhea to strange growths in places you don’t want to hear about — but trust us, you will hear about every last one.  No anal polyp is too embarrassing, no perimenopausal flash flood too personal. They throw it all out there. Because – yep – it’s all about them. They are shameless.  They will tell you they may be fatally ill, they’re always waiting for test results, and their meds are making them ill (this includes meds for mental problems – it’s no fun being normal, damn it!) They will offer to show you things you don’t want to see. Beware the sickly vampire.

And when all of that doesn’t work, they go straight to threatening suicide or bodily harm (to themselves, we hope). This is the ultimate manipulation, designed to coerce you into doing whatever it is they want. It’s bullshit. It’s an attempt to draw you into their drama. The only answer – if you give one at all  – is to tell her/him that if that’s what they choose to do, good luck with it. It’s not your problem. Those who want to commit suicide don’t talk about it because they don’t want to be stopped. Those who threaten it on a regular basis will only commit it by accident. (We’ll keep our politically incorrect commentary about that to ourselves.)

How do you operate among the psychic vampires, then?  It’s not easy to deal with them, true, but it is possible. First, learn to identify them. Your own instincts will inform you if you listen. Don’t let them flatter you, be cautious.  And read Gavin DeBecker’s excellent book, The Gift of Fear. It will teach you to listen to your instincts and not give every potential Annie Wilkes the benefit of the doubt.

When you have a vampire stalking you, how do you stop them?  You wear Teflon armor because the shit won’t stick.

We’ve both had numerous psychic vampires try to interfere in our lives and Teflon is the ultimate answer. The Vampire, being narcissistic, wants only one thing: to be center stage. They’re like toddlers – any attention, no matter how negative, is better than none. Don’t give them what they want. Delete their emails unread, return their snail mail unopened, change your phone number.  The worst of them will keep trying, perhaps for years, but hopefully they will get sick of being invisible and go find a fresh neck to suck on.

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The only good psychic vampire is a dead psychic vampire but since we can’t legally stake them, we must make them invisible. Attention is what they feed on. Attention is what they live for. Don’t give them either.  If they piss you off, write it out, but don’t mail it to them; instead call a real friend and vent until you’re both laughing, maybe even until you pee a little bit. You can also kill them horribly in your stories, but don’t make them even remotely identifiable because that would be giving them attention and that would make them happy. Give them no energy. Eventually you will find that they’re rarely on your mind, even if you’re on theirs.  Making them non-existent in your universe is your ultimate goal.

And watch your ass. Some of them are as batshit as Annie Wilkes.

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Richard Christian Matheson is on Haunted Nights LIVE Tonight!


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He is an acclaimed bestselling author. His fiction has appeared in 125 major anthologies. He’s a screenwriter and executive producer for television and film. He’s worked with Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Bryan Singer, and legendary CREAM drummer, Ginger Baker.

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The man has done a lot things, so really, it was just a matter of time until he came to Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE​! He is RC Matheson​, and TONIGHT, I get to meet him! And you can, too. Just click the link at 6pm Pacific, 7 Mountain, 8 Central, 9 Eastern, to listen: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheairradio2/2015/04/17/richard-christian-matheson-joins-thorne-cross-haunted-nights-live

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RC will be giving away three personally signed books: a hardcover of his acclaimed new novella, “RITUAL OF ILLUSION”, a hardcover copy of his first novel “CREATED BY” and “BATTTLEGROUND,” a coffee table book collection about the Emmy-winning TNT production of Stephen King’s short story, which is signed by everyone involved with the production.

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The Crimson Corset


As promised, with the release of The Cliffhouse Haunting – which can be purchased now at Amazon – I am disclosing a teaser of my upcoming solo project titled The Crimson Corset. The Crimson Corset will be finished later this summer.

Coming this Summer

The Crimson Corset

 

Welcome to Crimson Cove

Sheltered by ancient redwoods, nestled in mountains overlooking the California coast, the cozy village of Crimson Cove has it all: sophisticated retreats, fine dining, a beautiful lake, and a notorious nightclub, The Crimson Corset. It seems like a perfect place to relax and get close to nature. But not everything in Crimson Cove is natural.

When Cade Colter moves to town to live with his older brother, he expects it to be peaceful to the point of boredom. But he quickly learns that after the sun sets and the fog rolls in, the little tourist town takes on a whole new kind of life – and death.

Darkness at the Edge of Town

Renowned for its wild parties and history of debauchery, The Crimson Corset looms on the edge of town, inviting patrons to sate their most depraved desires and slake their darkest thirsts. Proprietor Gretchen VanTreese has waited centuries to annihilate the Old World vampires on the other side of town and create a new race – a race that she alone will rule. When she realizes Cade Colter has the key that will unlock her plan, she begins laying an elaborate trap that will put everyone around him in mortal danger.

Blood Wars

The streets are running red with blood, and as violence and murder ravage the night, Cade must face the darkest forces inside himself, perhaps even abandon his own humanity, in order to protect what he loves.   

Two a.m.


March 12, 2015

It’s been a decade since I began concentrating my energy and aiming my efforts at a specific destination – and only in the past year or two have things started to make some sense. The journey from there to here has been a long hard practice in blind faith, and while the distance ahead is just as daunting, it’s hard not to look back from time to time and say, ‘Wow. What a ride.’

People have come; people have gone. Some of them knew me; some saw only their own ideals. But the few who really understood me and where I was trying to go – those who remain at my side today… they have my unending loyalty and love. They are my tribe, and I think that’s what it’s all about: Finding your tribe.

I have found my tribe. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. I’m doing something that utilizes every detail of who I am. Through writing, I’ve become fulfilled – which is, I believe, as close to any kind of lasting happiness as one can possibly get.

It hasn’t come easy, but on an innate level, I always believed that if I plowed onward, despite adversity and doubt, that by one means or another, I’d acquire the things I’d need to get where I was going. I’m happy to report that, so far, this has proven true for me. Also, I believe in leaps of faith, and understand faith to be a verb and not an idle state of mind. I’m grateful for that understanding because it hasn’t allowed me to be taken in by illusions of fate, privilege, or chance; I knew I’d have to work hard for this, and I that there’s a lot more work ahead of me. But I’m grateful for where I am now. Truly. And there’s much to be grateful for.

As I write this, my co-author, Tamara Thorne, and I are on the brink of releasing our debut novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting. While we’ve had five installments of The Ghosts of Ravencrest published – with the sixth on its way –  Cliffhouse is special because it’s the first story line Tamara and I ever discussed together – it is the reason we’re still collaborating on so many projects, including Grandma’s Rack, which is in the final stages of production. Also, I am 60,000 words into my first solo novel, which has been a long time coming, and on top of all this, Tamara and I are happily hosting our own horror-themed internet radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, where, once a week, I get to meet some of the biggest names in the business. It’s all so surreal and I never would have predicted any of it. I don’t take these things for granted, and even if it ended now, I’d say that, yeah… persistence pays off. And then some.

~ A

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The Heart Does Not Grow Back


Sometimes, you read a book, and it reaches into you and rearranges things. You don’t usually know exactly what’s changing, only that some quiet alteration has been made – and that somewhere down the line, you’ll likely react differently to a situation, solve a problem in a new way, or draw an unexpected conclusion about something. You may never even be aware of those subtle differences in yourself, but they’re real. Nothing is wasted; every experience shapes you – and a good book is one of the strongest arguments for that.

I have never actually met Fred Venturini... but I will this Thursday on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, and when I do, I want to thank him for writing a book that changed something in me. Mr. Venturini was recommended as a guest through a publicist that my co-host and co-author Tamara Thorne introduced me to. When we booked Mr. Venturini, we asked for a copy of his novel, The Heart Does Not Grow Back, which was promptly mailed to us and arrived a couple of weeks ago. I planned to start it this weekend, read a little of it each night before bed, and finish it up just in time for Thursday’s interview.

I did start the book this weekend – this morning, in fact – but I haven’t been able to put it down until now. The book is finished, and if it wasn’t, I would still be reading.

I really don’t know what to say about The Heart Does Not Grow Back except that it’s a brilliant story about compelling characters, beautifully told by a gifted author. I am thrilled to have Mr. Venturini on our show, and until then, I will be trying to put order to the many questions I have for him about his work and this incredible book.

I recommend The Heart Does Not Grow Back to anyone who likes a strong story that puts emphasis on friendship, loyalty, love, loss, fresh starts – and the power of change. Fred Venturini will appear on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! this Thursday at 9:00 pm EST, 6:00 Pacific. You can click the book cover below to go to Amazon and purchase the book.

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EVERY SUPERHERO NEEDS TO START SOMEWHERE…

Dale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.

When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini.