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

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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Interviews, Books, and Horror. Oh my…


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It’s been a busy month! On the 2nd, we released our first collaborative novel, THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING, then a few days later, DEAD GIRLS, the 6th installment of our serialized Gothic novel, THE GHOSTS OF RAVENCREST, came out. Both are available on Amazon, as well as the previous RAVENCREST installments, DARKER SHADOWS (#1-3), CHRISTMAS SPIRITS (#4), and NIGHT MOVES (#5).

Meanwhile, we’ve been doing a lot of promotional work for Cliffhouse’s release. Our latest interview about this novel is at Beauty in Ruins, which came out this morning, and earlier this week, we did a live radio interview at Conversations LIVE! with host, Cyrus Webb.

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In the interim, our own radio show, Haunted Nights LIVE! has been going strong. We started booking for summer of 2015 and have acquired such guests as Christopher Moore, Charlaine Harris, F. Paul Wilson, Jonathan Maberry, and Dianna Love, to name a few. Last week, we had Richard Christian Matheson, and tonight, at 9 pm EDT, we have the legendary Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Be there if you dare. Keep an eye out next week for Kealan Patrick Burke, and our first guest in May is one of the best thriller writers around, Kevin O’Brien. Visit my website for the full guest list as well as previous podcasts which are available to listen to. You can also find us on iTunes.

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Alongside all of this, my solo novel, THE CRIMSON CORSET, is still in progress and is expected to be released later this summer. Also when the weather warms, keep an eye out for our next collaboration, GRANDMA’S RACK, which is in production now. And near the end of next month, the 7th installment in THE GHOSTS OF RAVENCREST series will be available as well.

THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING


THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING is available now: http://www.amazon.com/Cliffhouse-Haunting-Tamara-Thorne-ebook/dp/B00VL9LUC6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428264698&sr=8-1&keywords=cliffhouse

“Thorne & Cross keep the surprises coming as swiftly as a master magician… the characters quickly become people we know, but then wish perhaps we didn’t… the laughter of recognition rides like bubbles on the surface of a deep flowing darkness… there’s something cold in here.”
~ Mark Hein, critic and editor at theaterghost.com

“Thorne & Cross are clever. The plot they create reads effortlessly, and they make us laugh and cringe and widen our eyes, looking away from the text at times to say, “Oh, no you didn’t.” But they did.”
~ Michael Aronovitz, author of Alice Walks and Witch of the Wood

When the Blue Lady Walks…

Since 1887, Cliffhouse Lodge has been famous for its luxurious accommodations, fine dining… and its ghosts. Overlooking Blue Lady Lake, nestled among tall pines, Cliffhouse has just been renovated by its owners, Teddy and Adam Bellamy, and their daughter, Sara.

Cliffhouse has not always been a place of rest and respite, though. Over the years it has served many vices, from rum-running to prostitution – and although the cat houses have been replaced by a miniature golf course and carousel, Cliffhouse retains its dark history; darkest during the Roaring Twenties, when a serial killer called the Bodice Ripper terrorized the town, and a phantom, the Blue Lady, was said to walk when murder was imminent.

Death Walks With Her…

Now, there’s a new killer on the loose, and the Blue Lady sightings have returned. The Bellamys are losing maids, and guests are being tormented by disembodied whispers, wet phantom footprints, and the blood-chilling shrieks of mad laughter that echo through the halls of Cliffhouse in the dead of night.

The little mountain town of Cliffside is the perfect hunting ground for a serial killer… and the Blue Lady. Police Chief Jackson Ballou has bodies piling up, and between the murders and the mysteries, he can hardly pursue his romance with Polly Owen. And Sara Bellamy may lose her true love before they even have their first kiss.

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DEAD GIRLS – Available Now


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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.

Cliffhouse… Unleashed!


In summer of 2012, just a few months after we met and began talking on the phone and through email, we had an idea that we thought would make a great book. It was a ghost story, set in a large lodge in the San Bernardino mountains in California. It involved a cop, a New Age writer, a serial killer, and of course, a ghost.

Shortly after, we got another book idea which we promptly began. But the haunted hotel story beckoned, and we eventually put the other novel on a temporary hold in order to finish our first story. In late May of 2014, we rolled up our sleeves and started digging into it. It took the expected series of twists and turns, quickly becoming everything we’d wanted it to be – and more.

In the interim, we began writing the serial novel, The Ghosts of Ravencrest, and between the release of five installments of that series, we were hard at work on our original novel, which we’ve titled The Cliffhouse Haunting.

As much as we’ve loved writing The Ghosts of Ravencrest, we’ve been especially looking forward to the release of a full-length novel. And today is an extra special day because The Cliffhouse Haunting has officially been released! And it’s available now at Amazon!

We’d like to thank all the folks who helped us along the way. Elderlemon Design, for a great cover. Michael Aronovitz, for his awesome review of Cliffhouse, which can be read at Hellnotes. Our spouses, to whom this novel is dedicated, and the various readers who took the time to read it before its release. Click the pic below to buy your copy of The Cliffhouse Haunting.

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We’re Spilling the Secrets of Horror…


Our new show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live!, is all about horror. We’ll be interviewing your favorite authors, discussing books, movies, and your ghost stories, among other things. Our first guests include Douglas Clegg, Glen Hirshberg, and Michael Aronovitz! The show premiers November 6th on the Authors on the Air station at Blog Talk Radio. URL coming soon!

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Douglas Clegg is Coming to Haunted Nights Live


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Douglas Clegg is a very busy man. He is the New York Times bestselling author of psychological horror, historical, supernatural thriller, and dark fiction novels. He is the winner of many awards including the Bram Stoker Award, the Shocker Award, and the International Horror Guild Award. Recently, he even wrote a new introduction for the Signet Classic edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

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And these are just a few of the reasons I’m excited to announce that he will be one of our first Guests on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live. 

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Haunted Nights is a horror-themed radio show, hosted by my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and me. It’s part of Authors on the Air Global Radio Network which reaches upwards of two million listeners in 44 countries. On Haunted Nights Live, Tamara and I will be interviewing horror authors, other macabre personalities, and discussing all things horror. The show begins on Thursday nights in November. Until then, you can listen to us through the month of October when we’ll be co-hosting Authors on the Air with Pam Stack.

Keep an eye out for Dinner with the Cannibal SistersDoug’s latest tale of terror.

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Over at Fiona McVie’s….


Yesterday, my interview at Fiona McVie’s Author Interviews went live. Among many other things, I discussed what books influenced me, the greatest challenges of writing a novel, and what I might have done had this writing gig not worked out for me. Give it a look-see at Fiona McVie’s Author Interviews. Thank you, Fiona, for a great time.

Tamara Thorne and I are nearing the end of our first round of edits on the horror novel, and as soon as we’re done, we’ll be getting back to The Ghosts of Ravencrest, which will be out this October. Till then, here is the latest Ravencrest poster.

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Gross Encounters of the Absurd Kind


My collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I have been sitting down together to write everyday for months. We’ve gotten a lot done, and we still have much to do. On top of the Belinda serial, we’re finishing up a horror novel  and have another novel  to edit and publish around the holidays. Needless to say, we don’t really have time to play around. And yet, that’s exactly what we do. Play is the reason we can Skypewrite together for 12 hours a day, every day. It keeps us sane and snickering.

We don’t wake up chomping at the writing bit every morning. In fact, most mornings we spend a little time waking up, gossiping, looking over media stuff, working on interviews, and, always, reviewing and tweaking our storyline. Then it’s time to get to work.

Sometimes, we still have trouble focusing first thing in the morning – and there are always a few brain freezes during that day. That’s when we often start writing freestyle; we just let the words go where they want until we find our way back to the true course of the story. These passages are, to us, hilarious, twisted, and – in some cases -sickeningly disturbing. What the hell is wrong with us? We don’t know and we don’t care. We do this both to jar our brains loose and to crack each other up. This is not the kind of material we can use in an actual book (with a few exceptions – we’ll let you guess what they are when you read the books, maybe even have a contest).

Because of the pleasure these passages have given us, we’ve decided to stop throwing them out. Why not share the joy? The sick, demented, twisted, repugnant joy.

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So we had an idea. What if we post these ridiculous meanderings on our blogs? Many contain portions of real scenes you find in the books, which we think makes this extra fun.

So we’re going to do it. We’re going to begin posting our outtakes and bloopers today. They work for TV shows specials, so why not here? We may even include some of the best evil autocorrects from our texts, as appropriate.

With that in mind, here are yesterday’s best outtakes:

Belinda lay in her bed, her body deliciously warm under the down comforter, as the morning sun shot thin rays through the crack in the her buttocks. And her drapes. Her drapes were fucking ugly. She stretched and yawned and decided she’d buy new drapes. But not until the sun finished shining out of her ass.”

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* * *

Omar, a sleek, plump Siamese cat, snuggled into his mistress’s lap, then flehmened, mouth hanging open, eyes half closed, when he realized his human had forgotten to change her tampon for at least a week. He couldn’t contend with a stinking bloody human and decided he’d get a new one just as soon as she finished petting his glorious head.”

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* * *

“The room was large, luxurious, and honestly breathtaking, and every time Belinda stepped inside, she felt a little as if she were floating. This might have been due to the design of the floor, which was cobalt blue tile, patterned with gold stars, giving her the impression that she was walking on the midnight sky. Or it could have been the fact that she’d shot herself up with a homemade combination of absinthe, super-glue, and weed-killer, using a needle she’d found under the sofa. That might have accounted for the floating feeling in her head. But probably not. It probably really was the design of the bathroom.”

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* * *

(Warning: If any of the above grossed you out, skip this one.  It’s our favorite…)

“Margaret Massey stepped into the tub. It brimmed with sweet-scented lilac bubbles and as she settled into the water and rested her head against the cool rounded porcelain lip of the huge mint-green tub. “Heaven,” she said as she pinched her nipple and stuck an entire bar of Ivory up her wrinkled twat. “If only I’d remembered the toilet plunger,” she lamented as she queefed 100% natural bubbles that rose to the surface and popped like Lawrence Welk’s champagne music. Then her 70-year-old anus, the victim of one too many rounds with the local Hell’s Angels, sharted, but just a little. It didn’t even smell and what you couldn’t see beneath the bubbles couldn’t hurt you. She knew that from long experience.”

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150,000 Words and Counting


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Today, we passed the 150,000 word mark on our current work-in-progress, a horror novel which was actually the first concept Tamara Thorne and I ever discussed writing together. It’s taken a few detours, but at its core, it’s the same story we created over a year ago now. We still have a few thousand words to write before the story is fully told, but it will be completed by this month’s end, and it will be a normal novel – in terms of length – by the time edits are completed.   

As we get ready to wrap it up, I’m both saddened by its nearing end, and excited for the upcoming works its completion will allow us to pursue. The fact that we can write so extensively together gives me great hope for one future concept in particular – one very long and very exciting future concept.

 But before we even start thinking about that, we have Grandma’s Rack to complete, Belinda to continue with, and a solo effort each to produce. Oh, and one other collaboration we’re both pretty stoked about, which will begin just as fast as we can get to it. But first things first.

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It’s been a good year of writing, and on that note – after much discussion and deliberation – Belinda will be undergoing some favorable changes, which will be evident as early as the next installment, due out in September. Since beginning this serialization, we made sure to leave ourselves a few possible options concerning the direction we wanted to take it, and we’ve now settled on a definite route and are pretty excited to start carving it out.

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Speaking of carving things out, Halloween is just around the corner – in the shadows, with a very sharp knife – and that calls for jack o’ lanterns, candy and really good scary stories. It’s too early for pumpkin carving and I never share my candy, but I can help you out with the scary story dilemma.

Bad Things, the classic Halloween tale by my collaborator Tamara Thorne, is on sale now on Kindle for $1.99. If you’re into brotherly love of the vilest kind, nature spirits with cruel intentions, the exhumation of scandalous family secrets, and bitchy women with penchants for dead poodles, click the BAD THINGS below and get your copy.

Till then, scream on.

~AC~

Bad Things

Something Lusty This Way Comes…


The latest e-poster form the The Erotic Adventures of Belinda series

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When Belinda Moorland steps across the threshold of Ravencrest Manor, she feels as if she’s entered a fantasy world. The mansion is breathtaking, and her new employer, Eric Manning, is as mysterious as he is handsome.

But after just one night, she begins to suspect there is more to Ravencrest than she was told. Haunted by nightmares and seduced by erotic dreams, Belinda realizes her new home has a dark side. By day, the house and grounds are sublime, but the night is alive with dark shadows and phantom footsteps in empty corridors. Eyes – and hands – are upon her, and not all of them belong to the living.

The third installment of Belinda, titled Darker Shadows, is underway and will be available in September. The first two installments, The New Governess, and Awakening, are available now! Click on the titles below to read them.

The New Governess

Awakening

Here’s what people are saying about Belinda:

“If you’ve finished all of Sylvia Day’s Crossfires novels and are craving more, look no further. In The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross have created a world that is rich, opulent, and smoldering with the promise of seduction. You’ll be able to feel the slide of the satin sheets, taste the fizz of champagne.”

-Sylvia Shults, author of Double Double Love and Trouble

“The Erotic Adventures of Belinda” by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross is a fun, intricate read.  The erotica is well crafted and the ornate setting descriptions are breath-taking.  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

“Shocking and fun!  The Erotic Adventures of Belinda by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross will leaving you shivering with excitement as the innocent Belinda breaks free of a minimum-wage hell hole only to move into a sprawling Gothic estate where her body becomes the focal point of a mysterious specter.  Out of the pan and into the fire?  Only time will tell.”

-William Malmborg, author of Jimmy and Text Message

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The latest Belinda meme from a reader!

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Two installments of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda are now available in e-format. The third installment, Darker Shadows, is underway…

110,000 Words… and Counting…


Tamara Thorne and I are kicking literary ass these days. A few hours ago, we hit 110,000 words on our collaborative project (not Belinda, and not Grandma’s Rack, but the other book).

Had this novel been content to conclude itself at the average length of 80,000 to 120,000 words, it would be complete, but as it is, we anticipate another 20,000 before we write The End. There will, of course, be some cutting, but no matter how we look at it, this will be a good-sized book ~ and that makes me very proud of us.

This story line is the one that brought Tamara and I together in 2012, so it has special meaning for me. We got to know each other plotting this novel out over the phone, hundreds of miles apart. We ended up setting it aside to write Grandma’s Rack, then, due to publishing obligations, set Grandma’s Rack aside to return to – and finish – this one. The reason for this juggling act is mainly due to the fact that Grandma’s Rack was originally intended to be a short story. And it grew. A lot.

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Also, while all this was happening, we managed to get the first few installments of our serialized Gothic Erotica novel, The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, written and out into the hands of the readers at the time we promised them it would be available.  What all of this has meant is that we’ve had to spend 8 to 12 hours a day, 6 (and now 7) days a week, writing, editing, and doing various other writing-related necessities. It’s meant we’ve had little to no free time. It’s meant we’ve had to say no to a lot of our friends and family members. It’s meant we’ve had to pull the plugs on some processes that weren’t quite geared for our degree of production. It’s meant we’ve worked our asses off. But we did it, and we did it well.

As I write this, Tamara is waiting for me in the Cloud where, after a short break, we will continue writing out the final scenes of this novel. It will be completed shortly. And after that… it’s back to Grandma’s Rack, which will pretty much keep us just as busy. What a year it has been. And will continue to be…

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.

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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.

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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…

 

 

 

Author Spotlight at Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog


Tamara Thorne and I did an Author Spotlight guest post at Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog, which has now gone live. We talked a little bit about our writing processes, our trip to the haunted cabin, Belinda, and the other projects we are currently working on. Go to Morgen Bailey’s and read about it.

Meanwhile, Awakening, the second installment in The Erotic Adventures of Belinda is days away from publication. When she has gone forth into the grand world of books, the buy links will be posted here.

Meanwhile, here is the teaser and cover…

Awakening

In Awakening, we find out more about Grant Phister, the wicked Mrs. Heller, and some of the other inhabitants of the house, both living and dead. There are more secrets than ever waiting within the walls of Ravencrest, but Belinda has one final requirement to meet before she can get down to work: She must pass her physical examination – and it will prove to be far more intimate than anything in her wildest dreams – or her darkest nightmares.  Will she get through her first day at Ravencrest intact?

The Doctors are In!

The young man moved to Belinda’s left side and suddenly masculine hands encompassed each of her breasts. She went crimson. Oh please, let this be over with! Please! She closed her eyes. Dr. Akin’s hand was large, his fingers very long. He was cupping and enfolding her entire breast. The intern’s wasn’t quite as big. Both men’s hands were dry and uncallused, smooth, gentle. Warm.

This new feeling upset her almost as much as being nude. Stop it! This is a doctor’s exam; it’s not supposed to feel good!

Awakening, the second installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda is coming soon!

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Beneath the Lake: On Writing Horror… and Belinda!


Our article, Extreme Collaborating, is up at Beneath the Lake: On Writing Horror. In it, we discuss our unique form of collaboration – how we get in the Cloud and literally write together, often in the same paragraph.  Go on over to Crystal Lake Publishing and check it out. While you’re there, look around; you’ll see all kinds of good stuff!

Meanwhile, back at the old Thorney-Cross Ranch, we’ve put the final touches – and strokes – on Belinda’s second installment, Awakening, and you’ll be holding and caressing her with your warm, loving hands very soon! The first installment, The New Governess, is available now!

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It’s Cherry Season!


The Awakening, the second installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, is on its way…

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The Erotic Adventures of Belinda is a serialized Gothic Erotica novel by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross. The first installment, The New Governessis available everywhere.

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http://alistaircross.com

&

http://tamarathorne.com

On Writing: Extreme Collaborating


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A radio interviewer asked Tamara Thorne and me how we write together and that was one of the most eye-opening questions we’ve ever had.  She was amazed when we told her our method and said she’d never heard of anyone writing like that before.  Evidently, many writers split things up with one brainstorming and the other writing. Neither of us can even imagine having any fun doing our job this way.  To not be allowed to brainstorm would be horrible!  And to not write would be just as bad!  We can each imagine this working in non-fiction, but in fiction, if you don’t love both sides – creating and writing – where does that leave you? How can you imagine ideas for your plot and characters without being able to set them down as well, and vice versa? Can a good writer write without his or her imagination taking off and soaring to the heavens?  It sounds absolutely horrible to us.

Our collaborations are a 50/50 effort. We plot together, we develop characters together, and we even transcribe together by getting on Skype, opening the Cloud, and working side by side. Sometimes Tamara takes the lead, sometimes Alistair does – but nothing is written without both of us present. We each have our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and we each are aware of the other’s. Luckily for us – as we learned early on – our weaknesses and strengths balance out; where one of us has difficulty, the other is at ease.

One very important part of our process that we stress very much when asked about it, is the personal side of our relationship. Writing is a job, a business, and although we are business partners, we are also friends. We may share the same vision, the same sensibilities, and even similar writing styles, but all of this is pointless without three very important elements: respect, honesty, and loyalty.

Respect comes first. We are aware of each other’s time. We meet every day, six days a week, and work anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. But if something comes up or one of us is running late, we are okay with that.

As for honesty… honesty is something you have to be comfortable with if you intend to write with another person. If one of us hates what the other is writing – though it hasn’t really happened – we’d say so… but kindly. If one of us isn’t feeling the same vibe as the other and thinks the story needs to go a different direction, we discuss it openly.

No drama. We are similar in that we both avoid drama – and the people who spew it – so one of us getting drawn into the chaos of the other one’s personal life issues is never a problem for us. This zero tolerance for drama, in fact, is probably the glue that holds this whole thing together. (Sure, we each tell the other what’s going on in our lives – we’re friends and that’s what friends do – but we don’t dwell. We go to work.)

So kindness, honesty, and a no drama policy is what makes up the respect facet of this deal. Then there is loyalty.

Loyalty comes into play because we are given a lot of advice by outside forces, and sometimes, the advice is not good. We’ve made a firm pact that no decisions will be made without the consent of the other one. No one is allowed to call one of us and discuss changes behind the other’s back. We are business partners, and we operate as such, no exceptions.

With loyalty comes trust, which could easily be the fourth part of the sum. We trust each other with the characters, the storyline, and on a personal level as well, but this trust is built on the foundation of the respect, honesty, and loyalty to which we adhere.

And now that the personal elements of our collaboration have been covered, we come to the creative part of the process.

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Each day we spend an hour or two in the morning warming up. We chat, we do our PR and marketing work, whether it’s writing a blog, posting to Facebook, or answering interview questions. We spend a little time studying some aspect of our business most mornings as well, whether that’s going through a lot of covers or promotional posters and talking about what we like and dislike, discussing articles we’ve just read on traditional vs indie publishing, or anything else writing-oriented.  We tell some jokes. We laugh a lot.

And then we get down to writing.  If we’re having trouble getting going, we get silly, each sneaking in outrageous dialogue or descriptions for the other to laugh at. That’s actually one of the best tricks we’ve found for getting a scene moving. We’ll add on to the silliness, each of us, and suddenly the scene comes to life and, when we’re done, we remove the goofy stuff.

We each enjoy following certain characters and take the lead on our favorites, but we are also careful to switch off so that we each know every character well.  To us, familiarity with our characters – all of them – is vital to the story.

While, individually, we both do a lot of world-building in order to get to know our characters and their locale, together, we probably spend twice as much time doing this.  When you are collaborating, the littlest details become important and are (usually) best figured out beforehand because both of us must know whether a character has dimples or drives a beat-up old Chevy or hates seafood.  Otherwise, incongruities can get past us, unnoticed.

The characters’ voices, however, evolve during writing and whoever creates the voice sets the tone the other follows for that character. For example, a character in one of our upcoming novels has a unique way of swearing that Alistair made up.  We both love voicing her and work together to get the most insane profanities out of her as we write, always following Alistair’s original style.

While we occasionally write two scenes in tandem – this usually happens when we are writing one scene together and one of us is inspired by something the other writes – we still consider ourselves to be writing together; after all, via Skype, we have instant access to one another.  After that, we go over both scenes together and make sure everything is in synch and do a light edit.  Mostly, though, we quite literally write together. One of us may write most of a scene with the other trailing along fixing things, or simply taking in the tale as it evolves. Sometimes we take turns in the same scene. Tamara often takes over descriptions of locale because she really enjoys it. Alistair enjoys writing certain situations and takes those. We think the main reason one or the other of us takes the lead, though, is character. We each have our favorites.

We write in similar voices and have similar sensibilities, senses of humor, likes and dislikes, and this, of course, is part of our chemistry. But if you have a collaborator you constantly disagree with, our question is why?  If you have nothing in common, how can you enjoy your work – or one another?

We received some great feedback the other day. After reading The New Governess, the first installment of our Gothic Erotica serialized novel, The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, a reader said to us: “Which one of you wrote this? I can’t tell.” To which we happily answered, “We both wrote it.” And we did.  Just like we wrote this blog. Together, in the Cloud.

For more, visit us at: http://alistaircross.com & http://tamarathorne.com

Gothic Erotica by Thorne & Cross


What is Gothic Erotica? It’s what wakes you up in the middle of the night as randy as you are terrified. It’s those things that go bump – and grind – in the night. It’s the sound of footsteps at the foot of your bed that, instead of fading away, draw nearer and, well, get what they want.

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When we began The Erotic Adventure of Belinda, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to frighten our readers while simultaneously seducing them. We wanted to build a world as eerie as it was arousing… we wanted to stir a new set of emotions.

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The first installment, titled The New Governess is now available on all formats. If you like your terror titillating, your fright fulfilling, and the kinds of stories that curl your hair with horror and your toes with desire, Belinda is your girl. And she’s available now at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

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Let the adventures begin…

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Visit us at: http://tamarathorne.com and http://alistaircross.com

 

Hot Sexy Haunted


The New Governess, the first installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda is available at Amazon and Smashwords now. More links for places of purchase will be coming soon…

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“Shocking and fun!  The Erotic Adventures of Belinda by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross will leaving you shivering with excitement as the innocent Belinda breaks free of a minimum-wage hell hole only to move into a sprawling Gothic estate where her body becomes the focal point of a mysterious specter.  Out of the pan and into the fire?  Only time will tell.” ~ William Malmborg, author of Jimmy and Text Message.

BELINDA HAS ARRIVED!


The Adventures Have Begun…

The New Governess, the first installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.  (We will have Nook and other links soon.)

New adventures will appear every four to six weeks. Expect serious erotica, lots of ghosts, romance, and intrigue as we put our own spin on Gothic Erotica.


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THE NEW GOVERNESS

When Belinda Moorland steps across the threshold of Ravencrest Manor, she feels as if she’s entered a fantasy world.  The mansion is breathtaking, and her new employer, Eric Manning, is as mysterious as he is handsome.

But after just one night, she begins to suspect there is more to Ravencrest than she was told. Haunted by nightmares and seduced by erotic dreams, Belinda realizes her new home has a dark side.

By day, the house and grounds are sublime, but the night is alive with dark shadows and phantom footsteps in empty corridors. Eyes – and hands – are upon her, and not all of them belong to the living.

Reviews for Belinda:

“If you’ve finished all of Sylvia Day’s Crossfire novels and are craving more, look no further. In Belinda: The New Governess, Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross have created a world that is rich, opulent, and smoldering with the promise of seduction. You’ll be able to feel the slide of the satin sheets, taste the fizz of champagne.” ~ Sylvia Shults, author of Double Double Love and Trouble

“The Erotic Adventures of Belinda” by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross is a fun, intricate read.  The erotica is well crafted and the ornate setting descriptions are breath-taking.  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

“Shocking and fun!  The Erotic Adventures of Belinda by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross will leaving you shivering with excitement as the innocent Belinda breaks free of a minimum-wage hell hole only to move into a sprawling Gothic estate where her body becomes the focal point of a mysterious specter.  Out of the pan and into the fire?  Only time will tell.” ~ William Malmborg, author of Jimmy and Text Message.

Us, Live, Tomorrow…


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The interview with Tamara Thorne and I at Conversations Live has officially been re-scheduled. We will be live tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. eastern at:www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationslive

 

Belinda Excerpt and Back Cover Teaser


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THE NEW GOVERNESS

When Belinda Moorland steps across the threshold of Ravencrest Manor, she feels as if she’s entered a fantasy world.  The mansion is breathtaking, and her new employer, Eric Manning, is as mysterious as he is handsome.

But after just one night, she begins to suspect there is more to Ravencrest than she was told. Haunted by nightmares and seduced by erotic dreams, Belinda realizes her new home has a dark side.

By day, the house and grounds are sublime, but the night is alive with dark shadows and phantom footsteps in empty corridors. Eyes – and hands – are upon her, and not all of them belong to the living.

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Seduced by Darkness

She followed him inside the chamber. It was lit only by guttering wall sconces and the dying flames in a fireplace across the room. Rich tapestries lined the walls and the tall heavy four-poster bed was covered with soft furs.

“Come be with me, Belinda.”

She raised her eyes and looked across the bed. He stood in shadows, but she saw the glint of his teeth as he smiled. “My darling girl.”

Heat rose in her belly and shot lower. Flushed, embarrassed, she looked down at herself, saw her body through the gossamer robe, saw her nipples turning dark and hard. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but that voice …

First Installment

“The Erotic Adventures of Belinda” by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross is a fun, intricate read.  The erotica is well crafted and the ornate setting descriptions are breath-taking.  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

Let the Adventures Begin



The Erotic Adventures of Belinda is a true gothic thriller, filled with steamy romance, ghosts, and some of the hottest erotica you’ve ever read.

First Installment

The New Governess

This morning we completed our final round of revisions and sent the first installment of The Erotic Adventures of Belinda to the publisher.  This  first installment is titled The New Governess. It has lots of ground to cover, so it’s twice as long as the future installments. We plan to release new adventures every four to six weeks.

The New Governess takes Belinda out of the life she knows and places her in a dazzling – and allegedly haunted – manor house called Ravencrest. Her beautiful new home comes with an assortment of unusual staff members, including a handsome English butler who seems surrounded by secrets, an icy power-mad head housekeeper with a chip on her shoulder and a whip in her hand, and – most attractive of all to Belinda – her mysterious new employer, Mr. Eric Manning.

After just one night in Ravencrest Manor, Belinda realizes that the staff, as strange they are, have nothing on the other residents of the house – the ones who only come out at night… the ones who enter and dictate her dreams, twisting them into dark, carnal visions of her deepest desires… and her greatest fears.

The adventures of Belinda are about to begin…

Available in June everywhere ebooks are sold.

Haunted by Sex!


We’re proud to announce that the first installment of our erotic serial novel, Belinda, will arrive in June. It’s called The New Governess. 

Expect thrills, both sexy and ghostly.

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Visit us at our websites at: alistaircross.com

and

tamarathorne.com

Websites, and New Years, and Books, Oh My!


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The art design for my website is back from ‘slicing’ – whatever that means – and now, it’s just a matter of adding the content to the pages before we can set it live. That shouldn’t take more than a week or two, I think, as I have been working on the content already for some time now. So, as per my initial goal several months ago, I will – unless something goes terribly awry – have a website by the end of this year. I’m going to need it because Tamara and I have received the finalized draft of the cover art for our upcoming collaborative novel and marketing for it needs to begin.

Once the front cover and the “back” cover are complete, we will do a reveal on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and of course, here and on our websites. Great big thanks to Mike Rivera, Michele, Zeb, Berlin, Cheryl, and Jon for the work they’ve put into the website and cover art. You all rock. And to the cover art model whose name I can not reveal – thank you.

Yesterday, Tamara and I also did some work on our upcoming serial novel, which I blogged about yesterday. While Tamara worked on Belinda’s personal history, I worked on some of the other characters she will interact with once her sordid journey begins. I’m getting very excited about this one too, as I watch it come to life. Working on it was a nice change of pace, but our focus remains on the novel, which we hadn’t originally intended to be full-length.

In the meantime, our Haunted Cabin saga continues. We quickly found we couldn’t condense it into one – or even two – blog posts, so we’re taking it one night at a time. Night three will be coming shortly, so stay tuned. Also, my friend, Michael Aronovitz’s collection of short stories, The Voices In Our Heads, is due out in February and will feature an introduction by Tamara, so be sure to check him out. I’m here to tell you… this guy’s good. You’ll love him.

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Finally, once the new year comes, I will be returning full-time to my solo project, The White Room, while the collaboration is in edits. I put White Room on a temporary hold in order to make as much progress as possible on the current book, and I’m glad I did, as many of the plot problems with it worked themselves out while I was looking the other way. It’s been whispering my name these past weeks, and by this year’s end, my scenes for the collaboration will be written, and I can justify getting back to it.

It’s been a wonderful year, 2013, and as I look back on it, I am awed by the creative results and the turns my life has taken. I do hope for a somewhat calmer 2014 in which I can divide my attention more equally, though. As fruitful a year as it has been, 2013 was a terribly busy one for writing, which has left me isolated and well, somewhat lonesome. I’m up till all hours of the night, I sleep all day, and the warm glow of the computer monitor has done nothing for my tan… so I’m slowly learning the discipline of time management, and coming to respect it as the vital ingredient to happiness that it is.

But in the end… I think will be worth it.

~Mr. Cross~