Posts Tagged ‘Bad things’

Looking for a great Halloween-themed read? Check out Tamara’s Bad Things! Here’s what one reviewer has to say:

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“In BAD THINGS by Tamara Thorne, the author combines the elements of nature folklore, Halloween, dysfunctional families, and a good bit of perverted sex to weave a dark supernatural thriller that centers on two brothers, Rick and Robin Piper (descendants of the Scottish Piper clan that has for centuries been able to see the mythical and mischievous “greenjacks” of British folklore).

The story starts out during the early seventies in the Southern California community of Santo Verde where the Pipers have lived for several generations. Though Ricky’s just a boy, he’s the only one in the family who now has the sight and is able to see the nature spirits known as greenjacks. Not even his deformed, legless twin brother, Robin, is able to see these small, ethereal beings.

Each year on All Hallows Eve, the small jacks join together to create the giant, Big Jack, out of broken limps and leaves. This hideous creature attempts to help them take over the body of any Piper child caught defenseless, or near death. Because of a Halloween prank gone terribly wrong, Robin is almost killed by Big Jack as he saves Ricky’s life. Instead of dying, however, Robin’s body becomes inhabited by one of the greenjacks, and he turns into an evil, manipulative creature whose one desire is to kill his brother.

Jump to the present as Rick-who’s now a widower with two children-decides to finally leave Las Vegas and return to his old home in California, hoping to offer his kids a better living environment. Rick’s parents (supposedly murdered by a burglar) and his brother, Robin, have long been dead. With the help of Carmen and Hector (the housekeeper and gardener for the estate), he will once again face the nightmares of his childhood and have to overcome the fears that have haunted his life for so long.

Rick will eventually have to put everything on the line in a final confrontation with Big Jack and with a murderous relative who won’t be satisfied until he’s finally dead. The power of BAD THINGS lies in the author’s ability to make the reader care for Ricky Piper as a young boy and the insurmountable obstacles that he has to face when Robin’s body is taken over by a greenjack. Rick’s fun-loving brother turns into the purest form of evil, delighting in the misery, misfortune, and death of others.

When the children’s parents are mysteriously murdered and Aunt Jade moves in with her mean, hard-drinking husband and her sleazy teenage daughter, things grow progressively worse for the young boy. It takes little time for his brother to sexually seduce the older niece, as well as the aunt, impregnating both of them with his sense of evil.

To my surprise and pleasure, this is where the author delivers the goods with full force, allowing the darkness within each of us to come out in all of its wicked manifestations. Tamara Thorne never holds back in her description of how evil and perverseness can choose to express itself. The only problem I had with the book was with Rick’s character and his inability to face the obvious.

I wanted him to have more backbone in order to deal with the situations as they arose. Fortunately, the characters of Carmen and Hector, Rick’s pre-opt transsexual friend, Dakota, and Dakota’s sister, Audrey, helped to balance out the main character’s ineptness at perceiving danger and how to deal with it. I even found myself buying the greenjacks, though I had a hard time picturing “Big Jack” in my mind. Still, some of the scenes at night with Big Jack and the little jacks were scary enough to give me goose bumps.

The author has a great way of carrying you right to the edge with anxiety whenever she puts children in danger. BAD THINGS is definitely a novel I would recommend to anyone seeking something to read at night when the blinds are closed, everyone’s asleep, and strange noises are emanating from the other side of the house.

This is the kind of book that would add greatly to your unease. In fact, I liked this novel so much, that I’ve already purchased three others (ETERNITY, THE FORGOTTEN & CANDLE BAY) by Tamara Thorne to read in the near future.”

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Halloween is my favorite season and I wanted to write a book about the holiday as well as childhood terrors, about the panic that children feel when the lights go out and they know that something is there, lurking in the dark, watching, waiting to steal them away. That book became Bad Things and it began with a poem.BadThingsMan_1000

Big Jack

Winter cold, winter dreary

Winter leaves

No sap, no fool

Winter bones

No need to panic

Big Jack sleeps, the little ones too.

March buds, April flowers

May blood

So green, so new

Spring veins pump

And children panic

Big Jack wakes, the little ones too.

Summer heat, summer passion

Summer nights

So hot, so hungry

Dark desires

The children cower

Big Jack stands, the little ones too.

Autumn red, autumn brittle

Autumn cravings

So harsh, so clear

Child, run

Before he gets you

Big Jack walks, the little ones too.

                        © Tamara Thorne

As a child, there was nothing I liked better than going outside at twilight, especially in the fall, when the crisping leaves whispered and cackled about the arrival of Bad ThingsHalloween, making the night sounds even spookier. Oh, how I loved to scare myself! The good kind of scare, involving misty ghosts, eerie birdsong and, most of all, the greenjacks. The greenjacks were the best. They still are.

I became aware of green men when I was very small; my parents took me into Los Angeles to visit the museums at least once a month. I loved the natural history museum where the dinosaur bones towered and roared, where and the dioramas of cavemen and mammals in that great dark hall threatened to move if I so much as glanced away.

I loved peering into the mummy’s case, waiting for his papery whisper, wondering if he was aware of my shameless stare – and imagining what he might do if he could find the magic to reach out and grab me. At that point I would giggle and flee the room.  

In the space museum, there were rockets. I loved them, too, because my brain was locked and loaded with Ray Bradbury’s stories about Mars and outer space. Mars, I thought, really was heaven.ween

But most of all – next to the mummy and dinosaurs – I loved part of the history museum where huge old English tapestries festooned the walls. That’s where I first spotted green men hiding from hunters and ladies and dogs, peering around trees and through the leaves, watching… and waiting. They often had puckish goat legs, and always leered, full of wicked humor. I could – and did – spend hours sitting on a bench studying my latest find, telling myself endless stories about these green tricksters.

At home after dusk, I would go out in our vast backyard and sit cross-legged on the grass and stare at the ivied wall behind the swing set until the faces would come. They moved in the breeze, the shadow-faces, green eyes glinting, green lips moving. I could pretend the soughing wind and the mockingbirds’ cries were their calling voices, and that the chittering leaves were their whispers as they plotted and planned what they’d do if they caught me.Ruth Sanderson green man

The fear was delicious and I’d fight it, trying to stay put, to remain outside in the dark, but inevitably I’d run inside, frightened in the best way possible. Soon, the thrill would subside and I’d go back out to play the greenjack game again.  

Back then, I called them green monsters or green men and I made up stories to tell my friends when we camped out in the backyard on sleepover nights. Inevitably, we’d land in the safety of my bedroom long before midnight, where we’d hold a seance and try to talk to lingering ghosts or call up Bloody Mary.

But the green men were always my favorites. A little research led me to watch for them on the corners of old buildings, so I loved it when we’d go into the city because I could watch for them there too, and make up stories about how, at midnight, they would come to life and climb down to cavort in the meager trees and bushes by the buildings.

When I decided to write Bad Things, the green men became greenjacks.  “Jack” is a name  commonly used in conjunction with green men in England.  “Jack in the Green” was my inspiration.  May Day, May Poles, fertility rights are all tied up with this version of the green man.

greenknight1Around the world, there are many variations on the green man, but mine are American with English and Scottish roots. (In The Sorority, the Green Knight (from the Arthurian tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) makes several appearances and he’s pure Britannia.)

There are plenty of other modern green men. Tolkien’s Ents are probably the best known but the forest sprite, Tom Bombadil, from Tolkien’s The Hobbit, captured my interest even more. Groot, of Marvel Comics fame, is popular in these days of superhero worship.Bad ThingsTom-bombadil

The Green Man is also known to change with the seasons, becoming a holly king by winter and oaken royalty cloaked in a riot of fall colors in autumn. As the ruler of spring, he is festooned with tender young flowers, and in summer he is seen with bright blooms, corn, and wheat.

I wanted to create my own green man to match southern California since green men are always local deities. My Big Jack would be darkly green and lush, even at Halloween, alive and growing and terrible, and his minions, the greenjacks, would be nature spirits that only a cursed few (like our hero, Ricky Piper) can see. Normal people see only catch glimpses of whirlwinds and dust-devils, if they spot anything at all.

Bad Things TomOldManWillow

In my lore, the greenjacks, like many “little people” of legend, and Big Jack, their master, are tied to changeling myths, but mine are also tied to All Hallow’s Eve. Poor Ricky is afraid to say anything because his parents already think he’s overly sensitive and imaginative – but he is tormented by these capering, terrifying entities as they search for a proper sacrifice as Halloween approaches. Ricky can’t even enjoy the holiday because of his fears. He is a boy terrified of the dark and what it holds. As an adult, he must confront those fears once more in order to protect his own son.

As Halloween nears, take a moment to sit outdoors and enjoy the leaves on the trees and shrubs and see if you can find any greenjacks. And if you see them, be especially careful on Halloween night  – don’t let Big Jack, a monster made of branches and leaves that pulse with green blood, catch you!

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Our readers have been asking questions about our new novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting.  We’ve collected some up to answer here.

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Is the Cliffhouse Lodge based on a real hotel? Yes, in some ways. It was built by an architect associated with Gilbert Stanley Underwood, designer of Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel, Grand Canyon Lodge, and the Timberline Lodge in Oregon among many others.  It also has roots in California’s Brookdale Lodge. The Brookdale’s natural stream in the dining room inspired the stream that runs through the lobby in the Cliffhouse Lodge.

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The story is set in the San Bernardino Mountains. Are they any real ghost stories attached to that area?

Yes, many, though we didn’t use any. Just Google “ghost stories San Bernardino Mountains, Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear” and you’ll find plenty.

Is the Blue Lady a ghost from real life?

There are many blue ladies in ghost fact and fiction. They appear all over the globe. Our Blue Lady is a little different in that she isn’t a human spirit but an elemental one. A naiad if you will, a water spirit, a force of nature. Some characters think of her as a regular ghost, or as Santa Muerte, a female saint of death not condoned by the Vatican. She is also connected by some to La Llorona (The Weeping Woman). La Llorona is famous for having drowned her children in order to seduce a man who she thinks wouldn’t want them.  She is a Latina banshee who walks and wails and seduces children to watery deaths.

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What ghost stories did you base your story on?

Many. The Blue Lady partially hails from a spooky night Tamara and her husband spent in a lodge overlooking Boothbay Harbor in Maine. A strip of forest no more than 20 feet wide hugged the parking area and when they stepped from the asphalt into the woods, intending to check out the water, they experienced a dizziness and something that can only be described as a clinging chill that ran up their arms and remained until they nearly all the way upstairs to their room. A pervasive smell of dark water clung to the cold.

You two spent time in a real-life haunted cabin. Did it have anything to do with Cliffhouse?

We spent five nights in a haunted cabin at the request of a frightened owner and conceived of the basic story of Cliffhouse there. We experienced sounds and other anomalies we couldn’t readily explain while staying in the lightless little cabin. We don’t know what caused all the incidents there, but it was frightening and exciting. It was so intense that we set aside our work in progress to write Cliffhouse while the experiences were fresh.

Did anything happen in the cabin that you put into the book?

We fictionalize everything, but the description of Sara’s floating sandwich is pretty close to one of the real incidents we experienced.

What about the ghost cat, Omar Siam?  

There are many hotels with stories of resident feline spirits that leap on beds or meow, and we thought it would be nice to have one at Cliffhouse. Omar Siam is named for Tamara’s own Siamese kitty, who lived a fat and pampered life.

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And the perfume of Aunt Theodosia’s ghost?

This came from an experience Alistair had when he was very young. He remembers waking up in the middle of the night and seeing an unfamiliar woman in his room. He spoke to her and she didn’t reply. She disappeared without acknowledging him, but he remembers that she left behind a soft, flowery scent. When we wrote Theodosia, we gave her the signature perfume – we chose White Shoulders – that she left behind.

Was “Walleye” Gardner inspired by anyone?

He is based on a strange man who walked around the small town that Alistair grew up in. Alistair remembers that the man had strange eyes that seemed to look in different directions. Alistair was intrigued by – and a little frightened of – the man, and he and his friends would often follow him, trying to see who he was and where he lived. When Walter Gardner came into existence in Cliffhouse, Tamara and Alistair based him on this mysterious man.

Is Constance Welling based on anyone?

No, but we did incorporate all the worst qualities of egotistical would-be writers into her persona. We’ve encountered many people like her; those who consider themselves above genre writing, those who try too hard to be “literary,” those who are baffled by – and hateful toward – the publishing industry and prefer to spend their time bemoaning the difficulties of the business rather than writing novels. Constance is also the embodiment of vanity – she is a woman who refuses to accept growing older, and no longer being the young, beautiful center of attention she imagines she once was. Constance Welling is entitled – and not justifiably so. She is the ego personified. We had a lot of fun her and thoroughly enjoyed doling out the justice she deserved. It was therapeutic – for both of us – for reasons we can not publicly disclose.

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How did Dr. Siechert come to be?

Dr. Siechert is one of those “people” who decided he didn’t want to be just a secondary character; he demanded to be heard. He quickly showed more and more eccentricities as his intake of Blue Springs Water increased. We both broke out in laughter the day he called the mortician’s wife a very bad name in front of everyone. He took off with the story after that, creating his own thread by dating Constance Welling. We still wonder what he was thinking.

Did you know that H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer, was really named Herman Mudgett?

Yes.

HHH

Are a lot of your characters’ names based in reality?

Yes, in odd ways. For instance, Dr. Siechert’s name is lifted from one of the possible Jack the Ripper suspects. Also, there is a humorous link between the names Siechert and Cornhull, but we can’t say any more except that it has everything to do with the finger Siechert carries around. We also love puns. Try saying ‘Constance Welling’ and ‘Constance Leigh Welling’ out loud… Also, Sara Bellamy’s name is a hidden pun. Consider that she’s very intelligent and say her full name aloud.

Tell us about the old lady who likes to take baths. The bathroom was described just like the one in Kubrick’s The Shining. Is there a reason for that?

Yes. We wanted to do it since water horror is involved. Maisy Hart – said old lady – was originally a near throw-away character slated to be found dead in her tub. Her name, before she acquired a speaking role, was Mrs. Massey… You might also recognize the names of the young couple beleaguered by ghosts: George and Marianne Kirby. Change the spelling slightly and you’ve got another young couple who were ghosts who picked on a man named Cosmo Topper. There are lots more. Beverly Hill, for instance. She’s the most obvious. Generally we look for names and place names that won’t be noticed if they aren’t pointed out.

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Is Laurel Lutz a real actress?

No, but the name is a snark at a real singer/actress who constantly and inexplicably shows up in Alistair’s “likes” on Facebook. Revenge was necessary.

Shouldn’t the restaurant in Cliffhouse be called Le Chat Rouge?

No. We knew what we were doing when we added that extra “TE” to “Chat.”

Are the kids who befriend Walleye based on your own kids or nieces and nephews?

No.Think about the names. Carrie. Tommy.  Pre-high school Carrie and Tommy. Dirty Pillows. Proms. We were having fun. The last name of Collins can refer to the drink you want after dealing with them, or the family from Dark Shadows. Your choice.

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Sheriff Jackson Ballou has a sister named Kitty and a father named Lee. The names seem familiar but I can’t place them.

Like many other characters, Jackson Ballou was born fully named. Kitty Ballou and Lee Ballou came later – ever see a movie called Cat Ballou?  That’s probably why it sounds familiar. Kitty simply sounds like Cat, but Lee – Lee is special.  From the moment we knew Jackson needed a drunken dad, it was Lee Marvin, the king of drunken cowboys (in Cat Ballou and Paint Your Wagon among others.) While we rarely know what our main characters really look like – we like to be vague so the readers can envision them the way they want – minor characters often look like someone to us. And that’s true of Lee Ballou. In fact, we’re pretty sure his middle name is Marvin.

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Were there any characters you were surprised by?

Yes. Chad Armstrong. He began as a secondary character, grew into something much larger, and then in edits, he got cut back to a secondary status again. His sexual preferences went back and forth quite a bit, too, which made for amusing rewrites.

Was The Bodice Ripper a real serial killer in history?

No. We just love the name. It’s based on a book genre often referred to as “bodice ripper.”

bodiceripper

Is it true that Cliffhouse was originally 175,000 words? What happened the the rest of it?

Yes. We ended up having to cut over 50,000 words. One of our favorite character’s threads was removed, but we saved it, and intend to incorporate his already-written scenes into a very exciting, large apocalyptic novel  (working title is B.O. – Big One) which we’ll begin in 2016. Nothing is wasted.

Who wrote which scenes?

We both wrote them, equally. We work in the same document, side by side. We have a mutual email account and we write in the Cloud while simultaneously talking on Skype. When we say that we collaborate, we mean it. Our sensibilities and styles are so similar that we rarely even remember who thought of a scene, let alone who wrote what. Both our fingerprints are all over everything.

Have either of you ever stayed in a haunted hotel?

Of course! Long before we met, we were both into haunted hotels and each of us have managed to rent the most-haunted rooms in those hotels. While we have only experienced a few minor spooky incidents, we both love recalling the spooky halls and rooms, the expectations of scariness, and these get into our work.

Cliffhouse is set in California with Tamara’s other novels. Will you write more books in that area? Why does it appeal to you?

Yes. We are already writing more books that are set in California. Devilswood in The Ghosts of Ravencrest isn’t too far from Cliffside, and Crimson Cove, in Alistair’s upcoming solo, The Crimson Corset is also close by. We plan to continue creating our own fictional universe, and as you read our work, you’ll see references to our other towns and even occasional guest appearances by characters from other books. California appeals to us because it has everything – ocean, mountains, deserts, and it’s in the southwest, where we both live. We may venture out of state, but we’ll still be in the same fictional universe. We’ve adopted radio deejay Coastal Eddie from Tamara’s Candle Bay as a sort of narrator – the voice of unreason, so to speak. He’s making appearances in almost all of our novels.

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Alistair’s upcoming book is called The Crimson Corset. There is a Crimson Corset in Cliffhouse. Was this deliberate?

The idea for naming a nightclub The Crimson Corset goes way back. When we were writing Cliffhouse, we put a club there with that name, but Alistair’s novel, The Crimson Corset, was already underway. The original title of this novel was Crimson Cove, the name of the town the novel is set in, but as the plot thickened, The Crimson Corset became a more appropriate title. We figure that The Crimson Corset is a chain of nightclubs. More of them will likely be seen in other works.

How did you come up with that nasty immersion blender scene?

It was inspired by a hot pink immersion blender that Tamara’s close friend gave her for Christmas a couple years back. It was supposed to be red and the friend offered to exchange it, but the hot pink Cuisinart was just too perfect. “It’s like having a sex toy in the kitchen,” says Mr. Thorne.

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What about all the festivals? Do those really happen in the San Bernardino Mountains?

Pretty much, though if you want to see a huge Civil War reenactment in the area, you need to go to Calico Ghost Town around President’s Day. This is in the high desert by the mountains. (It’s also the inspiration for Tamara’s novel, Thunder Road.) Local mountain towns Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead are famous for their Oktoberfest celebrations.

Have you ever swum in a real indoor pool?

Yes, and it’s as scary as you think it is, even without ghosts.

Visit our websites at: tamarathorne.com & alistaircross.com

(images retrieved from Google images)

Halloween!

Tomorrow is the last day that you can get Tamara Thorne’s classic Halloween tale of terror Bad Things on sale for the special low price of $2.99 on all e-reader formats. Bad Things chronicles  the Piper clan, who emigrated from Scotland and founded the town of Santo Verde, California. The Gothic Victorian estate built there has housed the family for generations, and has also become home to an ancient evil forever linked to the Piper name. . . an evil that comes out on Halloween.

Bad Things

We’re sad to see that sale go, but on a brighter note, today is the first that our omnibus edition of The Ghosts of Ravencrest: Darker Shadows is available. This spookier new version includes the revamped first two installments of the serial novel formerly known as The Erotic Adventures of Belinda, in addition to the all-new third installment, Darker Shadows. Come give Ravencrest a visit today. You’re likely to bump into something nice and creepy. Especially if you wander into the east wing…

ARavencrest

Tamara Thorne’s tale of Halloween terror, Bad Things, is based on a childhood game she played as twilight stole the day away. She loved to sit on the swing in her backyard and watch as shadowed breezes swirled through bushes and flower beds. She imagined little creatures she called greenjacks cavorting and playing among the leaves and flowers, and pretended they watched her, too, giggling and whispering.  They weren’t evil, exactly, nor were they to be trusted.

Later, Tamara became entranced by the tales of green men and loved to go the museum and study English tapestries, always looking, often finding, the mysterious Green Man lurking among the trees. For Bad Things, she drew on folklore about this lusty earth elemental, from the Green Knight in Arthurian legend, to Greek satyrs, Robin Hood, and all other forms. She tooks those and made up her own green man, Big Jack. His minions are the greenjacks, and if you’re lucky – or unlucky – you just might see them, especially around Halloween. If you do, be very careful, because they know, and they will want you for their own.

Bad Things is the story of one such encounter.  It’s on sale now in all e-readers.

bigjack

BIG JACK

Winter cold, winter dreary

Winter leaves

No sap, no fool

Winter bones

No need to panic

Big Jack sleeps, the little ones too.

~

March buds, April flowers

May blood

So green, so new

Springs veins pump

And children panic

Big Jack wakes, the little ones too.

~

Summer heat, summer passion

Summer nights

So hot, so hungry

Dark desires

The children cower

Big Jack stands, the littles too.

~

Autumn red, autumn brittle

Autumn cravings

So harsh, so clear

Child, run

Before he gets you

Big Jack walks, the little ones, too.

~

Bad Things

~

Bad Things by Tamara Thorne

The Piper clan emigrated from Scotland and founded the town of Santo Verde, California. The Gothic Victorian estate built there has housed the family for generations, and has also become home to an ancient evil forever linked to the Piper name. . .

As a boy, Rick Piper discovered he had “the sight.” It was supposed to be a family myth, but Rick could see the greenjacks–the tiny mischievous demons who taunted him throughout his childhood–and who stole the soul of his twin brother Robin one Halloween night.

Now a widower with two children of his own, Rick has returned home to build a new life. He wants to believe the greenjacks don’t exist, that they were a figment of his own childish fears and the vicious torment he suffered at the hands of his brother. But he can still see and hear them, and they haven’t forgotten that Rick escaped them so long ago. And this time, they don’t just want Rick. This time they want his children. . .