A Gothic Recipe for Horror


The Thorne and Cross thriller, The Witches of Ravencrest, is the latest to come to audiobook and to celebrate, we’re sharing our recipe for Gothic horror. But first … a little about the book …

Narrated by film and voice actor, Nathan Foss, The Witches of Ravencrest is book 2 of The Ravencrest Saga, preceded by The Ghosts of Ravencrest (also now available at Audible.com) and followed by book 3, Exorcism – which is on its way to audiobook as I write this.

But wait … there’s more …

As of today, Shadowland, book 4 in The Ravencrest Saga, is complete – as in, we literally finished it today! – and it, too, will be available in all formats, including audiobook, very soon.

On a more personal note, The Ravencrest Saga is the first thing Tamara and I began writing together. It was this series that proved to us that not only were we compatible collaborators, but that we complimented each other as writers. We love this series and foresee no end to it – probably because it has everything in it that we love … which leads us to our Gothic Recipe for Horror …

Thorne & Cross’ Gothic Recipe for Horror

3 cups mystery
2 cups ghosts
1 cup romance
½ cup miscellaneous monstrosities
All the witches you want
A whiff of zombies
3 bleeding nuns
A half a cup of looming shadows
2 candelabra, with candles 
A pinch of hysteria
A dollop of sex
A few drops of blood

Sprinkle with a few demented harlequins, stir in an abundance of twisted family history, then mix all of it together in an old spooky mansion on a hill. Add an unsuspecting governess and a mysterious, handsome millionaire, and you’re on your way to creating a good solid gothic. That’s how we did it, anyway.

Gothic novels are all about atmosphere, and to achieve a perfect dish, you can’t just mix these things willy-nilly and expect them to come out gourmet-quality. A good chef – or writer – must use a deft hand to achieve the perfect flavor. First, you need strong characters, proper pacing, and a damned good story – then you stir in the eerie gothic atmosphere.

If you don’t mix your ingredients properly – or if you get creative and don’t carefully consider your extra additions, your cake – or book – may fall flat. Too much – or too little – of anything can ruin what you’re trying to create.

For example, if you add shadows to a sunny day, you must place them in the proper spot to achieve the eerie flavor you desire. Shadows under a tree in summer probably won’t work – unless the tree is situated correctly – perhaps in a lonely cemetery. What accents should you add? A freshly dug grave nearby? A mysterious mist hovering just inside the glass door of a nearby family mausoleum? Wilted flowers on a grave? Or are they fresh but sprinkled with blood? Or, did the flowers mysteriously appear when you turned your back? All these variations provide mystery. Who – or what – brought the flowers? Why is there mist hovering in a mausoleum on a warm sunny day? Is someone lurking? A human? A ghost? And what are their intentions? Your answers will affect just how atmospheric your story is.

Consider the definition of Gothic from dictionary.com: 
7. noting or pertaining to a style of literature characterized by a gloomy setting, grotesque, mysterious, or violent events, and an atmosphere of degeneration and decay.

This very definition screams for an old and spooky residence. For us, it’s a sprawling manor house built centuries ago in England. Already steeped in dark history, Ravencrest Manor was imported stone by stone to the California coast in the early 1800s. It arrived with its sordid past intact, and since then, it has accrued many more mysteries, ghosts, and family secrets.

While Ravencrest Manor is beautifully kept up, it’s still full of long halls and longer shadows – and if you dare enter the door that locks away the forbidden east wing, things intensify. Why the wing was locked up in the first place is a major mystery. Within, flickering lights, dizzying corridors, and some nasty – and nice – spirits all add to the gothic ambience. We’ve already seen a trio of horrible, bloody nuns, the ghost of a little girl, and a headless woman lurking there, just to name a few. The honeycombed rooms contain more horrors than even we know about yet; we feel the presence of spirits and more frightening things as we write and this adds a sense of foreboding for us. And because we feel it, we think our readers will as well.

And those are the most important ingredients in our recipe for ambience and atmosphere in The Ravencrest Saga. Our goal from the beginning was to pay homage to the gothics we teethed on – gothics like Dark Shadows and Rebecca – and in our series’ second full-length novel, The Witches of Ravencrest, we had a particularly good time with atmosphere because not only did we explore more of the mansion itself, but we took some of the story into the town of Devilswood, an old coastal village that serves as the backdrop to the saga.

But whether writing in the gothic genre or not, we’re firm believers that atmosphere is one of the most critical elements to a story. Atmosphere is a reflection of the characters, the locale, and a major influence on the plot itself, so – we believe – there should be no shortage of it.

More about The Witches of Ravencrest

Dark and Unnatural Powers


In a remote part of California just above the coastal town of Devilswood, Ravencrest Manor, imported stone-by-stone from England more than two centuries ago, looms tall and terrifying, gathering its dark and unnatural powers, and drawing those it wants as its own.


Murder Lurks in the Shadows


Governess Belinda Moorland has settled into life at Ravencrest, and, as summer gives way to autumn, romance is in the air. She and multi-millionaire Eric Manning are falling in love…but powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart. And as the annual Harvest Ball is set to begin, evil abounds at Ravencrest. Murder lurks in the shadows, evil spirits freely roam the halls, a phantom baby cries, signaling a death in the mansion, and in the notoriously haunted east wing, three blood-soaked nuns, Sisters Faith, Hope, and Charity, tend to the demented needs of a maid gone mad.

Vengeful Spirits


Ravencrest has come to life. In the gardens below, granite statues dance by moonlight, and a scarecrow goes on a killing rampage, collecting a gruesome assortment of body parts from unwilling donors…. But Belinda’s greatest danger is the vengeful spirit of Rebecca Dane. Once the mistress of Ravencrest, Rebecca Dane has a centuries-old ax to grind with the powerful witch, Cordelia Heller – and Belinda becomes her weapon of choice.

The complete series … so far …


Dirty Ghosts, Dirt Cheap


THE GHOSTS OF RAVENCREST is available at: http://tinyurl.com/hzvae3e
 
“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.
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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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Pssst … Wanna See Something Spooky … ?


Have we got an early Halloween present for you! In just a few weeks, the complete and unexpurgated The Ghosts of Ravencrest will be released. Originally published only as a serial novel in ebook format, The Ghosts of Ravencrest will soon be a full-length novel available as an ebook and, shortly after that, in trade paperback.

And guess what? We’ve begun Volume Two of The Ravencrest Saga and the first installment will be available in October. Look for the return of those evil nuns, along with further explorations of the haunted pool, the east wing, the White Violet, the Bride of Ravencrest, Old Peckerhead, and of course, the continuing badness of Cordelia Heller. What won’t she do next?

We also have some special surprises cooked up, but our lips are sealed except to say that in Volume Two, we’ll again be returning to the past, this time to the Mannings’ early years in America as they rebuilt Ravencrest and encountered the bloodthirsty witch who laid a powerful, dark curse upon the manor’s inhabitants and their children.

But for now, (drumroll please) we’d like to reveal The Ghosts of Ravencrest’s cover. To say we love it would be an understatement. We worship it. We want to have its children. (And we will! And if they don’t behave, we’ll throw them in the east wing.)

unnamed

Darkness Never Dies…

Ravencrest Manor has always been part of the family. The ancestral home of the Mannings, Ravencrest’s walls have been witness to generations of unimaginable scandal, horror, and depravity. Imported stone by stone from England to northern California in the early 1800s, the manor now houses widower Eric Manning, his children, and his staff. Ravencrest stands alone, holding its memories and ghosts close to its dark heart, casting long, black shadows across its grand lawns, through the surrounding forests, and over the picturesque town of Devilswood below.

Dare to Cross the Threshold…

Ravencrest Manor is the most beautiful thing new governess, Belinda Moorland, has ever seen, but as she learns more about its tangled past of romance and terror, she realizes that beauty has a dark side. Ravencrest is built on secrets, and its inhabitants seem to be keeping plenty of their own – from the handsome English butler, Grant Phister, to the power-mad administrator, Mrs. Heller, to Eric Manning himself, who watches her with dark, fathomless eyes. But Belinda soon realizes that the living who dwell within Ravencrest have nothing on the other inhabitants – the ones who walk the darkened halls by night… the ones who enter her dreams… the ones who are watching… and waiting…

Home is Where the Horror is…

Welcome to Ravencrest, magnificent by day, terrifying by night.

Welcome to Ravencrest, home of sordid secrets and ghastly scandals from the past.

Welcome to Ravencrest, where there is no line between the living and the dead.

Raves for Ravencrest

“The Ghosts of Ravencrest is riveting. The characters are wonderful, the subplots are perfect, and the setting is stunning and well-researched. This series is like a roller coaster that goes up and up – the Mannings are literary gold.”

-QL Pearce, bestselling author of Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

“In The Ghosts of Ravencrest, Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross have created a world that is dark, opulent, and smoldering with the promise of scares and seduction. You’ll be able to feel the slide of the satin sheets, taste the fizz of champagne, and hear the footsteps on the stairs.”

-Sylvia Shults, paranormal expert and author of Fractured Spirits


“The Ghosts of Ravencrest by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross is a scary, intricate read. The horror is well crafted and the ornate setting descriptions are breathtaking. 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

“Scary and scandalous! The Ghosts of Ravencrest by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross will leaving you shivering with excitement and terror …”

-William Malmborg, author of Jimmy and Text Message

DEAD GIRLS – Available Now


000Deadgirls1

DEAD GIRLS is available! This is the 6th installment in The Ghosts of Ravencrest series (and one of my favorites!) This installment introduces Eric’s (deceased) wife, Isobel, The Bride of Ravencrest, and my personal favorite, Violet LeBlanc, known by her admirers as The White Violet. Check out DEAD GIRLS now at Amazon. 

The Ghosts of Ravencrest #6: Dead Girls

Restless Spirits

The spirits of Ravencrest are restless and governess Belinda Moorland finds herself in a maze of ever-growing mystery and danger as she uncovers the shocking secrets of her new home. With the help of butler Grant Phister, she realizes the three blood-drenched nuns who patrol the east wing, the little girl in red, and the handsome night visitor aren’t the only spirits walking the halls of Ravencrest. There is the White Violet, a silent movie actress, and the Bride of Ravencrest, both mad, both lurking. And then there is the ghost haunting the dark and eerie indoor pool …

Sometimes the Living are More Dangerous than the Dead…

And the dead aren’t the only ones who have their eyes on Belinda. As her former roommate, Randi Tucker, pays a perilous surprise visit, the house administrator, Mrs. Heller, and limo driver, Walter Hardwicke, are making dangerous plans … plans that will have harrowing consequences for Belinda.

Darkness is Gathering

As the mansion’s terrifying secrets unravel, Belinda becomes convinced that she’s stepped into a world where reality has no rules. Even as she and her employer, the handsome and mysterious Eric Manning grow closer, darkness is gathering … on both sides of the Veil.

For the previous installments, visit my library.

DEAD GIRLS


000Deadgirls1

Coming in the next few days… DEAD GIRLS, the 6th installment in THE GHOSTS OF RAVENCREST serial novel!

Restless Spirits

The spirits of Ravencrest are restless and governess Belinda Moorland finds herself in a maze of ever-growing mystery and danger as she uncovers the shocking secrets of her new home. With the help of butler Grant Phister, she realizes the three blood-drenched nuns who patrol the east wing, the little girl in red, and the handsome night visitor aren’t the only spirits walking the halls of Ravencrest. There is the White Violet, a silent movie actress, and the Bride of Ravencrest, both mad, both lurking. And then there is the ghost haunting the dark and eerie indoor pool …

Sometimes the Living are More Dangerous than the Dead…

And the dead aren’t the only ones who have their eyes on Belinda. As her former roommate, Randi Tucker, pays a perilous surprise visit, the house administrator, Mrs. Heller, and limo driver, Walter Hardwicke, are making dangerous plans … plans that will have harrowing consequences for Belinda.

Darkness is Gathering

As the mansion’s terrifying secrets unravel, Belinda becomes convinced that she’s stepped into a world where reality has no rules. Even as she and her employer, the handsome and mysterious Eric Manning grow closer, darkness is gathering … on both sides of the Veil.

Belinda: The Story Behind The Name


Naming characters is a surprisingly phenomenal thing, because, more often than not, they name themselves – as strange as that sounds. What I mean is that they tend to present themselves to their authors fully-formed; they know their own appearances, personalities, and often, they come pre-named. That being said, this wasn’t the way it worked with Belinda.

The name Belinda and I go way back, but first, I thought its historical meaning was interesting. As I researched it, the name struck me as fitting for this story line because in German, Italian, and American, Belinda means: From the Old German Betlindis, which is derived from the word for snake. Images of snakes draw my mind to the Garden of Eden scene in the bible, and Belinda’s story, at its roots, is one of a similar nature.

Still, as interesting as this was to learn, it wasn’t the reason I wanted to use the name Belinda. My reason, I’m afraid, was far simpler.

When I was a kid, I happened upon a book called The Ghost That Goofed by Edith W. Boutelle. This little book had everything I wanted in a story at the time: a ghost, a talking pet, and a grand Halloween party. The ghost’s name, of course, was Belinda. (I feel I need to note here that Boutelle’s ghost and our Belinda Moorland, of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, have nothing in common except the name.) But this wonderful little book, I believe, set the course for me in terms of storytelling, and because of that, I’ve long wanted to pay some kind of tribute to it. Unfortunately, that has not turned out to be an easy task.

story

I have tried to use the name Belinda in just about everything I’ve previously written, and for one reason or another, up until The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, it hasn’t worked out. Belinda is a strong name and not – in my mind – well suited for a minor character. As for main characters, like I said, they tend to name themselves, and none of them jumped up and said, I’m Belinda! I’m Belinda! Then, on the few occasions that I did find a suitable place for the name, I was told no.

No, because it stands out too much.

No, because it’s too long and unusual.

No, because it will remind readers of Belinda Carlisle.

While I had my doubts that the front woman of the Go-Go’s really dominated the consciousness of today’s audience – and I certainly didn’t think the name was too lengthy or foreign for readers to manage – I was new to the business and I took advice easily. Too easily. But I think these things happen for a reason.

When Tamara Thorne and I began to discuss writing an erotic serialization, I knew Belinda was our girl. But I also knew that Tamara had to agree to it. After all, if she had wanted to name our heroine Gonzarella, I would not have been pleased – and I owe Tamara the same respect. We both had to love this name. So I didn’t present it to her right away. I would wait till the time was just right, then – like the snake that the name Belinda is derived from – I would strike! But as fate would have it, I didn’t need to do that.

Tamara knew about The Ghost That Goofed. She knew how much I loved that story, and when it came time to name our girl, Tamara herself basically suggested ‘Belinda’ when she asked me, “What was the name of that ghost you loved as a kid?”

“Belinda,” I said.

She thought about it for about three seconds and said, “I think that would be perfect here.”

And with every cell in my body, I knew she was right, and I was suddenly very glad that I hadn’t used the name somewhere else.

TheNewGovernessLargeFINAL

That was many many months ago, and since then, Belinda’s first installment, The New Governesshas been released. Her second installment, Awakening, is in the last stages of publication and will be available in a matter of days.

Belinda’s is a story of handsy spirits, envy and ecstasy, the elusive hit-and-miss nature of love, and magic of the right and wrong kinds, all set in a beautiful Gothic mansion on a breathtaking estate. On the surface, it’s a fun little romp down the haunted hallways of Ravencrest Manor – but at its core, it’s a story about a woman coming into full possession of her sexuality; a woman harnessing her own power, and this new installment, Awakening, is aptly titled. This is where it really begins for her.

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I’ve never had as much fun writing anything as I have this story. It’s a pleasure to sit down to every day…  and I happen to think her name, Belinda, is just right. I’m grateful to Tamara for agreeing with me on that.

And that’s the story behind the name…

 

 

 

Mr. Manning on Casual Friday


This weeks sexy reminder that Belinda will be here this summer…

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The Erotic Adventures of

Belinda

Belinda is an erotic serialized novel chronicling the sensual adventures of a beautiful and naïve young woman named Belinda Moorland. When she is hired as governess to the children of the handsome but mysterious millionaire, Eric Manning, she quickly learns that the kids are going to be the least of her worries.

The installments will follow her from the first tentative visit to spooky old Ravencrest Manor, to meeting the strangely lascivious staff – and several sex-starved spirits – who gradually initiate her into an erotic lifestyle she never knew existed.

Belinda’s experiences at Ravencrest will prepare her for the ultimate challenge: to earn the love – and lust – of the enigmatic Mr. Manning.

The first adventures are coming this summer. Listen for the heavy breathing…