Wednesday 23 January 2019

Interview with Tamara Thorne - By David Kempf

Tamara Thorne's first novel was published in 1991. Since then she has written many more, including international bestsellers Haunted, Bad Things, Moonfall, and The Sorority. Tamara's interest in writing is lifelong, as is her fascination with the paranormal, occult, mythology and folklore. She's been an avid ghost story collector and writer all her life. 

When did you first become interested in writing?

I don’t recall a time I wasn’t interested. My mother read to me every morning from the day she brought he home, so my indoctrination into books came early. I remember walking around singing Paperback Writer in first grade. I was already telling kids ghost stories about various houses we could see from the schoolyard. I started writing them down because that made it easier for me to keep them straight. That’s how I found out how much I liked to write. 

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I’ve loved ghost stories all my life. I think I was just born that way. I’ve written about conspiracies, UFOs, and even done non-paranormal thrillers, but I always return to the ghost story. I teethed on Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond, Star Trek, and Dark Shadows. I discovered Ray Bradbury and Arthurian legend at eight, Shirley Jackson at eleven and Tolkien at twelve. 

Tell us about your beliefs in the paranormal and the afterlife. 

My mother says that in my second year, I told her there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I’m a born skeptic, neither a believer nor a debunker. I’ve seen a number of things I can find no explanation for and that delights me. I don’t consider something like telepathy paranormal and I think there are explanations already within reach for poltergeist activity and residual hauntings.  The latter are really no different from the ghostly waft of 80-year-old perfume from a handkerchief discovered in a long-closed attic trunk; they’re just a whole lot more fun.

How would you classify the genre you write?

Genre is important for letting readers find you, so I’m horror/thriller in that sense. Contemporary horror, gothic horror, horror with a bit of science in it. Horror woven with  mythology or history. It’s all good. But horror is something that’s found in every genre. It’s just the amount present that determines if it’s straight genre horror or if it’s called something else.

Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

Such tales provide an exciting escape from the real world. They’re safe thrills that spark the imagination and give you something to think about. 

What inspires your stories?

Anything and everything.  I draw from real life, from my own experiences, including exploring alleged hauntings, as well as from written accounts. I draw from stories about science, from history and legend, from places I visit, and even from my own dreams. 

What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

British horror - at least the books I’ve read - seems a little more subtle. Ghost stories are easier to find. I’m a fan.

What are your favorite horror books?

Jackson’s Hill House, Matheson’s Hell House, King’s The Shining, Straub’s If You Could See Me Now all come to mind. A newer favorite is Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. And if you want to read something absolutely terrifying - it has a feel of The Shining yet is much more compact - try Jay Bonansinga’s Self Storage. 

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The Uninvited (1945), Kubrick’s The Shining, The Haunting (1960), Ghost Story, Silence of the Lambs, The Woman in Black (BBC), The Exorcist, Poltergeist, Carrie, Evil Dead 2, Interview With the Vampire, An American Werewolf in London, and Shaun of the Dead. 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

Finishing the latest manuscript is always my greatest accomplishment.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

The usual - read every day and write every day. Also, it’s good to find someone you can honestly critique with. But finding the right person is vital.

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

Traditionally published writers - who know the value of proofreaders, copy editors, and editors - can do well with self-publishing. If you’re new, however, you must be patient enough to hone your craft until your writing is professional - and you must find those editors and use them. Amateurish work is a glut on the market. The important thing is not how a work is published, but the quality of that work.

What are your current projects?

My new solo, Brimstone, will appear soon. It’s a ghost story set in a former hospital - now a hotel - in a small mining town. Brimstone is a coming of age tale loaded with ghosts and mysteries, and is set in 1968. It’s heavily based on a real location and even incorporates a few of the real ghost stories.

My collaborator, Alistair Cross, and I are releasing episodes of our serial novel, Ravencrest: Exorcism every few months. Exorcism is the third book in the saga. The first two books, The Ghosts of Ravencrest and The Witches of Ravencrest are available as complete novels.  

We also recently saw publication of our collaborative novel, Darling Girls. It’s a standalone follow-up to our solo vampire novels, Candle Bay (Thorne) and The Crimson Corset (Cross). In Darling Girls, we send our motley crew of bloodsuckers to the town of Eternity (from my novel, Eternity) for a vampire festival called Biting Man. It was a hoot to write and great fun combining our vampiric worlds. We’re also reaching the halfway point on our next novel, Spite House, and enjoying the hell out of writing another mystery/thriller. (Mother was our first.)

We also continue our popular weekly podcast, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! where we interview horror illumaries of all variety.  

Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

I am my work. Not an hour goes by that I’m not thinking about storytelling. Every place I visit I see as a potential trove of story ideas. I love words and books and bad puns, along with movies and cats. I live a quiet, peaceful life; my philosophy is that drama belongs on the page.