The First-Ever Excerpt from The Black Wasp


Good news for those awaiting The Black Wasp! I’ve just received word that it’s currently scheduled for a mid-June release, and while I don’t have an exact date yet ( know, I know) I will very soon. I promise to share that information here as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, (and, of course, the Thorne & Cross newsletter) as soon as I have it.

Now that I know its release is imminent, I feel safe sharing an excerpt – something I’m always a little reluctant to do (with my luck, I’ll pick something with major spoilers and ruin the whole book for everyone.) I don’t think I did that here…

The scene I’ve chosen for The Black Wasp’s first-ever excerpt is taken from chapter 20, which is titled, Hard-Blessed to Believe, and in it, Cade Colter is in desperate search of whatever anti-vampire paraphernalia he can get his hands on. The reason for this is that he needs to get (and keep) his undead night guard, Chynna (one of the good guys) out of his house in order to execute some rather pressing vampire-related plans that involve … things I can’t tell you about yet.

The point is, with Crimson Cove’s only Catholic supplies shop, The Immaculate Connection, being temporarily closed, Cade’s best bet is Father Vincent Scarlotti, the local priest who lives in the old rectory at St. Anthony’s. So, he decides to pay the Father a visit … but how do you explain to a man of God that vampires are a thing and that you need to safeguard your house against them? The answer, Cade wisely decides, is that you don’t …

The Black Wasp, book three of The Vampires of Crimson Cove series, is coming this June.

He didn’t touch his tea, just stared down at his hands, wondering how to proceed. For long moments, the only sound was the hypnotic snick-snack that came from the grandfather clock in the corner, and when he finally spoke, Cade’s words had none of the finesse he’d planned. “Um, I have a ghost in my house.” Oh, the originality.

“A ghost?”

“Mm-hmm.” With no small effort, he met the priest’s eye. 

Father Scarlotti blinked at him.

“But not just any ghost,” Cade added at a gallop. “An evil one. A demon, I think.”

Scarlotti’s brow furrowed. “We don’t really do exorcisms anymore, if that’s what you’re asking, Mr. Colter. I’m afraid I can’t-”

“I don’t mean an exorcism,” said Cade. “Just … I don’t know. Maybe you have some … stuff I could place around the house. You know … holy stuff.”

A pause while the clock’s pendulum patiently swung. “Holy stuff?” 

“Yeah, like crosses or something,” said Cade. “A Bible, maybe. Saint medallions. Things like that.”

“I’m not sure-”

“Or holy water! Maybe you could bless my tap water and I could fill up some buckets and put them around the house or something.”

Snick-snack went the grandfather clock as Father Scarlotti regarded Cade with the kind of caution reserved for untamed animals, escaped convicts, and unstable mental patients.

“Look,” said Cade, “I know it sounds crazy, but … well, how is it any crazier than that?” He nodded at a painting of the haloed saint above the fireplace. “Or that?” At the open Bible on the cherrywood coffee table. 

“I see your point, Cade, believe me, I do. I’m more open-minded than you’re giving me credit for … but … a ghost?”

“Yes. Or a demon, maybe. I don’t know. Something evil, for sure, though.”

“Evil? What makes you think it’s evil?” 

Cade shifted uncomfortably. “Um, because I can feel it, you know?”

“I see.” The priest’s eyes narrowed. “And this … entity … have you … seen it?”

Cade shook his head. “No. But it’s doing stuff, you know?”

“Doing stuff?”

Cade thought fast – too fast. “Um, well, it’s moving my kitchen chairs around and making sounds from my television. Really scary sounds, like voices and stuff.” Hearing himself, he wished he’d thought this through a little more. If Scarlotti had ever seen Poltergeist, he’d know Cade was plagiarizing in the worst way. “And banging on the walls.” This, from The Haunting of Hill House, just to shake things up a little. “And my cat. It’s scaring my cat. He almost attacked me yesterday.” The Legend of Hell House. Cade stopped short of claiming to have mystery bite-marks around his nipples; no need to get too carried away.

Scarlotti’s skepticism was obvious. “Well … I suppose I could give the place a blessing.”

“A blessing? And that will keep the … damned away?”

“The damned?” The priest cocked his head. “That’s an interesting word choice.”

“I just meant the demon or whatever it is. You know, the evil. Will a house blessing keep it away?”

 Scarlotti eyed him with a strange new interest. “Ideally, yes, it will ward off evil and-”

“Great. When can you do it?”

“I could come by tomorrow and-”

“But I need it today,” said Cade. “Well, tonight.” Not until sunset, until after I can get Chynna out of the house! “Yeah, definitely tonight.”

Another beat of that puzzled silence.

“After sunset,” Cade quickly added, “That’s when the ghost is most active.”

“I see.” Scarlotti’s tone was cautious. “Then I guess you can expect me tonight after sunset.”

“Great. Thanks.” Cade gave the man his address and hurried home, wondering how the hell he was going to get Chynna out of the house once the sun went down. 

Think, think, think … 

An idea came to him … but no. He couldn’t do that. 

It would definitely get her out of the house, though … 

But could I live with it? By the time he got back home, Cade had come up with nothing better and supposed that he’d have to live with it, though he couldn’t believe what he was about to do. He hoped he’d be forgiven for it one day.

Finishing Books and Listening to Your Characters


Coming this summer

On March 5th, I finished The Black Wasp, book 3 in the Vampires of Crimson Cove series, and I’m astounded by the direction these books have taken. This is in so small part due to the Black Wasp herself – a character who showed up in the middle of the previous book, The Silver Dagger.

I can still remember the moment she made her first appearance. I was in the midst of writing a scene that had nothing to do with strange, ancient women in old-fashioned mourning clothes, but there she was, all white-faced and creepy-eyed, waiting to be written. I put her off at first because I knew she’d do exactly what she did – which was forever alter the DNA of this series – but eventually, I could ignore her no longer. And I’m glad I didn’t.

Unlike the other supernatural creatures in Crimson Cove, she’s not a vampire – not in the usual sense, anyway – but something much darker, much deadlier. While she does feed on humans, it isn’t blood their that satiates her, but their fear and pain. In that respect, I suppose she’s a kind of “psychic vampire,” though I never refer to her as that in the book. She’s a different species altogether, her own kind of monster – a monster that’s opened new doors of possibility for the story arc and added deeper layers of intrigue (and terror) to my fictional world. Figuring her out has been one of the creative highlights of my writing life, and I still have a lot to learn about her.

I love it when characters feel this alive because early in my writing career, I was advised – by someone who didn’t know what the hell they were talking about – to never let the the characters guide the plot. Not knowing any better (and to my own detriment) I followed that advice, and my writing – when it came at all – suffered badly for it.

I nearly gave the up entirely more than once, but eventually, I heard someone say that writers should listen to their characters, and decided to give that a try … and that’s when my fictional world flourished and my plots gained real ambition.

It undoubtedly sounds crazy to non-writers (and probably to some writers as well, depending on their own processes) to say that the characters know what’s best, that it’s the author’s job is to transcribe more than actually invent the story, but – in my case, at least – it’s the absolute truth. Had I ignored the promptings of the Black Wasp character, the Crimson Cove series wouldn’t be taking the turns it is – and I love where it’s going.

The same thing happened in the first book, The Crimson Corset, with Gretchen VanTreese. It’s pretty hard to believe now that my central antagonist was originally intended to die in her first and only scene, but she was. Somehow, though, by that mysterious process of creation, things changed along the way, taking on an entirely new and unexpected shape. Without Gretchen, this series would be something entirely different. Assuming it existed at all, it certainly wouldn’t be the story I currently know and love.

And this is why I use every opportunity to tell new writers to a) trust their characters, and b) be very selective about what advice they follow. Every writer has their own process which needs to be discovered organically, and the only way to do that is to write. And write and write and write.

So keep writing …

And always, always listen to your characters.

P.S. The Black Wasp is currently with the editors and should be out sometime in early-to-mid summer.

THE CRIMSON CORSET is AVAILABLE NOW!


Just click the pic for your copy!

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Welcome to Crimson Cove

Sheltered by ancient redwoods overlooking the California coast, the cozy village of Crimson Cove has it all: sophisticated retreats, fine dining, 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, 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, and perhaps even abandon his own humanity, in order to protect what he loves.

Praise for The Crimson Corset:

“Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, “The Crimson Corset” – a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.”
– Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD: INVASION and LUCID

“This drop-deadly tale of seduction and terror will leave you begging to be fanged … ”
– Tamara Thorne, international bestselling author of HAUNTED and MOONFALL

“I couldn’t put this book down. It’s got more hooks than a day boat out of San Pedro Harbor!”
– QL Pearce, bestselling author of SCARY STORIES FOR SLEEP-OVERS