Tag Archives: books

Inside Harberry Close

A few months ago, the writer Gregory Norris asked me to contribute something to his website about my story, Harberry Close, which was included in the recent anthology Dead Harvest on Scarlet Galleon press alongside one of his.

Dead Harvest - Front Cover

Dead Harvest – Front Cover

I was more than happy to oblige, and here it is.

Until quite recently, I lived in east London and worked in the south-west. That meant a near two-hour journey through one of the busiest cities in the world, during rush hour, twice a day, five days a week. That journey used to drive me mad with all the pushing, shoving, and elevated stress levels. It wasn’t an easy route, either. A typical commute consisted of a 15-minute walk to the nearest tube station, the Central line to Bank, the Waterloo & City line to Waterloo station, an overground train, and a bus. I absolutely hated the Central line. It was slow, ponderous, and you invariably ended up squashed into someone else’s arm pit.

If the weather was bad, or if there was some kind of strike or other disruption, it could easily add half an hour or more to my journey, which meant I would arrive at work late, then have to stay late to make the time back. I’m sure you get the picture. Waterloo station represented the mid-point in my journey. As such it always filled me with a strange mixture of emotions. On one hand it was encouraging to know I was halfway to my destination, but at the same time it was a bit soul destroying to realize I still had some way to go. I actually quite like Waterloo. Despite always being chaotic and full of stressed-out commuters, it’s one of London’s nicer transport hubs. There’s quite a decent pub on the platform, and an excellent burrito place. Anyway, as I waited on the platform every morning, I often found myself wondering what would happen if I somehow got on the wrong train. Where would that wrong train take me. Maybe somewhere like Harberry Close?

I started thinking about worst-case scenarios, and couldn’t think of a better (or worse) one. I made the name up. There is no actual Harberry Close. At least, I don’t think there is. I wanted something that sounded quintessentially English, and very nearly called the story Strawberry Hill. That is a real place. My train sometimes goes through it. I’ve never got off there.

The original version of this piece can be found here.

http://gregorylnorris.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/behold-dead-harvest.html

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Jumping Through Hoops

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As a jobbing freelance writer, I’m a self-confessed media whore. I’ll write for whoever pays me. It’s what I have to do. I make a living through a number of channels, one of those channels being dark fiction. Dark fiction with a twist of sardonic humour, as reviewers often point out. I’m not going to lie. I don’t make a lot of money from it. I sell a few books a month, and place a couple of short stories a year in various magazines, ezines, literary journals and anthologies. It’s never going to make me rich. But I enjoy it, and I count myself lucky that I am in a position to make a little extra income to supplement my day job writing for sport and lifestyle magazines.

In order to have your work published in one of the many outlets there are, you have to submit your work according to the publication’s specific formatting guidelines. Some want a particular font, in a particular size, some want single-spaced copy, others double-spaced. Some request a cover page with your name and contact details, while others want ‘blind’ submissions with no identifying information. About the only thing all publications have in common, is that they all want something different. I don’t mind going through every individual story I have and changing the font or whatever if the potential pay-off makes it worth my while. The more a publication pays contributors, the more I am willing to do. Unfortunately, this is a practice that occurs right across the board, even down to ‘exposure markets’ that don’t pay any actual money. In fact, they are often the worst offenders. I once had an extremely bitchy email from the ‘editor’ of an ezine complaining that I hadn’t followed the guidelines not just in the manuscript I submitted, but also in my cover letter. He took particular offence at my use of the word ‘hi’ instead of the more formal ‘hello,’ and the smiley-face at the end of my email was a deal-breaker. He clearly wasn’t a fan of the friendly approach. When I checked their guidelines again, I saw how much they paid per word. Not a penny. Zero. Nothing. You would think a publication expecting established writers to work for free would be a bit more forgiving, but it served me right. If I’d read the guidelines properly I would have realised they didn’t pay and wouldn’t have submitted to them in the first place.

Anyway, I digress. On the face of it, it all seems like a massive ball ache for no good reason. I was always of the opinion that if a story is reasonably and legibly laid out, what difference does it make if its double-spaced in 12pt courier or not? But then I started thinking about it, and looking at the situation from the point of view of the publication. If a prospective contributor doesn’t pay any attention to the guidelines, why should the publication pay any attention to the prospective contributor?

The publication don’t put all these guidelines in place just for the sake of it (though some probably do take some perverse pleasure out of making you jump through hoops on their behalf). They are a test, designed to ascertain in an instant how closely you read those guidelines. Or if you read them at all. It reminds me of Van Halen and their infamous tour riders. In the decadent 1980’s, when they were among the biggest bands in the world, Dave Lee Roth and co insisted that all the brown M & M’s be removed from bowls backstage at their gigs. Years later, they confessed they weren’t just being pretentious dicks, but making sure the venue adhered to their requests. If they didn’t take care of the small things, they couldn’t be trusted to take care of the big things, either. In retrospect, it all adds up, and maybe these editors are thinking along the same lines.

Check out some of the times I jumped through enough hoops on my Amazon Author page:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christian-Saunders/e/B0034QAX0E

 


X2 – Cover Reveal

My second volume of dark fiction, imaginatively entitled X2, will be released via Amazon on February 6. Save the date. More details to follow soon.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of the cover, produced once again by the awesome Aussie Greg Chapman.

X2 Cover

X2 Cover

Check out more of Greg’s work here:

http://darkscrybe.com/


The Bookshelf 2014

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This is a list of all the books I read, from cover to cover, in 2014. Sometimes it takes me a long time to read a book, other times it takes just a couple of days. It depends on the book.

I’ve only included the ones I actually finished. There are several dozen stuck at various percentages on my Kindle, which I may or may not get around to finishing at some point, and my TBR list grows every day. There are so many books in the world, but so little time.

Anyway, I’ve made a start.

Dead Man’s Land by Robert Ryan (2012)
Let’s Drink to the Dead by Simon Bestwick (2012)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)
Synchronicity – One Man’s Journey by Aaron Garrison (2013)
Wolverton Station by Joe Hill (2013)
Crooked House by Joe McKinney (2013)
In the Bones by Renee Miller (2013)
Banshee’s Cry by Mark Parker (2014)
Deranged: The Shocking True Story of America’s Most Fiendish Killer by Harold Schechter (1998)
The Doll by JC Martin (2011)
Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan by Chun Yu Wang (2011)
People Person by Trent Zelazny (2013)
Urban Krav Maga Personal Safety Guide by Stewart McGill (2012)
Chicago History – The Stranger Side by Raymond Johnson (2014)
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (2005)
Just Beyond the Desert: Three Short Stories From the Edge by Spencer Loeb (2014)
Wilderness by Dean Koontz (2013)
Barbed Wire Kisses – The Jesus and Mary Chain Story by Zoe Howe (2014)
Found Money by Trent Zelazny (2005)
Running With the Firm – My Double Life as an Undercover Hooligan by James Bannon (2013)
Red Menace by Jenny Ashford (2014)
The Incredible Adventures of the Unstoppable Keeper by Lutz Pfannenstiel (2014)


2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Out of Time – Extract

This is an extract from my latest novella, Out of Time. Out now on DeadPixel Publications.

The stone-finished walls of the hotel were discoloured from the constant pounding of the elements, and he could see that some tiles had been lost from the overhanging roof. One of the ground floor windows was sporting a huge, unsightly crack running from corner to corner. The place would definitely benefit from some light renovation work, along with the premises next door.

Before checking in, Joe crossed the road and stopped on the promenade for a few moments to gaze out across the churning sea. Angry white-topped waves crashed against the fortified sea wall, sending droplets of water flying through the air. He could taste the salt on his lips.

Looking around, so far as he could tell the only other people in this dying town were an old lady walking an excitable little brown dog, and a couple of teenagers making out on a bench. They were getting splashed by the waves, but didn’t seem to care. Evidently, they had other things on their minds. Joe watched as the boy tried to sneak a hand up inside the girl’s red puffa jacket. But she caught him in the act and smartly swatted his hand away.

‘Get a room!’ he felt like shouting, but restrained himself. The kids would probably stab him to death and steal his bags.

Leaving the young lovers to it, Joe crossed the road again and walked up the short path that led to the hotel entrance.

The door was big, old, and heavy. It had once been green, but now most of the paint had flaked off like dried skin exposing the sodden brown wood underneath. If it hadn’t been for the sign outside, he might have taken the building for a squat.

Pulling down the door handle, he pushed hard. The door swung inward on creaking hinges into a small reception area. Inside was a scuffed brown sofa, a coffee table, and a large oak desk set against the far wall. On the desk sat a little brass bell. Joe walked up and rang it.

Immediately, a door behind the desk opened and out stepped a plump little woman wearing a prissy white apron. Her greying hair was swept back in a bun, and she appeared to be in her mid-to-late fifties.

The moment their eyes met, Joe was overcome by the strangest sensation. There was something vaguely familiar about her, though he was certain they’d never met. He had never even been to this town before.

Weirder still, he got the impression that the woman felt the same way. There was the smallest flicker of recognition in her eyes. Then, it was gone.

“What can I do you for?” the woman asked with practised politeness.

“Oh, hello. My name is Joe Dawson. I believe I have a reservation.”

“Oh, Mr. Dawson… Good, good…” she said. “We’ve been expecting you…”

Out of Time

Out of Time


The 2014 Out of Time Blog Tour

In the third quarter of 2014, to support my new release Out of Time, I went on my first blog tour. This is when you do interviews or write posts for several different blogs and/or websites and schedule them so it runs like a virtual ‘tour’ to gain maximum exposure across a number of platforms. If done correctly, it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby the owner of the website or blog gets some free content, while the writer gets some free publicity. It’s much more cost-effective than heading out on the road and meeting folk the old-fashioned way!

I’m not going to lie, it was extremely hard work, but I met some great people, discovered some new places on the net to hang out, and sold a few units, so all-in-all it was a worthwhile exercise.

Thanks to everyone who asked me probing questions, edited my long, rambling answers, let me post crap in their lovingly-crafted domain, or otherwise humoured me.

Here is a quick summary:

The Books of Blood:

http://thebooksofblood.com/2014/09/21/author-interview-c-m-saunders/

The Horror Tree

http://horrortree.com/author-interview-christian-saunders/

Kev’s Blog:

http://kevs-domain.net/2014/09/19/presenting-c-m-saunders-assuming-i-have-enough-time/

Rainstorm Press:

http://www.rainstormpress.com/blog/-the-h-word-by-chris-saunders

Wag the Fox: Gef Fox’s Den for Dark Fiction:

http://waggingthefox.blogspot.ca/2014/09/yore-out-of-touch-im-out-of-time.html

Stuart Conover:

http://www.stuartconover.com/2014/10/22/author-interview-christian-saunders/
DeadPixel Publications:

http://www.deadpixelpublications.com/blog/how-to-survive-a-zombie-apocalypse

Morpheus Tales:

Out of Time is out now:

http://www.amazon.com/Out-Time-C-M-Saunders-ebook/dp/B00NJZ8MZ8


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