In the Land of Moms and Monsters

Our own mothers did not, in any way, inspire this book. That’s the first thing we’d like to say, as it’s often assumed that authors base novels on their own experiences. While it’s true that art often imitates life, both of us were very fortunate to have been born to women who were kind, supportive, and wonderful. As for what did inspire Mother … well, that came from many dark places.

We’ve been long fascinated by family ties in horror and suspense. After all, what stronger bond is there than that between a mother and her child? And what could be more devastating than being terrorized by the person who brought you into the world – the person who, by the very laws of nature, is designed to nurture and care for her offspring? There are a lot of fictional and real-life examples of mothers who have defied biology and corrupted their caretaking roles. This, from a psychological standpoint, intrigued us so much that we couldn’t wait to delve into this book.

The idea for Mother began forming several years ago, and since that time, we have written other novels, all the while rubbing our hands together, brainstorming and waiting, waiting, waiting for the first opportunity to begin this book. When the time finally arrived, we had a hodgepodge of inspiration, a patchwork of unsavory characteristics we wanted our Mother to have. We began, as we often do, by drawing inspiration from the grittier side of reality. There, we usually find everything we need … and then some. If there’s one good thing about hoarders, control freaks, narcissists, and sociopaths, it’s that they supply us with a cornucopia of ideas.

A real-life run-in with a hoarder had us constantly mind-boggled and telling each other ‘we should write a book about that.’ With not one, not two, but threehouseholds (and several storage sheds) stuffed to capacity with knick knacks, trinkets, old furniture, magazines, and other unusable and unsalable dust-covered novelties, this person could give the producers of Hoarders apoplectic fits. And, as such matters are wont to do, it made us curious about the pathology. What we found at the root is most commonly an anxiety disorder wherein someone is terrified of change and loss of control. We wondered what experiences a person might have had to make them this way … and that’s where this book planted its roots.

3D book cover for Mother by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross: A young husband and wife in bed. The husband is sleeping but the wife is looking at the blinds that are being parted by an older woman's fingers.

“Mother is a thriller in the truest sense of the word. What begins as a walk through a nice neighborhood in a nice town becomes a chilling and unnerving descent into madness that is harder and harder to escape. Because I wear a fitness tracker I have scientific proof that the finale is a wild ride. Although I was curled up on the couch reading, MOTHER caused my heartrate to go up ten points! I’ll never look at a neighborhood block party the same way.”

– Q.L. Pearce

Bestselling author of Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

We have also experienced the manipulations of narcissists and even sociopaths. We remember well how expertly such personalities made us question our own judgement – how they’d say and do things to make us think we’d forgotten or misunderstood something. In point of fact, their entire world revolves around them and anything they say to you – no matter how seemingly kind – is merely a manipulation to get you to behave the way they want. It’s all about pulling your strings, whether they’re trying to sell you a used car, telling you that they are your soulmate, or getting you into their van so they can take you home, throw you down a hole, and make you put the lotion on your skin lest you get the hose again.

A temporary run-in with a narcissist or sociopath can really mess with your mind, so we wondered what it might have been like to be raised by someone whose only interest in parenting was to support their own self-worth. Here we found another critical aspect of our characters’ formation.

And then there are the residents of Morning Glory Circle, where Mother takes place. This neighborhood was inspired in part by a friend of ours who lives on a tight-knit cul de sac in a nice area. She and her husband decided to organize a block party. We watched with fascination as the residents worked together to make a fine day of it. To us, a pair of introverts who avoid our neighbors like plague, it was eye-opening and, while it was obviously fun for them, to us, it looked like stepping into the seventh circle of Hell. Or maybe even the sixth. The very thought of living among such close-knit neighbors horrifies us.

We all know about those neighborhoods that decorate for Christmas with matching candy canes or snowmen, or animatronic Santas – and woe unto the person who doesn’t participate. Neither of us would ever live in such a place. We enjoy strolling these neighborhoods at Christmas and honestly, we admire such togetherness – we just don’t want to be a part of it. To us, that’s a horror story just waiting to be told.

At its core, Mother is a very dark tale, a psychological thriller so taut and suspenseful that we found ourselves wondering what less intimate characters might reveal about Mother. The addition of the neighborhood – one that would do Peyton Place proud – adds a broader tone to the tension, and allows us to see what one very twisted matriarch can do, not only to her family but to all the others she keeps under her thumb. Our goal in including the neighborhood was to give Mother a nice twist of Hitchcockian black humor to offset the otherwise constant stress and suspense. The neighbors of Morning Glory Circle gave us plenty of opportunity for that, and we love each and every one of them for it.

But first and foremost, Mother is a tale of homespun terror, a warning that sometimes, a stranger’s candy is a safer bet than Mom’s apple pie.