May 14, 2016

Guest Post for Mother

21 Things You Might Not Know About MOTHER
Mother is a psychological thriller with notes of Psycho, Gaslight, and Misery in its theme. It concerns a young couple, Claire and Jason Holbrooke, who are forced by circumstance to temporarily return to Claire’s estranged mother’s home. And what happens there is more terrifying than either can comprehend. We loved every minute of writing this novel, and here, we will reveal some of the little-known facts within the story, as well as behind the scenes.


#1 Mother’s cul-de-sac, Morning Glory Circle, is named for the street Samantha and Darren Stevens lived on in Bewitched. And the Bewitched reference doesn’t stop there. Toward the end of writing the book, we realized that neighbor Stan Portendorfer is a ringer for Abner Kravitz, husband of the Stevens’ nosy-neighbor Gladys.


#2 Mr. Anton, Claire’s beloved childhood teddy bear, is named for Gregory Anton, played by Charles Boyer in Gaslight. The subtle Gaslight reference was our way of hinting at what’s coming.


#3 Babs Vandercooth began reminding us so much of a fiftyish Betty White in her manners and choice of words that we named her sisters Blanche and Dorothy, all characters from The Golden Girls.
#4 Phyllis Stine’s sister, Constance Welling, is a character from our previous novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting. Also, both of the women’s names are puns (say them out loud.) And Constance’s books still don’t sell!


#5 Phyllis Stine bears a resemblance to Flo from Alice, a diner-comedy that originally ran from 1976-1985, based on the movie Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. We also had two other women in mind when writing Phyllis. One is comedienne Phyllis Diller, and the other is a woman who taught at the elementary school Alistair attended as a kid; she wore blue shadow up to her eyebrows.


#6 Our character, Bettyanne Crocker is, in fact, a play on Betty Crocker. With Bettyanne, we wanted to create a seemingly sweet homemaker-type who would not be suspected of the secrets she keeps.


#7 Our characters knew what the tap, tap, tap sound coming from the room near Claire’s was long before we did.


#8 It was only during the conversations that took place between Father Andy and Father Dave that we discovered the truth about Priscilla Martin and her motives.


#9 The ancillary women of the Ladies Auxiliary are all named, to some extent, for real-life female serial killers throughout history. We did this as another hint of danger beneath an innocuous surface, which is the dominant theme in Mother.


#10 The flashing-in-church scene was inspired by a true event.


#11 We used music as a way of supporting our story. For example, when Claire and Jason near Mother’s home for the first time, the Beatles’ Run For Your Life comes on the radio. This use of music as backdrop became constant enough that we ended up creating an entire playlist for Mother. Also, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree was the first song we knew would have a strong presence in Mother. This song was chosen before the plot was even built.


#12 We both loved The Teddy Bears Picnic as kids because it was minor-keyed and eerie. It was only natural to use it in Mother.
#13 Earl Dean’s was the name of a candy shop in the small town where Alistair grew up. Ironically, Tamara’s grandparents owned a small candy store in San Francisco and specialized in fudge-making.


#14 The Dean twins, Daphene and Delphine, also have interesting stories behind their names. Delphine is named, of course, for New Orleans’ most notorious female serial killer and torturer, Delphine LaLaurie, and Daphene… well, she was originally slated to be named Daphne, but we changed our mind because Daphne is the name of one of Tamara’s cats and we didn’t want disrespect her - you know how cats can be. . .


#15 The most frustrating part of this book were the doors in Prissy’s house. We went back and forth between the idea of Prissy having had the doors removed altogether to demonstrate the lack of privacy, and having doors that were able to be locked from the outside. In the end, we decided to keep the doors, but in rewrites, we were constantly haunted by missing doors and the wrong kinds of locks in the previous versions of the manuscript.


#16 The character of Ashley Perkins was originally a much larger player with several scenes of her own before we decided to cut her out entirely. Later, we re-hired poor Ashley to stand in during several “Facebook” scenes.


#17 Priscilla’s strange collection of lamps, which she keeps unused and crammed into upstairs rooms (among heaps of other useless junk) was meant as a symbol for denied enlightenment.


#18 Justin Martin, a deceased cousin whom Claire and Jason see in a photograph in one of the upstairs bedrooms, refers to a character in Tamara’s solo novel, Thunder Road. In the photograph, Justin is smiling in front of the very sports car that killed him in the novel.


#19 The Catholic church is named Holy Sacramental because it sounds similar to “elemental” and elementals are one of our favorite supernatural tropes. Go Green Men! And Blue Ladies!


#20 A bookshelf in Timothy Martin’s bedroom displays books in James Howe’s Bunnicula series, which were among Alistair’s favorite childhood books.