Archive for the ‘Vampires’ Category

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This Thursday, join us at Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! at 9 pm EST, where we’ll be chatting with New York Times bestseller, Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels and basis of the HBO hit series TRUE BLOOD.

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And speaking of vampires … if you haven’t picked up your copy of The Crimson Corset, it’s available now at Amazon!

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Charlaine Harris is a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for over thirty years. She was born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area. Though her early works consisted largely of poems about ghosts and teenage angst, she began writing plays when she attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. She switched to novels a few years later, and achieved publication in 1981 with Sweet and Deadly.

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After publishing two stand-alone mysteries, Harris launched the lighthearted Aurora Teagarden books with Real Murders, a Best Novel 1990 nomination for the Agatha Awards. Harris wrote eight books in her series about a Georgia librarian. In 1996, she released the first in the much darker Shakespeare mysteries, featuring the amateur sleuth Lily Bard, a karate student who makes her living cleaning houses. Shakespeare’s Counselor, the fifth—and final—Lily Bard novel, was printed in fall 2001.

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By then, Harris was feeling the call of new territory. Starting with the premise of a young woman with a disability who wants to try inter-species dating, she created The Sookie Stackhouse urban fantasy series before there was a genre called “urban fantasy.” Telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse works in a bar in the fictional northern Louisiana town of Bon Temps. The first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001. Each subsequent book follows Sookie through adventures involving vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. The series, which ended in 2013, has been released in over thirty languages.

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Sookie Stackhouse has proven to be so popular that Alan Ball, creator of the HBO television seriesSix Feet Under, announced he would undertake the production of a new HBO series based upon the  books  He wrote and directed the pilot episode for that series, True Blood, which premiered in September of 2008.

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In October 2005, the first of Harris’s new mystery series about a young woman named Harper Connelly debuted with the release of Grave Sight. Harper has the ability to determine the cause of death of any body. After four novels, this series is on hiatus.

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Now Harris is working on a trilogy of graphic novels with Christopher Golden and artist Don Kramer, “Cemetery Girl.” On her own she is writing a new series set in the small town of Midnight, Texas.

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Harris has also co-edited a series of very popular anthologies with her friend Toni L.P. Kelner, aka Leigh Perry. The anthologies feature stories with an element of the supernatural, and the submissions come from a rare mixture of mystery and urban fantasy writers.

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Professionally, Harris is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the American Crime Writers League, Sisters in Crime, and the International Crime Writers Association. She is a past member of the boards of Sisters in Crime and MWA, and she has served as president of the MWA. She is also a member of Science Fiction Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and Romance Writers of America, just to make sure she’s covered.

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Personally, Harris has been married for many years. She mother of three wonderful children and the grandmother of two. She lives in central Texas, and when she is not writing her own books, she reads omnivorously. Her house is full of rescue dogs.

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Following yesterday’s interview at Tamara Thorne’s Little Blog of Horrors, here is an excerpt from Alistair’s upcoming novel, The Crimson Corset, which will be available in just a few weeks.

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Untidy, Ryan Closter had called it. The young deputy had a knack for understatement and when Ethan arrived at the scene, he was prepared to be put off – but this was downright ghastly. This wasn’t the way Ethan liked to start his mornings.

Blood was everywhere, a dried riot of red rust all over the floor, across the bed, and even on the ceiling. It was as if someone had put a bomb in a can of paint. And the smell was unbearable. Flies swarmed like a black cloud above the body.

Closter spoke at Ethan’s side. “A neighbor heard some noises last night. She informed the landlord this morning, and after knocking and getting no response, this is what he walked into.”

At the center of the bed lay the woman, face-down, in her own dried pool of fluids.

“Her name’s Rose Keller,” Closter said.

Ethan shook his head. “Day manager of the Black Garter.”

“You know her?”

“Our paths crossed recently.” Ethan wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the woman had overdosed on something, but would never have guessed she’d go like this.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” Closter looked a little green, and his partner, Nick Grayson, gave Ethan an uncertain glance.

“Why don’t you go get some fresh air, Closter?” Ethan said. “We’ll be fine till the others show up.”

The deputy swallowed and nodded, his face clammy. The last thing they needed was for someone to throw up on the crime scene – not that it’d be the first time it had happened.

As Closter stepped out, Ethan heard the buzz of bystanders just outside the door. “Jesus,” someone said. “I’ve never seen so much blood …”

“I heard they can’t find her head,” said another.

The voices faded as the door closed. How eagerly people swarm to violence and death. Like ants to a piece of rotten fruit. It unsettled Ethan.

The room was hot, intensifying the reek of blood, of innards – of death. Dozens of flies crawled lazily over the body and more were landing. Ethan’s own stomach roiled a little. He hadn’t been sick at a scene since his earliest days on the force and he didn’t intend to buckle now, but it wasn’t easy. He’d never seen anything this theatrical; it looked like the police photographs from the Jack the Ripper crimes. But in horrible living color. He moved closer and stared down at the woman on the bed. Two stumps of spine, glistening white, jutted out of the mess that was the rest of her. It was as if someone had unzipped her skin, reached inside, and yanked her backbone out. And they’d managed to snap it in half in the process.

“Whoever did this was sending a message.” Deputy Grayson was crouched beside the bed, his gaze roving over the late Ms. Keller. A former quarterback in his early-forties with broad shoulders and the earliest beginnings of a beer gut, Nick Grayson was one of Ethan’s best.

Ethan nodded. “I’ll agree with you on that.”

Grayson’s gaze never left the victim. “A killer doesn’t cause a scene like this unless he wants to make a statement.”

The question was, who was the killer, and what was he trying to say? “No sign of any weapons?”

Grayson shook his head and Ethan noticed some graying at the temples of his deputy’s black curly hair. This was the kind of job that would do that. “Nope. Nothing.”

Ethan had figured as much. There was something about this scene that didn’t work.

The woman was tangled in white sheets reminding him, morbidly, of an old barber’s pole. Red and white, red and white, blood and bandages, blood and bandages. He walked around the bed, seeing it from all angles. Every crime scene told a story, you just had to know how to read it. And this one, Ethan was certain, was one hell of a tale.

The more he saw, the more certain he became of two things. One, Rose’s killer was not human, and two, it was not an animal. Not in the usual sense, anyway. He bent and moved the victim’s hair back, careful not to disturb anything. He saw the bite marks on her neck that confirmed his suspicions. He’d have them checked against dental records and if he was lucky – which was highly unlikely – maybe they’d catch the perp fast.

There were also several places along her shoulders and arms where the skin was torn. Someone went to town on her. The thick sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach went colder.

“I’ve been trying to figure that out, too,” said Grayson, watching him. “They’re bites.”

Ethan’s knees popped as he stood and moved to the window. He pinched back the blood-spattered white curtains and stared down. Outside, the Ivory Heights apartment complex was already surrounded by a swarm of onlookers, and it was only going to get worse. Rose Keller’s one-bedroom, second-story apartment would soon be a frenzy of technicians, detectives, plainclothes, more uniforms, a photographer, and probably even a man with a video camera. There was no dignity in death, he thought as he looked at the shredded body on the bed. Especially not when you die like that.

Ethan decided it was time to pay Michael Ward another visit.

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Alistair Cross is best known for his collaborations with Tamara Thorne, but now that he’s about to release his first solo novel, The Crimson Corset, it’s time to chat with him one on one about writing, vampires, and his new book.ccblurb

The idea for this novel goes back a ways. Tell us about the history of the idea and how it has evolved since it was first conceived.

The storyline was conceived in 2005, and I began writing it that same year. It was my first earnest attempt at a full-length novel, and I had a lot to learn. At about 100 pages in, I got a virus on my computer and because I hadn’t backed any of it up, it was deleted. Discouraged, I gave up for a while, and spent the next few years immersed in books about writing, and in 2009, I re-started this novel under the title, The White Room.

I completed it in 2010 and I was proud of it, but there were some problems – the main issue being that I’d written it in first person, and in that format, this was an extremely hard story to tell. But for the next two years, it traveled the globe, amassing countless rejections from agents and publishers worldwide. In the interim, I’d gotten something else published, and decided it was time to take The White Room off the market and rethink it.

I continued writing other things, occasionally tinkering with The White Room in my spare time, but no matter what else I was working on, my mind kept returning to this book. I eventually concluded I needed to dive back into it full-force and give it one last, concerted effort. At the time, I was finishing up The Cliffhouse Haunting with my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and as soon as that was completed, I started on The White Room. I quickly found that there wasn’t much to salvage, so I rewrote it from the ground up. All told, there are only three or four small scenes that, after some heavy editing, made the cut. It’s an entirely new novel now, complete with a new title, and I’m elated that it’s finally completed.

So, you conceived of The Crimson Corset a decade ago and have mentioned writing it in the first person before. Why did you use first person? And why did you switch to third?

I initially used first person because it hadn’t occurred to me to write it another way. I used to take too much advice and have since learned that my own instincts are valid. So, I switched to third and it’s the best decision I ever made. I realized that I not only could write in third person, but preferred it. I have nothing against first person and have used it more than once, but this story has way too much going on to be effectively told through only one character’s eyes.

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What initially inspired this book?

Oddly, the inspiration for this novel came when a friend of mine talked me into checking out a nightclub that had recently opened. The place was huge, with three floors and countless rooms that each had different themes and music. At one point, my friend said he wanted to show me the “white room.” That wasn’t its official title, but that’s what he called it, and when we stepped inside, I knew why. There was white carpet, several white couches and loveseats, and gauzy white tapestries that hung from the walls. In the center of the floor, behind a filmy white curtain, were three female dancers and what little clothing they wore was stark-white. I was transfixed. There was something about those women – their dark makeup, the way they moved under the strobing lights, seeming to hypnotize the male patrons – that reminded me of vampires. I spent the rest of the evening alone at the bar, taking notes on various napkins as the ideas unfolded. I know … I’m not much fun at parties.

Where did you come up with the title?

The title has a double meaning. It refers to the club, The Crimson Corset, which is owned by Gretchen VanTreese. This is where a lot of the action in this book takes place. Also, it refers to a corset that Gretchen wears on special occasions. This particular piece has serious meaning for her … and a very interesting backstory.

There is a club called the Crimson Corset in The Cliffhouse Haunting, too. Is it a chain?

I got the idea to name a club “The Crimson Corset” about a year ago, but wasn’t sure where to put it. I liked it so much that I put it in The Cliffhouse Haunting. Then, I wanted to use it again, but give it a bigger part. It’s a business chain, yes, and Gretchen is undoubtedly the owner of them all. I intend to sprinkle a few more Crimson Corset clubs throughout other works as well.

You have a real talent for memorable and appropriate names. Tell us your favorites.

Thanks. Some of my favorite names from this novel are Sebastian Antonelli, Chynna, Scythe, Marcus Massimo, Jazminka, Dora Langley, and Sheila Leventis. Oh, and the tigers, Absinthe and Hyacinthe.

How do you choose your names? I notice that some are quite ordinary and others really stick. Is there a reason for this?

I save the memorable names for characters that I really want to stick in readers’ minds. These can be major characters or minor ones who need to be remembered. Less important characters usually get the more ordinary names. But sometimes “normal” names are important for defining a major character like Sheriff Ethan Hunter. I tried calling him “Squirelman McDoodlehump” but it just didn’t say “lawman.”

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Tell us about Gretchen VanTreese.

Gretchen is proprietor of the Crimson Corset and heads the faction of vampires who believe humans should be servants rather than the dominant race. Her story begins in Rome in 1679, when she and her mother, Astrid, were turned. Astrid fought for peace and equality among vampires and humans, but Gretchen’s philosophy was a little different, and as Astrid’s power grew, Gretchen’s hatred of her mother’s ways deepened. Unwilling to be forced into a lifestyle that didn’t suit her, Gretchen took matters into her own hands and murdered her mother.

After that, Gretchen was outcast by the other vampires, and traveled the world for many years with her companion, Jazminka, until they, along with a small group of followers they’d acquired, came to America. In 1912, she bought a club which she named after a red corset she’d had specially made as a symbol of her new power. In Crimson Cove, California, she continued creating followers of her own, but Gretchen’s dreams are big and a handful of Loyals isn’t enough for her. She wants dominion over the whole city, the country … the world.

Gretchen VanTreese is easily the most heartless character I’ve ever written. Ruthless, self-obsessed, and ambitious beyond her means, she is the epitome of greed and overindulgence. This is woman who keeps handsome young men as pets, a staff of venom-addicted employees to do her daytime bidding, and a basement full of bound human delicacies. When it comes to blood, her favorite vintage is the very rare AB Negative blood type, and she seeks out this luxury with unrepentant and ruthless abandon. She’s beautiful, sexually deviant, calculating, and demanding. She sees no end to her power, no limits to her potential, and this makes her a lot of fun to write. I love to hate her … and all of her self-delusions.

Lilith, Gretchen’s pet spider, is a unique finishing touch to an already creepy character. Where did you get this idea?

Honestly, it was just one of those things that happened. As I was developing Gretchen, she “told” me that she kept a pet black widow that liked to crawl around under her clothes and nest in her hair. It’s hard to explain why some characters “want” things a certain way, and I try never to question these little pieces of information because somehow, they always turn out to be good ideas, but in this case, I did try to resist. It seemed a little too creepy for me and I couldn’t see what it had to do with Gretchen’s story, but I’m glad I kept it. The character is always right.

Gretchen’s corset. How did you think of that?

I can’t really say much about the corset without giving the whole thing away, but in the same way I knew Gretchen kept a pet spider, I knew she wore a very special red corset – though I didn’t know why at first. Then while I was researching the history of corsetry and, specifically, learning the anatomy of corsets, it became clear what made this one so significant. It was one of those moments that I adore. The idea hit me hard … it was twisted, wicked, morbid and macabre … and of course, I loved it.

Who was the most challenging character to write and why?

Jazminka, because of her wardrobe choices. This is a woman who dresses to kill. Literally. The chiffon swatches that flow from her sleeve-gloves are, in fact, garottes – weapons of strangulation. Her boots are lethal as well. With the stiletto heel of her elaborately-designed thigh-highs, she can kill a grown man and drain him in six seconds or less, without spilling a drop of blood. Then there is her hair and makeup which is always very dramatic and outrageous. This woman was just incredibly difficult to animate and properly illustrate. She also speaks with a thick Slavic accent and it wasn’t always easy to  portray that without being disruptive to the flow.

I love the vampire nightclub – that is something I’d expect vampires to create. But the health spa, Eudemonia, is thoroughly unexpected and unique. Tell us how you came up with that!

I wanted the good vampires to have a humane way of surviving that was a little more unique than drinking animal blood. To me, it doesn’t make sense that blood outside of the human species could sustain a vampire anyway, so I really didn’t want to do that. At the same time, the guys of Eudemonia are humane and can’t go around attacking innocent people, so the health resort allowed me to give them a better option.

Also, it gave them a job. Vampires always just seem to have a limitless supply of money that often goes unexplained. This has always bothered me because, although it’s fiction, I think it needs to feel as real as possible. When you write the fantastical, you’re asking people to stretch themselves quite a bit as it is, so creating intermittent life-like references along the way keeps readers relating to the story.

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Is there a character in this book you’d like to write more about?

Yes. Winter. He has always spoken to me at a deeper level than most characters. I want to explore him further. Also, Nick Grayson, one of Ethan’s deputies. The moment he came on stage, I knew there was more to him than I could write about in this book, so I gave him a job offer in the fictional neighboring town of Prominence, where my next solo will take place. That way, he can get the stage time I’d like to give him.

Which character was the most fun to write?

Ethan Hunter’s neighbor, Mrs. Gelding. Gladiola to her friends. And everyone is a friend of Mrs. Gelding’s …

Are there any characters in this book that you really like but feel you shouldn’t?

Ambrose. He makes me giggle.

Do you base any of your characters on real people?

No. Inadvertently, if at all.

Is Cade’s cat, Sir Purrcival, based on your cat, Pawpurrazzi?

No. As one of the remaining creatures from the White Room days, Sir Purrcival precedes Pawpurrazzi by about eight years. I tell her that she’s the inspiration, though. It seems to help her self-esteem. Of course, now she expects every feline I write to be created in her image, but what can you do?

How do you feel about animal violence in horror?

I simply don’t do it. There are a few things I find to be … well, just too easy. Animal violence. Child abuse. The devil made me do it. Senseless blood-spatter. Torture porn. These things can incite powerful reader response – but it isn’t the kind of response I want. If a writer’s goal is to make his or her readers cry,  recoil, shudder, or become sick, that’s fine, but I think they should work for it a little more. And torturing something helpless, like a puppy or an innocent child, is a cheap shot. Also, I have moral issues with some of this stuff. I write horror, but I don’t write it without a reason, and violence against children and animals just doesn’t make sense to me, unless you’re dealing with Cujo or little Reagan from the Exorcist. Again, it’s just too easy.

The character of Coastal Eddie, a conspiracy-oriented DJ, originated in Candle Bay and has now shown up in collaborations and in your solo. There are also cross references to places like Cliffside and Candle Bay in your solo, and vice versa. What made you and Tamara decide to cross-pollinate your worlds and will this continue?

I read Candle Bay many moons ago, and fell in love with that character. I was honored and humbled when his original author allowed me to give him some stage time in The Crimson Corset. We decided to cross-pollinate our worlds on occasion because we enjoy it. Over the course of writing a novel, it isn’t uncommon to become attached to certain characters and places. It’s hard to let them go, and as an added plus, readers love to see their favorite characters from other books pay surprise visits. So yes, it will continue.

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How did you choose the names Cadence and Brooks?

Cadence was the name I’d decided that I’d use if I ever had a son. It has since become a semi-popular name for girls – which baffles me – but I still like the name for a boy, and didn’t want to change it.

I first heard the name Brooks in 2006. It belonged to a young man I met at a pizza place. I loved it and knew I wanted to use it for Cade’s brother.

Why does Sheriff Hunter knit? (You know, instead of fish or shoot hoops?)

It relaxes him. Sheriff Hunter has a lot on his mind, and keeping his hands, eyes, and mind engaged allows him temporary escape. However, I think I speak for everyone in Crimson Cove when I say I wish he’d stop making such loud, ugly sweaters – and crediting them to his fictional Aunt Vanessa in Oregon.

Were there any surprise characters that showed up in the book that weren’t originally part of the outline?

Yes. The missing children. I can’t say anything more about them without giving spoilers, but they weren’t planned. Also, Katrina, Rose Keller, Mrs. Gelding, and Claire Henry were spur of the moment characters who ended up furthering the story and adding to the plot. This is something that’s happened in everything I’ve ever written, and more often than not, these surprise characters end up telling the story better than I can. In fact, in the earliest beginnings of this story, Gretchen herself was a surprise character. She went on to center the entire plot around herself, and I’m glad she did. I always follow surprise characters to see where they’re going.

What made you want to incorporate the tigers, Absinthe and Hyacinthe, into this book?

Chynna’s tigers were part of the original cast when this concept was conceived ten years ago. I was told I couldn’t put them in because they weren’t necessary, but I disagree. Their mistress, Chynna, is a tiger-trainer, and Absinthe and Hyacinthe deepen and further the plot, and define Chynna, so I refused to leave them out this time around.

Michael’s raven, Reaper, is a hoot. How did you come up with his “lines?”

I like paying homage to the things that influenced me and brought me here, so Reaper’s phrases are all lines from my favorite horror movies and books. I’m very fond of that bird and the relationship he has with Michael.

The town of Crimson Cove is set very near the Santa Cruz boardwalk where The Lost Boys took place. Is there a reason for that?

Pure coincidence, although I loved that movie growing up, and surely there is evidence of that in this book. Vampires on motorcycles and all that … good times.

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What kind of research did you do for the setting, history, and character development in this book?

I like forests, mountains, and the sea, so I went to a lot of trouble to create the town of Crimson Cove and to put it somewhere beautiful. I decided on California and this required research on the history of that state, specifically, the area where Crimson Cove is placed.

For the vampire venom and its effects, I did extensive research on snakes and snake venom, as well as spiders, and various drugs such as heroin. I also did research on nightclubs, BDSM, ferns, California laws, the duties of coroners, guns, swords, motorcycles, Hummers, Aston Martins, Ford Fairlanes, and underwater acrobats.

Then there is the history. Each character in this novel has a fully-developed back story, and some of them go back four or five centuries, so to develop their pasts, I researched World War II and Operation Neptune, Vietnam, the Battle of Ticonderoga, The Hudson River in the 1790s, the Red Light District of the Barbary Coast in the 1870s and San Francisco in the early 1900s, the Seven Years War, Queen Christina of Sweden in the 1600s, whore houses during Prohibition, mercenaries, bounty hunters, the Gold Rush of 1849 … it’s a very long list.

Do you enjoy doing research?

I like having done research. Much of it is fascinating, of course, but not all of it. But it’s necessary – sometimes captivating, often tedious … but always worth it.

There is a definite stalking theme in this book. Gretchen is stalking Cade. Piper is stalking Brooks, then Cade, then Sebastian. Is this theme deliberate? If so, why?

Yes, it was deliberate. At its core, this is a story of obsession, of addiction. And addiction to another person is the most terrifying addiction of all. I have seen the effects of obsessive “love” up close and personal, and it scares the hell out of me. People become too enchanted; they become dependant on the way another person makes them feel, and rely on this person more and more to validate them until the other person becomes a kind of milking machine. Eventually, the stalked person puts an end to it, and that’s when it becomes something very dark and very scary. This is not love, it’s sickness, and unfortunately, it’s rampant. I wanted to explore this in The Crimson Corset because I wanted to show the signs – and the inevitable outcome – of this kind of toxicity. It’s something I feel needs more attention.

The “mermaids,” Violet and Scarlett, are a lot of fun. Where did you get the idea for them to swim in an aquarium for the viewing pleasure of the male patrons at the Crimson Corset?

Near Crimson Cove, there’s a very real little town with an famous, perhaps infamous, old nightclub/restaurant called the Brookdale Lodge. It’s currently closed, but it has loads of ghost stories attached to it (and is the real inspiration for the brook running through the lodge in The Cliffhouse Haunting). Some of the Brookdale Lodge’s history, slightly altered, has been added to the Crimson Corset’s. The Brookdale was a favorite place for gangsters running rum during the 1920s and 1930s, and its heyday continued several decades more as Hollywood celebrities like Sinatra and the Rat Pack adopted it as a place to party, along with the gangsters and regular folks. There was (and is) an area of the pool that is glassed in where prostitutes dressed as mermaids swam for the men at the bar and would be chosen as companions for the night, the same way people at restaurants can choose lobsters from a tank. Then, beginning in the late 60s, huge rock stars like The Doors often hid out and rehearsed on a little stage area just a few steps from the infamous mermaid bar when playing gigs in San Francisco.

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Do you have any difficulty writing sex scenes, especially from a female point of view?

No. Squeamishness about sex eludes me. I genuinely find it odd and somewhat juvenile that a person would be embarrassed by it. Sex is a private thing, and personal, but I don’t consider it indecent or shameful in any capacity, so writing about it has never been a problem.

As for writing sex from a female perspective, I find it surprisingly natural. I’ve never believed there are any real major differences between men and women. I’ve seen as many successful business women as artistic men. It’s never occurred to me that men are strictly one way and women another – so I don’t view sexuality as being much different from one sex to the other. The parts are different, sure, but in the end, we are attracted by the same things – a person’s scent, their lips and eyes, the sheen of hair, their smile, their humor, their self-confidence … these are genderless desires until we attach our personal preferences to them. At the root of sex is a natural craving for closeness; it’s only a question of who we want to be intimate with that demands distinction.

How are your vampires different from other writers’?

There are so many variations on these monsters, and all of the vampires seem to think their own variety is the only one in existence. It occurred to me that perhaps my vampires were just one strain of many; that perhaps many kinds of vampires exist. As Michael tells Cade, “As humans, you have many different races, each with its own unique set of distinctions, but are you not still the same species?”

Of course, I put my own spin on the Crimson Cove vampires, but I didn’t want to get too unique. Vampires are fascinating as they are … I don’t think they need to sparkle or be the results of freak science experiments to interesting. I like the integrity of the vampire, and tried to keep that intact.

When did you know how this book was going to end?

From the beginning, I knew it could go one of three ways. The first way would make a sequel impossible. The second way would allow for a sequel, but would require a lot of rearranging, and the third would segue smoothly into a next book. The trouble was that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a sequel, but by the time I neared the end, I’d made up my mind, and went with the third possibility. So, in truth, I didn’t know exactly how it would end until I was almost finished with it.

So, there will be a sequel?

Yes, but not before my next solo novel, which isn’t about Crimson Cove. That being said, you will see some of the vampires of Crimson Cove in the sequel to Tamara Thorne’s Candle Bay, which we’ve decided to collaborate on. The vampires of Candle Bay are going on a roadtrip, you see … and Michael, Winter, and maybe a couple of others will be joining them …

Have you read horror all your life? What other genres do you enjoy reading? Would you ever consider writing out of genre?

Yes, I’ve always read horror, my first exposure being the Bunnicula series by James Howe. While not horror exactly, it fed my imagination and I still see its influence. As for other genres, I truly enjoy them all with very rare exceptions. I enjoyed The Omen and Gone With the Wind equally. I found A Tale of Two Cities as compelling as the Sookie Stackhouse books. I’ve never looked at a certain genre and said I’d never read it. I enjoy reading for the sake of reading and my attitude about writing is the same. If a storyline required it, I would absolutely write in another genre. As it is, I have ideas for future works that certainly wouldn’t qualify as horror, but I do think some authors have a certain “vibe” that makes it impossible to stray too far. For example, when Stephen King or Robert McCammon writes something that isn’t horror, there’s a detectable, lingering feeling of eeriness that’s part of their style. In the same way, I think I’ll always be a little dark, a little macabre.

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As a child, did you enjoy telling other kids – or yourself – ghost stories?

I did! There was – and still is – nothing I enjoy more than scaring people, and this goes as far back as I can remember. On a couple of occasions, I’d bring a friend to tears of terror with some ghastly tale or another, and as much as I’d like to say I felt bad about it, I never did. I considered it a great success. But tears were rare. Generally, my friends joined in the fun as we embarked on various imaginary journeys through the darkness together, and those moments stand out as some of my happiest times. There’s always been something about the feeling of being watched, or not being alone when you think you are … and of cold chills raising your skin in goosebumps, that makes me giddy. I grew up in a spooky little town in a house with a spooky little basement where I spent my most formative years, so the sensation of uneasy trepidation is home for me; it takes me back to boyhood. (I wasn’t forced to stay in the spooky basement ala Carrie in her closet; I simply liked going down there to scare myself.)

You’ve talked before about the morality of horror. Explain this.

It’s assumed that horror writers are dark, depraved individuals – the bringers of evil – and this is absurd. What other genre so naturally explores the philosophical side of life? You can’t bring theology into a Romance novel. There’s not much room for issues of faith in Westerns, and readers aren’t going to tolerate many celestial affairs in Erotica. But with horror, that door is wide open. Horror demands answers to the deeper questions; it requires the contemplation of life and death and the examination of good and evil. I know of no other fictional genre that puts morality as front and center as horror does, and it annoys me that it’s seen as being “bad” or “corrupt.”

When reading someone else’s work, what are your some of your personal pet peeves?

While formula is good, there’s such a thing as too much of it. When technical rules are followed too closely, it shows, and if given the choice between a perfectly-coiffed, rule-abiding novel, and a damned good book with a some serious heart and soul, I’ll take the latter every time.

What do you wish people wouldn’t ask you?

How much money I make. First of all, book sales fluctuate and there is no accurate answer, and second of all, it’s personal. It’s stunning that anyone would ask this, but it happens with enough regularity that I’ve now developed a stock response: “Oh, I do all right, but let’s talk about your sex life now. What are you into? You’re kinky, right?” because, to me, it’s the same thing. It’s private.

Tell us all about your radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! How do you get guests like Laurell K. Hamilton and Christopher Moore and Jeff Lindsay? Do you pay them? Blackmail them?

Haunted Nights LIVE! is a horror/paranormal/thriller-themed radio talk show which Tamara Thorne and I host. It’s an hour-long discussion with authors, paranormal experts, and creators of all things spooky. Haunted Nights LIVE! features fact, fiction, and the gray area in between. You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and listen to previous podcasts at our websites.

Our guests arrive one of three ways. First, we have an amazing producer who works hard to get us the best in the business. The second way is that we contact the author and ask them on, and the third is that the author contacts us or our producer. We don’t pay or blackmail anyone, and haven’t had any trouble getting anyone on. I credit this to the early guests – the big guys who took a big step and came on, which made it into the much bigger show that it is now.

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What are your strategies for (and general thoughts on) marketing?

I have a publicist who works very hard at procuring interviews, book reviews, guest blog posts, and getting me into myriad social media circuits. On top of the work she does, I dedicate two hours each weekday and four hours on Saturdays to marketing on my own. I’m very disciplined about this because I firmly believe that writers must take full accountability for their careers. No one cares about your books as much as you do, and it’s astonishing how many writers kick back and think someone will do it for them. It’s up to you, as the writer. It’s a business, and part of business is marketing. You wouldn’t slap an OPEN sign on the window of your new barber shop, go home, and wait for the money to start rolling in. Awareness is everything, and building that awareness is no nine to five job. It’s ongoing. It’s also exhausting, and the temptation is to relax and let the book “sell itself” or hope your publisher is doing it for you. This is great in theory, but the payoff isn’t satisfying. I work too hard on my books not to give them proper exposure.

In your opinion, what makes a good writer?

To me, it’s a matter of heart. There are all kinds of rules (don’t use adverbs, blah, blah, blah) but at the end of the day, a good writer is one who puts his or her heart into the story and has the determination to make it a success. There are reasons for rules – and you must know the rules before you break them – but it takes a lot more than protocol to write a compelling story.

Any advice on image and branding?

I think it’s important to present yourself as a professional. While writing a good book is critical, nothing will cancel that out faster than behaving like an amatuer. I cringe every time I see an author arguing with a reader who left a poor review, or fighting with their friends on Facebook … or publicly bashing their agents or publishers. It’s embarrassing.

What are you working on now?

In collaboration, Tamara Thorne and I working on the final installment of our serialized Gothic, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Though this is the final episode in this volume, a new story arc begins immediately – same place, same players. Ravencrest is like a soap opera – it just keeps going and we currently foresee no real end. Also, we have begun our next collaborative novel, a psychological thrill-fest that will be due out late this year or early next.

As for solos, I’ve begun a new novel which, although unrelated to The Crimson Corset, will feature Nick Grayson, who made an appearance in Corset. This book takes place in a neighboring (fictional) town, and is full of magick, mayhem, and all things macabre. Once this is completed, I’ll begin work on The Crimson Corset’s sequel.

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Alistair Cross was born in the western United States and began penning his own stories by the age of eight. First published by Damnation Books in 2012, Alistair has since published several more novels. In 2012, he joined forces with international bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write the successful Gothic series, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Their newest novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, is an Amazon Best Seller, and this summer also sees the release of Alistair’s solo novel, The Crimson Corset.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the internet radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! Haunted Nights LIVE! premiered to great acclaim and has featured such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels, and New York Times best sellers Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.

Alistair is currently at work on several projects including a solo novel and a new Thorne & Cross collaboration. His influences include the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty.

You can visit Alistair at his website at alistaircross.com

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Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Count Saint-Germain. Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires Mysteries. Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampires in the Anita Blake series. Anne Rice’s Lestat, and of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula. These iconic vampires inspire us all.

After Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s April 23rd visit to Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! we got to thinking about all the different types of vampires that are lurking out there. This week, on June 23rd, we will be talking to Laurell K. Hamilton about her vampires’ foibles and how they differ from Yarbro’s and Stoker’s, and when Charlaine Harris visits on August 6th, we’re looking forward to getting her take on vampiric habits, as well.

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Today’s vampires are the descendants of a long literary history and as writers in the horror genre, we wanted to brush-up on our vampiric knowledge. We were continually surprised, perplexed, and in some cases, annoyed by the ever-evolving vampire archetype. In our travels, we’ve come across some of the most fascinating vampires out there. There’s too much information to include here, so we’ve decided to see what some of the most popular modern vampires do and do not have in common.

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The first European vampires were simply fanged ghouls, bloody and corpse-y, with ruddy dark complexions. Sometimes they cast reflections and shadows, sometimes not. They were frightening but lacked sex appeal. In modern fiction, John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) paved the way for sex appeal. His vampire was fangless, sexually attractive and young.

In 1845, Malcolm Ryder introduced us to Varney the Vampire via the penny dreadfuls he published for two years. Varney’s look was hideous, white and bloodless, and he had fangs. Sex appeal? Only his hypnotic eyes qualified.

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Sheridan Le Fanu wrote Carmilla in 1871. Carmilla had an “unearthly pale beauty,” fangs, and could be seen in mirrors. She also cast a shadow. She was overtly sexual with a penchant for the ladies, seducing them with her bite. Carmilla truly established the sexual standard for the most sensuous vampires today and is certainly a major precursor to Anne Rice’s Lestat and the others of his kind.

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The best-known vampires these days include many properties of the classics, but they vary with each writer. Yarbro’s Saint-Germain only needs small amounts of blood to survive and his meals are often willingly provided by women who find him attractive. Like Dracula, he needs his native earth to survive, and Saint-Germain keeps a layer of dirt in his shoes that protects him from sunlight. Like his namesake, the historical Count Saint-Germain he is an alchemist, a scholar, and a gentleman.

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Charlaine Harris’ vampires in The Southern Vampire Mysteries (aka the Sookie Stackhouse novels or True Blood for the TV series). These vampires claim to have a medical condition that is akin to photophobia and photosensitivity of the skin.  Extremely powerful, with stronger-than-human senses, they look normal, though they are pale and cold. These vamps can glamour humans. Their fangs are retractable. As a side note, the retractable fang debuted in 1967 when Barnabas Collins appeared on Dark Shadows. It’s now a common trait seen in Forever Knight, The Vampire Diaries, Lost Boys and Abraham Lincoln,Vampire Hunter, to name but a few.

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Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampires have fangs, cast shadows, and have reflections. Although vampirism does not make her vampires unusually beautiful, many of the bloodlines in the novels happen to be very attractive ones. Hamilton’s vampires have skills such as heightened senses, immortality, and the ability to hypnotize. As opposed to the majority of most vampire fiction, Hamilton’s universe is unique in that her supernatural beings are common knowledge among the human community. This opens up interesting plot threads and allows topics such as equality to be addressed, giving the monster world an interesting likeness to real world problems.

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We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the popular vampires of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. These vamps are magnificently beautiful, pale and cold. Their teeth are sharp and serrated but they don’t have fangs. The eyes darken and their bodies are nearly indestructable. They can tolerate sunlight but avoid it because it makes them, well, you know … we don’t even want to say it.

So, what about our vampires? Tamara Thorne did her own take on vampires in Candle Bay and Alistair Cross has just completed his new vampire novel, The Crimson Corset.

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The Candle Bay vampires enjoy scenting food and drink, but only consume these things under the influence of a drug that Trueborn Julian Valentyn has created. (Julian is not human, but one of the few remaining true vampires left on earth. Most died out when Atlantis was destroyed.) The human vampires of Candle Bay are slightly pale and cool. They tend to be attractive, but this isn’t a rule. They breathe (when they want) and have sexual cravings that aren’t about blood. The terrible teenaged twins, Juicy Lucy and Poison Ivy, are forever under the influences of their 16-year-old hormones. While the vampires are stronger than humans and have better senses, they are full of human foibles.

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Alistair’s vampires in The Crimson Corset are pale with marble-like skin, and are generally cool to the touch, depending on their most recent feeding. Similarly to snakes, these vampires secrete a venom that has different effects depending on the dose. In small amounts, the venom will heighten a human’s senses, and in large amounts it’s lethal, and will end the human life and bring about the transition into vampirism. In either case, any amount of venom creates a bond between the human and the vampire that turns the human into the vampire’s servant. The venom in this neck of the woods is highly addictive, making the human/vampire relationship much like the relationship between an addict and his or her dealer. These vampires tend to be attractive, though this is mainly because Gretchen VanTreese, master vampire of the bad guys, has a penchant for pretty things.

Our vampires are similar enough that we are able to have them be neighbors and interact in The Crimson Corset. For example, both the Candle Bay and Crimson Cove vampires are able to function, although sluggishly – in the day, so long as they avoid direct sunlight. Also, both our vampires have retractable fangs and require human blood to survive.  But although we have placed them in the same world, they do have some differences.

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We’ve decided to collaborate on Candle Bay’s sequel so that our vampires can do some serious hanging out. The sequel concerns a road trip to Eternity, California where lots of vampiric families are getting together for a reunion. We’ll tell you more about that later, but we promise that you’ll meet many flavors of vampires!
As you can see, there are many variations of vampirism, and watching the evolution is a delight. Personally, we enjoy the ever-changing vampire-scape as it keeps things interesting, fresh, and inspiring. With all of these variations to choose from, it’s no wonder the vampire never dies.

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All images retrieved from Google Search.

Visit our websites at tamarathorne.com and alistiaircross.com

Laurell K. Hamilton 2013 photo credit Ma Petite Enterprises

Next Thursday, June 25th, we’ll be spending the hour with Laurell K Hamilton​ at Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE​! The show starts at 9 pm Eastern, 6 Pacific, 7 Mountain, and 8 Central. Join the Facebook event here. Listen to the show at Haunted Nights LIVE!

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton is best known for her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series and the Merry Gentry series.  The Anita Blake series centers on Anita Blake, a professional zombie raiser, vampire executioner and U.S. Marshal.  Six million copies of Anita Blake novels are in print.  The Merry Gentry series centers on Meredith Gentry, Princess of the Unseelie court of Faerie, a private detective facing repeated assassination attempts.  Both fantasy series follow their protagonists as they gain in power and deal with the dangerous “realities” of worlds in which creatures of legend live.

Links:

www.laurellkhamilton.org

https://twitter.com/lkhamilton

https://www.facebook.com/LaurellKHamiltonOfficial

http://www.amazon.com/Laurell-K.-Hamilton/e/B000AP73GO/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1434649258&sr=8-2-ent

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Anita Blake has the highest kill count of any vampire executioner in the country. She’s a U.S. Marshal who can raise zombies with the best of them. But ever since she and master vampire Jean-Claude went public with their engagement, all she is to anyone and everyone is Jean-Claude’s fiancée.

It’s wreaking havoc with her reputation as a hard ass—to some extent. Luckily, in professional circles, she’s still the go-to expert for zombie issues. And right now, the FBI is having one hell of a zombie issue.

Someone is producing zombie porn. Anita has seen her share of freaky undead fetishes, so this shouldn’t bother her. But the women being victimized aren’t just mindless, rotting corpses. Their souls are trapped behind their eyes, signaling voodoo of the blackest kind.

It’s the sort of case that can leave a mark on a person. And Anita’s own soul may not survive unscathed…

To listen to interviews with other authors or see who we have coming up, visit the full guest list at alistaircross.com

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We have a confirmed date. Charlaine Harris, author of the Southern Vampire series and basis of the HBO show, TRUE BLOOD, will be on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! on August 6th, 2015.

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Tonight on Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, we’ll be talking to novelist and vampire aficionado, Karen E. Taylor, who is having a GREAT big book giveaway. To win, send us an e-mail at our Haunted Nights LIVE! Facebook page, or at hauntednightslive@gmail.com, saying you’d like to enter the contest. We will choose 3 winners. The first will win the entire VAMPIRE LEGACY series in paperback, and the second and third will win an e-book copy of her soon-to-be released novel, CELLAR.

Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=793FWLH6TNc

The link goes live tonight at 9:00 EST, 6:00 Pacific. Just click it to listen: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheairradio2/2015/02/27/karen-e-taylor-joins-thorne-cross-haunted-night-live

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