Featured Author: C.M. Saunders is a freelance journalist and editor from Wales. His work has appeared in over sixty magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide, including Loaded, Maxim, Record Collector, Fortean Times, Fantastic Horror, Trigger Warning, Liquid Imagination, Crimson Streets and the Literary Hatchet. His books have been both traditionally and independently published, the most recent being Human Waste and X3, his third collection of short fiction, both of which are available now on Deviant Dolls Publications.
Find out more on his website: https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/
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Featured Author: C.M. Saunders Interview
- How long have you been writing?
- What/who inspired you to be a writer?
- What genre do you prefer to write in?
- Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
- What is your daily routine as a writer?
- What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
- Do you have a set number of words each day or a goal?
- How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
- Do you prefer short stories or full-length novels in your writing?
- Can you give some us some insight into your story?
- What advice can you give other writers?
LHP: How long have you been writing?
C.M. Saunders: Since I was a kid, I guess. But seriously since my early twenties. I left school with no qualifications so went to work in a factory at 16. I would write in my free time, around my shifts. I was in my early twenties when I had my first pieces published, and my first book followed a few years later. To my eternal surprise, it got published and was quite successful. That opened a lot of doors for me.
LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?
C.M. Saunders: I loosely define it as dark fiction because although not everything I write can be called horror, most of it is dark! Much of my fiction has what one reviewer helpfully called a thread of ‘sardonic humour’ running through it. I like that.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?
C.M. Saunders: Probably Carl Kolchak, the Night Stalker. I saw re-runs when I was a kid and instantly wanted to be him. It seemed the only way to combine my twin obsessions of the supernatural and writing. What a cool character. Plus, writing is pretty much the only thing I’ve ever been good at so my options were limited.
LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
C.M. Saunders: I am a proud pantser! Though I see the merits in plotting, I’m just not that organized. I think it can actually work against you. If you’re part-way through a story and you think of a wicked little twist, you might be reluctant to follow it through because it would derail your grand plan. I like to let my stories breathe.
LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?
C.M. Saunders: I’ve had a number of jobs, from English teacher to barman, and turned ‘professional’ a few years ago. I do numerous things connected with writing and editing; I write features for magazines and websites, edit for private clients, do a bit of copywriting and ghostwriting, and of course, fiction. Depending on my deadlines, I tend to get up at 10 or 11, answer my emails and take care of any admin, then have food and work right through until two or three am. I know it’s not a routine for everybody, but it works for me.
LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?
C.M. Saunders: I’m an OpenOffice devotee. I find it much more user-friendly than Word, and it does all the same things. It’s also free. As for websites and resources, Funds for Writers and writer’s Weekly are regular haunts for writing tips and industry news, and the Horror Tree and Submission Grinder are great for finding new markets and tracking submissions.
LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
C.M. Saunders: I started writing 25 years or so ago, and it was a very different landscape. I used an old second-hand typewriter I set up in my bedroom. The problem was, I couldn’t type. I’m not much better now. Let’s just say I’ve developed a very unique style. The Internet has certainly made things easier with regards to finding markets and submitting material. The writing industry is a bit of a double-edged sword. The people you interact with are your peers, your colleagues, and your competition, so it makes for an interesting dynamic. On one hand, people can be very supportive. On the other, there’s a lot of sniping and back-stabbing going on. Sometimes I think I could play the social game better, but nobody teaches you this stuff. You learn through trial and error.
LHP: Do you have a set number of words per day you target? or do you set other goals to meet?
C.M. Saunders: Setting word targets can be a fruitless exercise. I would much rather have 500 words I can use than 6000 words of crap that will take me another two days to edit. As a rough guide, I aim to produce around 1500 words a day across projects, whether it be my WIP, reviews, blog posts, an article I’m working on or whatever. One of the most important aspects of the job is research, which is impossible to quantify. You just have to start, then not finish until it’s done.
LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?
C.M. Saunders: Short stories! Which sometimes extend to novellas. I have a hard time investing the time and energy required to write a novel. The last one I wrote, Sker House, took about four years!
LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
C.M. Saunders: A lot! At least a quarter of the average day is spent doing something menial like that. Mostly marketing. I try to streamline all my short story submissions into one day a month, where I just sit down , look for markets, and submit. One of my pet hates, and most writers will tell you this, is adhering to all the different requirements and guidelines set down by different people. It’s so time-consuming.
LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?
C.M. Saunders: My contribution to Terrors Unimagined is called Lakeside Park. I’ve been itching to write a creature feature for ages, and was glad to finally get the opportunity. Like many of my short stories it is based in (or at least near) a fictional town called Wood Forge, which is loosely based on my hometown in south Wales. A river runs through the middle of it, and on the banks of the river is a little site where people store their caravans during the winter. I used to walk past it every day on the way home from school, and often wondered what would happen if some kind of creature crawled out of the river one night…
LHP: What advice can you give other writers?
C.M. Saunders: It is very much a case of trial and error. What works for one may not work for another. The best advice I can give is to read and write every day, and never give up. I am living proof that of you work hard enough and roll with the punches, dreams really can come true.
C.M. Saunders recently authored “Lakeside Park” for Terrors Unimagined on sale now.