The Spooky Six Interview Returns with C.M. Saunders and Willow Croft!
Instead of my usual cuppa tea, I’m joining C.M. Saunders in drinking pots and pots of coffee, mainly to fuel not only my Horror Tree writing bits, but school and moving and cat rescue…and, well, you get the idea. Let’s get onto the interview; it’s more interesting, for sure!
Chris Saunders (he/him), who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, is a writer and editor from South Wales. Since gaining a degree in journalism, he has worked extensively in the publishing industry and held desk jobs ranging from staff writer to associate editor. He is currently employed at a trade magazine. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide including The Literary Hatchet, Crimson Streets, 34 Orchard, Phantasomagoria, Dead Harvest, Burnt Fur and DOA volumes I and III, while his books have been both traditionally and independently published, his latest release being the Wretched Bones: A Ben Shivers Mystery, on Midnight Machinations, an imprint of Grinning Skull Press.
Please visit his website or follow his socials for more information:
The Wretched Bones: A Ben Shivers Mystery by C.M. Saunders is out now.
Willow Croft: “Hey, look at that derelict Victorian mansion . . . let’s go explore it!” What’s the most unusual setting you’ve read about in a horror/thriller book, or included in your own creative works?
C.M. Saunders: Great question. Iain Rob Wright’s novel Seasick takes place on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, which adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere. If you’re on a ship and the shit hits the fan, what are you going to do? It’s not like you can just leave town. In my own fiction, I tend to set stories wherever I am living at the time because those are the places you get to know best so in most cases it’s either Wales or London, but I lived in China for a few years so quite a few are set there; “Apartment 14F”, “Roach”, “Little Dead Girl” and “Siki’s Story” to name but a few.
Willow Croft: “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” What are your go-to comfort foods, drinks, or other ways to wind down after a long day (or night) of writing?
C.M. Saunders: I drink a lot of coffee, maybe 5 or 6 mugs a day. I like it strong, with full fat milk and just the smallest sprinkle of sugar. I also love a glass of cold milk. Oatmeal cookies dipped in milk is the best thing. As for other ways to wind down, I used to be a hardcore gamer but gave it up a long time ago. Until Covid arrived. Now I keep the habit/addiction in moderation and just play for a few hours on weekends. Days Gone is probably the best game I have ever played, closely followed by The Last of Us 2.
Willow Croft: “Did you hear that noise?” Everyone, even us horror/suspense writers, have our night terrors. What is it that frightens you the most?
C.M. Saunders: Things with lots of legs. The more legs, the worse it is. Two or four, no problem, but things like centipedes, millipedes, and earwigs are both gross and terrifying. In a dark alley in Hunan province I once came face to face, literally, with a giant black centipede. It must have been over a foot long and covered in these bristling hairs. It was like something straight out of a nightmare. What did I do? I screamed like a girl and ran away, and the centipede gave chase. Not my proudest moment. I also have an irrational fear of the ocean, or any vast body of water come to that. We have no idea what’s in there. Knowing my luck, probably more centipedes.
Willow Croft: “I’m sure it was nothing. But I’ll just go outside and check, anyway. Alone. With no weapons.” Have you ever gotten writers’ block? If so, how do you combat it? Do you have certain rituals or practices that help get you into the writing (or creating) mindset?
C.M. Saunders: I know it’s a contentious topic, but I don’t believe in writer’s block. Sure, there are times you don’t feel like doing it, just like there are times when you don’t feel like going shopping or doing the washing up, but you have to push through. Too many people use writer’s block as an excuse. At the very worst it can be considered another obstacle we have to overcome, and the world is full of those. It’s a luxury professionals can’t afford because if they don’t write they don’t eat and can’t pay the rent. My advice is if you are having problems writing, go and do something you actually enjoy instead.
Willow Croft: “Don’t go into the basement!” Are you an impulsive pantser or a plotter with outlines galore? What other writing/industry advice would you share with your fellow writers & creators?
C.M. Saunders: I’m a definite pantser. I often start with a scene, or sometimes a single line of dialogue, then build the story around it. I prefer that method because if you plan everything to the smallest detail it can restrict you because you’ll be unwilling to deviate from THE PLAN. The only time I make any kind of plan if I’m writing a novel and there are a lot of plot lines and story threads to keep track of.
Willow Croft: “Ring ring!” It’s the middle of the night and the phone mysteriously rings. Which notable writer, or person from history, would be on the other end of the line?
C.M. Saunders: Marilyn Monroe. Best case scenario, it’s a booty call. Worst case scenario, I can ask her who killed her and why.
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“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.