Chilling Chat: Episode 174 | Elliot Thorpe

chillingchat

Elliot Thorpe is a freelance writer. He scripted Doctor Who–Cryptobiosis (2005) and in 2013 wrote his first novel Cold Runs the Blood. He has contributions in Seasons of War Elliot Thorpe(2015), The Extraordinary Lives of People Who Never Existed (2015), Grave Matters (2015), Doctor Who–A Time Lord for Change (2016) and The Librarian (2017). 2018 saw the publication of Dean Martin–Recollections by Bernard H. Thorpe and Elliot Thorpe. Elliot writes for Search Magazine and redshirtsalwaysdie.com. A new, fully-revised edition of Cold Runs the Blood from Fossa Books is available now.

Elliot is a consummate gentleman and a remarkable writer. We spoke of inspiration, characterizations, and Dr. Who.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Elliot. Thank you for joining me today.

ET: Lovely to be here!

NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror?

ET: The earliest memory I have (and I might be giving away my age here!) was back in the mid-70s. My father was a big fan of the Hammer Horrors so there was always a Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing horror movie on TV at some point that I remember hearing while I was (meant to be) tucked up in bed! So when I was old enough in the early 80s, I started watching them with him (when we had a first-gen video player). I was hooked from then on. My first horror movie I sat all the way through was Legend of the Werewolf (1975).

NTK: Are Hammer films your favorite films? What is your favorite horror film?

ET: I’ve got a great love for Hammer–I love the iconography, the style, the music. They are as unique as the old Universals. I love the “imply, don’t show” notion of horror movies–expecting a chill or a fright which doesn’t happen…then it does seconds later! With regard to a favorite– that’s a tricky one. I can watch something like Get Out or Us and find that as equally as enthralling as Bride of Frankenstein… I like the original Omen, but my favorite movie is Cronenberg’s The Fly.

NTK: Do you have a favorite horror TV show?

ET: There are three: True Blood, American Horror Story (albeit some of the later seasons aren’t as great) and Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

ET: I was waiting for this question!! Hands down, without a shadow of a doubt…William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. It was first published in 1972 (when I was not even yet 2!) and I first read it in 1990–and I still own my 1990 copy. Very threadbare but very loved. It surpasses the movie. Blatty’s use of language, expression, passion is unbound and I wish I could write as well as he did. I can almost chew the sentences, they are just so well constructed. I’ve never felt so passionate about any other fiction/horror book before or since. Paul Theroux is a close second for much of the same reasons but he’s not a horror writer so that’s going off topic!

NTK:  Blatty is awesome! Is he your greatest writing influence? Who is your greatest influence?

ET: The writer who made me want to write actually only passed away this week: Terrance Dicks. He was script editor for Doctor Who in the 70s but also novelised over 60 Dr. Whostories of the series–so he was my first understanding of how to write when I was a kid. I collected his books for years. Blatty I could never equal and wouldn’t even attempt to: but I still wish I could write like him! Bram Stoker, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, and Ben Elton all inspire me (four markedly different authors and their differing styles allow me to push myself. Ursula K. Le Guin is another.)

NTK: Terrance Dicks was a great scriptwriter and wrote several frightening episodes of Dr. Who. Including, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” Which frightening episode is your favorite?

ET: “Talons of Weng-Chiang” is a great one. One that I always thought was chilling was “The Seeds of Doom” from 1976–where the alien seed pod split open and this tendril snaked out and grabbed one of the characters, turning him into a big green creature! Of the modern series, I fear I may have grown up, so I don’t spot the “behind the sofa” moments so much.

NTK: What inspires your writing?

ET: Inspiration for me comes in unexpected places. I can be sitting at my desk, reading a paper or a book, watching the news or watching a film. I can see snippets of things that I like and would like to use or find homage in using. Point in fact: my short story HorrorAddicts.net featured was inspired by the movie The Revenant. Nothing like the actual original story, but it’s the feel I was after. Also, I’m currently writing an alternative history World War I novel and so my inspiration comes from my great-grandfather who served, any number of WWI movies, Peaky Blinders (a recent BBC series), the books of Pat Barker and factual accounts of the war itself. And because it’s an alternative history, I have to make nods to authors like Philip K Dick and Robert Harris.

NTK: What inspired you to write the Bloodkind series?

ET: I originally wrote Cold Runs the Blood as an original Doctor Who novel for the BBC. This was when the series was due to be come back in 2005 (so around 2004) and it was called The Craft of Foreign Rule. Doctor Who had never featured Vlad the Impaler so, knowing that historical figure so well, I wrote a novel. The BBC rejected it: now, I hope it was because they had cancelled all scheduled books because of the sudden return of the series itself to TV. It may, of course, have been because it wasn’t very good!! In any case, it was in effect now a “dead” novel. So I filed it away and forgot about it until 2012 when I decided to rewrite it as a full-blown horror novel, removing all and every Doctor Who reference! It then became Cold Runs the Blood and was published in 2013 by Grosvenor House Publishing.

I never intended to write a sequel. What intrigued me most was the fact that I had created my own take on the vampire mythos so I started writing short stories based in the same fictional universe. It allowed me to maintain my love for vampire fiction but write in different styles: so we have stories jumping from one century to another…pirates and swashbucklers, contemporary or period, retro or future…and I called my vampires the Bloodkind.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you plan their every move?

ET: That’s a great question! I could speak to fellow writers who would say that mapping out a character’s actions is a requisite. But I disagree. There has to be some sort of autonomy: yes, I created my characters; yes, I need them to carry out certain objectives to move the plot along…but my best characters are those who tell me what to write! For example, in my WWI novel, there’s a scene set on a train heading to Lyon in France. My two main protagonists are being waited upon by a guy who works in the buffet car. When one of the protagonists returns to her berth, the waiter is in there ransacking her room looking for something he overheard in conversation. Now the waiter, when I Cold Runs the Blood - cover - 2019 editionintroduced him, was simply meant to be background detail. Now he’s involved in the plot proper and I have to work out why! And I love that challenge!

NTK: What a great example! What’s it like to write such a famous and established character as Dr. Who? How do you stay true to the character and yet create your own original story?

ET: When I got the commission to write for the Doctor, I didn’t know at that time which one, so my outline was very Doctor-by-numbers. When they told me it was for Colin Baker, I was overjoyed. He was and remains my favorite incarnation.

The sixth Doctor had a very obstreperous and arrogant style which meant I adapted the dialogue to fit his TV persona. Interestingly, I was asked by my producer (a really lovely guy called Gary Russell who I would love to work with/for again someday) to tone down the arrogance I’d imbued him with—to soften him, mellow him. I still injected those moments of pomposity but it was the characters around him who I had fun with, too. And I gave his companion, Peri, all the best lines. Intriguingly, it was an approach the rebooted TV series took: the companion pushed the story along, so I like to think that I unconsciously pre-empted that!

NTK: Elliot, what does the future hold for you? What work do we Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

ET: Well, I’ve got my WWI novel to come out in 2020 (I’m so proud of the title that I’m not telling a soul yet what it’s called!!) and I’m pulling together my vampire short stories to make a follow-up volume to Cold Runs the Blood. Called The Mistress and the Rogue…and other Tales of the Bloodkind, it’s also scheduled for 2020. I’m aiming for a Fall release, hopefully, to grab hold of that Hallowe’en fever. The story you’re featuring in your latest podcast will form part of that.

NTK: Awesome! Thank you for chatting with me, Elliot. It was really fun!

ET: It’s been an absolute pleasure, Naching

Horror Addicts, Elliot writes for The Doctor Who Companion and you can find him at the Dean Martin Association as well.

FreeFiction Friday: The Sin-Full Man

The Sin-Full Man

by

Elliot Thorpe

I watch you walk and move and talk
Knowing that I cannot stay away
I need you here I want you now
I care not for who is in the way

My feelings for you grow stronger day by day
Until I can no longer breathe
Others have had you but I want you for me
For my pain there can be but one reprieve

From without your life I stare and wonder
How you feel, how you smell, how you taste
To un-know you now is truly not enough
So I will own you and soon with all haste

Watch over your shoulder and take care of yourself
Keep everything safe you must
Let no one harm you or take you away
For you will satiate my lust

My appetite is wanton wholly for desire
for nourishment, for satisfaction, for you
You will not ignore me, you will not escape me
I know every little thing you do

I will have everything, you will give me all
Every inch of you will be mine
There is never too much, always too little
You will love me and our love will shine

Every waking moment I feast on what you are
Until my body is consumed and full
Your flesh is ripe and aching to be had
So I know I will still find the pull

Under my hands you will be piece by piece
There is nothing to subdue me, exultantly
Your blood will I drink to warm my belly
You will feed my gluttony

Mine you are mine I want nothing more
But wear you I really must
Like a familiar shape over my trembling frame
All other memories gone to dust

Take me now as I take you
Raw, passionate and alive
You will lay before naked and bare
Under me I will feel you writhe

All of you, nothing else of you
You have no say in what I need
I will rip out your tongue so you cannot speak
Yet you will experience my greed

You will never be without me, forever at my side
No need to go anywhere but here
We will exist in one place, have everything to hand
Languor in our own special sphere

Why would you run? Your legs I would remove
To save you the agony of movement
You have no need to go anywhere else
Just stay forever in the moment

Do not be afraid of being alone
For loneliness is the criminal of time
With me you will never be solo
Your acceptance will begin to climb

Lay with me, stay with me
Covered in a love-soaked cloth
Unconscious desire you will find
To do nothing together but sloth

You won’t leave me, I will not let you
Don’t try to because when push comes to shove
I will hurt you to keep you and hold you close
So don’t dare cross me or betray my love

You make me angry, so very very angry
With your beauty and unalloyed skin
I don’t just love you, I hate you as much
My feelings are not borne on a whim

I detest what you stand for, your purity and light
It turns my stomach so
But don’t leave me, I cannot be without you
I will never let you go

You will be who I want, no more no less
I will take you down a one-way path
Don’t look up, don’t look around
Or you will feel the power of my wrath

I wish I wish, I wish for you, never a day goes by
When I don’t want you so completely
And what you must know to be true is true
That you and the others will not defeat me

So you have no choice, no room to move
For I will get what I truly want
I will possess you, and be with you
You will remove all discontent

Take leave of my senses? Never! I could not
For that would mean I lose my heart
The blood in these veins pumps for you
I cannot stop what I must start

There is no limit, no cost I would avoid
It’s not a matter of money
You are priceless, unique and a treasure to behold
Everyone, see how they will envy!

I will not share you but will let people know
That before you there was just a hole
They need to see what you mean to me
How much you bless and poison my twisted soul

I fear you will wonder, of what you might miss
Or what you might find that are lies
They will see in but you will not see out
For I will pluck out your eyes

Your face, your body, I worship it all
I want everyone to grasp how you’re in my head
So I will put you on display, in a box of glass
Eternal, forever and dead

You will be preserved, beautiful and pure
Like a butterfly, for you I will not hide
Never to age, never to whither
And never to dull my pride

***********

Elliot Thorpe 4566a-1024x683

Elliot Thorpe (Twitter: @elliot1701) is a freelance writer, having worked with the sites Den of Geek, Shadowlocked and Doctor Who TV.
In 2005, he scripted ‘Doctor Who – Cryptobiosis’ starring Colin Baker and his first horror novel ‘Cold Runs the Blood’ was released in 2013. Some of his short stories have been published in the anthologies ‘Grave Matters’ and ‘The Extraordinary Lives of People Who Never Existed’. He has also contributed to and co-edited ‘Seasons of War –Tales From A Time War’.
He has a column in the San Francisco-based magazine ‘Search’, and is currently writing a biography of Dean Martin.  https://elliotthorpe.wordpress.com

Elliot Thorpe on Horror Writing

Elliot Thorpe on Horror Writing

Research for a novel begins all around us. It can be experiences, feelings and desires. It’s when you start drilling down to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a story that the research needs to and must take on a new direction.

In many ways, writing is like painting (I hope I’m good at one, but I know my drawing skills leave a lot to be desired!): there’s a canvas that needs filling in, layer upon layer until the finished piece is there is front of you, waiting to be critiqued, criticised and, one dreams, praised.

frontcoldrunsthebloodI wrote my first horror novel ‘Cold Runs the Blood’ in 2013, after years of painstaking development.

It’s set in a barbaric, brutal age, in Wallachia 1476AD – the medieval equivalent of today’s Romania. Because of that, it needed careful preparation.

I had the canvas (the place and the time) but needed to make sure that there was a story to tell. It’s no good having a great backdrop if there’s nothing to keep you looking at it.

But the very act of choosing that era meant there had to be a story in there somewhere, surely? Not necessarily.

For far too many years I care to remember, I’ve loved the vampire genre, the Dracula story, the Hammer horrors and all things that go bump in the night. I also fancy myself as a bit of an historian, nothing too extreme, just a bit of armchair research with maybe the occasional field visit if I’m feeling adventurous. And, importantly, I have always held the desire to write, ever since I knew which end of a pencil to use.

So these three aspects of me seemed to want to blend together somehow.

“I must write a gruesome, medieval vampire novel!” I therefore exclaimed once to anyone who was listening.

So I got a commission to script an audio episode of ‘Doctor Who’.

Then I wrote lots of short stories, in different styles, in markedly different genres. And then I started writing articles for various websites: reviews and features and the like.

It honed my writing skills. It allowed me to find a style that I enjoyed and that I hoped others did too. I learnt about pacing, character development, emotional journeys, the ruthlessness of editing.

And all the time I was doing all of that, I made copious notes, did research, read books all about medieval Europe, finding the darkest times and places where vampires would easily feature. I looked at the lives of warlords, despots and kept coming back to the one figure that stood out, the one man who was destined by the media of centuries to come to be reborn as a vampire count: Vlad the Impaler.

So I had my time, my place and my main character. But still no story.

The danger, you see, remained: it’s no good having a great character if there’s nothing to keep you interested.

So I began the arduous task of hammering out the plot, the all-important crux that the story hangs on.

And slowly and surely, I developed this fictional world set in a real historical time. Other characters emerged, situations arose and then, quite suddenly, the story revealed itself.

Interestingly, I had intended Vlad to be the antagonist, but he regenerated into a protagonist and not even the main character of the book. That was quite an interesting revelation. It meant I was not shackled by maintaining a true air of historical accuracy and I could create my own heroes and heroines and villains. If one of history’s most barbaric figures wasn’t the bad guy of the book, then how bad must the book’s bad guys really be!

Yet with all the vampires, werewolves and medieval warlords, armies and princesses crowding the pages, what was I trying to say? What was the story?

A good friend of mine who is far better at story-telling than I could ever be said to me a long time ago, “Elliot, write down in one sentence what your book’s about.”

So I thought long and hard. And it came to me.

Yes, it’s a horror novel with buckets of blood, impalings and vampire slaying but it’s about one man’s quest to clear his family’s name, to restore honour and make sense of the world he lives in. It’s a simple basis, but the canvas that I spoke about earlier became so enriched as a result, that I was determined to make sure I did the characters – all of them, major and minor – justice. And from that understanding, the other characters also had their reasons, their meanings of existence.

It’s easy to populate a fictional world. It’s easy to make that populous clichéd and two-dimensional. It’s harder, but certainly not impossible, to make them believable and fully-rounded.

And that’s one of the reasons I decided to cut my teeth on other projects before embarking on my magnum opus. To begin to understand how to write and to write effectively and believably.

At least that’s what I thought ‘Cold Runs the Blood’ was going to be: my magnum opus. But I’ve lots more stories to tell, lots more experiences to have and emotions and thoughts to put down on paper. And I’m still learning, still getting to grips with writing, still aiming high. I don’t think my magnum opus has surfaced yet.

And I’ll never stop writing. I can’t. It’s part of me.

And I’m looking at new projects, new opportunities. Writing a biography about Dean Martin is one. Returning to the worlds of ‘Doctor Who’ is another.

A sci-fi hero of mine once said that there are always possibilities. And I whole-heartedly believe him.

**********

About Elliot Thorpe
Elliot Thorpe is a freelance writer, having previously worked with the sites Den of Geek, Shadowlocked and Doctor Who TV as well as forEncore, the magazine for the theatre professional, and The Dean Martin Association (www.deanmartinassociat.wix.com/officialdmasite), Elliot Thorpe-editDino’s first official fan club. He was commissioned by Big Finish Productions to script Doctor Who – Cryptobiosis, starring Colin Baker and works with the London West End stage production The Definitive Rat Pack (www.thedefinitiveratpack.com). Elliot’s first novel ‘Cold Runs the Blood’ was released in 2013 and is available in paperback and as an ebook. He is currently working on a second novel as well as a biography of Dean Martin and is always looking for other writing opportunities.

Twitter: @elliot1701
Website: www.coldrunstheblood.wix.com/elliot-thorpe-author