TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine & THE EERIE DIGEST have a long history of interviews with excellent writers who represent every genre our readers enjoy. We are also members of Facebook where many of these authors appear. One such author that we chanced upon is Alistair Cross who dabbles in horror.
Alistair, tell us what first interested you in this subject and why you find it so fascinating.
AC- Horror has fascinated me since I was very young. I suspect it interested me because, at that age, I had a very short attention span and required a lot of stimulation. Horror scared me and fear was one emotion that never got boring.
These days, my appreciation for the genre goes deeper than the fear factor. I think horror, when done well, is one of the most direct and honest ways to get to the core of the human experience because terror reduces all of us to our most authentic forms.
TAEM- Who were your greatest influences in the genre, and tell us which works that they produced had a lasting effect on you ?
AC- At a very early age, I fell in love with words. I read a lot of books as a kid and also, I loved listening to, and memorizing the lyrics to songs. As far as books, I was mostly influenced by Dean Koontz, John Saul, and Tamara Thorne. These were the authors I was reading when I decided I wanted to do this.
TAEM- Of these writers, who was your favorite, and why?
AC- I’d have to say Tamara Thorne, because I have met her, and she is as wonderful as I ever could have hoped she’d be.
AC- Growing up, I loved Carrie. I still love that movie and I have probably seen it a million times. I also loved the Psycho movies, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the Thirteenth.
Carrie appealed to me the most, because of its unique vision, not to mention its great lines and unforgettable images. I suppose all of these movies have combined to influence my work to some degree.
TAEM- Since the age of eight you began writing short stories. Please tell us about this aspect of your life and how it helped generate the enthusiasm to create your future work.
AC- I was assigned to write a scary story, for Halloween, in the third grade. I wrote it, and it was awful, but I knew then that I loved writing. From there, I just kept going. I never showed anything I’d written to anyone, but it was something I had always done. It didn’t occur to me to do it professionally though until I was in my mid-twenties.
I’d been doing the nine to five grind and had been dabbling in photography for several years by then, and around the age of 26, I had something of a moment of clarity, and realized that nothing I was currently doing was ever going to make me very happy. So I asked myself what I loved more than anything. The answer was: Writing. I knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk—and it hasn’t been—but I didn’t care.
I just wanted to be happy, so I made up my mind that I would, at any cost, succeed.
TAEM- Your first novel was a collaborative effort titled Beautiful Monster. What was the theme behind this?
AC- What we wanted to do in Beautiful Monster—which I co-authored under the pen name Jared S. Anderson—was to get an accurate and intimate look into both sides of a very horrific story. The theme, in my opinion, is that evil things wear the most beautiful masks, and that we are all in possession of a natural-born instinct to recognize danger, and overriding that instinct comes with sometimes fatal consequences.
TAEM- Describe the book and tell us what it involved.
AC- Beautiful Monster is about a college student who is charmed—and eventually abducted—by a charismatic, handsome serial killer. This book illuminates the cunning and determination of a very sick man on a very macabre mission. It also, on the other side of things, exemplifies the trust, the need to be loved, and ultimately, the necessary skill and wit of a young woman in a desperate fight for her life.
We wrote it in the first person point of view, in alternating chapters. It involved a lot of comparing notes, brainstorming, and back-and-forth correspondence between the two of us, but for the most part, we were each free to do whatever we wanted with our chapters. We just made sure we had the same end in mind and let ourselves run with it. I think the very contrasting styles work well in this case.
TAEM- Who is the publisher for it, and where can our readership find it ?
AC- Beautiful Monster was published by Damnation Books. It is available in both eBook and paperback at their website, www.damnationbooks.com. Beautiful Monster is also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere books are sold.
AC- Writing with Tamara Thorne is different from anything I’ve ever done before. I met her about a year and a half ago, and we were fast friends. As we became more acquainted and comfortable, we began sharing our works-in-progress with each other.
When Tamara asked me to collaborate with her on a book, I was literally speechless. I said something like, “Uh, yeah, okay, umm,” and got off the phone as soon as I politely could. After hanging up, I stared at the phone a while, and said to the person who was with me at the time, “She just asked me to collaborate with her.” Then, I called her back to make sure I’d heard her right.
I’d been reading Tamara’s books since the mid-nineties, and to say I was intimidated would be a great understatement… but as I’ve said many times before, when horror-lit royalty like Tamara Thorne asks you to collaborate, you don’t say no. So, I agreed to do it.
She had to talk me down quite a bit in the beginning when I would become overwrought with feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, but now that the writing is in full-swing, I’m able to see how well we coalesce, and how similar our styles really are at the root of it. She has this fascinating way of wrapping herself around the things I write and bringing out the best in my writing, and I often think that if it were a sound we were creating, it would be a pitch-perfect harmony.
On a personal level, we’re good for each other, we get along, and we have a certain synergy that only happens a few times in a lifetime. I knew before I even met her that this was someone I wanted to know, and it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me that our paths crossed and that something really great became of it.
Professionally, we have a firm respect for each other and a great deal of trust in each other’s instincts and capabilities. She would never say to me that something I wrote sucks. She might think it, but she’d have a very lovely way of saying it that wouldn’t upset me. Finally—and I think this is very important—we have a lot of fun doing this. We write horror, but there’s nothing dark about what we do. We talk several times a week and we have a total blast. Every time.
Also, I’d have to say that procedurally, this collaboration is very different from anything I’ve done in that Tamara and I are very much writing this together. Every scene, every character, every detail will have both our fingerprints on it in equal proportion. A lot of times, when you’re collaborating, you get ahead and just have to sit and kind of wait for the other person… or you get behind, and then they’re waiting on you. This project is very hands-on for both of us and we are both fully involved.
TAEM- Are there other endeavors that you are working on for the future that our readers would be looking for ?
AC- I’m hoping the collaboration with Tamara will be finished by the end of this year, but I can’t commit to that. I can’t say much about this story at this point except that it’s horror in its highest form. It’s funny, scary, and a truly unique and fascinating subject. I think fans of both Tamara and myself will be pleased.
I’m also working on a manuscript that I intend to have completed sometime next year. It’s a solo project of mine that has been in the works for some time now—a vampire novel that touches on addiction, family loyalty, redemption, and even dabbles a little in BDSM.
On top of this, there are several other projects I have planned in both my solo life and in the way of collaborations with Tamara Thorne that will be underway as soon as the current ventures are finalized.
TAEM- What other spare time interests do you have that help you keep your creative juices flowing ?
AC- I still love photography. It’s not something I’d ever like to do professionally, but I love taking my camera out and finding fascinating subjects. I also write poetry. I post some my photography and poetry on my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/crossalistair.
I’ve also been watching a whole lot of American Horror Story lately, and this keeps me feeling creative. Also, I read a lot, and am a pretty hardcore music-lover.
TAEM- Alistair, we want to thank you for taking your time for our interview and I am sure that our readers have enjoyed learning all about you. We wish you much luck in all your future endeavors and hope that you keep us informed of any new works that you are writing on.