Monday, 31 August 2015

A Christian, an Atheist and an Agnostic walk into a bar.

The answer all boils down to 'ouch', far as I'm concerned. Belief's a personal thing, isn't it? Wondering about this today, and many other days. Sometimes religion, belief, the unexplainable, seep into the things I, and other writers, write. Stephen King once said he chose to believe in a God, because 'there's no downside in believing that there is a heaven or an Elysian Fields.' That seems fairly sensible. Terry Pratchett was a humanist. William Peter Blatty was raised by a devoutly Catholic mother and that worked out just fine.

Some phenomena and experiences are inexplicable not only to science, but to religion, to any kind of belief system at all. Plenty of people try to stick science in one box, religion in another, like they're fighting cats. Maybe they're not. Maybe they're the same cat, or different cats, or there is no fucking cat. I'm not Schrodinger.

I think I'm coming down on the Agnostic's side, if I'm on any kind of side - I don't 'believe' in anything at all. I question. Agnosticism isn't 'sitting on the fence', or, 'undecided', as some people think. A more literal definition of Agnostic would be 'One without knowledge.' Definitions outside of this (like everything else) exist, of course, but I found a quote on Wikipedia that seems as good a summation as any:

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle ... Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.- Thomas Henry Huxley.

Huxley was a staunch supporter of Darwin, largely self-taught, one of the forefathers of scientific method and thought, and had great big muttonchops.


A man, in short, worth listening to. It seems to me that the act of questioning, avoiding assumption...but pride, too, was important then...and I think it still is. The nature of belief appears to be rigid - and disbelief, too. Atheism often feels just as strict as religion. But to question, to accept that your knowledge and its boundaries are liquid...then it is perfectly right and proper to be flexible enough in your beliefs and your concept of truth to change your opinion in the light of new information, in the light of new evidence...that, I find far more appealing.

Religion, or any kind of belief - it's informed by your upbringing, experiences, background, lifestyle, family, society, education, geography, era. A simplification, this (the entirety of human's wonderment, or not, over the existence of a heavenly overlord), but within Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the thousand or ten thousand other iterations of 'religion' throughout history there is only one constant - belief is different for many people. But to question? That, I think, is universal. Religion, transcendal meditation, polytheism, belief in the power of potatoes - all seem to be a product of that basic urge to question, but one in which we leap too soon to a conclusion and embrace with all our hearts the unproven but beguiling veracity of those conclusions. To do so, to grasp some hope like a drowning man adrift in an uncharted, unfathomable sea - that's admirable. It's humanity, trying desperately to find something to save ourselves. But to wonder, to hold your pride in check and to be flexible and open to new information, new marvels? To hang a while in that sea and look around and never know where it leads or how far below your feet the bottom is? Is that braver than clinging to driftwood? Is it stupid not to grasp that chance at salvation?

Maybe. Possibly. Like Stephen King, perhaps it wouldn't hurt to believe in something at least, and not be hanging over such a vast, uncertain abyss. But then sense and bravery aren't always the same thing.

You don't have to be an atheist, or a satanist, or a analytical philosopher, or one of those devious scientist who stubbornly try to disprove the concept or existence of a God, do you? I don't. I like questions. I like not knowing everything. I don't think people should know everything, and neither should humanity ever assume it does - one thing I am sure of is that should mankind ever reach the point when it does have all the answers, there will be plenty more questions we haven't even thought of yet.

Anyway, Reader's Digest, thought for the day and Yoda and all that. ;)

Love you!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Interview with Edward Lorn

Edward Lorn's on the blog today. The first of his I read was 'Dastardly Bastard'. After that, Fog Warning, which he kindly asked me to endorse. He's one of my favourites as a writer, and one of my favourite people as a...er...person. We're collaborating on a novel, too, so I get to talk to him whenever I want (even if he doesn't want to). He's cool, nice, friendly and tremendously talented...so, in the red corner...THE LORN!

Q: Bay's End, then. I've been thinking about this since first reading your work - where does that come from - that connection between stories?
Bay’s End is an amalgamation of all the small towns I’ve ever lived in, which have been quite a few, but mostly my hometown of Fontana, California. I stole a lot from there, even down to the street names. The reasoning for it popping up some of everywhere is pretty simple: I love Stephen King’s work. The nerd in me digs finding mentions of Castle Rock or Derry, Maine, in works not set within those towns.
Q: Is there an overall arc or a theme to the Bay's End tales?
Not Bay’s End itself, but there is for Pointvilla County. The county consists of Chestnut, Bay’s End, Waverly Chasm. The three locations form a triangle in the middle of a fictional Ohio. You won’t find the forty square miles of Pointvilla county on any map. I expanded the state for my own purposes.
Back to your question. The story arc stems from Waverly Chasm. Something lives down there, something feeds and is strengthened by human suffering. It lives off our memories, the good ones over the bad, and sometimes it gets out. Small dose here, small dose there. If you ever run across something supernatural in my tales, there’s a damn good chance that, at one time or another, it was part of what’s in the chasm.

Q: Have you ever killed a man with a banana? If not, what would be your preference? If you had to murder a man with a banana. Or, you know...just wanted to?
Not a man, but a woman. Not proud of it. A bit of sexual experimentation gone wrong, you could say.  The stuff that came out of her was brown. Should’ve used a greener banana.
I still miss Muffy. Haven’t been able to enjoy a banana since.
Q: Novellas, Novels, Short stories - you write them all. You write episodic fiction, too - Cruelty. Do you have a favourite form to tell your stories?
I don’t have a preference, really, and I usually have no idea what a certain story will be until I reach that point. If it goes over short story length, I’m dealing with a novella until I hit novel length. I have found that the older I get the longer my work wants to be. Everything seems to want to be a damn novel these days. I haven’t written anything under 10k in two months.
Q: Your horror often feels 'classic' to me, reminiscent of horror's heyday - McCammon, King - the American vibe (obviously) because you're quite a bit American, rather than Herbert or British writers of that ilk. Anyway - question - how much of an influence do you feel those writers, that era, are on your fiction?
Those guys are all I read growing up: Koontz, King, McCammon, Straub, Saul, all of them. Mom had this hideaway called the Great Book Closet. Inside were hundreds of hardcover literary horror novels. Once I hit the proper age (proper age for Mom’s liking anyway), which was 16, I started devouring everything in there. But even before that, I was stealing her Stephen King Library book club deliveries out of the mailbox. The first one was Dolores Claiborne and I couldn’t put the damn book down. I’m lucky to have started there, I think. That book showed me that monsters aren’t just supernatural creatures. Monsters can be human, too, and those are sometimes the worse.  Because they can happen. That novel also got me away from gore for the sake of gore. I’m a gorehound, don’t get me wrong, I love that shit, but you have to care for or at the very least understand the person whose body is being torn to shreds or the gore doesn’t work as well.
Q: You read a ton - almost heroically, I think. And review most of those stories too. And you're prolific with your own tales. How do you manage that?
Two ways: I make a living off my writing. It’s my job, so I don’t have anything else to do with my day when most people are working the old 9-5. Second, I’m OCD. I have a routine. I write 1,000-2,000 words, and then read 40-50 pages. I repeat that process until it’s time for dinner, or time to go to sleep, and that depends on what time of day I’m writing. I cycle between overnights and daytime writing. Never have been able to write between the hours of 5pm and midnight.
Here’s a morsel of exactly how strange I am. I have this imaginary thing in my head called a Word Bucket. Writing depletes the stores of the bucket, and I have to read to refill the bucket. SO I write some and I read some, and everybody’s happy. I review because I love online book communities. I love discussing the good and the bad and the truly awful books floating around.
Q: Do you ever write in a bathrobe, or dressing gown, or whatever? Ever just think, 'fuck it, I work from home, I'm going to write in flippers and a snorkel'?
Certainly. Although I prefer a string bikini and a bowler hat. Sometimes, it’s a nipple pastie and socks day, while other times I write in the buff with a candy cigarette dangling from the corner of my gobbler. I’ve quit smoking, so only the candy ones will do.
Q: What about different mediums for storytelling - gaming, movies, graphic novels - do you dally with those much? If you could, would you work in different media?
I’d love to write for games. That’s been a dream of mine since the days of the Sega Genesis. Have I? Nope. But I wanna. I wanna so badly. I’d really dig a chance to work on a horror game. Something stalker-y, like a Friday the 13th game… or, better yet, Crueltygame.
Q: What about yourself? Do you have a typical day, for work, and for those five minutes a day when you're not working? ;)
Book shopping trips with my wife and kids are how I blow off steam… and money, of course. It’s become an addiction of sorts, like popping Xanax. It mellows me out. Puts me on an even keel. I’m proud to be raising a couple of avid readers. I don’t think there’s enough of them these days—readers, not kids. I have plenty of kids, thank you. Anyway, if I can’t make it to the book shop or money is tight, we have a game night. One of us will play a video game and the other three will watch. It’s relaxing. A slice of normalcy after a day of gallivanting around fictional lands. We’re also one of the few American families left that eat dinner around the table. There, we catch up with each other’s days and enjoy each other’s company. I love my family, man. None better.
Q: I lived in Japan for a few years. Ate some weird, grotesque shit - like sea slugs. What's the weirdest, most repulsive thing you've ever eaten?
Surstr√∂mming. It’s fermented shark. Fucking nasty shit. Smells of ammonia and sweaty arm pit. I ate that foul shit, threw up that foul shit, and never want to so much as see a can of that foul shit ever again in my life.
Why’d I eat it? I like trying new things, and usually enjoy other cultures’ food, especially when Americans normally hate it. For instance, I like stinky tofu and salmiak. The former is a fermented tofu. Basically its rotten, and smells that way, but the taste isn’t so bad. The latter is something the Dutch (or perhaps its Swedish) add to black liquorice to make it ungodly salty. I don’t eat either of those things on a regular bases, but I don’t mind the taste of them when I do.
Q: What do you reckon on Kindle Unlimited? I'm not going to ask about independent publishing, or tradition publishing, or e-publishing at all...but any thoughts on this latest iteration and where the constant shifts leave artists in general?
The most recent change has me pretty pissed off. I seem to be in the minority, though. Because of the new changes, I get about 15 cents for a short story I normally charge $0.99 for. If someone buys that story, I get $0.33. If they borrow it through Kindle Unlimited I see half that. Not cool. But I have to keep my stuff on KU to draw in readers. At the end of the day, as it always is with Amazon, you take the good with the bad.
Q: Who are your favourite authors? If you don't say Craig Saunders I'm unfollowing you on Goodreads.
Stephen King, Richard Laymon, old Koontz, old McCammon, and Peter Straub. Some new favorites would be Greg Iles, Jo NesboMarisha Pessl, Caroline Kepnes, and this Craig Saunders chap, who I like well enough to want to work with him. Now where’s my check?
Q: OK, so. You're stranded on a desert island. You're hungry, and there's nothing but a banana tree. All alone, nothing to eat but bananas, right? So you eat all the banana. The last of the banana is in your belly when A CRAZED CANNIBAL JUMPS FROM THE SAND! And, from his loincloth (whatever, like it matters) falls a single grape. Now, even though you know how to kill a man with a banana, all you have to fight with is a grape, and you're untrained in grapes...what do you do?
Juke right, allowing him to sail over me. As he glides overhead, I snatch the grape and pop it into my mouth. Tastes of balls, but who has time for being disgusted in a situation like this? Since we’re on a desert island, the grape isn’t seedless, so I chew around the seed while the CRAZED CANNIBAL! rights himself and prepares to attack once more. All better, he rushes me again. I spin to meet him, face to face, and spit the seed into his eye, blinding him and making him feel foolish. This drops his guard. I then kick him where the loincloth covers. He drops. I proceed to stuff sand in his mouth. When he chokes to death, I steal his loincloth, because who doesn’t like a good loincloth?
Q: When did you figure out this is what you wanted to do for a living?
The minute I found out that, if I did it well enough, people would pay me to lie to them. Seemed like the dream job, you know? No effort required. Play in imaginary lands, meet fictional people, rarely deal with reality. Perfection, right? Yeah, well, that is until you realize there’s editing and proofing and cover design and promotion and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… I hate having standards. Standards kill all the fun. But readers require proper grammar and punctuation, and I’m a people pleaser at heart. If I wasn’t writing, I’d be a rollercoaster operator… or a prostitute. But they are kinda the same thing when you think about it.
Q: Finally...! Do you have any advice for someone starting out - twofold, I guess - about the art, firstly, but about the business, too?
Read your ass off and write just as much. Both require muscle, and muscle needs to be exercised. We’re talking daily. You’re going to suck when you first start. Rule of thumb is this: If you’re not good by book three, take up knitting.
The business side is hell. I hate it. I say go for a publisher and let them deal with the bullshit, because being an indie is for the birds. It’s expensive and you get less respect, even if you do everything right, there are readers who will think there’s something wrong with your work, some reason why the big publishers won’t take you on. These souls never consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you never wanted to submit in the first place. I’m some of both. Half indie, half traditionally published. I like the traditional part better. But that’s just me. Do what you want.
Q: Second finally - what was your favourite question? Mine was the 'grape' question. ;)
The one about reading so much and still finding time to write. Individuals ask me that quite often, but no interviewer ever has… I don’t think…
And that, readers, was Edward Lorn. As always, it's been a pleasure. Love you! 
Edward Lorn's latest release is 'Others & Oddities'.

Edward Lorn is a reader, writer, and content creator. He's been writing for fun since the age of six, and writing professionally since 2011. He can be found haunting the halls of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Goodreads. He has blogs on both Booklikes and Wordpress, with such popular features as Ruminating On and Randomized Randomocity. 

Edward Lorn lives in the southeast United States with his wife and two children. Not to mention, Ash and Coal (a.k.a. his Goombas). He is currently working on his next novel, EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE NOW.

Find out more on the following links, or just look him up on Amazon and try something for yourself. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Books I Enjoyed This Year (so far...)

I don't read anything like as often as I used to, and generally only what I want, rather than feeling any kind of obligation to beat some Goodreads' record. That said, this year I've read more than the last three years together, or close enough. Here, in no particular order, are a few you might like, by authors I've enjoyed.


Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow (novella) Ray Cluley


The Silence (novel) Tim Lebbon 


Half a King (novel) Joe Abercrombie 


All you Zombies (short) Robert A. Heinlein


The Last Bus (novella) Paul Feeney


Within (novel) Keith Deininger 


Albion Fay (novel) Mark Morris 


Condemned (novel) Michael McBride 


Without Purpose, Without Pity (novella) Brian Hodge 


Spook Lights (collection) Eden Royce 


Dead Leaves (collection) Kealan Patrick Burke

There you go. Might run another 'favourites' later in the year. Might not. Don't hold your breath.

Love you!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Left to Darkness released today

My latest, Left to Darkness, is out today. It's the first in The Oblivion Series.

Blurb:

A meteor strikes the Earth. Dirt and dust fill the air. Only a few people remain under the setting skies, and those who still live find it's not God's England anymore. It's the Devil's turn.

Lines are drawn between the dark and light. For the darkness, James Finley and his cult for the end of days. On the side of light, Paul Deacon, the lost policeman, and Dawn Graves, the last mother. To survive, they must put their lives in one man's hands: Frank Liebowicz, a killer with a soft spot for lost causes. Because come Armageddon, God won't choose his champions.

They'll choose themselves.

There's a sample (above) if you want a quick one chapter taster. Available on Amazon wherever you are.

Early Endorsements:

'Craig Saunders deftly weaves crime, horror, and science fiction into a style reminiscent of a combination of early Simon Clark and Brian Keene. His dialogue crackles and his characters leap from the page. Left to Darkness is an apocalyptic tour de force!' - Michael McBride, author of Sunblind and Fearful Symmetry.

'Left to Darkness brings the despair and destruction to life and puts a permanent stamp on the reader's minds as one of the best apocalyptic novels in recent years.' - Examiner.



Check out the short, Purple Buddha, on DarkFuse.com if you want to know more about Frank, and what makes him what he is: Purple Buddha (free short)

The story is free to read, although you have to register to read it (no longer than a minute to register, with plenty of excellent fiction and a pro-rate publisher, too, very useful for readers and writers).

There will be more.

Thanks for reading, and as always - love you ;)

Craig.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

How I decide what to write next/Update for August

How I decide what to write next:

It goes something like this...

It's been a busy year. I finished a fair few projects (Highwayman, Death by a Mother's Hand, Ghost Voices, The Dead Boy) which are all submitted and awaiting a response (if I get one - no guarantees, as ever). Wrote a couple of short stories, too - so I'm ahead on points. I sort of have to write or go mad from boredom, though. People seem to believe I'm relatively prolific but I'm not. I just don't like doing anything else.

With that in mind, I need to do something. I'm writing on two collaborations (Pig, with Edward Lorn and Red Ice Run, with Ryan C. Thomas) both of which I'm enjoying the hell out of, but as you'd expect with a collaboration, there's a fair bit of downtime.

So, here's the list (at the moment) of things I should/want to write:

Beneath Rythe, to finish the Rythe Quadrilogy.
The next Holland tale (following on from 'Masters of Blood and Bone')
The sequel/book two to 'Left to Darkness'
Rain Clowns (a longer book)
The Temple of Art (partial)
A third 'Spiggot' book.

I'm trying to triage these stories, like a nurse in A&E. I guess the important ones are the ones that are expected/sell more. Beneath Rythe is long overdue for readers, I suppose. The Spiggot books, historically, sell OK. Masters made a few quid and had good reviews...

Rain Clowns and Temple of Art are standalone stories, and I've two of those out right now, and the collaborations are standalones, too. So they're not essential - scratching them for now.

Spiggot and Masters are a series...but not sequential. So they'll keep.

Which leaves either Beneath Rythe, or book two on Left to Darkness. The Rythe books, over the last three years, have been constant little earners. There. Thinking process done. Logic dictates Beneath Rythe.

But I want to write Rain Clowns, so I'm going to do that instead. Fuck you, logic.

*

Update for August:

Rights reverted to 'A Stranger's Grave' and 'The Love of the Dead', too - I'll be reissuing these later this year.

And I'll be going to FCon in October (on a panel Friday night - 23rd).

This is out 11th August, by the way ;) :


'Left to Darkness brings the despair and destruction to life and puts a permanent stamp on the reader's minds as one of the best apocalyptic novels in recent years.' 
- Examiner.