Today is a special double feature. I’m interviewing co-authors Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross about their novel The Cliffhouse Haunting.
Tamara Thorne's first novel was published in 1991, and since then she has written many more, including international bestsellers Haunted, Bad Things, Moonfall, and The Sorority. Her novel, Thunder Road, hit bookstores in September, 2014. Learn more about her here.
Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. In 2012, he was published by Damnation Books under the pseudonym Jared S. Anderson. Find out more about him here.
In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing The Ghosts of Ravencrest, a sexy serial novel full of dark shadows, ghosts, witches, and mysteries. The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Darker Shadows contains the first three installments. The fourth installment is The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Christmas Spirits and the fifth is Night Moves. The next installment will appear in April. Their first horror novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting will appear in March, and another, Grandma’s Rack, will come later this year, along with Alistair’s debut solo novel.
Welcome, Tamara and Alistair. Please tell us about your current release.
The Cliffhouse Haunting is the story of the little town of Cliffside in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California. Built overlooking Blue Lady Lake in 1887, Cliffhouse was built by the Bellamy family and has been newly renovated by owners Teddy and Adam Baxter-Bellamy and their daughter, Sara. In the 1880s, Cliffhouse served as a restaurant, hotel, cathouse, theater and tavern, and during Prohibition became a hangout for rum runners. Later, its hot springs attracted the wealthy; even presidents have stayed there.
Today, the lodge is famous for its luxurious accommodations, spa, fine dining... and its ghosts.
Although the cathouse and rumrunners have been replaced by a miniature golf course and a carousel, Cliffhouse retains its long dark history; darkest during the Roaring Twenties, when a serial killer named the Bodice Ripper terrorized the town and a phantom, the Blue Lady, was said to walk when murder was imminent.
Now, darkness has returned. There's a serial killer on the loose, and the Blue Lady is again walking the shores of the lake below Cliffhouse.
Police Chief Jackson Ballou has bodies piling up that can't even be considered murder victims, yet he knows they are. The Bellamys are losing maids and guests who hear their names whispered in their ears and see wet phantom footprints padding across the rooms, but nothing is as terrifying as the shrieking laughter that echoes through the halls in the dead of night.
The town of Cliffside, and Cliffhouse itself, is dependent on tourism; every weekend there's something going on, be it a Civil War reenactment, a wine tasting, or Oktoberfest. It's a perfect hunting ground for a serial killer... and the Blue Lady.
Between the murders, the ghosts, Blue Lady sightings, a histrionic writer and a town doctor slowly losing his mind, Chief Ballou's hands are so full that he can hardly pursue his romance with diner owner Polly Owen. And Sara Bellamy may lose her love before they even have their first kiss.
What inspired you to write this book?
We both love ghost stories in all their variations and as we were telling each other some of our favorites, a plot began to form, though we weren’t actively working on it at the time beyond taking notes. Not too much later, we met up to spend a few nights in a haunted cabin in California’s gold country. During those nights some unnerving things happened that got us talking about the book again and we quickly became serious about writing it.
Excerpt from The Cliffhouse Haunting:
“He heard the Lady's laughter, delightful and deadly...
"He turned to enter the staff lounge and wake up the napping night clerk when he caught a whiff of something dark and dank, of deep water hiding moldering roots and limbs of pine trees felled a century or more ago. The scent of rotting wood from boats and rafts sunken when Cliffhouse was new. The metallic bite of lost anchors and the dry smell of bones of men long dead. Gooseflesh prickled up his back. How many are lost out there?"
What exciting story are you working on next?
We have several works in progress. Our gothic The Ghosts of Ravencrest is an ongoing serial novel and it’s filled with ghosts and mysteries. It’s available on Amazon. Another collaborative horror novel, Grandma’s Rack, will hit the press later this spring and Alistair’s debut solo novel will be out this summer.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Always. We both began writing as children.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
We write full time. We work together six days a week, eight to ten hours a day unless we’re up against a deadline, then we hit 12-14 hours and work half-days on Sunday, too. We work in our “virtual office” where we talk via Skype while writing in the Cloud. Most often we create together, literally writing in the same file as we brainstorm and figure things out.
Sometimes we work on separate scenes and sometimes on separate projects, but we’re still in our “office” where we can run things by each other, edit for each other, and take breaks for a few minutes of laughter now and then. It’s more fun and efficient together, plus it keeps us focused.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Every day, at least twice, we turn on our Skype cameras so our cats can see each other. They love it and have become good friends. They’re hoping to accompany us on our next get together.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Both of us wanted to be writers, though as kids, we flirted with various occupations; fireman, musician, oceanographer, astronomer, and spy.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
We like pie.
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Thorne & Cross Mutual Accounts
Thank you both for being here today! Happy co-writing!