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. Tamara’s novels range from straight-out ghost stories to tales of witchcraft, conspiracies, UFOs, elemental forces, and vampires. No matter what topic she chooses, chances are you’ll find a ghost or two lurking in the background. Today, she and her frequent collaborator, Alistair Cross, share their worlds and continue to write about ghosts and other mysterious forces. Whether collaborating or writing solo, there is no shortage of humor, sex, blood, and spookiness. Learn more about her at: http://tamarathorne.com
Your Neighbor’s Secrets
Think back to your childhood, to the neighbors on the street where you lived. There was a mean old guy who’d yell at you if you even looked at his lawn. There was the lady in the sexy negligee who smelled like alcohol, and the people with the dogs that never stopped barking. Or the ones with just one big dog - and everyone knew it had eaten at least one kid. There was a friendly lady who’d give you cookies and invite you into her perfumed parlor full of Victorian dolls and doilies. There was the house that always needed painting, residences with perfect lawns, and a house so dark and spooky that you figured that a murderer lived there and his yard was full of bodies.
As an adult, you can look back on all the eccentricities and write off most of them. But maybe you still wonder about the reclusive guy in that dark, spooky house. Did he have horrible secrets?
Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe he just didn’t want neighbors bugging him to participate in bake sales or coffee klatches. Maybe he was the most normal guy on the street. And maybe the sexy woman who drank too much wasn’t taking in gentleman callers as you guessed among giggles with your friends, but was a depressed widow who didn’t even have the energy to dress. Or maybe she was a madam with a gaggle of girls hidden upstairs. Who knows? And why was the old man so nuts about his lawn? Maybe he just hated kids … or maybe his yard was a memorial to his long-dead wife and he wanted to protect it. We can only guess at the motives of our neighbors.
When we began writing our psychological thriller, Mother, we didn’t initially intend to spend any time in the neighborhood - Mother was meant to take place within the four walls of one house. But as the story began to develop, we found ourselves intrigued by Mother’s neighbors, and we wondered what they saw when they looked across the street at Mother’s house.
What we discovered was much more than anticipated. Not only were we able to see Mother through the eyes of her many neighbors, but we got glimpses into their personal lives and soon discovered they had many well-kept secrets of their own - secrets they were trying very hard to keep. Just like your own real-life neighbors…
We then learned that Priscilla Martin - the “mother” of our story - not only knew all of her neighbor’s secrets, but was using the information as a way of maintaining her self-appointed position as queen of her cul-de-sac.
With the creation of Mother’s neighbors, we were able to learn more about Priscilla Martin - and Mother became a fuller, more well-rounded novel because we were able to examine her personality from so many different points of view.
Everyone has their secrets, and this was something we wanted to explore - and exploit - in Mother. We learned a great deal about people, about the secrets they keep - and about the lengths they’ll go to in order to keep their secrets hidden from view. And in fiction, as it is in the real world, the truth can be devastating.
So the next time you see neighborhood children playing outside, ask yourself how well you know the families in the houses on your street. Next time you see your neighbor walking her dog, ask yourself how well you really know her; is she just walking the dog or casing your house? When you see the man next door mowing his lawn, getting his mail, or trimming the hedges, ask yourself what his secrets are … and what he does to keep them hidden.
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