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Today’s post is brought to you by Chris Long. Thanks, Chris!
So, this is how I started writing a novel. Sort of. There was an article in the paper about the town saving money. I didn’t really pay it any attention, but a lot of people around me got quite annoyed about it.“They’re turning the lights off after midnight every night to save us money?!” was pretty much what I kept hearing, over and over again.
“They’re turning the lights off after midnight every night to save us money?!” was pretty much what I kept hearing, over and over again.
Personally, I’d always been a fan of the potential for more money, but that didn’t seem to be the point. To be honest, I didn’t really think about it until I went to walk home from the pub one night and someone mentioned something about the lights being off. I said I’d be fine and set off on the fifty or so minute walk, hoping to clear my head before I had to struggle with the front door key.
The darkness I found waiting for me outside was cold and heavy. It was too quiet. It changed the whole town around me. The town centre became a hidden maze, defined by raised voices and the occasional thunder of distant bass. The suburban streets turned into tangled knots of faceless houses and dead ends. Parks or fields felt endless without light. The whole night became a bottomless pit and, by the time I got home, I felt like I’d been walking for miles.
That whole experience stayed with me. At first, it got me trying to write a short story about it. I wanted to try and talk about towns using the idea of saving money as a cover for removing the unwanted, the struggling and the downright broken. You know the sort of thing. People going missing in the middle of the night. Suspicious town council meetings. Cheap food suddenly becoming readily available for people on a brand new housing scheme. It all got a little Soylent Green, if we’re being honest. Still, though, I knew there was something interesting there.
When my publisher asked me if I was ready to write my first novel, I went back to that idea. It felt like there as potential there. I wrote a really sharp opening to the story, but couldn’t quite get anything else together for it. In fact, my stupid brain kept getting distracted by other ideas. Ideas that didn’t fit together. There was one about a group of kids who may find something demonic locked under a barn in the moors. Another about a young man who gets himself lost in a hotel that turns into a shapeshifting maze at night. Or there was the one about that man driven mad by the sound of dripping water after an encounter with something ancient and lonely in a mine turned tourist attraction. Or that other one about the character who is told the day they are going to die, but not the date. Which means they’re forever afraid of one day in seven, every single week for the rest of their life.
The problem was that none of these stories were the one I was meant to be writing. I was meant to be trying to write my ‘Evil Town from Hell’ story. That one which spoke about society. About how easily we could slip into treating each other inhumanly if we simply did as we were told and believed it was for a greater good. Okay, okay, it had elements of Hot Fuzz about it as well as Soylent Green.
It’s probably thanks to that sort of thinking that, one morning, I turned away from the latest draft of the story and went back to my notes for it. What do you want to write, I wrote to myself on the page. What are you trying to do?
It was a good question. I knew I was a horror writer, but I didn’t feel comfortable with this horror. In a way, I didn’t feel good about what this horror could say about me. I’d had a couple of ideas like that. It was as if the thought behind them was too dark, too grim for me to face ever coming from me.
Thinking like that, I turned my attention to those other little ideas I’d been toying with. Each of them was tackling a stage in someone’s like. The children playing on the moors. The young man travelling alone. The middle aged man tormented by guilt. The older man who was trying to live with his demons as best he could. The four ages of men, I remember scrawling in my notes. I underlined it. Ringed it in question marks. That was more interesting than what I’d been trying to write for months.
Those four stories could be linked. Maybe not by characters, but by the ideas behind them. After all, it was the ideas behind the horror stories that were distracting me. The idea that telling a horror story was about expressing something horrific either within yourself, or something that had happened to you. That was when Thomas Singer was born. An older author than myself. A recluse. A man with some mild success and a cult following. His fans believed Thomas was holding back a few stories to only be released after his death. Five stories that possibly spoke of a secret he would take to his grave. So, I killed him off and the book became his final release. His confession, through the act of telling stories.
All those separate little stories I’d been trying not to write slotted together so nicely. I wrote an introduction for the book as myself and then an intro to each story. Finally, I wrote an afterword from Mr Singer himself.
I remember sending off the novel when it was finished and feeling strangely shell shocked by the experience. I’d heard so many stories about what it was like to write your first novel. None of them were right. Mine had started just by walking out into the dark and thinking I’d be okay.
At thirty-six years of age, Christopher Long is a relatively young writer. But when you read his writing, you realise he is older than beyond his years. He has the horror and torment of a million tortured souls in his work.
Dark, supernatural stories are his life blood. His first shocking novella, The Compressionist, is a scary tale about a man that feeds on the very life force of people and has done since the dawn of time. It was published early Spring of 2014.
He writes like a man possessed. Maybe he is? He sure seems older than his years suggest. No one dare go up in his attic to see if there is a picture of his good self that might be changing.
His second novella, The Final Restoration of Wendell Pruce, a tragic tale of a recently retired thespian who finds something very strange in the grounds of his seaside retreat. Was published in the summer of 2014.
His third novella, The Narrow Doors, a tale that proves sometimes you should leave the past buried, was also published.
Then all three of these were released as part of a novel length collection, Christopher Long’s Unusual Things.
These books and three further novellas – The Beast of Belfield, The Count of Three, and The Wooden Walls, Christopher Long’s Unusual Things volume 2 and the Righteous Judges were all published in 2015 as part of Kensington Gore’s Hammered Horror book series.
This series showcases new, exciting, horror writing talent. And they don’t come much more talented than Christopher Long. He has a back catalogue of work that Stephen King or Kensington Gore himself would be proud of.
His debut novel Something Needs Bleeding, was a ground-breaking novel where he edited the last stories of mysterious horror writer Thomas Singer is a horror tour de force.
A further two novels are in the pipeline, or sewer pipe in Christopher Long’s case. The next is early 2017 and we at KGHH Publishing can’t wait.
Christopher has been writing stories since he was first able to hold a pen. Reportedly his first book collection, Tales from the Crib, would scare any nursery school or kindergarten.
It all began for Chris when someone gave him their copy of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and he hasn’t looked back since. If only in fear that someone’s going to hit him with the library late returns fee.
For Chris, stories are a means of escape. Not always to a place your average person or writer would go, but a dark, scary place that Chris feels most at home. The dark places that are in all our minds.
He is happily married to the lovely Samantha, or “Her Highness” as she likes to be called. They live in the midlands of England, which is a bit like Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but with just a few less Orcs! And where Sam refuses to let Chris read her his bedtime stories, as he told her one once and she didn’t sleep for a month.
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