To Write a Thrilling Thriller


In honor a Mother’s Day – here’s a little about the Thorne & Cross thriller, Mother ... and writing thrillers in general …

Thrillers are a little different from mystery and a little different from horror. Though all these genres tend to blend and merge to varying degrees, writing them – and reading them – is a slightly difference experience.

Generally speaking, the mystery novel’s goal is to solve a crime while thrillers seek to prevent it, but never having been big on following rules and regulations, my collaborator Tamara Thorne and I fiendishly merged these standards together for our thriller, Mother. We eagerly thrust our protagonists, expectant couple Claire and Jason Holbrook, into the hotbed of an already deadly situation; by the time they arrive at the scene, many unsolved crimes have already commenced. Unbeknownst to them, of course, the greatest offense has yet to be committed, and it’s up to them (with the help of some eccentric neighbors and a couple of reluctant priests) to prevent it from happening.

As well as mystery and suspense, Mother also incorporates strong elements of horror and black comedy – but at its core, this is definitely a thriller. That being said, there are a few things we’ve learned along the way that we believe not only apply to the thriller genre, but all genres.

The most important thing, we believe, is to keep the readers reading. No one wants to trudge through page after page of information to get to the good stuff, nor should they have to, so the first thing we focus our attention on is the opening scene.

The opening scene is a tough one because it should have enough action to excite and enough information to intrigue while still retaining its mystery; it should make promises of more to come. This requires walking a thin line, indeed. In Mother, we began at the end of the original “crime” – which becomes the driving force that propels our protagonists.

The protagonists are very important … and therefore, often the most difficult to write. While side characters can often get away with being one-dimensional, the main characters need a few more layers. It’s important that they be likable, but not boring. They should have weaknesses and strengths, triumphs and failures, and plenty of psychological complexity. And though they might do what they believe is right, they must make mistakes. If every character made the right choice at every turn, there would be a major shortage of damn good stories out there.

Andrew Neiderman, AKA V.C. Andrews, on the Thorne & Cross thriller, MOTHER

And having a damn good story is everything in this business. There are only so many themes in literature which have been recycled over the centuries, and it’s important to know what yours is. Are you writing a story about death and rebirth? A quest for higher understanding? An attempt to restore order and normalcy? A crusade to make the world a better place, or – as it is in Mother – a slaying of the dragon to reassert independence? Whatever your theme, know it and know it well, and make sure your characters go through hell to deliver it to the reader.

No one likes a story about people who coast through life, and this is why it’s important to put your characters through hell. Bestow upon them unimaginable grief and unspeakable horrors, and just when you feel like any further affliction will surely shatter your beloved character into a thousand pieces, double up on the damage. We want to see them struggle. We want to see them writhe and scramble and strive. Of course, we want to see them triumph, too … but not until the end … and sometimes not even then. But above all, we want to see them change – and grow.

Creating characters that change and grow as a result of their trials and tribulations is imperative. Think of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge goes through a night of torture that brings him face-to-face with the demons of his past, the misery of his present, and the horror of his future. By morning, he’s a changed man … and we love it.

We love it because it teaches us something about being human … and teaching the readers is perhaps the trickiest thing of all; fiction readers generally want to be entertained, not taught. Yet, if a writer is smooth enough to educate without hindering the flow of the plot, the story resonates with readers on a deeper, more meaningful level. But good authors do not take advantage of their readers and use their attention as an opportunity to sermonize or push opinions. In Mother, our “lesson” was simple: The real monsters are not necessarily strangers – often, they’re the people you trust and love, the people you look at every day. Our goal was to get this point across through the story, not by wagging our finger at the reader and lecturing.

There are a million ways to tell a story and an endless list of do’s and dont’s, but no matter how you go about it, one thing is certain: Readers want to be thrilled. Whether by means of terror and dread or by the promise of justice, they want to be ensnared by a story that compels them to keep turning pages. And writing a thriller that really thrills is the best way to make that happen.

FACEBOOK EVENT Today at 7 – 8 pm EST


Today, at 7 – 8 pm EST, Tamara Thorne​ and I will be chatting about our upcoming book, MOTHER, on Facebook at The Edge of Madness Release Party.
Just go to this page, join the event, and come hang out with us from 7 – 8 pm EST, where we’ll be discussing writing, MOTHER, books, and anything you’d like to know!

MOTHER

MOTHER is Coming Soon


0eebfbdb2-2d69-4d35-afe8-c1f46f43762a

A Girl’s Worst Nightmare is Her Mother …

Priscilla Martin. She’s the diva of Morning Glory Circle and a driving force in the quaint California town of Snapdragon. Overseer of garage sales and neighborhood Christmas decorations, she is widely admired. But few people know the real woman behind the perfectly coiffed hair and Opium perfume.

Family is Forever. And Ever and Ever …

No one escapes Prissy’s watchful eye. No one that is, except her son, who committed suicide many years ago, and her daughter, Claire, who left home more than a decade past and hasn’t spoken to her since. But now, Priscilla’s daughter and son-in-law have fallen on hard times. Expecting their first child, the couple is forced to move back … And Prissy is there to welcome them home with open arms … and to reclaim her broken family.

The Past Isn’t Always as Bad as You Remember.

Sometimes it’s Worse …

Claire has terrible memories of her mother, but now it seems Priscilla has mended her ways. When a cache of vile family secrets is uncovered, Claire struggles to determine fact from fiction, and her husband, Jason, begins to wonder who the monster really is. Lives are in danger – and Claire and Jason must face a horrifying truth … a truth that may destroy them … and will forever change their definition of “Mother.”

Interview with V.C. Andrews


Check out our interview with the author behind the V.C. Andrews book series, which has sold over more than 100 MILLION copies worldwide, and spawned such classic moves as FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. Just Click our pic to listen!

download (4)

One of the most popular authors of all time, V.C. Andrews has been a bestselling phenomenon since the publication of her spellbinding classic Flowers in the Attic. That blockbuster novel began her first family saga, which includes Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. Since then, readers have been captivated by more than fifty novels in V.C. Andrews’ bestselling series. V.C. Andrews’ novels have sold more than one hundred million copies and have been translated into sixteen foreign languages.

Sage’s Eyes has just been released and is available everywhere.

download (6)

Following the death of Virginia Andrews in 1986, the Andrews family worked with a carefully selected writer to organize and complete Virginia Andrews’s stories and to create additional novels.

The identity of this writer was kept a secret from the general public for years, but the ghostwriter has since been identified as horror novelist Andrew Neiderman, beginning with the completion of Garden of Shadows and the later novels of the Casteel series.

Dollanganger01_FlowersInTheAttic

Neiderman has carried the VC Andrews torch, satisfying her devoted readers for many years, as well as writing dozens of other novels, which include DEFICIENCY, Unholy Birth, Life Sentence, Deadly Verdict, Garden of the Dead and THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, which was made into a major film starring Keanu Reeves, Charlise Theron, and Al Pacino. He also wrote the screenplays for Rain, based on the VC Andrews novels, and Duplicates.

1367605556619516744

Andrew Neiderman’s latest novel, Lost in His Eyes, is also available now.

About the Thorne & Cross

Tamara Thorne’s first novel was published in 1991, and since then she has written many more, including international bestsellers Haunted, Bad Things, Moonfall, Eternity and The Sorority. A lifelong lover of ghost stories, she is currently working on several collaborations with Alistair Cross as well as an upcoming solo novel. Learn more about her at:http://tamarathorne.com

ttcover4

(Click Moonfall for books by Tamara Thorne)

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Ghosts of Ravencrest with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His novel, The Crimson Corset, debuted to great acclaim and was an immediate bestseller. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com

0000ccfinal-cc-large

(Click The Crimson Corset for books by Alistair)

In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the serial, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Their first horror novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, is available now at Amazon. Their next project, Mother will appear in this spring, and several more projects are on their way. They’ve already begun the next tale of terror…

MOTHER

(Mother, coming soon from Thorne & Cross)

Also, if you enjoy things that go bump in the night, be sure to check out our radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, a weekly one-hour horror and thriller-themed show that has featured such guests as Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Christopher Rice, Cheslea Quinn Yarbro, V.C. Andrews, Christopher Moore, Douglas Clegg, Jay Bonansinga, and many more. Visit the Guest Page to catch one of your favorite authors.

MOTHER: Coming Soon From Thorne & Cross


Coming this spring: MOTHER – a new novel by Thorne & Cross.

MOTHER

A Girl’s Worst Nightmare is Her Mother …

Priscilla Martin. She’s the diva of Morning Glory Circle and a driving force in the quaint California town of Snapdragon. Overseer of garage sales and neighborhood Christmas decorations, she is widely admired. But few people know the real woman behind the perfectly coiffed hair and Opium perfume.

 

Family is Forever. And Ever and Ever …

Nothing escapes Prissy’s watchful eye, nothing that is, except her son, who committed suicide many years ago, and her daughter, Claire, who left home more than a decade past and hasn’t spoken to her since. But now, Priscilla’s daughter and son-in-law have fallen on hard times. Expecting their first child, the couple is forced to move back … And Prissy is there to welcome them home with open arms … and to reclaim her broken family.

 

Home is Where the Terror Is …

Jason Holbrook loves his wife. He’s heard Claire’s stories about Priscilla, but now it seems Mother has mended her ways, and as he uncovers a cache of vile family secrets, he begins to wonder who the real monster is. Lives are in danger – and Jason must face a horrifying truth … a truth that may destroy him … and will forever change his definition of “Mother.”