Hello. I hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was pretty busy, but I managed to get quite a bit of writing done. I also tried to get caught up for this week’s interviews. The line-up seems to be growing by the day! Honestly, I didn’t expect so many authors to sign up, but it’s been so much fun, I’m debating making this an annual thing and hosting interviews here every December. Today, we have author C.M. Saunders joining us. He’s here to tell us all about his latest release, Tethered.
Christian Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, began writing in 1997, his early fiction appearing in several small-press titles and anthologies. His first book, Into the Dragon’s Lair -A Supernatural History of Wales, was published in 2003. After graduating with a degree in journalism from South Hampton Solent University, he worked extensively in the freelance market, contributing to Fortean Times, Chat, Its Fate! Bizarre, Urban Ink, Enigma, Record Collector, Nuts, and Maxim, and a regular column in the Western Mail newspaper. He has also held desk jobs at several newsstand magazines including Nuts, Forever Sports, and Coach.
Since returning to dark fiction, he has had stories published in Screams of Terror, Shallow Graves, Dark Valentine, Fantastic Horror, Unbroken Waters, Gore magazine, The Literary Hatchet, and others, as well as several anthologies. These works have been collected in his X series of short fiction, which currently stands at four volumes. His novellas Apartment 14F, Out of Time, Dead of Night, Devil’s Island, No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches, and Human Waste are available now, as is his acclaimed historical novel, Sker House. His latest release is Tethered, on Terror Tract Publishing.
EB: Welcome to the blog, C.M. Can you tell us more about Tethered and what inspired you to write it?
CM: Tethered is about a journalism graduate who, whilst working a dead-end job and looking for some meaning in life, stumbles across a blog about internet rituals. I have always been fascinated by internet rituals. They are the 21st Century equivalent of urban legends told around the campfire. Tethered is sort of based on the ‘Elevator Game,’ the daddy of them all. It also incorporates some true crime, another area I am passionate about, in the strange death of Elisa Lam. That’s definitely one to research, if you haven’t already. It shows us once again that truth is often stranger than fiction.
Here is the link for interested parties:
EB: What’s your next project, and where can readers find out more about you?
CM: I have a couple of short stories coming out in the very near future: Finders Keepers in the Terror Tract Christmas anthology and Siki’s Story via the Splatter Club. In the first quarter of 2021, I’ll be releasing a collection of zombie fiction called Back from the Dead. Most of the stories have been published before in various places, but it will also include a brand-new novella called The Plague Pit. Lockdown gave me time to work on a series of novels about a paranormal investigator who lives in a van with a cat called Mr. Trimble. I’m hopeful they might see the light of day sooner rather than later.
Readers can find out more about past and future projects, as well as my love for cheese, at the following places:
EB: Ooh, a fellow cheese lover. For me, it’s all about the queso. What’s your schedule like while writing?
CM: I moonlight as an English teacher in China. Or at least I did before the pandemic. If I have class, I get up early to write. It’s the only free time I have. But left to my own devices, I tend to get up at 10 or 11, read the news and check my email, then write until around midnight. It’s not as hardcore as it sounds. I take time off during the day to eat, shower, and watch the odd football or rugby game. If I manage 1000 words a day on whatever project I’m working on, I rest easy.
EB: What does your family think of your writing? Do they support your career?
CM: Yes, very much so. I am lucky. I think in my childhood and teens their attitude was kind of, “Aww, he wants to be a writer. How cute!” Understandably so because I was never the best student in the world. I left school at 16 with no qualifications and went to work in a factory. I taught myself how to write and learned about the industry in my spare time through a mixture of correspondence courses and trial and error. The turning point came in my early twenties when I started being published regularly and doing radio interviews and stuff. I even managed to get into university as a mature student and ended up with a degree, so I was finally able to put that ghost to rest.
EB: How many books have you written, and which was your favorite?
CM: I’ve written a total of fifteen, I think. A couple of non-fiction books about Welsh folklore and football, and a combination of novels, novellas, and short story collections. I might be biased because it’s new, but I really like Tethered. Learning to write well is a long process. You can learn the fundamentals quite quickly, but it takes time to master the little nuances that make all the difference. I like to think each of my books is a small improvement on the last. The one that has had the most favourable reader reaction is probably No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches, which is set in the first world war, and another which has a special place in my heart is Sker House because it is based on a real location and incorporates lots of local legends and Welsh history.
EB: Do you have any suggestions or advice for new authors?
CM: Accept that there is no fast-track to success. It’s a long road, and it’s full of potholes and pitfalls. I think the problem with a lot of novice writers is impatience. They want it all, right now, and not many are willing to put the work in. That work involves reading and writing, for hours, every single day, whether you feel like it or not. Study the writers you want to emulate. There’s no secret formula. You have to apply yourself, work hard, and make the necessary sacrifices. As a general rule of thumb, the harder you work, the better you get. And the better you get, the more successful you become.
EB: Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you?
CM: Other than I keep a collection of severed heads under my bed and love kittens? I don’t think so. I just want to thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. I hear they’re a pretty cool bunch.
EB: Indeed they are. Thanks so much, and we appreciate you being here today. It’s been an honor.
That’s all I have for you today. I have another full week of interviews lined up, so make sure to save the page and join us again tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by! -E.B.