Tag Archives: romance

If You’ve Ever Eaten Toad…

People often ask me why I don’t write more love stories. I’ve tried it once or twice and people still died, which is probably down to my intensely nihilistic interpretation of love. It’s supposed to hurt, right? It’s supposed to be destructive, or else it isn’t real. Right? Anyway, when people start dying I get confused about whether it’s a love story or a horror story. This particular effort, however, is (or was) my dirty little secret. A love story where nobody gets killed. Who would’ve thunk it? I was so embarrassed by it that I refused to put my name to it for years, and how it came about is a story in itself.

I wrote the first draft back in 2011 or so when I was an English teacher in Xiangtan, China. One day, one of my students asked to see me after class. I agreed, thinking she had a test and wanted some advice or a pep talk or something. But nope, she wanted to tell me about something happening in her life which would change it forever, and made me promise to share her story when she was ‘gone.’

She was ‘gone’ barely a few weeks later, packed off against her wishes to marry a doctor in Germany who had the financial ability to give her family a good life. I never saw or heard from her again. Her story was equal parts touching, sad, and tragic, and I hope I did it justice. At least I kept my promise to her.

The student’s story makes up the core of If You’ve Ever eaten Toad, You Would Know, which is told from her perspective, but the title comes from something the girlfriend I had around the same time told me. This is another sad story, so get ready.

When she was growing up in rural China her family were very poor. She said she knew when times were especially hard, because that was when her mother made chicken soup. Not so bad, you might think. Only years later did she realize the chicken soup wasn’t made from chicken, but from toads her parents caught in the countryside around their house. Even then, most of the meat went to her elder brother, boys being traditionally more valued than girls on account of their higher earning potential.

The title became a multi-layered metaphor for enduring hardships, sacrificing your own hopes and dreams to appease others, and making the best of things. Having eaten a lot of toad myself, both metaphorically and literally, I can tell you it really does taste a bit like chicken. If you’ve ever eaten toad, you would know.

One of the editors at new online lit mag The Quiet Reader called commented the story is, “A lovely insider’s look at Chinese culture loaded with detail and nuance.”

That was nice to hear.

If You’ve Ever Eaten Toad, You Would Know, is available to read FREE in Issue 3 (May 2021) of The Quiet Reader now.


Cover Reveal – Dead of Night 2018

Well, hello!

I have a brief announcement.

More than eight years on from it’s original release on Damnation Books, my novella Dead of Night will soon see the light of day once more. Completely re-edited and re-vamped, it features new and exclusive cover art by none other than the Dark Scrybe himself, Greg Chapman.

And here we are.

dead-of-night-reissue

Dead of Night is available for pre-order now on ebook and paperback.


Rainbow’s End

My new novel, Rainbow’s End, is out now on FlareFont publishing and is available on Amazon, Smashwords, B & N, and all other online retailers.

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This is my first attempt at a grown-up novel, with no ghosts, zombies, serial killers, demons, aliens or anyfink…

And I just know it’s going to get me in trouble.

Life is a journey, right? We all make our way from A to B to C.

This is my journey. At least, part of it. I made some of it up for dramatic effect.

In a nutshell it is the story of a young man who leaves rural Wales in search of gainful employment, adventure, and enlightenment. In short, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

However, on his journey of self-discovery, he gets far more than he ever bargained for…

Rainbow’s End, written in first-person narrative style, is primarily a contemporary cultural and social study. Its underlying themes include national identity and the perennial search for ‘belonging’, and asks where Wales fits into the modern world.

The story begins as a bleak assessment of modern life in the South Wales valleys. The lead character has worked in the same local factory ‘putting things in boxes’ for eight years; he is bored in his long-term relationship and yearns for the freedom to explore, both literally and figuratively. A trip abroad stirs an awakening of sorts, and on his return to the confines of work the narrator begins a torrid affair with a colleague. This quickly turns sour; he feels isolated and restricted, and only does the things he needs to do, as opposed to the things he wants to do. As the relationship, and his life, crumbles around him he turns to writing as a means of self-expression.

Before too long his writing exploits make him a focal point of attention in the village where he lives, but this success is tempered by the worsening condition of his relationship. Eventually, after a run-in with the local police, he is forced to flee to Southampton, where he wins a place on a media course at university. At last, he is free to indulge both his fascination with writing and his wanderlust, as he finally breaks free of the chains that had bound him for most of his life. Belatedly, he realizes that life can be whatever you make it.

The blinkers have finally been removed.

However, in Southampton he discovers that the grass is not always greener, as he is targeted by bigoted racists who see him as a ‘foreigner.’ There are also problems when he returns to his hometown and his small group of lifelong friends reject him because of his perceived act of disloyalty in moving to England.

Disillusioned and perpetually luckless in love, he eventually decides to start a new life in Beijing, throwing himself headlong into the search for adventure, enlightenment, and ultimately…

happiness.

For more information, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Rainbows-End-ebook/dp/B00APLQMIS/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356686896&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=rainbows+end+cm+saunders

 

 

 

 

 


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