Meghan: Welcome back to the Halloween Extravaganza. It’s always wonderful to have you here at Meghan’s (Haunted) House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?
Christian: The fact that for a few days each year, everyone turns into mad horror fiends and I don’t appear quite so weird. Afterwards, though, most people go back to being normal and I just stay weird.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
Christian: The movies! Okay, I watch horror movies all year round, but for as long as I can remember on Halloween night, no matter where I am, who I am with and what else I have going on, I’ve always made time for a horror movie marathon, much to the displeasure of various partners over the years. Some people just can’t handle it when shit gets real.
Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?
Christian: The movies, the trick-or-treating, the family traditions, the blood, the gore, the serial killers, the rotting corpses rising from graves, what’s not to love?!
Meghan: What are you superstitious about?
Christian: I don’t know if you can call this a superstition, but I’ve always had a thing for the number 27. it follows me, and it seems to come in waves. I might go months without noticing it, and then suddenly it’s everywhere, all around me, as if the universe is trying to tell me something. For example, a few years ago, I was writing an article for a magazine about the 27 Club, all those musicians who have died at 27, when my cousin called me. He said, “I’m just ringing to tell you I’ve moved. Yeah, I live in number 27 now.”
Another time, I was telling a friend about my 27 thing. They laughed and said it was just coincidence. We went into a restaurant, and were given the table number 27. They were like, okay…
Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?
Christian: It has to be Freddy Krueger. What a fantastic concept. A monster that comes to get you THROUGH YOUR DREAMS! I mean, how long can you stay awake? How long can you stay safe? We all know the answer to that because we’ve all seen the movies, right? Often, when I talk about movies 30 or 40 years old, I wonder how a remake or reboot would fare with a big budget and superior special effects. In this case remakes and reboots are not necessary because the original movies are just about perfect.
Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?
Christian: That would be the murder of my wife. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. It’s so weird they never found the body. They never looked in the garden, though. Kidding. Gotcha! I’ve never been married. I’m sorry to be so unoriginal, but I’d love to know who Jack the Ripper was. I don’t buy into the stuff about him being the queen’s doctor, but I read a theory recently suggesting that he and H.H. Holmes, he of Chicago’s murder castle, were the same person. The links are tenuous, but that’s the thing, the links to every suspect are tenuous but somebody did it, so one of these mad theories has to be true.
Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?
Christian: Ooh! I can tell you a famous Welsh one. Angelystor is a mystical ghostly figure that appears twice a year (Halloween and 31st July) in the village of Llangernyw in Conwy. Standing beneath a 3000-year old Yew tree, the supernatural entity announces the names of all the people who would die in the parish that year. What a guy!
Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?
Christian: There’s something morally wrong about having a favourite serial killer but you got me. I do have one. I’m going to go with that man H.H. Holmes again. The whole concept fascinates me. He didn’t just moider loads of people, he went to extraordinary lengths to do so and apparently took great pride in his work. He was also a conman, a trickster and a bigamist. I mean, how busy was this guy? He was convicted of 27 killings (there’s that number again, see what I mean?) but may have, and probably did, kill more than 200. That takes dedication.
Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?
Christian: My first horror film was either a little-known zombie flick called The Child, or American Werewolf in London, when I was ten or eleven years old. That’s a movie I must have watched a dozen times since. I didn’t start getting the humour in it until much later, and when I lived in London I made a pilgrimage to Tottenham Court Road underground station where some key scenes were filmed. It literally gave me shivers. It’s harder to remember the first book, but it was probably a Stephen King paperback nabbed from my sister. I’m going to say Pet Sematary.
Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?
Christian: I had a Richard Laymon phase in my late teens, like I guess most people do. He’s a very underrated writer. Sure, he put out some smut and he had a weird obsession with the word ‘rump,’ but nobody’s perfect! There are two books in particular I could mention, Funland and Body Rides. The most disturbing of the two is the latter. Not in a gruesome kind of way, but in the sense that when you finish it you feel as if Richard Laymon just reached inside your head, pulled out your brain, licked it, kicked it against a wall a few times, then put it back.
Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?
Christian: The original Evil Dead. I remember watching it alone when I was twelve or thirteen and my parents were away for the night, and I was too scared to turn the lights off or go to bed. That creepy refrain, “Dead by dawn!” was running through my head constantly.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?
Christian: I dressed up as Dracula when I was nine. See embarrassing pictorial evidence. I was certainly sullen enough, but I think the hair let me down.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?
Christian: The Ramones Howling at the Moon from their 1984 album Too Tough to Die. Punk forever. You’re welcome.
Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?
Christian: I’m British, and when I was a kid all the kids in my street used to get together and play ducking apples. You know, when you’re blindfolded and have to stick your head in a bucket of water and try to pick out apples with your teeth? Let me tell you, it got quite competitive! There’s no such thing as a disappointing treat.
Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by. Before you go, can you share your favorite Halloween reads and movies?
Christian: Even though I’m a writer, I’m going to give you my Top Three Halloween movies because I think reading more than one book in a night would be a challenge, but we can all squeeze in enough time for a classic horror movie marathon!
FYI, every month I watch a classic horror film and post about it over on my blog. You’re welcome to take a look.
Christian Saunders, 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 latest release being Back from the Dead: A Collection of Zombie Fiction.
Back from the Dead —
A collection of zombie fiction from British journalist and dark fiction writer C.M. Saunders, featuring two complete novellas alongside short stories previously published in the likes of Morpheus Tales and Crimson Streets, plus a brand-new novelette. Also includes an exclusive introduction and artwork by the award-winning Greg Chapman.
Dead of Night: young lovers Nick and Maggie go camping in the woods, only to come face-to-face with a group of long-dead Confederate soldiers who don’t know, or care, that the war is over.
Human Waste: Dan Pallister wakes up one morning to find the zombie apocalypse has started. Luckily, he’s been preparing for it most of his life. He just needs to grab some supplies from the supermarket…
‘Til Death do us Part: When the world as we know it comes to an abrupt end, an elderly couple are trapped in their apartment. They get by as best they can, until they run out of food.
Roadkill: A freelance ambulance crew are plunged into a living nightmare when a traffic accident victim they pick up just won’t stay dead. He has revenge on his mind.
Plague Pit: A curious teenager goes exploring the Welsh countryside one summer afternoon and stumbles across a long-abandoned chapel. What he finds there might change the world, and not for the better.
Dead Men Don’t Bleed: A gumshoe private eye is faced with his most challenging case yet when a dead man walks into his office and asks for help solving his own murder.
Drawn from a variety of sources, all these tales have one thing in common; they explore what might happen if our worst nightmares are realized and people came BACK FROM THE DEAD.