Monthly Archives: December 2021

X5 – Cover Reveal!

My new volume of short stories, imaginatively entitled X5, is up for pre-order now! Dropping in a matter of weeks, it is set to feature ten previously-published pulse-pounding slabs of hoffific fiction, extensive notes, and original artwork from the Stoker award-winning Greg Chapman which I can show you right now.

Let me know what you think!

X5 will be available exclusively on ebook, and is up for pre-order now.


The Colour out of Deathlehem: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors

Season’s greetings, come all ye faithful and all that jazz. Christmas is supposed to be about giving, a sentiment that often seems to get lost in these capitalist, consumer-driven times. It just feels good to do things for other people. Sometimes.

Anyway, back last year, I was about 700 words into this cool little Christmas horror story I was writing about a dude that finds an old Santa suit, puts it on, and then finds he can’t take it off. It starts to grow on him, fusing with his skin. Not only that, but his behaviour starts to change. He’s not the man he used to be. For starters (sorry) he’s hungry all the time. No matter how much he eats, he’s still hungry. He eats, and he eats, and he eats. The story was going well. Right up until the point where I realized I’d subconsciously nicked the plot straight from the Eli Roth film Clown (2014) and just replaced the clown suit with a Santa suit.

Bugger.

I posted in a horror writing group on Facebook complaining about my wasted efforts, prompting Michael McCarty to PM me suggesting what he called a ‘quick fix,’ which between us we adapted into a killer twist. The resulting collaboration, Finders Keepers, can be found in The Colour out of Deathlehem, the latest charity release from Grinning Skull Press. By my reckoning, this is the eighth volume of holiday horrors they have published to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The Colour out of Deathlehem is out now on paperback and ebook.


The Night Visitor and the Siren’s Call

My 16th short story of the year, the Night Visitor is published and free to read in the latest edition of Siren’s Call, those purveyors of edgy fiction. This is one of the first stories I remember writing, though it didn’t see the light of day until 2010 when it was included in a magazine called Fantastic Horror. I later included it in X2: Another Collection of Horror.

This is what I said about it in the afterword of that book:

“The idea for this story also came from a dream I had once when I was staying at my parent’s house in New Tredegar, South Wales. In the dream, I was the one sneaking into people’s homes at night. Not to steal anything or inflict harm or anything, but just to watch people sleep. How creepy is that? I knew there was a story in there somewhere. The challenge then lay in developing that flimsy concept into a something with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

I was writing a lot of trippy, subtle fiction at the time, and this is a pretty good example. I’m delighted to see it find a whole new audience courtesy of Siren’s Call.


RetView #53 – Flatliners (1990)

Title: Flatliners

Year of Release: 1990

Director: Joel Schumacher

Length: 114 mins

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt

If Lost Boys was director Joe Schumacher’s Highway to Hell moment, Flatliners was his Back in Black. The 1990 blockbuster produced by Michael Douglas (yes, that one) and Rick Bieber, and distributed by Columbia Pictures, took its inspiration from a Jack London short story originally published in 1899 called A Thousand Deaths, which was about a patient being deliberately killed and resuscitated by a mad scientist. Propelled by an uber cool Brat Pack cast, on its theatrical release Flatliners was a smash hit, instantly claiming the No 1 slot at the Box Office and raking in a cool $10 million-plus on its opening weekend.

When medical student Nelson Wright (Sutherland) convinces a bunch of his classmates to help him discover what lies behind the veil of death, you know it’s all going to go wrong. They help him flatline (hence the title) and he ‘returns’ to verify that there is indeed something there. The classmates Joe (Baldwin), David (Bacon), Randy (Platt) and Rachel (Roberts) all decide to follow suit, and each have very different, but invariably harrowing experiences. After the experiments, they begin to suffer what they think are hallucinations, all related to some unresolved issue in their past. One-by-one the students confront the demons of their past, with some coming out of it better than others, eventually allowing them to move on with their lives. The overriding message here seems to concern coming to terms with the more tragic side of life, and learning how to learn and move on from it. Joel Schumacher was intrigued by the spiritual and horrific aspects of Flatliners, and enthused about the possibilities of creating a visually exciting film. He said: “[This] is a story about atonement and forgiveness involving these students who, in a sense, violate the gods and pay a price. I think we would all like to know what’s in store for us after we die. There have been thousands of reports from all over the world from those who have encountered ‘near death’, and most of them have reported pleasant experiences. Our movie, however, is saying that you’re not to tamper with death.”

Despite boasting a stellar cast, the movie has always proved divisive. As with many films of the era, in occasion it falls victim to being more about style than substance and for some reason never quite tapped into that all-forgiving nostalgic vibe. On Metacritic it’s score currently stands at a modest 55% from ten ‘mixed or average’ critical reviews, while on the same site its user rating is a much more healthy 9.2/10. The New York Times said, “Flatliners is a stylish, eerie psychological horror film laced with wit, a movie that thrives on its characters’ guilty secrets and succeeds on the strength of the director Joel Schumacher’s flair for just this sort of smart, unpretentious entertainment While at the other end of the spectrum, The Orlando Sentinel said, “Far-fetched as the premise is, I was willing to give the film the benefit of the doubt for the sake of the impressive cast. But as Flatliners rolled along, its pretentiousness became increasingly toxic.”

A perfect example, if ever there was one, of not being able to please all the people all the time.

In 2017, a new version was released, confusingly with the same name, which functions as both a remake and a stand-alone sequel. Repeating the pattern of the first film, reviews were generally negative, the general idea being that the movie once again failed to live up to an interesting premise. Despite this, again it proved to be a moderate Box Office success. Interestingly, a deleted scene from the movie establishes Kieffer Sutherland’s character Dr. Barry Wilson to be an older version of Nelson Wright having changed his name and begun living under a different identity.

Trivia Corner:

Though they are all supposed to be approximately the same age, in actual fact Kevin Bacon was many years older than the rest of the main cast having made his film debut 12 years earlier in National Lampoon’s Animal House which, ironically, also starred Kiefer Sutherland’s father, Donald.


SHORT STORY: Twitch by C.M. Saunders

A free-to-read short story guaranteed to make you squirm or smile, or your money back!

Meghan's House of Books

Twitch

It started with a twitching left eyelid. Nothing major. More annoying that anything else. She’d had similar afflictions before, but they usually petered out after a while. This one didn’t.

It just kept getting worse.

The eyelid developed a life of its own, fluttering away seemingly at will. One spasm led to another, then another, until eventually she lost all control of her facial muscles.

The condition spread to her limbs, and all she could do was lie on the floor covered in her own vomit, drool and excrement, her entire body convulsing and contracting.

Demonic possession is no joke.


Boo-graphy:
Christian Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, is a freelance journalist and editor from south Wales. His work has appeared in almost 100 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide including Fortean Times, the Literary Hatchet, ParABnormal, Fantastic Horror, Haunted MTL, Feverish Fiction and

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Painted Nails require No Anesthetic!

“We want Extreme horror stories,” the publisher said. “Think Wrath James White, Edward Lee, Shane McKenzie, or J.F. Gonzalez. If you can write a story that will churn our stomachs or make us fear what’s behind the shower curtain, send it in and we’ll read it and decide if it is Extreme enough for our anthology.”

And extreme they got. Check out the awesome cover art.

Sometimes when I finish writing a story I look back on it and think I might have overdone things a bit. It happened with Subject #270374 and it happened again with with Painted Nails, which is about a drug addict who wakes up to find a foreign object stuck in his dick. Don’t worry, it isn’t erect or anything, but it just get worse for the poor guy from there. Especially when he realizes that there’s something in his bathroom.

We’ve all woken up in the morning and not quite been 100% clear about what might have happened the night before. Painted Nails takes that to the next level. On reflection it explores some of the same themes as Grower, published last year in Brewtality, and I wrote both stories at around the same time. I have no idea what issues I was trying to iron out. Fun stories, though. Grower maybe traded on the humorous angle a bit more than Painted Nails which is flat-out brutal.

Painted Nails, wounded penis and all, is my 12th published short story of the year and is included in the anthology No Anesthetic (note the American spelling) out now on Splatter Ink publishing.


Sleepless over 101 Words

You might think that the longer the story, the harder it is to write. But that’s not always the case. When you have limited space, it can be quite a challenge fitting in a beginning, a middle, and an end, while simultaneously making sure the story says what you want it to say. Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken a liking to drabbles (100 word stories). Several have seen the light of day including Coming Around, Hitori Kakurenbo, Naughty Step and Louie’s Room. 101 Words puts a new spin on the drabble formula by, you guessed it, adding an extra word.

The idea for Sleepless came from this article I read a while back about an American teenager called Randy who stayed awake for over eleven days. Eleven days! That’s impressive enough, then I started thinking… what if Randy had a job? A very responsible job, where a lot of people’s safety and/or welfare depended on him? Things could get decidedly messy.

Check out Sleepless, and some other incredibly concise 101-word stories, HERE


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