Ginger Nuts of Horror
Christian Saunders, who writes dark fiction as C.M. Saunders, began writing in 1997, his early fiction appearing in several small-press titles and anthologies. Following the publication of his first book, Into the Dragon's Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales (2003), he worked extensively in the freelance market, contributing both fiction and non-fiction to over 40 international publications. His novellas Dead of Night and Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story are available on Damnation Books, while Devil's Island, is out on Rainstorm Press. Most recently his work has appeared in Morpheus Tales, Gore magazine, Wicked Industries and Siren's Call. He works in London as a sports writer, and blogs for the Huff Post UK. His most recent non-fiction work is From the Ashes – The REAL Story of Cardiff City Football Club.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Wales, and I’ve been writing compulsively since I was a kid. I’ve had six books published and 20 or 30 short stories in various genre magazines and anthologies, as well as countless non-fiction articles. I do a lot of freelancing for men’s lifestyle magazines like Nuts and Loaded, and my day job is a sports writer. This year, I decided to take my fiction independent. I got tired of being dictated to, and having my books priced out of the market by greedy publishers.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I think ‘dark fiction’ suits my work better. It’s more encapsulating.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Stephen King, of course! Dean Koontz, Richard Laymon, Joe Hill, Richard Matheson, and vintage M.R. James.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s not my usual kind of book but I thought I would give it a go, and I’m so glad I did. It taught me more about women than all my failed relationships put together. The biggest recent disappointment is probably James Herbert’s last book, Ash. It seemed so contrived, almost like he was just going through the motions.
How would you describe your writing style?
My fiction is dark, sometimes bordering on horror, but much of it has a twist of sardonic humour, which has been pointed out before. I try to keep my stories punchy and fast-paced. People don’t have time to mess around. They want to be entertained not bored to tears.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
I love reading reviews of my work. It’s very humbling to know that people go to the trouble of buying my book, read it, then post a review. The vast majority of reviews I’ve had have been positive, but I can’t think of any one in particular that has stuck with me.
What’s your favourite food?
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Good question. A mixture of classic rock and pop punk. It would start with Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, and end with the Sex Pistols cover of My Way, taking in some classic Ramones, Clash, New Found Glory, Less Than Jake, Ataris, Bouncing Souls, Allister, Alkaline Trio, a bit of Springsteen and Crue’s Kickstart My Heart on the way. Boom!
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Write as much as you can. It’s simple advice, but so true. If you want to be a good long-distance runner, you have to work at it. The more you work, the better you become. Dedication is vital. Life has a way of eradicating the weak links.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Finding the time, I guess. I think the only way to do it when you have a day job, is to set aside some time each evening. Turn off the TV and your phone, and just write. If you apply yourself for just 30 or 40 minutes a day, the word count creeps up very quickly.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve grown in confidence a lot, which gives me the freedom to try different things and be more creative. My more recent work is not so weighed down by clichés. And since I started writing regularly for magazines, I think my writing has got a lot tighter. Every word counts.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
This advice wasn’t given to me personally, but anyone with more than passing interest in ‘the craft’ needs to read Stephen King’s On Writing. One piece that stands out is, “Most writers can remember the first book he or she put down thinking ‘I can do better than this.’ What could be more encouraging to the struggling writer than to realize his or her work is unquestionably better than that of someone who actually got paid for his or her stuff?”
What he is trying to say is you learn just as much, if not more, from bad writers as you do good ones.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
X is a collection of short stories, so there are a lot of characters to choose from! My favourite, I think, is Marcus from A Thin Disguise. It’s taken to extremes, of course, but essentially the story is about the conflict between the front we all put on for other people, and the ‘real’ us that only comes out when we are alone. He’s not a heroic character by any means, and he is more than a little bit warped, but I think a lot of people will identify with him on a fundamental level.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Kenneth from Another False Dawn. If you read the story, you’ll see why!
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Let’s be realistic here, it’s fortune every time. I think if you are rich enough the other two will follow. One of them will, anyway. I’m not naïve enough to think writing will make me rich, but it’s great to make a living doing something I love. Writing is my passion. For nine years I wrote in my spare time, for nothing, around my factory shifts. Back then I just did it because I liked it.
I don’t want to be famous, I’m actually quite shy, and I’m not the kind of writer who takes himself too seriously. I want my work to be entertaining and fun. A kind of escapism. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I think my novella, Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story. I used to live and work in China so it’s a very personal story, and readers seemed to like it. It’s still the publisher’s second ever best-selling title.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
X: A Collection of Horror, is a compilation of short stories. Most were previously published in various small press magazines and anthologies, and because of that if I tried to sell them again I would only be able to get Second Rights. Much better to dust them down, repackage them, throw in a few unpublished efforts, and publish them myself. This is the first of several planned volumes. After 20 years of writing, I have a lot in my locker.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
Where did the ‘M’ in C.M. Saunders come from?
And I’ll answer it for you.
I don’t actually have a middle name, much less one starting with an M. My grandfather on my mother’s side was called Stanley Martin. He died when I was quite young so I don’t remember much about him, except he wheezed terribly and his body was covered in blue scars. He was a coal miner in Wales all his life. It was him who got me hooked on horror, through his book collection and the stories he would tell me. He had three daughters, one being my mother, who all grew up, got married, and changed their names, so the Martin name died with him as he was the last male in the bloodline. In some small way, I’m bringing it back. There are also practical reasons. Using C.M. Saunders for fiction distinguishes it from my other writing.
For more information on Christian follow the links below
Amazon Author Page
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