Interview with Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross
Author of The Ghosts of Ravencrest (The Ravencrest Saga: Book I)
Thorne & Cross are authors of dark fiction. Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross write together and separately and are best known for their series, The Ravencrest Saga. They also host Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, a podcast derived from their research into the strange, the unusual, and the unknown.
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What inspired The Ravencrest Saga, especially The Ghosts of Ravencrest?
- We’re both fans of the gothic genre. Du Maurier’s Rebecca is a mutual favorite, plus we’ve each read hundreds of other gothics as well. Basically, If it has a distraught young woman running across a lawn while casting fearful glances back at a brooding mansion, we’ve probably devoured it at one time or another. Our favorite gothics prominently feature ghost stories, and when we decided that we wanted to write our own gothic series, we turned to our past loves -- particularly Rebecca, our very favorite gothic, and Dark Shadows, which gave its audience every supernatural trope imaginable. We’d been hesitant to start a series, but we immediately knew that Ravencrest would give us room to explore all of our favorite things.
What can you tell us about Belinda Moorland, your central character?
- Like her gothic contemporaries, Belinda is young and naive -- but we wanted to establish early on that The Ravencrest Saga was going to be darker than typical gothic romance novels. So we set about shattering her innocence right away. She’s still somewhat naive, but she has an edge to her now -- a necessary one, given all the evil she’s been up against at Ravencrest Manor in the first books.
We created a backstory for Belinda that helps define her. She’s a young woman who was raised by a zealot of a mother who attempted to dominate her daughter to keep her “pure.” As the series begins, Momma’s efforts have backfired and Belinda is offered a job as governess to millionaire Eric Manning’s children. Starry-eyed Belinda immediately runs into all sorts of people, from handsome enigmatic Eric, and mysterious head butler Grant Phister, to Mrs. Heller, Eric’s witchy bitchy administrative assistant. But Belinda soon finds out she has a special talent -- she can see ghosts. And that’s really where The Ravencrest Saga begins.
Tell us about Ravencrest Manor and its location.
- The Ravencrest Saga takes place in an English manor that was imported stone by stone from England well over two hundred years ago. It was rebuilt on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the town of Devilswood, to the east. It’s a beautiful area a couple hours north of Santa Barbara and is surrounded by woods and gardens … and filled with ghost stories.
Is there erotica in The Ghosts of Ravencrest?
- A little. We originally thought we’d like to include a strong tone of sexuality in The Ghosts of Ravencrest, At that time, we were releasing it as a serial novel and quickly found out that we were going to need a lot more than just a sexual climax in each episode if we wanted to do a long-running series. We toned it down, and while we don’t shy away from a little erotica now and then -- Mrs. Heller won’t let us! -- subsequent novels are far less sex-centric. In Ghosts, though, the chapter titled The Physical is, we’re told, very steamy. Throughout the book, there are a number of very excited ghosts sniffing around Belinda, as well.
How do you divide up the characters? Does Alistair do the men and Tamara, the women?
- No. We both write every character. While it’s true we each sometimes have favorites, we never go “exclusive,” and certainly not by gender. Our characters are simply real people to us and our goal is to get into their heads and understand them. Often, the characters who are the least like ourselves are the most fun to explore.
How do you divide up the work in general?
- We write together every day in our virtual office connected in the cloud and by Skype. We both work on the same scenes, often at the same time. Other times, one of us takes the lead in a scene, depending on who’s really feeling it. It’s always fun. We read scenes back the next day to get started. It’s a great routine.
How many books will there be in The Ravencrest Saga?
- We don’t know. We’re going to keep writing the series until Belinda and her fellow cast members tell us their stories are complete. Right now, we have The Ghosts of Ravencrest, The Witches of Ravencrest, Exorcism, and Shadowland available. We’re currently working on the fifth novel and we know it won’t be the last, but other than that, we really don’t know. There are strings to be tied up when Belinda is capable of handling them, and there are more tales we want to tell, too. We love writing The Ravencrest Saga.
Darkness Never Dies ...
Ravencrest Manor has always been part of the family. The ancestral home of the Mannings, Ravencrest’s walls have been witness to generations of unimaginable scandal, horror, and depravity. Imported stone by stone from England to California in the early 1800s, the manor now houses widower Eric Manning, his children, and his staff. Ravencrest stands alone, holding its memories and ghosts close to its dark heart, casting long, black shadows across its grand lawns, through the surrounding forests, and over the picturesque town of Devilswood, below.
Dare to Cross the Threshold ...
Ravencrest Manor is the most beautiful thing new governess, Belinda Moorland, has ever seen, but as she learns more about its tangled past of romance and terror, she realizes that beauty has a dark side. Ravencrest is built on secrets, and its inhabitants seem to be keeping plenty of their own - from the handsome English butler, Grant Phister, to the power-mad administrator, Mrs. Heller, to Eric Manning himself, who watches her with dark, fathomless eyes. But Belinda soon realizes that the living who dwell in Ravencrest have nothing on the other inhabitants -- the ones who walk the darkened halls by night … the ones who enter her dreams … the ones who are watching … and waiting …
Welcome to Ravencrest ...
Who is the man digging in the garden beyond Belinda’s bedroom window? Who -- or what -- is watching her from the vents? From ghostly screams and the clutching bony fingers of death in the indoor pool, to the trio of nuns in the east wing who glide toward Belinda with black blazing eyes, to the beckoning little girl in the red dress who died more than two centuries ago, Belinda is thrust into a world of waking nightmares where there is no distinction between the living and the dead, and there are no limits to the horrors that await. Witchcraft is afoot at Ravencrest and as unspeakable terrors begin to unfold, Belinda realizes that her beautiful new home is a keeper of tragedy, a collector of souls. And it wants to add her to its collection