In The Beginning were The Brothers Brass…

===> Watch THE KESTREL WATERS Book Trailer! <===

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The Kestrel Waters  are sweet and deep and full of sorrow.

The Kestrel Waters  are dark and scary.

The Kestrel Waters  are the waters of life.

“I was haunted throughout by a sense of mystery and otherness. This book is a mesmerizing, wonderfully written and extraordinary work of the imagination…Thornhorn, where the hell have you been?” ~ William Peter Blatty (author of The Exorcist )

In The Beginning were The Brothers Brass.

In The End there is no end to what one girl’s heart will give. And no end to what one brother will give for the other.

The Brothers Brass. Two young bluegrass singers (with echoes of The Everly Brothers). Raised in Savannah by the sea, together, these boys’ voices chime like heavenly bells.

The oldest brother, Kestrel, falls in love with a wild little thing who hides up in the trees—a bit of a girl named Bettilia. A girl raised by a flesh and blood devil on a haunted mountain called Riddle Top.

Soon all the Family Brass falls for Bettilia. She touches Kestrel, she touches everyone. And they touch sweet Bettilia, forever.

Then comes that fateful day when, deep in his own heart, Kestrel says I do to his own devil.

“Captures the tragedy of romantic and familial love better than any story I have ever read.” ~ Janeiro Bento

The Kestrel Waters is an eerie, heroic, and beautiful story of human love, like none you’ve ever known. An epic fable of an epic family whose hearts are comic, profane, and profoundly true.

“Mellifluous, Lyrical…with a darkness that creeps like kudzu.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

The Kestrel Waters (A Tale of Love and Devil) by author Randy Thornhorn.

“One of the South’s wildest new voices…” ~ The Oxford American Magazine



More readers’ comments:

“I just finished The Kestrel Waters. I started it this morning and read it mostly in one sitting…I could not put it down. The language was beautiful. Honestly, I think it an amazing book…It was a profound experience.”

~ Rebecca Jacobson

The Kestrel Waters is one of those books that leaves the reader with an emotional hangover. It’s difficult to start reading another book, because one’s feelings are still so influenced by the book just read. This emotional hangover doesn’t happen too often for me, and I’m a voracious reader. Indeed, it happens more often with music. But in a way I can’t explain, The Kestrel Waters is like music…”

~ Joy Williams

“I had no idea what to expect when I started reading The Kestrel Waters…I didn’t expect to care for the characters the way I do. I didn’t expect to be as concerned for them as I became. And I certainly didn’t expect to finish this book with a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and the sense of having experienced something profound.

This was a hell of a good read had I sought only an engaging yarn of good and evil, love and redemption, and a mystery solved. But it’s a lot more than that.

This is immersive, obsessive, and deeply affecting. Disorienting – in that way that a good book can connect you to something that leaves a tint on everything around you, an aftertaste… this is powerful.”

~ Jeffrey Lindner

“I found it masterful…I feel almost as haunted by [Bettilia] as Kes did. She’s a haunting, haunted little creature, but I fell in love with her. Her snappish wit, her obvious devotion to Mambly and Mama, her courage and strength, and her fears…The climax was riveting.”

~ Brianne Harris (Age 20, Illinois)

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Herald the shadowed things…


Herald the shadowed things, the hearth and tinder,
Lo, she comes, yon midnight madonna, newborn and beheld.


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The Brothers Everly


What strange creatures brothers are…

~ Jane Austen

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The Brothers Louvin


The Louvin Brothers.

The Louvin Brothers. The most beautiful brotherly harmonies in the haunted history of bluegrass music.

More than any others, they inspired The Everly Brothers. The Louvins also inspired my new novel The Kestrel Waters.

If their song Knoxville Girl has never resounded in your ears, then you might rest easier. But you will never have known The Louvin Brothers.

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Abandon Home


Was it only yesterday
The sun rose red and gold
In the dark sweet shadows
Of our bedroom?
And now I would rather you said
Nothing at all
Than say I love you or miss you
On an automatic tune
From somewhere
In a backroom
Of your head
While I have fallen
Off your map
Into a hole in a heart
Gone dead
While over here in this empty house
I go through lonesome progressions
While I am possessed
By sad possessions
Wondering if one day
You might
Remember our morning amazement
When we rose red and gold
In the dark sweet shadows
Of our bedroom.
© 2014 Randy Thornhorn

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Thornhorn, Axman…

Randy and Guitar brighterfinal

Shifting, shifting.


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Thornhorn working on thought crime…

RT 19AUG14 Working on my latest thought crime.

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A little WICKED TEMPER interlude…

Before the woods gave him up, Matthew saw a few more things. With each dark discovery, he kept leaving parts of his head behind. The sun went steadily and, after a hair and shirt snagging push, Matthew stumbled into a wild chestnut grove. In the broken light, white chickens scratched at the mossy mountain skin, milling about. They were just a smattering of dumb cluckers, not like Bob’s flock. Nobody would know if he drop-kicked a few for fun. But right now, Matthew’s stilts were wobbly, his shoes full of sweat and mud, his feet were raw with blisters. Seeing the chickens, he felt closer to the homestead, though: a whoop or two away. So he limped faster. His moves stringhalted now, thanks to the hole in his thigh. It ain’t the gore-horn that kills you, he chanted softly. It’s the hole. The hole. The hole. It ain’t the gore-horn that kills you. It’s the hole.

Another half hour of misery was still ahead of him. But Matthew finally took a wild left turn through laurel briar and around a wasp’s nest and he came to a dead stop. What he saw down slope made him squeak like a rubber toy.

It was Bob Nottingham’s smokehouse.

Matthew left the leafy steambath. He tripped down to the house. Tizzy was waiting on the wagon tongue. She sat there boiling in her own little popskull, in the late glare of day.

“I doubt you could catch a bug in a bucket,” she said, once his tale of woe was told.

“He was sneaky. He threw me.”

“Yeah, and I’m wily Delilah.”

“I’m telling ye, Tizzy now—don’t rile me up. He’s a sneaky, backtracking shitrag and that’s all they is to it.”

“Take a rest, hogboy. You look thirsty.”

“I told ye don’t never call me no hog—”

“I’m sorry. I’m just hot, dern it.”

“Let’s git on in the house then. I need better shade and cool water.”

“Nope,” she said, chin on her knees. She would not even look at the house.

“And why not?”

“They’s something unfit about this place. It’s unfit, Matthew.”

“Well, I ain’t gone argue about that.”

“I’m as much to blame as you.”

“To blame? Fer what?”

“Well, I been thinking,” Tizzy said, picking up speed. “Why do we always gotta be running from something or running after something else?”

“Huh? What’s got into you while I was gone?”

“If we live backwards and upside down from the way of things, we ends up in unfit places.”

“Doll baby, I’d give you a pill but I ain’t got one,” he said. She was going frantic on him.

“Matthew, I wonder sometimes if we ain’t just whirlygigs, for no good reason at all. You know? Whirlygigs. Seeds. We just is. And we fall. And we don’t need no reason at all. And that’s okey-dokey. Besides, they ain’t none.”

“They ain’t no what?”

“No good reason at all.”

Matthew tried to decipher her. But not for long. He gave up quickly and dragged himself inside where he drank six dippers. He almost stopped there, then decided to have a seventh. The seventh dipper finally slaked his thirst, so Matthew took off his shoes. He took out his pocketknife and found a bottle of red iodine in a kitchen cupboard. Then he tip-toed back outside, cussing the hurt of it all the way. His blisters got doctored while he sat with Tizzy and watched the sun go down. They bided slow time until the man’s return.

from Wicked Temper by Randy Thornhorn



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SavannahNow promotes The Kestrel Waters

A heads up: Today and tomorrow The Savannah Morning News is doing featured promotion of The Kestrel Waters on their website,

Four ads in four spots simultaneously on the homepage.

The Kestrel Waters _ Savannah Now _ Randy Thornhorn

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Souls in Distress

Role models are the death of art.

Art that depicts humanity is mostly built on badly-cracked people and broken relationships. If the folk of great story and song were fully realized human beings or the well-adjusted sort, there would be no Shakespeare. Passion eschews serenity and is not kind to contentment.


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A Celestial Fire in July…


All the angels of Tie Siding were on fire.
The famous sky was gone.

Presumably the mountains were still there, invisible in haze.
there was only one angel, but she was a torch in the wind, beside
the wind-ripped American flag the post office flies.
OK, she wasn’t
literally on fire.
Maybe her angelic red hair made me think she was
ablaze as it flaunted the prairie and made a festival of itself.
was a fireworks stand nearby, entirely beside the point, as was the
Fourth of July.
It was really dry.
It was fire season.
It was the
wind festival, featuring an angel standing in it, letting her red hair
conflagrate history, reduce it to ash, bid it start anew, erase the sky
with atrocity’s own smoke.
She wore, besides her flame of hair,
blue jeans and a singlet.
She was violent in the wind.
I started
walking toward her.
I’m still walking toward her, no idea what to
say when I get there.

(Fire Season by James Galvin)

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On Sale Now: HOWLS OF A HELLHOUND ELECTRIC (Riddle Top Magpies & Bobnot Boogies & A Ragged Love Story or Two)

Ten stark and stunning tales set under the jagged shadow of Riddle Top, in a darkling mountain world—a world of unholy mirth and madness, of gods and demons you never knew existed.

Collected together for the first time, Randy Thornhorn’s lyric, comic, and haunting short stories conjure up the fever and folly-filled lives of Riddle Top magpies, Bobnot boogies, and Cayuga Ridge folk—in other words: Thornhorn people. People who resemble everything human and a few odd creatures besides. Here we find fiery baptisms, legless dancers, rockabilly lovers, Buffalo soldiers, spidery wombs, sapphic ghosts, and big lusty birds who’ll wink at you. Scenes unfold of passion, buffoonery, mud-dobbers, murder, and the wonder working power in the blood. Here violence forever lurks, waiting to be unleashed with the beasts in the shadows, amidst the howls of the hellhound electric.

Author of the acclaimed novels The Kestrel Waters and Wicked Temper, and the longest fiction ever published in The Oxford American Magazine (who hailed him as “One of the South’s wildest new voices”), Randy Thornhorn finally leads this congregation of his unforgettable fables:

The Hole And Dobber’s Head (longest story published in The Oxford American), Tarbaby, The Axman’s Shift (abridged), Johabeth’s Holler, The Rain Goblin, Psalm Of The Emu, O Isle Spinner, Hushabye Yule, Turpitude, and Dearest Corliss.

Don’t miss this opportunity to read all these mindblowing stories, together, together, at last! Of A Hellhound Electric - Medium - Randy Thornhorn
buy now button Kestrel Waters

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Let me introduce you to The Book Lady (Joni Saxon-Giusti)…

The Book Lady
6 E Liberty St,
Savannah, Georgia 31401


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R.W. Ridley Review – The Kestrel Waters: “Another Southern Masterpiece”

Here’s what you should know about Randy Thornhorn. He dives deep as a writer and creates a lyrical wonderland as a storyteller. He has the talent to blend a kind of mystical back drop with gritty southern realism that I didn’t think was possible. He did that with Wicked Temper, the first book I read written by him, and he did it again with The Kestrel Waters, the second book I read by him. And I will read a third and fourth and onward until his pen stops bleeding or fingers stop tapping. He’s a writer you read obsessively, compulsively – pick your adverb of need.

In The Kestrel Waters you have a tale of bluegrass playing brothers, the Brothers Brass. The way Mr. Thornhorn draws us into this musical fantasy is seamless from the opening pages. It’s incredibly easy to see them spontaneously and feverishly playing a tune on a train ride to their next gig. Using their southern charm to chat up pretty girls and looking for trouble. This is a love story at its core, and the reader is taken there experiencing the passion, appetites and misfortune that such a “nail to the head” provides the oldest brother, Kestrel. It’s a story of family ties and sacrifices that are at once beautiful and tragic.

If I had to pick one thing that sets this author apart from other southern storytellers (beyond his ability to mix of fantasy and realism), it would be the masterful way the sprinkles backwoods dialect into meaningful dialogue. You almost get the sense that you’re learning a long lost language, one that is simple and alluring.

Once again, my hat is off to Mr. Thornhorn. Here’s hoping he gets the recognition he deserves.

~ R.W. Ridley


(My heartfelt thanks again to author R.W. Ridley for his amazing, humbling review. Be sure to visit his endlessly fascinating blog, which you can find at this link. – RT)

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RW Ridley review: WICKED TEMPER by Thornhorn (“An instant Southern Classic”)


In my continuing effort to shine a light on indie authors, allow me to turn your attention to one Randy Thornhorn. I found myself waiting in a situation in which I had nothing to do but search for good books in the Kindle store for about two hours on Monday, and I found a book I had heard about earlier titled Wicked Temper written by the aforementioned Randy Thornhorn.

It’s Southern Fiction which is my not so secret literary passion. I love the settings, the characters, the dialogue, and the dialect offered up on in a good Southern tome, and Wicked Temper is not good. It’s great. Great may not even be an effusive enough word. It’s a classic in the vein of William Faulkner, Harper Lee, Cormac McCarthy, and Erskine Caldwell (my personal favorite). Yet, it is a much darker voice all its own. There’s an underlying deep moan of creepiness throughout this story that lets you feel the soaring trek of ruin the main characters Tizzy and Matthew are on. They set out on a life of crime to escape their dismal childhoods only to fall into the hands of a charismatic backwoods deviant.

This book deserves to be read and shared for generations to come. It is currently only $1.99 on Kindle. That’s an insanely low price for a book this good. Buy it. Read it. Tell your friends. This is the kind of indie book that deserves the attention. It has made me realize that my alter-ego, C. Hoyt Caldwell, has miles to go before he reaches this level of storytelling.

BTW – I heard about this book on Facebook. A few weeks ago someone (I can’t remember who) posted a link to the book. I read the summary and committed it to memory because I found it interesting. I’m just sorry it took me so long to actually get back to the book and read it.

~ RW Ridley

© RW Ridley

(*My deepest appreciation goes out to author, and new friend, RW Ridley for his thoughtful and beautifully-crafted review. Be sure to check out his blog at…RT)

An instant Southern classic.

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The New Thornhorn Story! = ORPHAN HOME

Under a hot Savannah sun, with an oddly-sexed orphan, a boat carries bluegrass picker Glenn Brass up the river. Yes, upriver, a sleepy and most peculiar island plantation lies in wait for Brother Brass. There, he will sit down to dinner. And Brass will pass the gumbo to ghosts of James Brown, Martin Luther King, and one impossible pickpocket. Then in will waltz the late Gary Cooper.

Up the river, on The Island, the old folks on the old homestead, they ain’t what they used to be. And strange things unseen will kill all that is left of Glenn Brass’s hunger.

Another comic and macabre Thornhorn visitation.


Orphan Home is the newest short story from Randy Thornhorn, author of The Kestrel Waters.


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UP AND RUNNING here at the IBPA Booth (2352), BookExpo America, NYC!


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Thornhorn Flying into NYC — BookExpo Tomorrow!


Tomorrow is the big day for the official launch of The Kestrel Waters at BookExpo America, at the Javitz Center in Manhattan.

Remember, Randy Thornhorn will be at the IBPA Booth #2352.

I will be around throughout the day, but look for me 9 a.m. – 10 a.m., then 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m., and ask me for a free signed copy of The Kestrel Waters (while supplies last!).

See you there…


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Favorite Breakfast?

A magazine I follow just asked–what’s your favorite spot to grab a great breakfast in the South? Well, I can’t limit it to the South. Other than my own skillet, I have two places: The Breakfast Club on Tybee Island, outside Savannah, Georgia–and The Coffee Corner in Montpelier, Vermont.

What is your favorite spot for breakfast? Name the restaurant and why you love it in a sentence or two.image

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A Southern Winter Interlude.


Here is home…

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A Further Note snagged from Jeffrey Lindner’s FB page…

“I read this book as a favor to a friend. It’s not a genre I typically enjoy and, frankly, I expected a spooky mystery story – entertaining enough in the moment, but nothing that would leave a lasting impression. I was wrong.

This book placed me in a world and among people that could be both a little alien – and deeply familiar. The family and places in this world have become something of an obsession – a source of nostalgia and vivid imagery. I go back when I can – and think about it when I can’t.

I’ve read this book three times now. I can, without the bias of friendship or privilege, recommend it with only this caution: This one will touch you but leave you a little unsettled. You’ll miss these people and worry for them. You’ll miss these places and feel an uneasy yearning for them.

Once again to the author: Thank you, Randy.”

(A note JL added while sharing the book video with “New and Improved Ending.)

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I been seeing it done for years.

First thing, ever purple morn, the Willerswitch Witch comes to that same steep knob atop Hulep Choat’s Peak. She ain’t much hair left. What hairs they is is white. Her skin be grey. No greyer than other hags and they’s sure to be other hags, I expect. But this hag is — now don’t you worry it — but she’s the Willerswitch Witch to that girly up the tree.

High, she is. Up that tree.

My baby never leaves that limb to ask for no Christian name, mind you. She ain’t one to ask. No, she keeps secret. Her eyes be my eyes.

Below, the old grey thing lifts her skirts and she spin eleven, twelve, thirteen times, eyes closed and whispering. The Witch ask where do time tell, where is the well went, where be the wind sent, how went tizzypoke? The Witch, she blows a French harp — her mouth organ whines whilst jigging and clogging her pointy toes in the air. Whipping up dizzy arias and canticles with her willerswitch, she blows loud and swats down her crazylegged canticles for all souls below to hear.

From that tree on Hulep Choat’s Peak, a wee girl can see hollers piled upon hollers, snapdragon hillsides tumbling into valleys, twining into murky slews. Sometimes, a twanging guitar string ricochets up from below, answering back at that French harp. Soon the Witch takes to circling the tree spire, first to the clockwise, then counter to the clock. The willerswitch will lead, my little girly will listen.

“A thousand’n ten hunert’n two babies I done pulled from they mams. Put my mark on most ever chile I borned. Ever clan has its daemon babe, ye know, a boogified daemon babe. Ask me, I tells em so. Ask me. I hate the impudent chile. I knows him right off. I gives that babe its mark. Everbody got one. I can pick a collicky babe, a trickster, a fool — yay, a fool, or I can pick me a king foretold from the birthin’ slime. So I kisses em with my pucker. Or I kisses em with my willer switch. Onliest ones I ever put back into they mams is them what this world ain’t ripe fer yet. That’s why I’m plumb ashamed this mornin’, humbled I be. That’s why I ask of thee. Do you recollect first babysteps, babysteps? First one, then two step, then three? So here you is — still a chile. So whose chile is you? Who chile, who chile, who chile is you?”

Now, my girly ain’t never been kissed. She ain’t good for that. But she’s the right fit, she can hold her shine, and she can cipher plenty good. I reckon she wonders, who chile is you?

Don’t worry it. Don’t you worry it none. It was many a morn before my girly got wise to that old woman. But she got foxy afore long. Why, that Willerswitch Witch had never left a mark on that girly on high. No tarbaby mark or fortune’s kiss, not even a willer to cry. Borned cold and quiet, she was, to a blindeyed mother cold in the grave.

You ask how could that be? You ask how went tizzypoke? We will just have to see, you see. Make no mistake about one thing.

That baby belong to me.

That baby belong to me.

That baby belong to me.


(Who Child  is the opening chapter of the book Wicked Temper Untold.)

© Randy Thornhorn


Jewel Tree, 1975
Eyvind Earle (1916-2000)

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No Shakespeare

Role models are the death of art.

Art that depicts humanity is mostly built on badly-cracked people and broken relationships. If the folk of great story and song were fully realized human beings or the well-adjusted sort, there would be no Shakespeare. Passion eschews serenity and is not kind to contentment.


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= Lyn Dunsavage Young =


Meet Lyn Dunsavage Young.

This woman extraordinaire is an editor, publicist, and my good friend. And then some.

Lyn has had a profound influence on me. Without knowing it, she provoked key events in my new and most important work, and she has helped shape my life for the better in countless ways. She has mentored, encouraged, connected, and offered up the best kinds of criticism. She is a fount of wisdom, filled with endless cheer. Laughter becomes her.

To paraphrase Mickey Newbury: She wanders from room to room in my head, turning on each light.

One day, almost sixteen years ago, I chose a path which led me to her. We have shared an orbit ever since, two moons circling closer with the rise of this life’s tides. I feel overdue in thanking her openly, to let you all know why she has mattered so much in my moonrise. I have a love for her that she may never understand. But it is real, yes, real nonetheless.

May you all be blessed with a friend akin to Lyn Dunsavage Young. She is a beautiful blossom who waters the blossom in others.


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Meanwhile, over on Bluegrass Today…



You might need to click on this and enlarge it to really see it. But I thought you might enjoy a gander at what is popping up regularly this weekend and in weeks to come over on Bluegrass Today dot com.

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BLIND FIDDLER (from The Kestrel Waters) *reposted by Popular Request

performed by Hoyt Axton

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Cottage For Sale (from The Kestrel Waters)

performed by Judy Garland

COMING: The Kestrel Waters will be available in print on April 1. (That’s right, April Fools Day, folks!)

(Currently available as Kindle ebook on

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A Letter from William Peter Blatty (re: The Kestrel Waters)

Well, folks, today I received a letter from a very gracious man whose words moved me deeply. I can never thank him enough for taking the time to read and respond to my request.

I have not told many people until now–but The Kestrel Waters (my new novel) is going to be available in print in May. The cover is designed already, everything is falling into place for it. (It is already available online as a Kindle ebook at Amazon.)

Then, this afternoon, I received an email from Oscar-winning, best-selling author William Peter Blatty (who wrote The Exorcist and The Ninth Configuration). It began like this:


I took most of the rest of the day off to read The Kestrel Waters after which I’ve come to believe that it is I who should be asking you for quotes. I was haunted throughout by a sense of mystery and otherness, it’s a mesmerizing, wonderfully written and extraordinary work of the imagination…


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