Interview with Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross (authors of Darling Girls)

Joining us today, to kick off the week, is the legendary duo of Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross. We've reviewed a few of their titles here in the Ruins, although it has been several years since they last stopped by for a chat. 

With Darling Girls, their latest collaboration, just having hit stores, now seemed as good a time as any for a reunion.


Q: First of all, welcome back, Tamara and Alistair. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 3 years since you last stopped by. For those who haven't yet had a chance to explore Candle Bay and Crimson Cove, please tell us a little about yourself and what we can expect.

A: We’ve both written vampire novels in the past and decided writing a collaboration featuring both our vampire clans would be a blast. Ever since writing Candle Bay, Tamara’s wondered what the Darlings have been up to, especially since Alistair wrote The Crimson Corset, and gave cameos to several of her characters. Since the towns of Candle Bay and Crimson Cove are neighbors on California’s central coast, it felt right to bring our vampires together for an adventure. Darling Girls isn’t a sequel to either book, although you will find references to the solo books and will learn the outcome of the cliffhangers in Candle Bay.

Q: We’ll get to the books in a moment, but as both a horror reader and a haunted tour guide (best job I ever had), I have to ask you about Haunted Nights LIVE! You’ve had an impressive list of guests, with Douglas Preston, Graham Masterton, and Anne & Christopher Rice among the most recent highlights, but what are some of your favorite memories?

A: Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! is one of the coolest things to happen to either of us - and it’s given us lots of favorite memories. Among them would probably be the first (and every) time Jay Bonansinga (he writes the The Walking Dead books) came on and we all felt like long lost siblings. John Saul regaled us with publishing stories that were absolutely riveting, and hilarious - he’ll be back with more this August. We’ve had a couple of tipsy guests - that’s usually amusing, and getting writers like Anne Rice, Christopher Moore, and Laurell K. Hamilton always blows us away. One of our favorite frequent guests is Douglas Clegg, who puts us in stitches. D.P. Lyle is another. He’s a novelist and a surgeon and he tells the best (grossest) stories about forensic science you’ve ever heard. This year, we’ve expanded to include True Horror Nights - true crime - and our guests, like Harold Schechter, Catherine Pelonero, and Katherine Ramsland have really curled our short hairs with their tales of serial killers.

Q: Okay, back to the book! If we can begin with you, Alistair, The Crimson Corset is where your half of Darling Girls begins. For those who haven’t read it, what can they expect from Gretchen and the gang?

A: The Crimson Corset is the first in a series titled The Vampires of Crimson Cove. The Crimson Corset is about a seemingly ordinary young man named Cade Colter who moves to the tourist-centric little village of Crimson Cove where he discovers he’s not so ordinary after all. Unbeknownst to him, Cade has a genetic rarity that makes him very extraordinary … and very valuable, particularly to Gretchen VanTreese, the undead proprietor of the Crimson Corset - a nightclub of ill-repute that looms at the edge of town.

As Cade becomes the object of Gretchen’s obsession, the peaceful vampires on the other side of Crimson Cove must call off the ancient and uneasy truce between their Loyals and Gretchen’s in order to protect Cade Colter. But Gretchen has already begun laying an elaborate trap that will put Cade, and everyone around him, in mortal danger.

While Darling Girls isn’t a sequel to The Crimson Corset, it features several of my vampires (Michael, Winter, Chynna, and Arnie) who join Tamara’s vampires for a road trip to Eternity, where they meet others of their kind - a few of whom are returning with them and will be in the sequel to The Crimson Corset.

Q: Passing the stake to you, Tamara, you bring Candle Bay to the collaboration. For those who haven’t read it, what do you want them to know about the Darlings?

A: Candle Bay was not originally intended as a series, but by the time I got to the end, I knew that someday, I would have to revisit the Darling Family.

The Darlings run the Candle Bay Hotel and Spa in a foggy coastal town of the same name. The Darlings consist of Ori, who has a fetish for The Godfather, and his nieces and nephews; Natasha and Stephen, who run the hotel; Ivor, who’s head of security; and forever-16 twins, Juicy Lucy and Poison Ivy, who are always in trouble. Julian Valentyn, a rare Trueborn from the original Vampirus Erectus race also figure in the tale, which goes like this:

Lured to the picturesque spot, assistant concierge Amanda Pearce is mesmerized by her surroundings - and her seductive new boss, Stephen Darling. But her employers' eccentric ways fill her with trepidation. Little does Amanda know that not only are the Darlings vampires, but that a murderous vampire vendetta is about to begin - and she will be caught in the middle. For as the feud unfolds and her feelings for Stephen deepen, Amanda must face the greatest decision of her life: to die, or join the forever undead.

Although Darling Girls stands on its own, you’ll meet many of the original characters again and find out what ultimately happened between Stephen and Amanda. Also, you’ll discover more about the long-time relationship between Michael and Natasha. You’ll also meet vampires from Julian Valentyn’s past - at least one of which will figure in a future Candle Bay sequel. But mostly we think you’ll just have a blast hanging out at Biting Man, which is the vampiric holiday no fanged ones ever want to miss.

Q: You’ve collaborated before, of course, but what prompted you to bring your solo creations together – other than the obvious blood connection, that is?

A: While the idea to combine our worlds - in all of our books - was one of the first things we decided on, the idea to join our vampires came when Alistair was writing The Crimson Corset; we could tell there was a spark between Michael and Natasha. We wanted to find out what it was ... so we began Darling Girls. On top of that, we simply enjoy writing together.

Q: If we can talk specifically about Darling Girls for a moment, I love the idea of the Biting Man Festival. Whose idea was that, and how much fun was it to develop your own supernatural themed festival that brings your two mythologies together?

A: We can never pinpoint which one of us comes up with an original idea, probably because we work so closely together. Something sparks, then each of us adds to it as we brainstorm. “Biting Man” is a play on “Burning Man,” and it’s a celebration of vampiric history and culture. It harkens most strongly to Easter’s resurrection story with a little Christmas thrown into the mix.

Q: What was the writing experience like on this one? Who puts pen to paper first, and do you work from a shared outline or is there a lot of improvisation along the way?

A: We wrote Darling Girls the way we write all of our books - working together in our virtual office in the Cloud, connected by Skype. Before we start writing, we spend some time on world-building and character development, then we throw down a very skeletal plot, which for us, is usually just a few key scenes. To prevent writing ourselves into a corner, we discuss the ending of the book, usually coming up with several possibilities. Then, we just start writing, letting the characters express themselves freely. We love surprises, so we never force the story. Sometimes, the book goes in an entirely different direction than we planned, but that’s what we love - that’s how we know the story is working. We trust our characters implicitly.

Q: In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work (solo or shared) that you've encountered to date?

A: The most rewarding (and surprising) reaction is mail from young people, who write to say that they disliked reading until they discovered our books. That’s what it’s all about!

Q: To turn from pen to page for a moment, is there a particular author who influences or inspires you? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who just refreshes your literary batteries?

A: We are both massive fans of Stephen King, of course, but Tamara credits Ray Bradbury, Thomas Tyron, Graham Masterton, and Arthur Conan Doyle as her early influences. Alistair was influenced by John Saul, Dean Koontz, Rebecca du Maurier, Edgar Allan Poe, and of course, Tamara Thorne!

Q: Finally, before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Another collaboration, or more solo novels, perhaps?

A: We’re working on lots of things! As always, there is The Ravencrest Saga, which is ongoing. It’s first released in serialized installments, and we’re currently at work on the first installment of the third novel, Exorcism. We’re also collaborating on a novel called Spite House, which takes place in the town of Snapdragon, where our thriller, Mother, is set. Spite House concerns a group of writers who come together to work on an anthology about the allegedly haunted house on Spite Island, where all is not what it seems. We’re having a blast. On the solo front, Alistair is penning a sequel to The Crimson Corset, which will let us know what’s happening with Gretchen and the Colter Brothers. Tamara is working on Brimstone, a coming-of-age novel set in an old hotel in Arizona that is brimming with mysteries and ghosts from its days as a mining hospital.

Thanks, as always, for joining us!


About the Book

Darling Girls (The Vampires of Candle Bay and Crimson Cove Book 1)
by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Fang Meets Fang

The vampires of Candle Bay and Crimson Cove come together for the Biting Man Festival in Eternity, California, to celebrate a centuries-old tradition that quickly turns murderous as they’re faced with old enemies, uncontrolled bloodlust, and the unpredictable antics of a self-proclaimed vampire slayer who is hellbent on destroying them all.

"With Darling Girls, Thorne & Cross have united their brutal and sexy vampire sagas, conjuring a riot of vibrant characters all charging toward a clever, chilling conclusion of bloody mayhem and carnage.”
 -- Michael Schutz, author of Edging


About the Authors

Tamara Thorne's first novel was published in 1991, and since then she has written many more, including international bestsellers Haunted, Bad Things, Moonfall, Eternity and The Sorority. A lifelong lover of ghost stories, she is currently working on several collaborations with Alistair Cross as well as an upcoming solo novel.

Learn more about her at:

Google Plus:

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an immediate bestseller.

Find out more about him at:


Together, Thorne & Cross also host the popular radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has included such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles; Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels; world-wide bestseller, V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman); 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; #1 New York Times bestseller, Kim Harrison; Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser: 2, 3, and 4; Mick Garris, film director of Hocus Pocus, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and Stephen King’s The Stand; and New York Times bestsellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.