Christian Saunders writes dark fiction and has had his stories published in Screams of Terror, Shallow Graves, Dark Valentine, Fantastic Horror, Unbroken Waters, Siren’s Call, and several anthologies, the latest of which being Torn realities on Post Mortem Press and Fading Light on Angelic Knight Press. 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.
February 2014 saw the start of a new chapter for Chris Saunders’ writing career when he decided to ‘go indie’ and released X: A Collection of Horror. His novella titles ‘Out of Time’ followed that September, and in February 2015 he released X2. This past March Chris published Sker House, a paranormal good old ghost story. It seems all is going pretty damn well for Chris and he was gracious enough to spend some time with me. He shared some of the books that influenced him growing up. What he reads when he has the time and what he does in his free time. Thank you kindly for your time Chris. Your new novel No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches sounds unlike anything I’ve come across before. What a great and original setting for a horror story! Best of luck to you on this new book.
The Scary Reviews: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from? What propelled you to start writing? When did you start writing?
Christian Saunders: I am from a little ex-coal mining village in south Wales called New Tredegar. It’s a very working class area, and when I told my teachers at school I wanted to be a writer they always laughed and told me to get a real job. I took a lot of inspiration from that. I was never the brightest kid in school and it was pretty clear they didn’t think I would amount to much. After a shaky start, I’ve been proving people wrong ever since. I remember writing war stories long hand in notebooks as a kid. For some reason, I always took great care on the mechanical side of the writing. Everything had to be aesthetically perfect. How I wrote meant much more than what I wrote. Why I started, I have no idea.
TSR: Let’s start at the beginning: How did writing find you? Or did you find it?
CS: As I said, I have been writing for as long as I can remember. It was the only thing I was ever good at, and I consider myself very lucky to be in a position now where I can make a living doing what I love. Everyone needs something to lose themselves in, and I believe everyone has something that is a good fit for them. The problem is finding what that thing is, and then having the guts and determination to pursue it and see it through. A lot of people lack confidence in themselves. They think they aren’t good enough, or as good as other people in their field. And true, there will always be someone better or more successful than you, but you can’t let that hold you back. Get out there, do your thing, and make your mark. The chances will come.
TSR: What is your writing process? Do you plan everything in advance or enjoy letting the story take you wherever it’s going to go and not know the details yourself in advance?
CS: Some writers plan everything to the smallest detail. Every plot twist, character background, piece of dialogue. I’m not one of them. I am much more spontaneous. Sometimes a short story idea comes to me almost fully-formed, and I always have at least a rough idea of where I want to take a novel or novella, but I think if you spend too much time analysing and planning, it takes something away from the story. I would rather let it flow. It’s much more enjoyable. Sometimes, when you find that writing groove, it’s almost like being a passenger in your own story. I also believe you can’t force it. You can’t turn the creative juices on and off like a switch. My muse is a hard-ass bitch and she only comes out to play when she feels like. Knowing that, it means I have to let her get her own way sometimes, and pull the odd all-nighter to get shit done because I never know when she’ll next appear.
TSR: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? How does that infuse your work?
CS: When I’m not writing I like to dress as a giant banana and run screaming through the streets. Kidding. Pretty much all I do is write. I write about sport and men’s lifestyle for magazines and websites as a day (sometimes night) job, and I write dark fiction in my free time. When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. I caught the travel bug young, so I love going on trips. Apart from that I like hiking, football and MMA.
TSR: What books have most influenced your life most?
CS: Probably The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s the story of a guy who gets sick of making tough decisions so instead rolls a dice, and lets fate take its course. I was so taken by the book when I read it as a student that I travelled through Spain living the dice life for a while. It’s certainly interesting. There are a few Stephen King books I loved. Pet Semetary, Christine, Duma Key, and ‘Salem’s Lot in particular. Richard Laymon’s Funland also made an impression, and a lot of late-90’s Dean Koontz.
TSR: What book are you reading now?
CS: I read widely, usually several books at the same time. At the moment it’s Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin, The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel, Rhayven House by Frank E Bittinger, and Mind Fuck by Renee Miller. My TBR list is insane. I do a lot of reviews for magazines and websites so I am never short of a book to get stuck into.
TSR: To your mind, what makes something horrific over, say, thrilling?
CS: Discomfort. For me, being thrilled is more akin to being excited. There are a lot of different kinds of horror, but fundamentally, it should take you somewhere you don’t want to go.
TSR: What do you love and hate about writing?
CS: I love the process of writing. Fiction and non-fiction are two entirely different things. Non-fiction is more of an exact science. You find an angle, do the research, and mimic the house style of the publication you are writing for. The whole thing is like building a house. Fiction is more spontaneous. A story starts with the germ of an idea, and as I alluded to before, I often have very little idea where that idea will take me. I love the sense of achievement and satisfaction you get from finishing an article or a story, and of course the pay checks help. I hate the fact that there is so much material available online for free these days, it makes life very hard for writers. There’s a meme doing the rounds which says something like, ‘It takes a barrista three minutes to make you a $5 cup of coffee and you leave them a tip. It takes a writer a year to write a book and you complain $4.99 is too much to pay.’ So true.
TSR: What’s coming next and where people can buy your stuff?
CS: My novel Sker House came out in March and is doing very nicely. I spent more time on promo and marketing than I have before, and it paid dividends. It picked up some great reviews. I just released a new novella set in World War I called No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches. It’s about a young British soldier who has to fight not only the Germans, but whatever it is that is making his comrades disappear around him. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Somme this summer, so I wrote this to mark the occasion. I make a good slice of my living writing horror and dark fiction, but I make it all up. War is real, and it’s more horrific than we can imagine. When I did the research for No Man’s Land, I couldn’t believe what people do to each other.
People can check out my books via my Amazon author pages:
And please do stay in touch with what I am doing by visiting my website:
TSR: What’s next on the agenda?
This summer I’ll be promoting No Man’s Land, and I have a few short stories coming out. I’m also working on a series of young adult adventure stories about a time travelling misfit called Joshua Wyrdd, and in discussion with a few publishers via my agent, so fingers crossed for that! It’s a bit of a departure from my usual stuff in the sense that the Joshua Wyrdd stories are written for a younger audience but the main components are still present and accounted for.