{SSS! Series 2 Announcement} Short Sharp Shocks! #51 – Unbecoming Me & Other Interruptions: Christopher Stanley

Demain Publishing Unleash Short Sharp Shocks! Series Two

September 18th 2020 sees Demain Publishing releases the next 5 titles in their incredibly successful Short Sharp Shocks! series.

The authors involved in this latest wave of horror will be (#51) Christopher Stanley, (#52) Jess Doyle, (#53) James Marx, (#54) Lee Allen Howard & (#55) Kev Harrison

All art will again be from the incredibly talented Adrian Baldwin.

Over the next 5 days, Kendall Reviews will be revealing each title from the first batch of Season Two.

Short Sharp Shocks! #51

Unbecoming Me & Other Interruptions: Christopher Stanley

A chilling new short story collection from the author of The Forest is Hungry and The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales. 

In DEVIL’S REACH, a frantic father boards a ferry, hoping to save his daughter and escape his wife. But nothing is as it seems as the ferry sails into darkness, and there are forces at work he won’t begin to understand until it’s too late. 

In HELL’S TEETH, a young girl enlists the help of supernatural forces to exact revenge on the school bully, only to find she can’t live with guilt.  

And in the final story, UNBECOMING ME, a young man’s desperate search for love takes an unexpected turn after he’s rejected by the woman of his dreams. 

Dark, sinister and unforgiving – Unbecoming Me and Other Interruptions will make you want to sleep with the lights on. 

(cover by Adrian Baldwin)

You can buy Unbecoming Me & Other Interruptions from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Christopher Stanley Talks To Demain Publishing

(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 31st August 2020 HERE)

DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Great to see you again Christopher! It’s a pleasure to work with you again, so, first things first can you tell us what was your first introduction to the horror genre?

CHRISTOPHER STANLEY: And great to be here! I think my first introduction to horror was a collection of short stories I came across in my school library when I was 10 or 11 years old. I can barely remember anything about it now, other than a vague recollection of the cover, and that it contained a mix of ghost and monster stories. I felt differently about that book to the other things I was reading at the time. The stories were dangerous, unpredictable, and exciting. I’m sure that’s what sparked my interest. And that’s why libraries are so important – they’re a chance to browse and discover new things.

DP: Ah, I know what you mean, when I was a kid I picked up a ghost annual (or something) by Daniel Farson so totally know where you’re coming from. So, your new Short Sharp Shocks!?

CS: My latest contribution to the Short Sharp Shocks series starts in much the same way as my previous one—with a father running to save his daughter. That’s also where the plot similarities end.  I tried to write my first SSS book, The Forest is Hungry, with the sensibilities of a thriller. It was supposed to be a page-turner. The new book is different. It’s a collection of three short horror stories: Devil’s ReachHell’s Teeth and Unbecoming Me; all of which I’ve written with more focus on character.  In Devil’s Reach, I channelled my inner-Ramsey Campbell by taking normal situations and playing with them to create a sense of creeping unease. Hell’s Teeth was supposed to be a flash fiction story, based on the premise of re-transacting with a classic fantasy figure. Subsequent drafts grew longer as the young girl at the heart of the story, having tasted victory, decided she wanted more. The title story, Unbecoming Me, is a coming-of-age tale with a couple of significant twists. Growing up is so damned hard at the best of times, and the narrator in Unbecoming Me was in for a shock (or two) as he tried to juggle university with his lifelong search for requited love.

DP: We really loved the stories and the Ramsey Campbell ‘comparison’ is spot on. Personally I think Hell’s Teeth would make a cracking short film. In writing this collection, did you have to do much research?

CS: I cheated with a couple of these stories. I often find myself researching locations when I’m writing—making special trips, scrutinising photos I’ve found online, and talking to people who know the areas better than I do. In this collection, Devil’s Reach is set on a ferry crossing I’ve made many times, while Unbecoming Me takes place at The University of Birmingham, where I read Economics (more years ago than I’d care to admit). The school in Hell’s Teeth isn’t based on an actual school—it’s a composite of schools I attended when I was growing up.

DP: And did you find the collection particularly difficult to write

CS: Yeah, the stories in this collection were tricky, to say the least. Trying to make the characters authentic, while moving the plot forward at a sensible pace, growing the tension, and not neglecting the horror, is the literary equivalent of spinning plates. A lot of plates. Once you start setting scenes, hinting at subplots, and weaving in backstory, there are many things that can go wrong. I guess that’s the craft. That’s what we try to do.

DP: Indeed we do. What would you say is your biggest success creatively to date?

CS: Every Christmas, I reflect on the previous year and consider what I’ve achieved with my writing that I hadn’t done previously. Being relatively new to the writing scene, and having so far managed to avoid any kind of overnight success, it’s easy enough to plot a steady upward trajectory in my writing achievements—getting published, winning competitions, selling stories, being asked to write a blurb etc. It’s satisfying.  Last year’s highlight was The Forest is Hungry–my first standalone publication. This year, I reached another career milestone with the publication of my flash horror collection, The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales. That was an incredible experience. I’m really proud of the result, too, with cover art by Kealan Patrick Burke and an introduction by Sunday Times bestselling author Christina Dalcher. So yes, I guess that’s my biggest success to date.

DP: Thoroughly deserved! What books/authors does Christopher Stanley read and are they an influence?

CS: Over the past few years, I’ve read and loved a lot of books by a lot of different authors. Amongst the highlights have been a handful of Ellen Datlow anthologies, including two Best Horror of the Year anthologies, and her recent ghost story anthology, Echoes. I know Datlow’s tastes are a little literary for some, but each of the anthologies I read contained many more hits than misses. More importantly, for someone returning to horror after a prolonged absence, they introduced me to some incredible writers—Nathan Ballingrud, Gemma Files, Paul Tremblay, Robert Shearman, Carole Johnston, John Langan, Alison Littlewood, Rio Youers and Bracken MacLeod, to name a few.

DP: Some cracking names there for sure. Um, okay, so what is Christopher Stanley scared of?

CS: As a father, I spend at least twenty-four hours a day worrying about my kids—their health, safety and wellbeing, and the amount of time they spend playing computer games. I think that’s why children show up in so many of my stories. The father in Unbecoming Me, like the father in The Forest is Hungry, is motivated by a desire to save his child. There’s no point at which he’ll stop or give up—these cease to be options once you become a parent.

DP: And finally, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?

CS: By some strange quirk of fate (let’s call it ‘marriage’), my father-in-law is Vincent Price. Not the Vincent Price, but I can pretend.

DP: Oh, that’s just brilliant. Well, Christopher the best of luck with your new Short Sharp Shocks!

Christopher Stanley

Christopher Stanley lives on a hill in England with three sons who share a birthday but aren’t triplets. He is the author of numerous prize-winning flash fictions, the darkest of which can be found spreading misery and mayhem in his debut collection, The Lamppost Huggers and Other Wretched Tales (The Arcanist, June 2020). He’s also the author of the horror novelette, The Forest is Hungry (Demain Publishing, April 2019).

When he’s not taking the ferry to France, or revisiting his old university stomping ground, Christopher can be found lurking in the shadowy corners of Twitter @allthosestrings or looking for inspiration amongst the many splendid shelves of Goodreads.

Visit the Official Christopher Stanley website www.christopherstanleyauthor.com

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