A few weeks ago, I was approached with the possibility of doing publicity work with Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross in regards to their upcoming release, Mother. We decided on an interview with the co-authors as well as agreeing to review the book. Thorne & Cross have collaborated on several works, as well as host the well-known podcast Haunted Nights Live, where they’ve interviewed many well-known names in horror. You can find links to their many podcasts here. Thanks for participating!
The Interview with Thorne & Cross
S&S: In your opinions, why is it so easy for horror to focus on the mother role as one for tormenting or to torment?
Thorne & Cross: A mother is supposed to be nurturing and loving – it’s a world truth. Whether the mother is human, feline, or of any other species, we expect this. We depend on it. Stories about mothers abandoning their children are met with horror. Stories about mothers killing their children shock us. But we all know that there are bad mothers out there.
Many bad mothers can be forgiven, at least to some extent, because of youth or other circumstances. But a mother who is truly bad – an evil mother – both rivets and repels us. Evil mothers are very nearly taboo and when you run into one who tortures – physically or mentally – her child, we all want to hear about it. We all stare at a train wreck.
The Brothers Grimm had to turn the evil mother in Hansel & Gretel into an evil stepmother because the story was so upsetting. Other evil mothers have gone the same way. And in modern times, look at the popularity of such mothers-gone-wrong as Corinne Dollanganger of Flowers in the Attic, Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest or Norman Bates’ misguided mom. There are so many more. Bad mothers fascinate us because they walk a line that resonates all the way back to the cradle.
S&S: I didn’t know that about Hansel & Gretel! Interesting. I think you worded this perfectly.
S&S: How often do dreams or nightmares that either of you have end up making their way into your work?
Tamara: Frequently. Everything from snippets to entire plots have come from my dreams. Usually, I dream up scenery and locations – in part via lucid dreaming, in part because my brain decides to dump out something tasty. My novel, Eternity, is a book borne of dreams.
Alistair: Yes. Dreams are a good source of material. I dreamed of Gretchen VanTreese from The Crimson Corset many years before I wrote the book.
S&S: Do you have personality clashes when writing? What generally triggers one, if so?
Thorne & Cross: Honestly, we don’t. In over three years of working together, six days a week, we have yet to have anything that would qualify as a clash of personalities. We share the same vision for our work, and both of us hate drama. Been there, done that, and no thank you. We believe that respect, trust, shared goals, and similar sensibilities are imperative when it comes to working this closely with anyone.
S&S: Is there any book that, if you could, you’d go back and change something in before it got published?
Thorne & Cross: Neither of us believe in regrets, so no, not really. Once we finish a book, we’re ready to move on to the next.
S&S: How much do your writing routines change when you’re working on a book together as opposed to when you’re working on your individual novels?
Thorne & Cross:They don’t change at all. No matter what we’re working on, we work in the Cloud with Skype on in our own virtual office. We usually spend an hour or two on our solo projects every day in addition to our collaborations and during the second hour we read to each other and go over our individual works. Then we move on to our collaborations where we literally write together in the same file.
S&S: What has been your favorite podcast that you’ve done?
Thorne & Cross: There’s honestly no way to answer that because we get something exciting and new from each guest. Some of our guests make us laugh while others make us think, but none of them has been “bad” in any way – and therefore, it’s hard to choose a favorite. We loved hearing about the Walking Dead zombies from Jay Bonansinga, the various vampire worlds of Charlaine Harris, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Laurell K. Hamilton, and the stories behind the thrillers of V.C. Andrews, Kevin O’Brien, and Jonathan Maberry, but we enjoy variety too much to choose a favorite.
S&S: Is there anyone you haven’t got into the studio yet that you’re itching to?
Thorne & Cross: Oh, yes. We’d like to get Stephen King, of course, and Anne Rice. We did have her son, bestselling author Christopher Rice, on, and he was a lot of fun. We’d also like to have Graham Masterton, Gillian Flynn, John Saul, and Robert McCammon – and a lot of others. We had Dean Koontz booked, but he got sick and cancelled at the last minute. Oh well, next book…
S&S: Is there a subject that either of you, as horror writers, will not touch due to the sensitive nature of it?
Thorne & Cross: Animal horror. We both consider violence against pets a cheap shot and absolutely unnecessary. We do have some stuffed dogs in Mother but they died natural deaths many years ago. That’s not the same thing. If we need to do some early killing to show a family is in danger, it will be rotten children or annoying missionaries, not Sir Barksalot.
S&S: Oh, I like you! Poor Manchee…
S&S: What does/would your drinking mug say about you? (Mine says “I don’t like MORNING people. Or Mornings. Or people.)
Thorne & Cross: Alistair’s is a collage of Shakespearean insults given to him at Christmas from his dear friend, Q.L. Pearce.
Tamara doesn’t like hot beverages. She has a bottle of water and what that says is, “I have to keep a lid on my drink so the cats can’t knock it onto the keyboard.” She does have a beloved green man mug that her husband absconded with since she never used it.
S&S: I’ve been eyeing that same Shakespearean insults mug myself. It’s a great one.
S&S: How much input do you have into the cover art for your work?
Thorne & Cross: We have a great cover art designer who is much better at creating book covers than we are. We tell him our basic idea, then trust him to work his magic and do what is best for the overall effect. We’ve learned to step back and let him work his magic – cover artistry is where he’s really brilliant – and we don’t want to rob ourselves of his expertise by micro-managing him and forcing ideals. He’s proven repeatedly that he knows best.
S&S: How do you think your soon-to-be published novel, Mother, ranks in comparison to your other novels together?
Thorne & Cross: We only write what we love, so we’re fond of all our books, but Mother is in a class by herself. It’s a psychological thriller that takes place on a cul-de-sac like a million others in America. If Psycho and Peyton Place had a baby whose godparents were Misery and Gaslight, Mother would be the bright-eyed, bouncing result. Our horror fans will appreciate the spooky aspects, but Mother would be best filmed by Hitchcock. It’s both a thriller and very black comedy. We’re hoping Hitch volunteers to direct it from beyond the grave. And he has shown some interest in this project via our Ouija. Fingers crossed!
S&S: Ooh, you’ve just set the bar quite high. I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the great answers!
Find the co-authors blog at: https://thorneandcross.wordpress.com/
You can find Tamara Thorne at: http://www.tamarathorne.com/
You can find Alistair Cross at: http://alistaircross.com/