An Interview with Craig Saunders
Hey Craig, thanks for joining us. So, tell us a little about yourself, where you were born and where do you now call home?
C: I was born dead in a little house on Farmer Road in Leyton. I live in Norfolk, now, and I’m happy to call it home. I love my adopted county. I got to Norfolk by way of Essex, Cardiff, Niigata and Toyama (Japan, by the way – I’m not just crap at spelling).
Yes, you did read that right – I was born dead, came back to life. I’m not a zombie.
Maybe just a little bit.
When did you first start writing and how long was it before you were published?
C: I first started writing in 2003. I was first published, with my first story (a short called ‘The Martyr’s Tale’) in 2003. But my first novel wasn’t published until 2011…rubbish story, eh?
Want a bit more? I wrote a ton of novels (20, to date) between 2003 and 2011. I just didn’t know what I was doing. Not sure I do now. But between publication of my first novel, Rain, in December 2011, and the re-issue of Rain in 2012, I’ve published or had accepted 15 novels, 2 novellas, and two short story collections. People who know me think I’m really prolific…I’m not really. I’m just making up for lost time.
It’s Friday evening, about 8pm, what are you doing?
C: Your presentience is eerie…it just so happens to be 8:30, Friday evening…and I’m doing an interview! This one! Mad, ooh, got chills…
Mostly, Friday evenings, I’m working. I’m a work-aholic. I enjoy it, though, so it’s not a chore. I love doing interviews, too. I get to talk about me.
So, there I was, staring down the barrel of this great big elephant gun, when…
Nothing of the sort ever happened. I shall talk about myself, then, and endeavour to be at least partially truthful.
C: Ha. Horror because horror’s best! I also write fantasy of the heroic/epic persuasion, and humour, and science fiction (poorly, I admit). Short stories, too. I decided recently to begin calling myself a writer of Speculative Fiction. Before that, I just called myself ‘twat’. Actually, I still do.
But really, I do consider myself a horror writer, for the most part. I love horror. My mind leans toward the macabre (hey, that sounds fancy!) so it’s natural for me to write about darkness. But, I think with the better horror, it’s not all darkness: There needs to be contrast for a book to work, and I like to write about the LIGHT, too.
Plus, I’m a psycho.
Who is your biggest inspiration, professionally?
C: Can I pick more than one? I’m going to, because this is an ‘e’ interview, and you can’t stop me. Well, I guess you could edit it out, but I’m trusting you, man. I’m trusting you…so here goes:
Stephen King (no brainer), David Gemmell for work ethic, Terry Pratchet, for sheer beauty when it comes to story construction, Lee Child, for pace, and almost every other writer I’ve ever read…even the bad ones. Someone a lot wiser than me who was better at quoting people, too, once said you have to read a lot to write.
I think that’s true. Buggered if I can remember the exact quote, but it was probably Stephen King. His ‘On Writing’ is the only ‘how to’ book I’ve ever read.
You are in bed, a bump in the night wakes you, you have to go investigate. Using only implements from your bedroom, what is your weapon of choice?
C: My wife. No way am I going to investigate. Might be a deranged killer, or a psychopathic surgeon, or a bloodied child’s teddy bear, or a clown with teeth filed to a point, or a werewolf with its period.
Yep, definitely sending Mrs. S.
Tell us a little about your forthcoming release, Rain?
C: I won’t put the back cover blurb down verbatim – you can find that elsewhere easily enough. It’s set in my home town (with adequate changes to place names!) during a localised event that kills a lot of people. It’s a kind of survival horror/occult novel…maybe that’s an injustice. It is, as I said earlier, about darkness and light. It’s a horror novel, yes, but I hope it leaves the reader feeling…I don’t know…satisfied? Happy?
The basic premise is that there’s something terrible in a storm that engulfs the town. A few survivors fight back…but the main character, John March, has something the RAIN wants…
It was only my second horror novel, but I really like it. There. That’s more solid ground. It’s pretty good. Please buy it! Haha.
What projects are you currently working on?
C: I’m happy to say I’m working on being an author! It’s not all bashing away haphazardly at the keyboard. There’s BUSINESS involved…and (gasp!) PROMOTION…I write books, but I also want to *sell* books…so I’m working, for a while, on the actual business of not just being a published writer, but a successful published writer.
That’s the boring answer. The fun answer is that I’m working on the conclusion of a fantasy trilogy that’s been ongoing since around 2004…I’m hoping to complete it by early 2013.
You are stranded on a desert island. Before the ship went down which 3 books did you rescue?
C: Ooh, I like this question…
Swan Song, Robert McCammon, because I’m reading it now and I really want to know how it all pans out. Plus, 1000 odd pages, it’ll keep me busy.
The Stand, Stephen King – favourite book. So far.
Hmm, two on an apocalyptic theme? I should choose something funny, I guess, for I am a soul of mirth (yeah, I’m being sarcastic)…
Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.
Do you see dead people?
C: No…but as an interesting aside, my wife does. She an actual medium. For real. There.
How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
C: I actually chuckled at this question…not because it’s funny, but because I’m a spanner. I sit down and write. That’s it. That’s my formula. I don’t take notes, I don’t plan out a book, I do it in my head, on the fly. I planned my first few novels, but then I realised why I wasn’t enjoying writing them so much: I knew what happened. Now I just write, and let the bodies hit the floor.
Have you ever suffered writers’ block?
C: Yes. Like a boss. I suffer, for want of something posh to call it, from Bi-Polar Disorder. Honestly. I’m not having you on. Sometimes I suffer from it, sometimes I enjoy it. Nature of the beast. But when the black dog’s nipping at my heels? Yes, then, I find it difficult to write. The only thing I know that chases that mean old black dog away? Writing.
Yep. It’s a conundrum.
If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?
Erm…not really. I haven’t got any kind of ‘social’ disease. I swear.
Seriously? Hugs. I’d leave them with a hug. A big old literary hug that induces a sigh. I really want people to read my horror and feel good. I know it doesn’t make sense, but I don’t think my horror’s about making people feel crappy or cheated. I think a book should make you feel good – not necessarily because of a happy ending, but maybe because of a job well done, or an unexpected outcome, but satisfied…yes…satisfied.
Chocolate cake or fruity cheesecake?
C: Neither! I don’t really like cake. No, really. I mean, who doesn’t like cake, eh? Well, me. That’s who. I like cheesy Wotsits, though.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world on a novel, who would it be and why? What’s the story about?
C: I’m actually working on an apocalyptic series, set in the ‘Dead Days’ universe…I think it’d be fun to team up with people on that. There’s a ton of apocalyptic/zombie writers I know…Adam Millard (hehe), Stephen North, Ian Woodhead…to name but three…
Finish this newspaper headline: “Craig Saunders is….”
C: Thank you…I love doing interviews, and I loved doing this one. Thanks for the chance to have a ramble.
Rain is released on 15th December and will be available where all good books are sold.