Meghan: Hey, Chris. Welcome back to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. Thank you for once again taking part in our annual Halloween Extravaganza. Tell us about this new release I’ve been hearing about.

Chris: That would be X5. As the title suggests, it’s my fifth collection of short fiction. Most of the stories have appeared in magazines or anthologies before, and it’s a great feeling to package them up together and give them a new lease of life.

Meghan: What’s your favorite story in X5 and why?

Chris: You know how some people say you should love all your kids the same? Well, that’s bullshit, we all have favourites, and the same applies to stories. There’s one called Subject #270374, which I wrote about doing a drug trial in London making the story an (un)healthy mix of fact and fiction. It was a very weird experience, and fully merited having a horror story written about it. It first appeared in the anthology DOA3 on Bloodbound Books.

Meghan: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Chris: I have a tradition where I stay up all night and watch horror movies. It doesn’t matter whether I’m alone or with someone else. That’s what I’ve always done, and that’s what I will continue to do. It can be a problem if I have work the next day!

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Chris: Only by centipedes and beautiful women.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Chris: I remember watching the original Evil Dead as a teenager and being absolutely terrified. The whole concept of being the only survivor in the middle of nowhere having to overcome so many unnatural horrors  having just seen all your friends get either killed or possessed is just grim.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Chris: I don’t really find horror movies disturbing. It’s just a movie, right? Right?

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Chris: Unfortunately not.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Chris: Without a doubt, Lost Boys. Come on, it was the eighties. That movie struck the perfect balance between style, substance and cheese. It made vampires cool before they were cool.

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Chris: Probably Jason Vorhees, because he just keeps on trucking.

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Chris: Werewolf. Can you imagine having a friend who was a werewolf? I think, depending on the nature of your relationship, every full moon it would would cease to be scary and start being hilarious. The level of banter would be unprecedented.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Chris: Anything from the Disintegration album by the Cure. It’s brilliant, but so bleak and atmospheric. If dying sounds like anything, it probably sounds like that. It would also be the perfect soundtrack to anything remotely scary.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Chris: The Troop by Nick Cutter. If you’ve read it, you’ll know why.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Chris: I once woke up with scratches on my back in places I couldn’t reach, all in sets of three. I concluded that I had been the victim of a demonic attack, and thanked my lucky stars I’d been asleep when it happened because I don’t want to see that shit.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Chris: There are so many. For a species that’s supposed to be intelligent, people leave a lot of questions unanswered; Jack the Ripper, Dyatlov Pass, the Bermuda Triangle, the JonBenet Ramsey murder, the 411 disappearances, and whatever is going down at the Winchester Mystery House. Top of the pile, though, is WTH happened to Flight MH370. I’ve read a couple of books on it, and they all agree there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Those poor people might just have been collateral damage.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Chris: It would be easy to say some sort of assault rifle or machine gun, or even a sniper’s rifle enabling you to take zombies out from distance? But what happens when you run out of bullets? Then you would be in a world of hurt. For that reason, maybe a sword would be better, especially up close. One good swipe could take out a whole family of rotters.

Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Chris: Vampire, because then I could party all night, sleep all day, and live forever (or until someone rams a wooden stakes through my heart). I know they say that if you’re bitten by a werewolf you turn into one at the next full moon, but most of the werewolf victims I see in movies just get torn to pieces. That’s no fun. No fun at all.

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

Chris: Zombies. Aliens are more likely to exist, but they’re an unknown quantity. They might be capable of anything. You know where you are with a horde of zombies so theoretically you’re more likely to come through.

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

Chris: Zombie juice, please. It sounds like a Halloween cocktail. We can always put some vodka in it to give it a bit of a kick.

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

Chris: Ooh, Amityville! I was greatly affected by the original Amityville Horror and it looks like a beautiful house. The poltergeist house is suburbia personified. Boring.

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

Chris: I love chilies! I think the maggot-infested would depend on the maggots. There’s an Italian cheese called Casu martzu which has live maggots in it. Google it. I am a huge fan of cheese, but that’s gross. I have a line.

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

Chris: Dunno. What’s in the cauldron? Is it all eye of newt and toe of frog, etc? If so, I’ll go with that. I lived in China for ten years and I ate all that stuff anyway. One day a friend of mine told me she was coming over to cook a ‘special’ meal, and then she turned up with a pig’s snout.

Boo-graphy: Christian Saunders, a constant reader who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, is a freelance journalist and editor from south Wales. His work has appeared in almost 100 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide including Fortean Times, the Literary Hatchet, ParABnormal, Fantastic Horror, Haunted MTL, Feverish Fiction and Crimson Streets, and he has held staff positions at several leading UK magazines ranging from Staff Writer to Associate Editor. His books have been both traditionally and independently published.

The fifth volume in my X series featuring ten (X, geddit?) slices of twisted horror and dark fiction plucked from the blood-soaked pages of ParABnormal magazine, Demonic Tome, Haunted MTL, Fantasia Diversity, and industry-defining anthologies including 100 Word Horrors, The Corona Book of Ghost Stories, DOA 3, and Trigger Warning: Body Horror.

Meet the local reporter on an assignment which takes him far beyond the realms of reality, join the fishing trip that goes sideways when a fish unlike any other is hooked, and find out the hidden cost of human trafficking in China. Along the way, meet the hiker who stumbles across something unexpected in the woods, the office worker who’s life is inexorably changed after a medical drug trial goes wrong, and many more.

Also features extensive notes, and original artwork by Stoker award-winning Greg Chapman.

Table of Contents:
Demon Tree
Revenge of the Toothfish
The Sharpest Tool
Something Bad
Down the Road
Coming Around
Where a Town Once Stood
The Last Night Shift
Subject #270374

X X2 X3 X4 X5