Has an urban legend ever disturbed you to the point you lost sleep thinking about it?
Sirens Call Publications has recently released Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me and as a special treat for each of you, we’ve asked the authors to provide us with a few words on the inspirations to their stories. Today we are joined by C.M. Saunders who contributed his story The Delectable Hearts to this collection of ten chillingly fantastic tales.
Christian Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, began writing in 1997, his early fiction appearing in several small-press titles and anthologies. His first book, Into the Dragon’s Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales was published in 2003. After graduating with a BA in journalism he worked extensively in the freelance market, contributing to numerous international publications including Fortean Times, Chat, Its Fate! Bizarre, Urban Ink, Enigma, Record Collector, Nuts, Maxim, and a regular column to the Western Mail newspaper. Since returning to dark fiction he has had stories published in Screams of Terror, Shallow Graves, Dark Valentine, Fantastic Horror, Unbroken Waters, The Sirens Call and several anthologies. His novellas Dead of Night and Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story are available on Damnation Books while his latest, Devil’s Island, is out now on Rainstorm Press. You can connect with C.M. on his blog.
And now for C.M.’s inspiration…
The Inspiration behind The Delectable Hearts
My contribution to Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me, is the story of a jaded rock journalist in search of the Next Big Thing, which he hopes will revitalize both his career and the ailing magazine he works for. Unfortunately for him, in an underground rock club one dreary evening, he finds it when he encounters a hot young pop punk band called…
The Delectable Hearts.
A lot of the inspiration for this story actually came from my own personal experience. In another life I was a rock journalist, so I know a little about the publishing industry, the music business and the love/hate relationship between the two spheres.
My two great loves in life are music and writing, so it was inevitable that sooner or later these two things would mesh together. The setting of the story, the Joint, is based on an actual rock club in Southampton, England, I used to frequent, called the Joiners. When I first broke into music journalism, I was little more than a fan with a voice recorder and a notebook. I rarely got paid for what I did, I just loved hanging out with bands, watching the soundcheck, and meeting all the different components that made the whole operation work. Everyone from roadies and guitar technicians to merch people, promoters and managers. They all had stories to tell.
In my mind there was something pure (and punk?) about the not getting paid much (if at all) aspect of it. It became a matter of integrity, to a certain extent. My primary aim was to share good music, and spread the word about artists I felt deserved it.
But I soon came to realize that there is a dark side to the music industry.
Most of the people I met, in whatever capacity, had the same basic goal, which was simply to extract as much money as possible from impressionable fans. In that respect, I soon became an unwitting and unwilling cohort. My writing was too-often influenced by commercial pressures, aside from the actual music, which I naively thought to be the only thing that mattered. For example, if I wrote a bad review of a band for a magazine, if that band’s record label had an advertising deal with said magazine, then my review, as honest or well-written it may be, would never see the light of day. The magazines didn’t want to risk upsetting the record company and losing their advertising revenue.
I began to feel exploited, and grew very tired of all the plastic smiles. I soon realized that I was just a minor cog in the publicity machine. My purpose in life was to make money for rich, power-hungry predators.
At the same time, I was getting frustrated with not making much money from my own endeavours. Unless you are on the payroll, the magazines I worked for usually compensated me with free tickets for gigs, endless CD’s and merchandise, contributor’s copies, sometimes travel or other expenses. None of which paid the bills. I started thinking; if my hard work was helping make these people rich and famous, wasn’t I entitled to a little of the proceeds? Just enough to keep my head above water?
Then, the conundrum hit.
Here I was making my defiant stand against commercialism and greed in the music industry, while at the same time scrambling around for loose change. We were at different ends of the scale, but motivated by the same thing. Money. Also, why did I write at all if a little part of me didn’t yearn for success and recognition? If I didn’t, I’d just keep my musings to myself, right?
It dawned on me that I was no different from the magazine bosses and record company CEO’s. The only difference was that I was skint. So I decided to get out of music journalism. I still dabble occasionally, but only for my own enjoyment. However, while I saw a lot of oversized egos on display, along with the customary debauchery and too many individuals being seduced by the Cult of Celebrity and the spoils of fame, I am happy to report that I made up the bit about the demon.
Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me
We’ve all come across them. The warnings told by a friend of a friend – don’t go in there, I wouldn’t if I were you, did you hear about…? Or perhaps your mind leaps to the cryptozoological realm – creatures barely glimpsed, and yet to be identified. Other spheres of existence – they can’t be real… certainly not until you’ve experienced one!
Maybe the real horror lies in the minds and hearts of others just like you. People with a slightly bent perspective that feed on the fear in others. Twisted souls that would take advantage of the weak, or vulnerable. Those who believe they are doing good for a higher power, or to gain power simply for themselves. Petty vengeance that breathes a life of its own once unleashed.
Whatever your poison, the ten stories in Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me are sure to intrigue, and perhaps bring back fears long forgotten.
Run, don’t look back… or should you?
Contributing Authors include:
Morgan Bauman, Kimberly A, Bettes, Matthew Borgard, Alex Chase, Austin Fikac, K. Trap Jones, Sean Keller, Lisamarie Lamb, Jon Olson, C.M. Saunders
Interested in Purchasing a copy?
And now for a quick excerpt from C.M.’s story The Delectable Hearts in Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me…
What a way to spend Halloween. Watching some second-rate pop punk band in a stinking downtown dive next door to a brothel.
“Go check these guys out tonight,” Bob Rickards, his merciless and increasingly jittery editor told him that afternoon. “The Delectable Hearts. Unsigned, but they’ve been creating quite a buzz on the local scene down south. We gotta keep our finger on the pulse”
“Never heard of ’em. Sound like a bunch of damn hippies,” Mick Dome, longest serving staff writer at Rock City Sounds magazine, replied. Where music was concerned he didn’t pull any punches, it was his only passion in life.
“Now, now, let’s not be judgmental,” Rickards said sarcastically, the same man who effectively blocked all favorable coverage of Screeching Weasel forever after Dan Vapid phoned him up and called him a prick. “These Delectable whatever’s came from nowhere, might be the next Big Thing!”
Both as a music reporter and as a human being Mick hated the phrase came from nowhere. Nobody ever came from nowhere. Sure, they may suddenly hit the mainstream and achieve worldwide fame, but success rarely came without due effort and diligence. Months or years of writing songs in bedrooms, playing gigs to fifteen people including bar staff, and suffering the constant disappointment of having your Demo tape overlooked while all around you younger, better-looking and more talented outfits are springing up all the time.
Came from nowhere and got themselves a return ticket, he almost quipped, but held his tongue. If these guys hadn’t paid their dues, and if they had Mick would have heard of them by now, then he didn’t have time for them.
But he had to think of the big picture.
From a staff of fifteen three years ago Rock City Sounds was now running on a skeleton crew of eight. Circulation was down for the fourteenth consecutive issue, and there was water-cooler talk of yet more redundancies. The water-cooler itself was fast-becoming a metaphor not just for Rock City Sounds but the print industry as a whole; once a thriving, bustling epicenter of energy, it was now a lonely outpost populated only by the dejected and the damned.
If Mick wanted to keep his job as chief reporter, he would have to justify his salary and get out in the field more. Get his hands dirty. The problem with that, apart from all the public transport and general inconvenience, was that as much as he still loved music, he just found it hard to get excited about anything these days. He heard a hundred ‘new’ bands and artists every week, whether at gigs or on tape, disc, file or online…
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow when we’ll discuss inspiration with Matthew Borgard!