The night was dark and stormy. Cold wind chittered through the trees and made the shutters shudder while dark clouds hawked and spat, soaking the little log cabin in the woods. Within, near the warmth of the fireplace, a woman endured a long labor. Hours passed, the storm raged. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning so bright it blinded the owls and spiders, struck outside the window. The woman screamed, but her voice was lost in the crack and boom of thunder that shook the cabin and even the missile silo hidden deep beneath it.
And that was how I was born, which is pretty peculiar since this was an August night in Los Angeles.
Frequently, someone wearing a wary expression asks: "Why do you write horror?" Okay. That's really two questions and I'm going to answer both. (1) "Why am I a writer?" isn't a bad question, in fact, it's pretty impressive. But all that goes out the window when you add (2) "Why horror?" The answer to (1) is that I was born with a drive to write. It's a calling. The answer to (2) is I've been fascinated by the occult all my life. Okay?
All right, but "horror" still sounds a little ooky to most people. So to put this in perspective, find an MD, a proctologist, for instance. Ask him why he became a doctor. If he loves his work, there's a very good chance he will say he was born with a drive to become a doctor, a calling to the profession. But if you ask why he's a proctologist and he tells you he's been fascinated by assholes all his life, well, think about it. That "horror" stuff doesn't sound so weird now, does it?
Didn't think so.
Now, back to the story. Even though I was never locked in a closet with a plastic Jesus, nor molested by Satanists, (although I once molested a plastic Jesus) I quickly developed a fascination with the macabre, perhaps aided by my mother, who began reading fantasy classics to me while I was still an infant. By first grade, I was writing ghost stories. I was also telling them, often digging grave-shaped mounds and spilling red paint in the backyard to prove my words. Other kids' parents sometimes complained, and my mother always promised them she would talk to me about it. She did, too, explaining how to be careful when doing such things. And then we'd giggle. That was some sweet reinforcement. So, anyway . . .
By third grade, I'd found Ray Bradbury. I spent the next few years reading all the science fiction and horror I could find. When I was eleven, I discovered Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House. And that was that. Except that I'd also just discovered MAD Magazine, which was as much an epiphany as Bradbury and Jackson. I spent the hormonal years of my youth writing horror, satire, and shredding politicians, which I guess would be defined as horror-satire.
I had a journalism scholarship to USC, but wasn't particularly fond of telling the truth. It didn't fit with the credo I'd adopted in early puberty, Mark Twain's own advice to writers: "Get the facts first, then distort them as much as you please."
Soon, I married Damien Thorne, a handsome poli-sci major specializing in psychological warfare at prestigious Devlin University. After college, I tried my hand at various occupations, getting bored and moving on every year or so until I finally ended up back in journalism, where it became harder and harder not to concoct news instead of report it. My darling Damien suggested I try writing a novel. Light bulbs burst over my head. (We had a poltergeist at the time.) No one ever suggested to me that my childhood dream of writing books could be realized. Damien's belief changed all that.
So I wrote a book and sold it and another, using the name Chris Curry to hide my gender and my married name. I wrote four books, then came out of the closet as Tamara Thorne after my first and favorite editor moved to Kensington Books. (I couldn't work for him as Chris Curry since that name was still contracted to the other house.)
Personal Stuff? Okay, but only the clean parts. In addition to the occult, my interests include folklore, myth, shameless puns and not understanding quantum physics. I love to be spooked, excited, or driven to helpless laughter by life or books or movies. I love ragtime music, whoopee cushions, and putting catnip in my pockets. What don't I like? Missionaries who dare to ring my bell to try to alter my beliefs or lack thereof, and politicians who want to tell me what personal freedoms I should let them take away. Both must be laughed at well and often. I also dislike organ meat, but when I laugh at it, it doesn't get huffy and slink away like the morality police. So I resort to violence. Ah, the sweet sounds of the piteous screams of the liver as the kitty cats rip it to shreds and devour it with bloody fangs.
I think that pretty much sums things up.