The Joy of Thorne-Cross-Pollination

By Thorne & Cross

Black and white image of dark fiction authors Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross

Stephen King has delighted his constant readers since the beginning of his career by returning to or mentioning towns, people, and places that have appeared in his other novels. Sometimes a minor character, like cop Alan Pangborn in The Dark Half gets promoted to hero, as he did in Needful Things. Even in 11/22/63, the town of Derry and characters from IT were mentioned repeatedly, much to our delight. King’s world is parallel to this one, a conglomeration of towns and people who can often be seen strolling through our “real” universe as well as their own.

Many writers have been inspired by that landscape, ourselves included. The Thorne & Cross universe has become vast and is growing steadily. We set our stories primarily in California because it’s a place we both love to explore. In our new release, MOTHER, a Psycho-meets-Misery-meets-Gaslight psychological thriller, the action takes place in fictional Snapdragon, a scenic little town tucked away in Gold Country, where Sutter first found gold and Mark Twain’s frogs once jumped?

Mother book cover
A ghostly woman hovering over a lake in front of a log cabin

So, why did we choose to create Snapdragon in Calaveras County? Well, it’s almost directly across the state from the coastal towns of Crimson Cove (site of Alistair’s The Crimson Corset), and Tamara’s Candle Bay, Red Cay (Haunted), and Caledonia (The Forgotten). And a little further south is Devilswood, where our Ravencrest Saga is located. Across the state from Devilswood, tucked somewhere between Mammoth Mountain and the infamous ghost town of Bodie, is Prominence, where Alistair’s upcoming solo takes place. Tamara’s new novel is set in Brimstone, all the way down in central Arizona. It’s inspired by a real town called Jerome.

There are places down in southern California we frequently mention too, like Cliffside, site of our mountainous horror novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting. (The name Cliffhouse was in turn inspired by the famous Cliff House on the cliffs of San Francisco.) Other towns we mention often are Moonfall (based on Oak Glen), Santo Verde (Bad Things), and Madelyn (Thunder Road.) (The latter two took inspiration from Redlands and Calico Ghost Town, both near the fictional locations.) And far, far upstate is the village of Eternity, which takes most of its weird lore from nearby Mt. Shasta. We have begun work on a sequel to Candle Bay and The Crimson Corset which will take our characters all the way from Candle Bay and Crimson Cove, to Eternity. We love Thorne-Cross pollinations!

Making up a city or village takes work. We set our fictional towns in places where no one actually lives, but close to well-known areas. Haunted’s Red Cay would be above the far end of Pismo Beach while The Forgotten’s Caledonia is near Cambria, the coastal town where Arachnophobia was filmed. (Cambria means “Wales” so it was fitting to use “Caledonia” – another name for Scotland.)

The Ravencrest Saga is set in and around a mansion overlooking Devilswood, a fictional place not far from the real-life towns of Santa Maria (site of vast colorful commercial fields of flowers) and Lompoc, site of La Purisima Mission. As we delve into Ravencrest’s California history in our new serial novel, The Witches of Ravencrest, we mix fact with fiction, showing the mission both before it was destroyed in an 1812 quake and after it was rebuilt. We add our own padres but mention famous ones like Fr. Payeras, who was so beloved that he was divided up and buried in both the chapel at La Purisima and the one in Mission Santa Barbara.

We cross-pollinate our universes for a few reasons. One is that we enjoy revisiting places and characters from other books. We also know that readers enjoy seeing some of their favorites again. The most compelling reason, however, is that as we write, we often meet new characters along the way who demand a story all their own, but can’t quite be squeezed into the novel in which we met them.

Book cover for The Crimson Corset by Alistair Cross: Blonde female in a red and black corset with a red frame around the image.
Book cover for The Ghosts of Ravencrest by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross: A mansion set behind a beautiful green lawn at dusk.

This was the case with Deputy Nick Grayson. Alistair met Grayson in the pages of his novel The Crimson Corset and the deputy who, at the time, was a secondary character, seemed to have a much deeper story than there was room to explore in The Crimson Corset. So, at the end of the novel, Grayson was given a promotion to chief of police in the town of Prominence, east of the Sierras. Alistair is currently at work on the new novel (which for now is called simply “TAA” and is unrelated to The Crimson Corset) and here, he is able to delve more deeply into Grayson’s story.

Another of our favorites is Coastal Eddie Fortune, the rock-playing, conspiracy-loving DJ who first appeared in Candle Bay. He’s now syndicated and can be heard anywhere our characters might be listening. He’s even making appearances down in Devilswood, where our ghostly gothic The Ghosts of Ravencrest is set. Eddie’s a guy in the know – but what he seems to know is so wild that most just roll their eyes and move on. They shouldn’t. Eddie interviews people like David Masters, the author-hero of Haunted, and makes comments that may impact the lives and welfare of our other characters if only they’d listen. On the other hand, we suspect that a lot of Eddie’s remarks are unadulterated hooey and we love him for it.

Cross pollination within our fictional landscape makes books that are otherwise unrelated into another into a kind of series. We may be telling an entirely new story, but you will always catch references to other places and other characters in our pantheon. And you never know who might show up for a visit.