Category Archives: dark fiction

Those Left Behind

My latest short story has just been published on a very cool multimedia platform called twentytwotwentyeight. Those Left Behind is  an urban horror story with a twist, and a surprise ending I hope you don’t see coming. It addresses mental illness, in particular suicide, which is something close to my heart. Depression and mental illness is a big issue for young men, and Wales has the second-highest suicide rate in the UK. There aren’t many people here who remain unaffected. The sorry state of affairs was brought to the public’s attention a few years ago with the mysterious Bridgend Triangle business.

There are many reasons for it, not least the current economic climate. Not so long ago, the towns and villages of south Wales were thriving as the steel and coal money rolled in. Black gold, we called it. it was dangerous work, but there was money to be made. Then the steelworks and coal mines closed, and an entire generation was put out of work almost overnight. I found this great article about it on the Washington Post, of all places. Not that I need to read about it, I lived through it.

The end result of the closures was that young people living in Wales today have little education and few prospects. Poverty is steadily increasing, and in relation to that drug abuse and crime rates are still soaring. This, combined with other factors like isolation, has a debilitating effect on a person’s mental state. That’s my theory, anyway. How can we solve the problem? Who knows. All I can do is write about it and raise awareness a little. I hope you like the story.

You can read Those Left Behind now, free.

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Dead Man Walking the Crimson Streets

My latest short story ‘Dead Man Walking’ is now live on the website (and future anthology) Crimson Streets, “An over-the-top homage to the pulp and adventure magazines of the 1930s through 1950s. Where the detectives are more hard boiled, the dames are leggier, the scientists are madder, and the horrors are more horrible.”

SoekkhaTim-Dead_Man_Walking-Revised

I started writing Dead Man Walking a few years ago, the title stolen from a Bruce Springsteen song. At one point, it had the alternative title Dead Men Don’t Bleed. But having thought about it a while, and watching a lot of CSI episodes, I decided that in certain situations, dead men WOULD bleed, and that made the title redundant. Anyway, my aim was to involve a classic noir detective-type character, maybe in the vein of Mike Hammer, in some kind of straight-up horror tale. I only had the opening; a guy walks into his office and proclaims to be dead. But is he? If so, the obvious question is, how the heck is he still walking around?

I didn’t know either, so the story ground to a halt after a couple of thousand words. Then I tucked it away in my bulging ‘unfinished’ folder and left it to rot. Late last year I came across it again, had a read through, and decided to have a bash at finishing it. It flowed really well. A little too well, because when I finished, it stood at just over 9,000 words. Too long for a short story, and not quite long enough for a novella. Technically, it would be a novelette, and still too awkward a length to do much with. I liked it, though. I was planning to put it out myself, and thought I might as well send it off to a couple of publishers before I did so primarily to gauge interest.

Janet Carden, editor at Crimson Streets, got in touch and said she liked it. But as anticipated, it was just too long and far exceeded their submission guidelines. However, she kindly invited me to edit it and re-submit, which I did. It was no easy task, because the first draft of Dead Man Walking had very little in the way of padding. After a few frustrating days and long nights, I eventually managed to cut around 2,500 words off without compromising the actual story too much. It’s still one of my favourite things I’ve ever written. You can read it for free HERE.

Artwork by Tim Soekkha.


X for Sale!

Yes, I said X. To help give X3, my third collection of short fiction, a little boost, the first two volumes are 0.99 each for a limited time. That’s less than half price. Or you could say they are two for the price of one. Whichever way you slice it, they are cheap. Links below.

X by CM Saunders (2) - High Res

This is what happens when you ‘wake up’ inside a dream, when the urban myth you heard turns out to be so much more, and when that hottie you pick up in a bar springs a terrible surprise. But what do you do when your wife gives birth to something not entirely human? When your past discretions come back to haunt you? Or when a serial killer moves in next door?

The first collection of horror and dark fiction from the critically acclaimed writer C.M. Saunders, including three previously unpublished stories, plus an introduction and extensive notes. Also features exclusive artwork by Greg Chapman.

US LINK

UK LINK

X2 by CM Saunders

The sequel to 2014’s successful X: A Collection of Horror features ten more slices of dark fiction from the blood-soaked pages of Fantastic Horror, Unspoken Water, Dark Valentine and several anthologies. Also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and original artwork by Greg Chapman.

Meet the teacher who sees dead pupils, the ambulance crew who pick up a casualty who won’t die, and the childhood friends who spend the night in a haunted pub. Along the way you can meet a man who refuses to accept his wife’s death and goes to extreme lengths to keep the flame of love alive, the boy who just likes to watch you sleep, and maybe even pay a visit to an antique shop with a deadly secret. If you dare.

US LINK

UK LINK

I should mention that X SAMPLE is also 0.99. But that was 0.99 anyway, so there’s no big story there.

Finally, don’t forget the latest installment, X3 is available for pre-order now. And it’s 0.99 until release day on Friday 13th April. Then it goes up to £12.5 million.

X3

 


X3 – Cover Reveal

X3, my third collection of short fiction, is coming out next month. The first volume gathered together my early stories, most of which were published in the small press explosion of the late nineties, while the second covered the noughties. More info on those can be found here.

This third volume mainly includes stories which were published in various magazines, ezines and anthologies in 2012-2014, plus a couple of surprises. More details, and ToC to follow. In the meantime, I wanted to share the cover with you, designed once again by Greg Chapman who recently won a big HWA award. Congratulations, Greg!

And here it is:

X3

Impressive, eh?

X3 is available for pre-order now and is half-price for a very limited time, so get yours early. 😉


Where did that Human Waste come from?

I was going to use this post to explain a few things about my recent release Human Waste. In particular, I was going to clarify exactly what my intention was. It shouldn’t be necessary, but in this case it kinda is. I get that fucked up ending could throw a few people. They do say the best art is art you have to think about a little, but I wanted to make it crystal clear.

But then I realized I can’t pull it apart and lay it bare without dropping spoilers left and right. And if I do that, there would be no reason for anyone else to read it. The secret would be out. So rather than break it down for you, I’ll have to let you do that bit for yourselves and tell you why I wrote it instead.

Anyone who knows my fiction will know that I usually prefer to stay in the shadows. By that, I mean most of it is old-school. Traditional. Haunted houses, alternate realities, creepy ghosts, the odd dude going mental and not realizing it. You know, the usual stuff. I always tended to shy away from the more explicit, in-your-face kind of horror, the same way I used to shy away from writing explicit sex scenes.  Reading a lot of other authors, I came to realize that most of it was unnecessary. Schlock, gore and sex for the sake of schlock, gore and sex. Not much of it advanced the story very far, or added to it in any way, which is what I‘ve always been most invested in.

But I must admit there was always a small part of me that longed to get my freak on from time to time. I often put graphic scenes in my stories, only to have a change of heart and remove them afterwards. Then I saw a submission call from Blood Bound Books for an anthology called DOA 3, which actually invited writers to get freaky. As freaky as they could and then some. I let the shackles off and knocked out a story called Subject #270374 which is, admittedly, fucking gross, and afterwards I realised how much I enjoyed that walk on the wild side. I began to think I’d gone as far as I could with the ‘traditional’ horror route, and splatterpunk was my new vocation. At least for the time being.

I’d had a few ideas floating around for a while. I’ve always been interested in prepping and survivalism. Not just the practicalities of it all, but the ethos behind it, too. There are a lot of people getting ready for the end of the world, whether it be the result of a solar flare, a world war, a meteor strike, another ice age, a global financial meltdown, an alien invasion, or a zombie uprising. As well as getting ready for a mass extinction, I get the impression a lot of them are also getting ready to say, “Look! I told you so!”

When I finished Human Waste, I didn’t even bother submitting it to any publishers. I wanted to self-publish it. That way, I could maintain complete control. I am aware of the stigma often attached to self-published writers. We self-publish because our work isn’t strong enough to be traditionally published, right? Wrong. My first six books were traditionally published. I turned indie through choice, not necessity. I haven’t submitted a novels or novella to a traditional publisher since 2012. One bad experience too many . This way, I might get slightly fewer sales and less respect, but at least I know where the money is going.

For argument’s sake I’ve called Human Waste a short story, but at around 10,000 words it’s technically a novelette. Stories of this ‘middling’ length are notoriously hard to place, anyway. The bonus content was selected on a thematic basis. Til Death Do us Part is a short story revolving around a similar end of the world scenario originally published in Morpheus Tales magazine, while I also include a short extract from my recent novella No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches, which substituted WWI-era German soldiers for modern-day zombies. War is war, regardless of the arena it’s played out in, and to those fighting in the trenches it must surely have seemed like the end of the world.

human-waste RED

Human Waste: A Short Splatterpunk Story is available now via Deviant Doll Publications.

And why not check out a few stops on Human Waste Blog Tour?


100 Word Horrors – An Anthology of Horror Drabbles

Late last year, I was asked to contribute to an anthology. It wasn’t themed like so many are these days, the interesting thing about it was that it was to consist entirely of drabbles (a piece of fiction exactly a hundred words long, not including the title). This is something I had never even attempted before, so I initially did it for the challenge. After banging my head against the wall for a few days, I eventually came up with a story called Coming Around. I can’t say writing it was easy, but it was a lot of fun. As the project grew legs and started running, it turned into a who’s who of horror, and something I am very proud to be a part of.

100 words updated

Kevin J. Kennedy, has once again brought together the best of the horror world to bring you an anthology that is packed with creepy tales. Between these pages you will find over one hundred drabbles, written by a wealth of talented authors. From the best indie horror authors to Bram Stoker award winners and Amazon top sellers. We have monsters, mayhem and madness. Come join us.

Contains drabbles by Amy Cross, William F. Nolan, Lisa Morton, Gord Rollo, Michael A. Arnzen, Mark Lukens, Richard Chizmar, Rick Gualtieri, Jeff Strand, Kevin J. Kennedy, P. Mattern, Lee Mountford, Ike Hamill, Michael Bray, Andrew Lennon, Craig Saunders, Matt Hickman, Glenn Rolfe and many more.

In her review, Erica Robyn had this to say about my contribution:

Absolutely terrifying!! This one is a straight up nightmare! 5/5

Thank you, Erica 😉

100 Word Horrors is out now.


The Bookshelf 2017

As per tradition, behold!

Here’s a list of every book I managed to read cover-to-cover in 2017:

The Cabin by Amy Cross (2015)

Wrong Attitude: A Brief Guide to Living In & Visiting Thailand by Steve Price (2015)

An Introduction to Thailand: The Ultimate Travel Guide by Robert Halstead (2014)

The Beach by Alex Garland (1996)

To Travel Hopelessly by English Teacher X (2012)

Cold Call by Jon Hillman (2016)

Appetite for Destruction: Legendary Encounters by Mick Wall (2010)

The Kennedy Conspiracy File by David Southwell (2012)

Meat by Michael Bray (2012)

Lost Signals by various authors (2016)

We Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea (2017)

The Printer from Hell by Amy Cross (2016)

I Am Haunted by Zac Bagans (2012)

Accidental Agent: Behind Enemy Lines with the French Resistance by John Goldsmith (new edition, 2017)

Unit 731 by Craig Saunders (2016)

Sinister Scribblings by Matt Hickman (2017)

DOA 3 by various authors (2017)

Battlefield by Amy Cross (2016)

Scavengers by Rich Hawkins (2016)

Preppers: Survival Basics by John Adams (2014)

Part Reptile: UFC, MMA and Me by Dan Hardy (2017)

Abandoned by Blake Crouch (2009)

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (2016)

The Housemates by Iain Robb Wright (2011)

Church by Renee Miller (2017)

dr_whoo_bookcase

For previous year’s lists, check out these links:

2016

2015

2014


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