Every writer has their problem area, some part of the plot that just gives them fits. It’s usually what’s infamously known as the “sagging middle,” but for me, it’s the beginning. Always. Not the entire first act, just the opening scenes – especially that first one.
I’ve accepted that when I’m beginning a new book, a few false starts is just part of my process. It takes me a minute to find my balance – to get the plot moving while revealing enough about the characters to get emotional buy-in from the reader. And this starts with treating your characters like real people. As a writer, I think it’s important to remember that your characters have lived their entire lives up to the point at which you begin their story. In other words, you can’t introduce them in a way that feels like they just now came into existence; the reader should feel like they’re hopping on a train that’s been going full-speed long before they opened the book. And this applies to stand-alones as well as when you’re writing a series, as I am now.
A few weeks ago, The Black Wasp went to the editors and I didn’t want to wait to get started on the next one. It picks up immediately where the last one leaves off, so I wanted to keep things moving while I was still in the zone. Simple enough, you’d think, but even so, I’m two false starts into it already and am just now finding my footing. For me, starting the next book always feels like some aggravating dream where I’m trying to find my room in a hotel with no room numbers on the doors. I head down the long, nondescript hallway and start trying my key until I find the lock it fits.
I’m finally at the right door now. I know because the characters are fully alive and the story is moving (not to mention that warm buzz of bone-deep deliciousness I believe every writer feels when they know they’ve just struck gold.)
So “TMR,” book 4 of The Vampires of Crimson Cove series, is officially in full-swing now. Because The Black Wasp hasn’t even been released yet, I obviously can’t say much about TMR … except that I’m very excited about it. I’ve been trying to move this series into a certain direction for a while now – one that will open things up and allow new possibilities that will keep things fresh and exciting – and it’s with this book that I’m finally setting my feet onto that fertile ground. This is the place I’ve been trying to get to and I can’t wait to find out where it goes from here.
That said, book 3, The Black Wasp, is in the final stages of revision, which means an official release date is imminent. I shall keep you apprised …
Poetry has always been an emotional and creative outlet for me. It allows me to express all kinds of things about my life and the world I live in without actually giving away anything too terribly personal. As a rule, I don’t like explaining the meaning of my poems because I want the reader to be able to interpret in his or her own way. What I’ll say about this poem, though, is that it’s truly one of my favorites. Connemara Eyes was written about someone who meant – and still means – a lot to me. Most of it was written in a tiny little room in someone else’s house, and originally, it was very, very long (I probably cut about a dozen stanzas that either ended up in other poems or on the “cutting room floor.”)
Anyway, it really was October and every time I got stumped, I just looked out the window at the frost and the turning leaves for inspiration. The air has an entirely different quality in October, and it seemed to me that subject of this poem really was the embodiment of that season.
Here is an oral reading from Mike Davidson – an excellent poet you can learn more about below. Thank you, Mike, the for the great reading. You can find more of my poetry in the collection, The Book of Strange Persuasions.
About Mike Davidson
Mike Davidson is a writer and poet from Kansas City, MO. Starting in his youth he utilized language to overcome a speech impediment; wielding polysyllabic vocabulary to paint the concepts of love, loss, and awakening onto his canvass. His words are described as powerful, inspiring, and familiar to heart; able to move the soul through pen and paper. He believes that cradling both agony and passion allows others to view the extremes of life in an entirely new way; as a collective, not it’s individual parts. Mike has been featured in publications from Impspired, 300 South Media Group, and Open Skies. His debut self-publication The Arsonist’s Manifesto released in 2020.
Of all the books Tamara and I have written together, none have taken longer, been more complicated, or evolved over time as much as Spite House, the one we’re writing now.
We had a plot — we weren’t writing blind — but it kept shooting off in all sorts of directions and as much as we enjoyed this, we realized something was wrong. With the book nearly completed, we reread it yet again and made some final tweaks and thought we were golden until a couple of seemingly minor questions raised their warty little heads again. Like always.
Well, we scratched and talked and tried to figure out what was wrong. Everything was falling into place… But it wasn’t. Why not? We’ve never run into a problem like that before.
Then it came to us out of the blue: We realized one of the characters wasn’t able to perform as wanted. We given that person every opportunity to have a grand old time and run away with the story, but they wouldn’t do it… They couldn’t do it.
It was the wrong character! Once we realized that, we gave the role to someone else; a character psychologically capable of doing the things required to make the plot work. We’re now in what we feel is the final version of the book thanks to the new character.
We look forward to sharing more when Spite House is published later this year.
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.
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.
Sometimes, as much as you love your book cover, you have to admit that it just isn’t right – that even though it’s good, it could be better. That’s the conclusion I recently drew with my novel, Sleep Savannah Sleep. Don’t get me wrong: I love the original cover art for this book. From the spindly tree branches and fog to the owl perched on the gravestone and the rich, mouthwatering purple sky, it has all the makings of a respectable book cover of its genre … but it just isn’t focused enough. It doesn’t say what it needs to.
Sleep Savannah Sleep is a paranormal murder mystery that goes heavy on the horror. It’s chock-full of deadly small-town secrets, nasty slander, jealous husbands, crooked cops, murder and ghosts – or a ghost, anyway. There are some pretty serious scares here, something that I believe the cover art should more clearly express. The owl is cute and all but the fact is, it doesn’t scare me – and I want to be scared.
That’s why I decided it was time to revisit the artwork for this book. My cover artist, Mike – who is an absolute genius – allows me to watch as he does the design work, allowing me to make suggestions and give feedback as he goes along. The temptation here, of course, is to get a little too involved in the process and forget who the professional designer is (SPOILER ALERT: it isn’t me.) This is what happened with the first Savannah cover, and it almost happened with the new one, too.
But luckily, I don’t travel alone. I always, always take my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, as well as my publicist, Berlin, with me to my design meetings and the reason is simple: The more eyes, the better the result. But not only do these lovely ladies see things I don’t, they also keep me from getting too fixated on an idea. Such was the case during the making of the new Savannah cover today. I wanted a cemetery. And a ghost. And fog. And trees. And a moon. Needless to say, it was overcrowded. It wasn’t working and we all knew it – and that’s when Tamara suggested a new idea. She explained her basic vision and I was sold. Thirty minutes later I had a new cover for Sleep Savannah Sleep – and I love it.
I really think this one captures the mood and atmosphere of this story. Savannah is a macabre jaunt into the unknown, a walk in the darkness all by yourself … and now the artwork makes me feel it. Now I really believe it …
Thanks go to Mike for making it, Berlin for prying me off my ideals, and Tamara for her idea.
One night, days after finishing my novel Dream Reaper, I was in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering what to write next. I considered going back to the Crimson Cove series but I felt like there was a different story in me trying to get out. The trouble was, I didn’t know anything about it yet – I literally had no other ideas – so I started asking questions.
I’ve always believed it’s the writer’s obligation to push their main character as hard as they can – that just when the protagonist might crack under the pressures of their dilemma, it’s time to give them one more problem – so the question I asked myself that night as I sought my next idea was this: What’s the worst thing I could possibly do to my main character in this book?
It took some thinking, but a short time later, I finally had it: the absolute worst crisis possible (which I can’t say anything about without spoiling the book.) Suffice it to say that even now, I can’t imagine anything more awful than what Jason, my main character, goes through in this book. Anyway, once I had that, I worked backwards from there, something I’ve never done before.
I started outlining this book that night and I was so excited about it that I never went to bed – but by the time the sun came up, Savannah was plotted out in its entirety, from the opening scene to the last. While this isn’t how I usually do things, I will say that it makes for much quicker novel writing: Sleep Savannah Sleep was written in twenty-five days. The first draft, that is. Edits and revisions still took a few months – but I’ve never written a first draft that fast. It was both exhilarating and exhausting, and though I don’t plan to do again any time soon, I loved it.
Sleep Savannah Sleep was a slightly different animal for me. I knew almost right away that this was a murder mystery so my process was a little different this time around. Usually, I know about where I want to end up and I just start writing toward that, allowing the plot to go where it sees fit (within reason, of course). In a murder mystery though, you need to have a concrete end at the beginning. You need to know your ending well and work strictly toward it, all the while leaving subtle clues that become apparent to the reader only after they’ve finished the book. This requires lots of heavy plotting and lots of precision, and for those reasons, I’m especially proud of Savannah.
As any writer will attest, each book is special in its own way, and to me, the thing that really sets this one apart from my others is not only its style but what it did for me, personally: It proved to me that I could expand. And for a writer who’s always looking for the next fresh angle, that’s important.
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.
Not too long ago, I took a late-night, spur-of-the-moment, why-the-hell-not trip to my old hometown and wow … does this bring back memories. And one of the best memories that came back to me was right here.
It was here, on this bridge ~ which is, ironically, right in front of the local morgue ~ where I first heard of Stephen King … and where I first dreamed of being a writer. This was in 1986 and I was 9 years old.
Earlier that day, through some mutual friends, I met a kid who would go on to be a very good friend for many years. He was the son of the local mortician … and he was the first REAL horror lover besides myself that I’d ever met. Even though he was a couple years older than me, we quickly bonded over scary movies and books. He told me all about Cujo, It, and Christine… and I was riveted. Up till then my experience with the horror genre was limited to the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies.
We decided that very day to write our own book and created a small but fascinating cast of characters: a vampire named Countis Himeburger and his fortune telling wife, Eliza. Over the years we built on their strange and sordid story, but the book, of course, never got written. At that age, we just didn’t have the skills – or the stamina – to see it through.
But I never forgot those characters and, having always been especially fond of Eliza, I promised myself that one day, in one of my books, I would find a place for her …
And in 2019, I finally did. In The Silver Dagger, book two of my Vampires of Crimson Cove series, Eliza is the shopkeeper of Ancient Ways, a kitschy little occult store in the downtown district of Crimson Cove where Cade Colter comes across the very dagger for which the book is named ~ Eliza herself is the one who sells him the fated blade …
So … if you’re reading The Silver Dagger, when you come across Eliza, now you know that this is the bridge that she – and my dream of being a writer – was born on, 34 years ago …
Today is the day I began a new book. With The Black Wasp (book 3 of the Vampires of Crimson Cove series) in the editor’s hands, and not a lot going on besides some book marketing and the disposal of an old sofa, I figured I might as well do some writing. Since I’m dying to find out what happens next, I’ve decided to dive right into book 4 of the Crimson Cove series which, for now, I am referring to only as TMR.
TMR picks up where The Black Wasp leaves off, and given that it hasn’t even been released yet, I can’t say a whole lot more about it except that things have really changed for my protagonist, Cade Colter. The Black Wasp not only introduced new characters, but new motives as well – and those motives are what will drive TMR and leave poor Cade with some pretty big fish to fry. And by “pretty big” I actually mean huge.
To simplify it, he’s in way over his head, and when The Black Wasp comes out (this summer!) you’ll see why. Even as I was writing today, I realized just how much Cade is underestimating his situation and how little he actually understands. I’m currently feeling very bad for him, but I can’t help it – I’m a sucker for the drama. There’s nothing more fun than a character who’s bitten off way more than they can chew (insert evil laugh here.)
With so many endings on the horizon, I’m feeling especially excited about the new project (not only was The Black Wasp recently finished, but Tamara and I are creeping up on the climax of our next Thorne & Cross standalone, Spite House, as well as wrapping up the final scenes in Shadowlands, book 4 of The Ravencrest Saga), and no doubt adding to my excitement is the fact that this, the beginning, is my favorite part of the book. It might sound strange to say I prefer the beginnings and (and even the middles) to the endings, but I do – and not just in the books I’m writing, the ones I’m reading, too. Endings just kind of depress me, I guess, but the good news is, you can always start the next one – so, that’s what I did.
I wish I could tell you more about it, but for now, I need to keep its secrets close. When The Black Wasp comes out in the next month or two, maybe I’ll be able to say more …
Until then, happy reading, writing, or whatever it is that makes you shine, and just because, apropos of nothing, here’s me with my familiar, Pawpurrazzi, who oversees all my writing.
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!
As THE CRIMSON CORSET nears availability as a paperback, I’d like to share the foreword, written by my friend, my collaborator, my favorite author, Tamara Thorne, whose books I’ve adored since my teen years when I never could have imagined I would ever meet her, let alone one day write books with her.
I can think of no better way to be introduced into the world of writing than by horror-lit royalty like Tamara Thorne. She has published so many books that I love, and have loved, for so many years, and to hear her praise my work is, in itself, a dream come true.
THE CRIMSON CORSET
by Tamara Thorne
“Alistair Cross is a hell of a good writer, and I’m not just saying that because he’s the collaborator of my dreams. It’s because I’ve read the novel you now hold in your hands half a dozen times – from first draft through final edit – and with each read, it just kept getting better, addicting me more and more to its gripping – and at times, eye-popping – plot.
The characters are lucid and sublimely alive as they take Alistair’s story and run with it, delivering strong doses of excitement, terror, humor, and sexuality. His dialogue shines; I can hear his characters so clearly it’s as if I’m eavesdropping … and it’s a juicy conversation.
The Colter Brothers, Cade and Brooks, are hunky, hilarious, and a pleasure to get to know. They could be your next door neighbors (if you’re lucky!) but as they face their demons, they teach us so much about growth, about confronting adversity, and about the nature of the human spirit that it would be impossible to write them off as mere entertainers. Watching these brothers develop, watching how they argue, joke, and then work together is not only delightful, it’s inspiring. Theirs is a bromance worthy of Sam and Dean Winchester’s and this adds a fascinating layer to an already riveting piece of fiction.
And then there’s the sheriff, Ethan Hunter. While so many of his kind are stereotypical, Ethan has strengths, weaknesses, amusing quirks – and some very interesting hobbies – that deliver him from the trenches of mediocrity and place him under a spotlight of his own. Ethan is more than a means of moving the plot forward and relaying information – he’s a man with a story. And it’s the kind of story that will keep you up at night.
At Eudemonia, a pricey and beautiful health spa, lives the messianic Michael, leader of the peaceful faction of vampires. Michael is in equal parts magnetic and mysterious – a thoroughly fascinating figure even without Reaper, the movie-quoting raven on his shoulder. Through Michael’s eyes, we see a world that is never sullied, never without hope – a world in which we’d all love to spend some time. Perhaps less blinded by idealism is Winter, his second-in-command, and slightly medieval buddy. This guy is the kind of fearless grinning sidekick any leader would be glad to have, and together, Michael and Winter are a compelling force capable of making any villain flinch.
Which brings us to the bad guys – the vampires of the Crimson Corset, a notorious nightclub at the other end of town. Its inhabitants are complete well-rounded characters with intrigues of their own. There’s my personal favorite, the psychotic and beautiful little leader, Gretchen VanTreese, who’s never met a man she didn’t want to dominate. We are also treated to her lieutenant, Jazminka of the thigh-high boots, questionable sexuality, and thick Slavic accent she hasn’t lost in 200 years. Then there’s Aidan and Ambrose, the beautiful twin boys that Gretchen keeps as pets – but these guys have nothing on her favorite plaything of all, her bodyguard Scythe, whose anatomy is so impressive she calls it Vlad the Impaler.
As an added treat, there are several cameos by vampires from my own novel, Candle Bay. When Alistair asked if they could stop by The Crimson Corset, I was surprised and pleased. And he wrote them like a boss. He understood my guys completely and put exactly the right words in their mouths. I was so impressed I asked him to collaborate on my sequel to Candle Bay. He agreed, and we intend to release it sometime in 2016, so you’ll get another dose of the Crimson Cove vamps as they join the fanged ones of Candle Bay on a very special road trip.
As for Mr. Cross, the writer: He always delivers. Failure is not an option. Writing with him – or watching him write a solo in our virtual office – is a study in inspiration. He meets every deadline and makes sure we reach our individual and collaborative goals. He takes his job seriously, makes no excuses, and has the grit and determination to make things happen. And his prose is absolutely beautiful. What a combination!
This is a man who is going places, I guarantee it. He’ll write many more solos and I’ll read and love them all. I also look forward to our future collaborations. I don’t take Alistair for granted, and I never will. Neither should you. It’s my pleasure to introduce this outstanding new author and his remarkable debut novel – so unsheathe your claws, sharpen your fangs and step on in to The Crimson Corset. I’m confident that you’ll enjoy your stay – and look forward to his future works – every bit as much as I do.”
– Tamara Thorne, July 15, 2015
(Danse Macabre, the 7th installment in The Ghosts of Ravencrest series, will be available next week)
House of Fear
Even as governess Belinda Moorland and her handsome employer, Eric Manning, grow closer, she is haunted by her own past – and Ravencrest’s. From the screams in the shadowed blackness of the indoor pool, to the horrifying face of a scarecrow in the garden, and the nightly, urgent messages from the dead, the darkness is all around her …
Ravencrest Has Plans of Its Own
But the real horror awaits inside the manor when a delightful day turns deadly with an unwelcome appearance by Belinda’s overbearing mother. Rhonda Moorland is convinced that Eric is holding her daughter at Ravencrest against her will and she intends to do something about it.
Witchcraft Gone Wrong
But nothing at Ravencrest is as it appears and when Cordelia Heller casts a spell meant to frighten Belinda, she gets more than she bargained for. Cordelia knows witchcraft – and she knows that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
The Crimson Corset is a vampire novel, but to me, it is more than that. It is a representation of human descent, the power of influence, the corruption of greed, the savagery of addiction, the lust for domination … it is a representation of the human will, and a testament to the strength of family ties.
It is, after all this time, the story I wanted to tell – the story I meant to tell the first time.
Edits will begin this Monday, and as I start cutting the fat, sharpening the plot, and strengthening the characters, I can’t help but think back to this novel’s humble beginnings.
Although The Crimson Corset is a “new” book, it isn’t actually new at all. My history with this story is a long one, going clear back to 2005, when the idea of writing seriously was just a budding concept. I’d always written, and I had the boxes and bags full of poems, vignettes, and uncompleted novels to prove it, but by 2005, these side-projects left me cold. I was no longer satisfied with hobby-writing. I wanted to do something more – something that I felt had some substance. This was when the concept for The Crimson Corset was born. I began writing it immediately … and I quickly learned that novel-writing is not as effortless as it appears to be.
Although I completed this novel (which was then titled The White Room) in 2010, I had a very long road ahead. Long enough that, had I known it then, I might not have dared to take. But, rather blindly, I kept walking that road, and during the next ten years I found my voice, refined my style, honed my craft, and was lucky enough to collaborate on some incredible projects with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne. I love collaborating with her and I intend to do it until the very end, but collaborating was never my goal. I would never be satisfied if I didn’t also have a body of solo work.
I began thinking about The Crimson Corset again in January of this year because Tamara and I had finished our collaborative novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, and we had several months of less creative, editorial work ahead of us. I had the completed version of The White Room and I thought I could certainly make a strong novel out of the existing material. However, the more you write, the better you become, and as I looked at the manuscript I realized there wasn’t much that could be salvaged. So I started it from scratch – one more time – vowing that I would make it the best story it could possibly be. I changed the narrative from first to third person, re-developed the characters, created a new setting, and weeded out all but two or three minor scenes from the original version. This is not the same book I wrote six years ago.
Many of the characters that populate this novel have been with me for a very long time now. Gretchen, Cade, Brooks, Winter, and Michael all go back as far as ten years in my imagination. Also, having improved my skills, I was able to cohesively give stage time to some of the others who got lost in the previous versions. Scythe, Aidan, Ambrose, Chynna and her two white tigers, Absinthe and Hyacinthe, were all conceived and developed between 2005 and 2008, but were never able to make it to the page before now. And there are new players, as well. There are the “mermaids” Violet and Scarlett, the cryptic and terrifying Emeric, Winter’s little buddy Arnie, the Crimson Cove sheriff, Ethan Hunter, and the local “missing girl,” Samantha Corbett, to name a few.
Old or new, each of these characters has his or her own story, his or her own soul, and learning about them was truly joyous for me. They all signify a part of myself – good, wicked, and otherwise. Some express for me that which cannot, for various (and in some cases, legal!) reasons, be expressed in the material world, while others are just innocent flirtations with my dark side. But all of them are real; all of them are part of my truth.
Regarding publication, The Crimson Corset will be available this summer. I wish I knew an exact date, but it’s too early to say. As soon as I have one, I will post it. Next Friday, I have a meeting with the cover art designer who will finalize the cover’s details, and after that, I’ll be allowed to post the art. I have seen it, and it is beautiful. In closing, I have to give great thanks to two very wonderful people who have helped me with this book: My collaborator, Tamara Thorne, who guided me, read for me, and continues to help me be a better writer. As a side note, for those who are fans of Tamara Thorne’s vampire novel, Candle Bay, you’ll be tickled to see a few familiar faces in The Crimson Corset, as well. Finally, thank you to Berlin Malcom, who gets us all the good interviews, and works as hard as we do to make this happen.
‘Tis the season for gratitude, and although I have never enjoyed any of the traditional Thanksgivings customs, I do like to take a little time out around this time of year to reflect on the things I’m grateful for, and there are a lot of them. A lot. I am thankful to my family for their ongoing support, my friends for their love and loyalty, my kitty, Pawpurrazzi, for amusing me, my dog, Sven, for refusing to die after all these years, and my friend, my mate, my manager, Berlin, who has earned every title given here and without whom I would not be where I am… in many, many ways. Also, I am grateful to the models who allow me to photograph them in strange ways for our book covers and e-posters. Like these guys…
Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention my collaborator, Tamara Thorne. I began reading Tamara’s horror novels in the ’90s and was a huge fan. Then, through a series of events (which basically means I stalked her), we met and became fast friends. In 2012, she asked me to collaborate with her on a novel and I said yes. And my whole life changed. That collaboration worked so well, we haven’t stopped. In 2014 so far, we’ve written two full-length novels and a considerable amount on a serial novel called The Ghosts of Ravencrest.
Because Tamara has been so good to me these past years, I have a lot of gratitude for her; too much to just say, “Thanks for everything…” and I’m not sure I have ever really properly thanked her. So here is a list of reasons I’m thankful for her. These are the reasons I adore this woman.
1. She trusts my writing. For someone who precedes me by almost 20 years in the publishing business, she might easily insist on doing things her own way, but she doesn’t.
2. She shares the same vision as me. We’re almost always going the same direction and I love that.
- She loves my kitty almost as much as I do!
- She’s loyal. After all this time, she hasn’t once tossed me aside, thrown me over for someone more interesting, or made me feel irrelevant. Even in the presence of some truly amazing people, she’s never treated me like a second-class citizen.
- There is no drama. Ever. Period.
- She loves my characters. She invests in my fictional creations and flatters me endlessly by delighting in them as much as I do.
- She respects my time and space. She doesn’t interfere or impose.
- She wants me to succeed. That is more rare than many of you might realize.
- She is a hobbit. I think she’s only like 4 foot 9 or something, and that is funny. (Okay, she’s 5’2” but, whatever. I like to tell her she’s 4’9”.)
- She doesn’t have to be the teacher. She respects me as a writer in my own right and gives me credit for having practical sensibilities. She trusts my senses of ethics, business, and creative direction. And she’s secure enough in her own intellect to be teachable.
- She knows the most amazing people… and she introduces me to them. Seriously. I have met some truly incredible folks. Writers, agents, editors, entertainers, film directors… she knows some really awesome people.
- She’s a great writer. She writes by instinct, not formula. She’s a natural-born and that keeps her writing fresh, unpredictable, and engaging.
- She’s an excellent researcher. Before she starts a story, she digs in, gets her hands dirty, and makes sure she knows what she’s writing about. I admire this in a writer.
- She’s hilarious. Her sense of humor – and lack of gloom and self-pity – is constant and uplifting. On and off the page, she knows how to make me laugh.
- There is no competition between us. There are no games, no popularity contests, no bullshit; just a consistent genuine resolve that we succeed, both as individuals and as a unit.
- She’s a great radio show co-host. I wouldn’t do Haunted Nights LIVE! without her.
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 over a thirty-year period in the 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 in 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.
“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 and Double Double Love and Trouble
September 24th, 2014
“Time, time, time… see what’s become of me…”
– Hazy Shade of Winter by Paul Simon
Time is moving too fast and I don’t like it anymore.
It isn’t about vanity or youth. I’m not afraid of getting old, losing my looks, or not knowing the names of celebrities on covers of magazines that I don’t read. To be honest, I never enjoyed being young, anyway. It’s over-rated, and even at the time, I knew it. I couldn’t wait to get older and so far, I’ve enjoyed it. The lines around my eyes – the inability to tolerate anyone under 30 years old – the utter confusion I experience while trying to operate one of those hip cellular phone contraptions – I’ve considered these things very fair trades for the freedom, self-confidence, and personal empowerment of age. Maybe I’ll feel differently in another twenty years – I don’t know – but I like where I am now: young enough to have a future and old enough to have a past.
But the passage of time itself… it’s eerie, isn’t it? The way it creeps and crawls, slithering as it steals hours, days, weeks… years; it’s a thief of the deadliest, quietest kind. It makes you look back and take inventory, to be sure. And today seems to be a good day for looking back a little.
I can say with full conviction that I have no regrets, and in that, I know, I am lucky. I’m not sorry about my choices, but I do sometimes wonder what the hell I was thinking. It’s never the actions I took that bother me; it’s the actions I didn’t take – the time that I wasted. I feel lucky that I’m 37 years old rather than 57 or 67, and that is a great comfort to me on the days I get down on myself for all the time I spent being afraid and doing what I was told.
But still, just a minute ago, it was 1994. That means the next 20 years will likely come – and go – just as fast. And yeah… that kind of bothers me. I only hope I know myself a little more this time around, and that instead of going whichever way the general flow takes me, I have the smarts and spine to continue carving out my own path. After nearly 10 years of concentrated effort and near-ruthless intent, I’m finally on to a few good things in life; things I have to protect, defend, preserve, and foster. I know circumstances change and that anything can happen. I can’t control everything in the universe, but I can – and will – make sure that anyone who puts an unwelcomed, obstructing hand into my affairs pulls back a bloody stump.
Maybe this makes me an asshole. I don’t think so, but maybe. Really, I just don’t feel I have time to waste. That’s the one thing I do miss about being young: the sense that time is unlimited. But time even takes that from us, though in this case, I think it’s a good thing. It’s forced me to move. It’s made me aware. I know now that I don’t have all the time in the world, and I consider that a profound – though sometimes painful – grace.
I know I don’t have time for a lot of things. I don’t have time to wait for inspiration. I don’t have time to complain about what I should have done. I don’t have time for television. I don’t have time to argue about things I can’t control with people who don’t agree. I don’t have time to pursue unfulfilling relationships, and I don’t have time to wait until there’s enough time to do whatever it is that needs to be done. I have to make time… and that is my best – if not only – defense against that sneaky little thief called Time.
It came to me a year ago, and looking back on it now, I suppose it showed up at the appropriate time. It was just a few weeks before Halloween – and a few weeks after Tamara Thorne and I began digging into the witchcraft elements of our novel Grandma’s Rack – that the creature of darkness – like a punishment from the terrible gods we were researching – made itself known to me.
At first, the beast merely called to me from some bushes outside. I’d hear it from my window, crying, bemoaning the increasing cold – no doubt attempting to guilt me into the shamefaced and spineless quivering mass of man-pudding that I am now. Valiantly – and mistakenly – I thought if I ignored it, perhaps the thing would tire of me and go away. But this was not to be.
For soon, it then began following me. The creature moved silently and – appearing as if from nowhere – it was quick on my heels, stalking me each day as I power-walked from the car to the front door, my eyes fixed forward – for I knew that once eye contact was established, I would surely be unable to resist the powers of its dark and inescapable charms. And for several days, this method worked. I was winning! But then one night, I let down my guard.
As I said, it was October – that month which bounces back and forth like an indecisive lover between nights that are too warm and nights that are too cold. On this night, October had chosen the warmth for its companion, and I – with a foolish and displaced sense of security – cracked a screen-less window to let some cool air in. The cool air, however, was not the only thing that crept inside that fateful night.
Within moments, the creature was in my window, pinning me in place with its wide, golden gaze. Our eyes locked. For several seconds, we were statue-still, then, very slowly, and with great trepidation, I approached.
With no warning, the creature lunged from the window sill, and then suddenly, somehow, it was in my arms, meowing at me as if to say, “You stupid, stupid man! Don’t you know you are my human?” and rubbing its silky black head into the crook of my neck. When she raised a paw to touch my cheek, the night-cooled padding of her little cat-hands warmed my heart forever, and I knew then that I had fallen prey to an all-too-common problem.
Whereas many men in my position might choose to simply say they “got a new cat,” and quickly change subjects in hopes of avoiding the disapproving glances and/or emasculating commentary of their fellows, I’ve decided to break the long-suffering silence and call this situation by its more honest – and less cutesy – name: I am the victim of Unexpected Feline Fatherhood.
What is Unexpected Feline Fatherhood, you ask? Unexpected Feline Fatherhood, or UFF, is defined as the infliction of affection and/or forcible joint inhabitation of any feline personage upon any adult male member of human origin. UFF is real, and there is no shame in it. In fact, statistics show that every 2.7 seconds in America alone, a man in falls victim to UFF. And if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.
Anyway, I was suddenly an Unexpected Feline Father – whether I liked it or not. I accepted the fate that had befallen me with relative ease, naming my new pet Pawpurrazzi for her incessant, stalker-like ways, and though she rarely comes when called, I assume she doesn’t mind the name.
She was no more than four months old when she violated me and my personal space, and though I was originally reluctant, it is the nature of UFF that I slowly began feeling affection for my feline captor. In fact, we have since bonded over much; a spaying, two very stressful episodes in which she ran away, the swallowing – and passing – of some near-fatal Christmas tree decoration, a few worming debacles, several trips to the vet for shots, and the writing and editing of one and a half novels, as well as the ongoing writing, editing, and publication of several installments of a serialized novel. Perched on my shoulder for several hours each day, she is as much my writing companion as Tamara Thorne is, and to any oblivious onlooker, we would appear at ease with each other, companionable, even. But make no mistake: I am a victim. A victim of Unexpected Feline Fatherhood.
In the year since being victimized, I’ve learned a few things about the nature of Unexpected Feline Fatherhood which I will now list in hopes that it might be of some assistance to unsuspecting future UFF victims everywhere.
Don’t Let Unexpected Feline Fatherhood Sneak Up On You….
By Alistair Cross
- Stay Alert. Whenever you’re walking to the car, getting the mail, or moving the garbage cans, keep your wits about you and observe your surroundings. Take a moment to glance around you. Do you see any evidence of feline intrusion such as flickering tails from concealed areas or little kitty prints on your windshield? Is there any meowing coming from a nearby bush? Your first defense against Unexpected Feline Fatherhood is awareness of it.
- Determine Whether or Not You Are Actually Being Stalked. If you do see a kitty, try crossing to the other side of the street or sidewalk. Does the kitty cross, too? Speed up or slow down. Does the kitty do the same? Never assume that just because a kitty seems unaware of you that he or she isn’t following you. Always trust your feelings.
- Use Positive Self-Talk. If you suspect you are being selected as an Unexpected Feline Father, the last thing you need to do is lose your cool. Tell yourself: It’s okay. I do not need a cat. I do not need a cat. Or: He must belong to someone. It is not my problem. Or: I’m sure he can take care of himself – cats are very resourceful. Things like this often help.
- Never Look a Potential Feline Captor in the Eye. Direct eye contact communicates interest and acknowledgment yes, but more importantly, it makes you, the human, vulnerable to the cuteness of the feline face, a condition that will cloud your judgment.
- Finally, If You Do Fall Prey to UFF, Wear Your Title With Pride. Worst case scenario, you can’t resist the kitty and you end up taking the poor thing in. So what! Not just anyone is Unexpected Feline Father material, and you should be proud. If your friends are giving you a hard time, it’s only because they’re jealous. Be a proud Feline Father, Unexpected or Otherwise! After all, it’s not as if you have any say in the matter anyway, now is it…
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.
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.”
* * *
“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.”
* * *
“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.”
* * *
(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.”
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.
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…
This weeks sexy reminder that Belinda will be here this summer…
The Erotic Adventures of
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…
Tamara Thorne and I just finished a wonderful live interview with Pam Stack at Authors on the Air. We discussed writing, our processes, and our upcoming projects.
If you missed it, here’s a link to the podcast.
In just a few more hours now – 5:00 pm Pacific, 8:00 pm Eastern time – my collaborator, horror legend Tamara Thorne, and I will be live at Authors on the Air. They do call ins, so if you have a question for either of us about our work, our writing processes, or anything else, call the show at: (347) 884-8266.
Here is the direct link to the show. We look forward to hearing from you.
In the meantime, enjoy the latest poster from the upcoming Belinda series…
The date and time for our upcoming interview is official. Tamara Thorne and I will be live at Authors on the Air with Pam Stack on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 8:00 pm EST. We’ll be discussing our upcoming projects Grandma’s Rack and Belinda as well as anything else that happens to come up.
Grandma’s Rack is in the last stages of creation and – after we do an extensive edit of our own – the manuscript will head over to the editor. After that, it will go to the publisher who will provide the final finishing touches and get it on its way. We have no idea how long these processes will take so an exact date for release is still unknown.
(Grandma’s Rack – coming in 2014 by Avalerion Books)
Belinda, our paranormally-inclined serialized erotica, is coming along nicely as well. Belinda’s story will be released in a series of installments beginning later this summer, also by Avalerion, and will showcase a few of our favorite personal topics – provocative characters, spooky vibes, and unrelenting sexual exploits.
(A promotional poster for Belinda – coming this summer from Avalerion Books)
It’s an eventful year and we’re looking forward to the release of these projects. As soon as we have release dates, we will post them here on our blogs – along with any interview links and other promotional events – as well as on our websites, which you can visit if you want to learn more about us.
Tamara Thorne: http://www.tamarathorne.com
Alistair Cross: http://www.alistaircross.com
My collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I have made substantial progress on Grandma’s Rack these past two weeks. I’ve completed all my scenes in acts one and two and am well into the remaining scenes of act three. Tamara is kicking out scenes of her own as well as spending a lot of time editing and getting this story put into some kind of sequence. We’re at the end of the story so the climax is rising and the tension is high. The Rack is still surprising us with new twists and turns, but we’re still hopeful it will be completed in spring and, hopefully, available to buy this summer.
I’m scheduled to appear on Writerly Wednesday which will be coming up soon. I finished the interview questions earlier this week and am just waiting to find out the date I’ll be on. Also, Tamara and I have been booked for an in-depth interview at Ginger Nuts of Horror, the site to go to for the latest news and greatest reviews of all things horror. As soon as we know, we will post the date that the interview will go live. Also, the two of us are scheduled for a live radio interview on April 17th at Authors on the Air. Visit my website – The Dungeon – for more information on interviews, past and future.
Finally, if you missed it, we have compiled into one post the records of the five nights we spent in an allegedly haunted cabin up in Gold Country late last year.
So, until next time,
Among a page for news, a site map, and a few other exciting changes, a new page has been added to my website to give tribute to the books I have read and loved. As the website expands, it only felt right to give some recognition to these writers and their books. The page displays some – but not yet all – of the novels that have left impressions on me and, most importantly, made me say to myself, One day, I’m going to do this.
And every day, I’m aware of how lucky I am to be able to. Somehow, I’ve managed to win the support of people who believe in my work, enjoy what I do, and go out of their ways to encourage me. Writing has required a lot of sacrifice and I’ve never worked as hard at anything as I am right now… but I love it enough that the time flies, the words flow, and the stories keep spinning and revealing themselves in (usually) manageable and fascinating doses.
Tamara Thorne and I are writing the final scenes of Grandma’s Rack and I can’t wait till we can look at each other and see the results of everything we’ve been working for. You’ll see a few of her books on the new book page because before I met her, before I even dreamed I’d be writing with her, I was her fan. Her NUMBER ONE fan… and I still am. I try to tell her this often. With a strange, fixed smile on my lips and a slightly crazed gleam in my eye. She loves it. But I digress…
So these are the books that I’ve fallen in love with… the ones that made me want this. There are plenty more to be added, but the page is off to a great start.
Thank you to all the great, great writers who crawled into my brain and stained me in the best possible ways. None of you will be forgotten.
Here are my favorite books. Check them out : http://alistaircross.com/Alistair-s-Favorite-Books
It’s after four in the morning on Friday and for the second night now I’m sitting in front of my computer watching YoutTube videos with the notorious feline stalker, Pawpurrazzi. From the safety of her perch on my shoulder, together we behold the wonders of funny cat videos, Oprah Winfrey interviews, and clips expounding on everything from the success of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, to racism in Switzerland, to the barely-remembered and very outdated music videos of Lita Ford. I especially can’t explain that final choice of entertainment except to say I think Stalker Kitty has developed a great fascinated respect for Lita’s ’80s bouffant, so of course – as any half-decent kitty guardian would do – I have to let her keep watching.
But that is neither here nor there.
The point is, it’s been another sleepless night which might have been spent doing more constructive things, but alas, was not. Usually, the degree of self-loathing I experience when I waste time this way would send me into a dizzying spiral from which I can barely pull myself out of, but tonight was different. It was different because, tonight, as I watched with glazed-over eyes while Oprah awarded each audience member with a ‘brand new totally redesigned, 2012 Volkswagen Beetle!’… I was able to (as we so often are in the idle moments) get to the core of what’s really bothering me.
It is nothing as interesting as Volkswagens or Oprah that have me buzzing till the wee hours… nor is it a sudden addiction to funny cat videos (although I do believe I may be teetering on that one), and no, not even Lita Ford’s hair – or her shiny black leotards for that matter – are responsible for my unfortunate state of awareness at this hour. These things, I’ve determined, are just new ways I’ve discovered in which to distract myself. And I am distracting myself because I’m trying to figure out how I am going to get done all of the things that need getting done.
The past couple of days have presented me with some writing opportunities that, while truly awesome, are a little scary. These new ventures in and of themselves are in no way unpleasant or foreboding, but coupled with the plans which have already spoken for a good deal of 2014 (Grandma’s Rack and the erotic serial, Belinda, with Tamara Thorne, plus my solo project The White Room – which just really needs to get done), it’s overwhelming.
I should be thrilled and I won’t lie: I am. These are the things of daydreams… these are things you don’t say no to. These are things that could lead to many other wonderful things. But… these are also things I’m not sure I can fit into my already filled-to-overflowing, seemingly endless to-do list, and – needless to say – I spent a lot of quiet time doing some heavy mental filing, organizing, planning, plotting, and prioritizing. I also spent a lot of time on the phone today hashing out plans with a lot of different people. I assumed I had made peace with the rigor of my new schedule, but apparently, I had not.
One of the people I spoke to was my collaborator. Tamara is far better than I am in these situations, and as several of these projects include her, I was grateful to have someone with which to construct a strategy. We started at the beginning and planned out the best method in which to proceed, keeping ourselves open, of course, to the possibility that things can – and often do – change. The good news is that we concluded it was possible. It will require the sacrifice of something I already feel a great shortage of, and that is time. But it can be done. I just have to remind myself of that.
After talking to Tamara, I made some other calls. I re-arranged things, I confirmed things, I straightened some things out, and I called some things off… and in the course of about 24 hours, I came to an entirely new understanding of the way things are… and of how hard I’m going to have to work for this.
But it can be done…
The hardest part, I think, is the realization that the lackadaisical age of joy-writing is basically over. That isn’t to say I don’t love writing. It isn’t even to say I won’t enjoy it. I will. Profoundly. But the days of I-just-don’t-feel-like-writing-right-now are gone… at least for a while.
I remind myself that I’m very lucky, though. I have great support from all directions. I have the resources I need to do this and I’m not at all alone. I have an absolutely wonderful collaborator who knows this drill, and has the unprecedented ability to tranquilize my fits of frenzy and white-knuckled, hand-wringing (though rarely-occurring) dithers. I realize that as overwhelming as this might all be, it will also be very exciting and very prosperous for me. I will do my best…
And on that note, I think it’s time to say goodnight to Oprah, X out of YouTube, detach Stalker Kitty from my shoulder, and hit the hay. I’ll wake up tomorrow… and I will begin. It’s going to be a busy year with plenty of deadlines and a fair share of frustration, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun… and if I do this right, I know I’ll be very glad I did.
This is what I wanted, and I never really expected it to be easy. And I don’t think it’s going to be very easy at all.
But it can be done…
And so it will.
My website is officially schedule to go live December 16th, one week from tomorrow. At that time, there will also be a cover reveal for the joint project Tamara Thorne and I are writing. I will post it here, and it will also be on my website. Along with the cover, we will be giving a brief plot teaser so readers will know a little more about what we’ve been writing all this time.
We spent the majority of our time last week working out some of the final kinks in the story. We’re both a bit brain-fried from the overtime, but we’re thrilled about the results.
Also, we’ll soon be posting about the third night at the allegedly haunted cabin. Night three was an especially eerie one, so if you like your adventures on the spooky side, you’ll enjoy reading about it more than I did living it. Click here to read about the first night, and here for night two.
Till next time, haunt on.
Anyone who’s been around me in the past several years has probably heard me talk about “The White Room.” The White Room is a manuscript I began way back in 2006. It’s a vampire novel that touches on addiction, family loyalty, redemption, and even dabbles a little in BDSM.
In 2006, the idea struck me, and I immediately began writing it. However, I got a virus on my computer ~ the clap, I think ~ and in those days didn’t realize the importance of backing up my material. I ended losing close to 100 pages of progress. After a nine month period of being too devastated to even think about it, I began it again, and managed to get it completed in about four months. I probably got through it so fast because I met an agent from New York who had taken an interest in the idea… so I wrote my ass off to get it to her by the end of 2010.
She didn’t take it. And neither did about 150 other literary agents. It did, however, receive a fair deal of interest from several houses and agents, and after some very almost-acceptances and a little constructive feedback that I agreed with, I realized that underneath it all, there was a very good story in there.
Then, in 2012 Beautiful Monster was accepted for publication. Everything came to a bit of a halt then as the focus became edits and deadlines. I was swept away with elation, and I enjoyed every minute of it… but my mind kept going back to one place: The White Room. I don’t know what it is about this book, but I just can’t seem to let go of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Beautiful Monster and I will always be very proud of it. But The White Room… I refuse to die until this book gets published. It’s special… and it has the potential to be very good. It means something to me that I can’t explain.
So, I got honest with myself and took a hard, long look at the manuscript. There were some problems. Loose ends. Unneccessary characters. Events that lead nowhere, and perhaps most of all, this was not the kind of story I could tell in the first person point of view ~ which is what I had done up till that point. There were too many layers and angles of approach to limit the storyline with one perspective. So… I learned how to write third person real fast.
There were two agents and 2 houses that outright offered to take this book if I did some serious re-writes, and a small handful of folks who’ve basically said, “Sounds interesting. Polish that bitch up and we’ll give her a look-see.” I am paraphrasing, of course, but you get my drift.
Naturally, I knew this book needed to be written, and, well, entirely re-written. So that’s what I’ve done, and I am currently approaching the half-way mark. It’s a very different animal than it was the first time around, but I have been adamant that it’s integrity remain intact.
Currently, due to time restraints, I have put The White Room on a temporary hold. I’ve done this because I was asked to collaborate with Tamara Thorne… by Tamara herself, and well, you don’t say no to something like that. And I simply can not juggle two projects right now. But we are having a blast on our current project and are hoping to have it finished by the year’s end.
And I will, after this, go back to The White Room.
The reason I say all this is because a few weeks ago, I was asked to take part in “Flash Fiction Friday” on Deadly Ever After… and I chose an excerpt from The White Room as my piece. I have never shared any of this story online before, and even though what is posted is far from the final draft, I feel good about exposing a little piece of this story.
Thank you, Julie Hutchings, and everyone else at Deadly Ever After for asking me to participate.
To check it out, follow this link: http://deadlyeverafter.com/2013/10/18/flash-fiction-friday-the-white-room-excerpt-from-alistair-cross/ and be sure to give these guys a follow. They rock.
Have a spooktacular weekend and such.
Till next time…