Tag Archives: crime

Flash Bang Mysteries #6

Season’s greetings and all that. ‘Tis the time of year again to, er, give and receive. It’s a big part of our culture. In fact, it’s a big part of most cultures. So I wrote a story about it. The Gift is a lovely, warm, comforting tale about the pure joy of giving someone what they really, really want. But of course, if you know anything about my writing, you’ll know there’ll be slightly more to it than that. I manage to tick a lot of boxes in this 800 words or so. There are echoes of of everything from police corruption to unhealthy obsessions and incest, so you might find it a bit uncomfortable to read. I hope so.

The Gift appears in the latest edition of Flash Bang Mysteries which you can read online for FREE here.

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I wrote the first draft of The Gift last year for a project I was working on with my friends at Deviant Dolls. Back then it was barely a paragraph. But I liked the concept, as simple as it is, so I revised it several times and fleshed it out a bit. I was watching a lot of serial killer shows at the time, so maybe that had something to do with it. At some point it occurred to me that I should start submitting it, so I did and lo and behold, here we are. Thanks to BJ Bourg for the opportunity.

Flash Bang Mysteries, fiction that leaves a mark.

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An Unlikely Welsh Folk Hero

When people think of Welsh folk heroes, Twm Sion Cati and Owain Glyndwr invariably spring to mind, and rightly so. Not many people mention Will Cefn-Coch. In fact, I’d never heard of him myself until I recently read a book about Welsh murders. But his story is deserving of a much wider audience.

Until November 1868, plain old William Richards was an ordinary 28-year old bloke living a simple life in Cardiganshire. Times were hard in those days. There was a glaring gap between rich and poor, and lots of countryside folk took to poaching to feed their families. There simply wasn’t enough to eat, especially in winter. Although still technically a crime, most people considered sneaking onto privately-owned land to fish or hunt game a necessary evil. Except the rich landowners, obviously, who employed gamekeepers to combat the problem. These guys were not looked upon with much fondness by the locals, in much the same way I imagine Community Support Officers are these days.

One night, Will Richards (aka Will Cefn-Coch, that being the name of the village he was from) and two of his mates illegally ventured onto the estate of Trawscoed, the property of the Earl of Lisburne, to go hunting. Unbeknownst to them, gamekeepers were lying in wait. The gamekeepers, who were unarmed, tried to chase off the transgressors. The story goes that whilst running away, Will stopped and levelled his gun at them on three separate occasions. Each time, the gamekeepers begged for their lives, Will relented, ran off again, and the chase was back on. Eventually, a particularly determined gamekeeper caught up with one of the poachers and wrestled him to the ground. By this time Will had had enough, and shot the gamekeeper dead.

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One of the poachers was apprehended and prosecuted, while Will made his getaway and melted into the community. Some sources say he was held in quite high esteem by some of the locals, who sympathised with the fact that all he had been trying to do was feed his family. There was a lot of resentment against the upper classes. The locals hid and fed him, while the authorities alerted every port and city in the country and put a £100 reward on his head (over £8,000 in ‘today’s’ money). A tidy sum, because now it wasn’t just poaching Will was guilty of, it was murder. He was on the run for months, going from house to house and farm to farm, always on the move. He had a few close shaves, but always managed to evade capture with a little help from his friends.

Eventually however, the net began closing in. If he was caught, Will knew he faced death by hanging, so drastic measures were called for. Wary of using transport he walked (yes, walked) to Liverpool, where he put the most audacious part of his plan into action. The authorities were on the lookout for a man fitting his description, so he disguised himself as a woman, complete with heavy make-up. It is likely he drew inspiration for this from the Rebecca Riots thirty years previously, when farmers dressed in drag and attacked toll gates placed on Welsh roads in protest against unfair taxation. In any case, Will must have made a convincing femme fatale, because he succeeded in boarding a ship bound for America and somehow made it all the way to Ohio, where he met and married an Irish immigrant and lived a long and prosperous life.


Book Review – The Day the Leash Gave Way (and Other Stories) by Trent Zelazny

This isn’t actually a new release, but a re-release. The original came out in 2009, this new version comes with added content. As with most collections, it is a bit of an uneven affair. At it’s worst, one or two of the stories read like extracts from other works, as if the ideas are not yet fully formed. At it’s best, Zelazny sucks you in to the most uncomfortable, uncompromising situations you can imagine.

One of the stand-out stories is the one which lends its name to the collection, about a man who goes to inform a competition winner of his good fortune only to find a little boy eating the leg of a dead dog, and the man of the house keeping a rotting corpse for company in the living room. What the fuck? I hear you say. Don’t worry, it gets weirder. It is often said that when Zelazny writes, he bares his soul. You get that impression several times in the course of this collection, not least in Mourning Road, a compassionate little yarn about a driver who seeks out roadkill as a way to pacify his guilt and inner demons. Another stand-out is ‘Harold Asher and His Vomitting Dogs,’ a story which might make you giggle, then ask yourself what the heck is so wrong with your psyche that you find something so surreal and fundamentally disturbing funny. Even now, when I think about that story I don’t know if it was supposed to be funny or if I’m just a bit fucked in the head. If that’s the cease, then at least I can console myself with the fact that I’m not as fucked in the head as the man who wrote it. Probably my favourite story here is ‘Opportunity Knocks,’ about a man who takes over a family enterprise following a tragedy. But of course, it doesn’t go to plan. There is an edgy, underlying creepiness detectable between the lines long before the shocking truth comes to light by way of supernatural intervention.

If you can sense a loose theme emerging, you’d be right. Dogs. This ties in with the title, which I thought a strange choice at first. But thinking about it, what happens when the leash gives way? People get hurt, that’s what. Leashes are for keeping dangerous dogs under control. If they ‘give way,’ you’re in trouble. That’s exactly what happens in many of the stories here. The leash gives way, big time. You could argue this is a metaphor not just of the subject matter, but also for Zelazny’s approach to storytelling. It can be playful and goofy, but also unpredictable and dangerous. It has teeth and claws. In time, the wounds may heal but they will leave scars you will carry to your grave. Though on the surface of things the plots may sometimes appear a little thin, and more than once you’ll find yourself wondering where it’s all leading, the stories presented here have a way of burrowing under your skin, where they will crawl and fester.

The one constant throughout these 24 tales is Zelazny’s razor sharp writing style, often combined with a sinister undertone and some sophisticated wordplay. Most of the subject matter is best described as noir or crime fiction, elsewhere he veers off into subtle suspense, dark humour and even outright horror. What this collection does to great effect is showcase Zelazny’s considerable talent. One of his main strengths is his use of dialogue, which often puts you right at the heart of a scene and keeps you there. To summarize, this guy goes places few others are brave enough to go, and he takes you along for the ride. Weird fiction at its best.

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Check out my interview with Trent Zelazny in the Morpheus Tales supplement. Available here, FREE:

http://morpheustales.wix.com/morpheustales#!supplement/c14cx


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


X2: Another Collection of Horror

“A superb story teller, Saunders is well on his way to becoming a true master of the macabre.”

Mark Edward Hall

(Author of Soul Thief and Apocalypse island)

The sequel to 2013’s acclaimed 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.

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Come and 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 encounter 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.

Table of Contents:

Little Dead Girl
Curiosities
Intruder
The Night Visitor
Hero of the Day
Embracing Solitude
Treat Night
Handsome Jack
Tiny Little Vampires (Flash Version)
Roadkill
Afterword

WARNING: Adult content.

UK LINK
US LINK

Available for a limited time at a special price on DeadPixel Publications.


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)


X: A Collection of Horror

Ten slices of horrifying dark fiction. Seven previously published in magazines or anthologies, and three exclusive to this collection, along with an introduction and extensive notes. Featuring exclusive cover art by Greg Chapman.

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?

Click the cover for more info.

X: A Collection of Horror, by C.M. Saunders

X: A Collection of Horror, by C.M. Saunders

Table of Contents:

Introduction: That’s Entertainment
A Hell of my Own Creation
A Thin Disguise
Monkey Man
The Awful Truth
Mr. C
Fame / Infamy: A Deconstruction
Another False Dawn
The Night Everything Changed
The Devil & Jim Rosenthal
Club Culture
Afterword

Available now at a special price.

WARNING: Adult content.

“A superb story teller, Saunders is well on his way to becoming a true master of the macabre.”

Mark Edward Hall

This is a DeadPixel publication:

http://www.deadpixelpublications.com/cm-saunders.html


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