Best of the Best

What’s the best character you’ve ever written? What’s the one character you wish you’d written? These are the hard questions I like to put to other authors, but rarely like answering myself. (Don’t worry, I do answer this one)

The Dolls had to answer me, or else I’d be bitchy at them for weeks, so here are the best characters they’ve written, and/or the one they wish they’d written:


41ZPP0T6czLKatrina: I wish I’d written Calamity Leek from The First Book of Calamity Leek. I love kid characters in adult books, but especially ones that have one over on the adults–they see more, learn more, do more… Calamity is a force to be reckoned with at only ten or eleven years old in her clan of crazy, heathen sisters.




41Es7snNtSL._SY346_Christian: What’s with all these impossible fucking questions? Jesus. That’s not my answer, by the way. Okay, not a lot of people know this but I’m a fan of David Morrell, the Canadian writer, and I always wish I’d written First Blood. Rambo might come across as a bit cheesy and contrived in this day and age, but the original character is fascinatingly written. Complex yet very simple, which is extremely difficult to do. By the way, the book has a lot more depth and is a great deal darker than the film. human wasteI did try to write a Rambo-esque character in Human Waste (Dan Pallister), but my attempt was admittedly weak in comparison to Morrell’s. If Dan Pallister and Rambo had a fight, I’ve no doubt Rambo would win.




41sXIOOerTLPeter: Ella Jenkins, The Broken Doll, was a lot of fun to write. I tried to make sure that she came across as both vulnerable and dangerous in equal measure.





Michael: Elsie McBride as a study in corruption. She is the darkest and most substantial character I’ve written, because over the three books in the forthcoming Gift Trilogy, she has time to develop and grow. We first see her as a baby in a bottom drawer.

Liam: I like them all, but I’m admittedly a bit biased.


519bglyu4tLRenee: I wish I’d written Owen Meany, from John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. That character has haunted me since high school and I’d love to craft such a memorable personality.

As for the best character I’ve ever written. It’s hard to choose. Carroll Albert from In the Bones, Jack from The Legend of Jackson Murphy, and Milo Smalls, from Mad. I love Elwin from Cats Like Cream too, and Gopher, a secondary character in Eat the Rich… I guess it’s like children. You can’t pick a favorite.


51cbmMqXruLSteve: I am best known for Brandon Thighmaster, a monk who subverts everything about monks. Instead of seeking enlightenment by turning away from the self, his temple seeks perfection through utter self-obsession. In short, I get to write a kung fu monk who is guilelessly in love with himself, and thinks he’s far more awesome than he is. A good friend of mine pointed out that Brandon Thighmaster is a dumb white guy’s misunderstanding of eastern mysticism, ignoring all the deep stuff in favour of wicked abs and showy spin kicks. He was absolutely right.

What about the rest of you? Any character you wish you’d written? Or, I guess we can turn this around and ask  you what’s the WORST character ever written?



Free Promo for Indie Writers

By Chris Saunders


I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about marketing. Then I’d be rich, and I wouldn’t have to worry about marketing. Not every indie writer has a huge budget. Or even a modest one. Most have no marketing budget at all. The good news is, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need one. This article explains how to grow your platform, and maximise your marketing potential with minimum financial outlay.

The mistake a lot of inexperienced writers seem to make is in assuming that there’s ONE thing they can do, one trick they can employ, which will guarantee sales, and they spend a lot of time and energy trying to uncover this mythical secret. I’m going to tell you right now that there isn’t one. Or if there is, I’m yet to discover it. Promotion is an ongoing project, a constant battle, and there is no quick fix. Keep in mind there is a lot of trial and error involved, and what works for one may not work for another.

A good place to start are those social media channels which most of us use daily anyway; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Bebo, LinkedIn, whatever your poison. You don’t need all of them, but you do need several, and link them so if you post on one, it automatically feeds to the others. This is easily done under ‘settings’ on most platforms. Post a lot. More than once a day. Get in the habit of using relevant #hashtags and be interesting. Don’t just post links to your book and expect people to rush out and buy it. They probably won’t. Engage your audience and make them care about you. When people are being bombarded by ads and spam at every turn, you have to stand out.

On these platforms, search for and follow like-minded people, join groups based around genres you write in, and get involved in public discussions. Be a presence. Actively seek out other writers and share their links. Be selective, though. It’s no good championing period drama books if you are trying to build a true crime audience. You often find that writers and other creative types reciprocate. This is how you gain new followers who can then be converted into readers. When someone shares your link, always ‘like’ the post and say ‘thank you,’ because this influences algorithms and suchlike which bumps the post so it becomes visible to more people.

Perhaps most importantly, you are going to need an online hub, a base. A professionally-built website would be advantageous, but these cost money. The next best thing is a WordPress or Wix site which, with a bit of love, can be made to look just as good. Again, post regularly, weekly or bi-weekly, and link it to your other social media platforms. It’s the only way to build a following. You need a steady stream of content, but this isn’t too difficult to achieve. If, for example, you have a new release coming out in August, pre-release you can whet people’s appetites with an announcement post and a cover reveal, then follow it up with a celebratory post on the day of release, and later an extract or an explanatory post or two explaining to readers why you wrote that particular story or focusing on some aspect of the process. It’s not difficult to get six or eight posts out of a single release. In and around these, write the occasional book or movie review or opinion piece, and you have that steady stream of content. Don’t forget to devote a section of your blog to your books, and be sure to provide cover images and buying links.

Now we are getting to the nitty gritty. The stuff that not every writer does, but perhaps should. Firstly, set up specialised author pages on Facebook and Amazon so people can find you easily. Be mindful that Amazon has different ‘branches’ in different locales, so you need to set up two; and your country’s Amazon if you are based outside the US. Also think about joining or starting a ‘collective,’ of authors who cross-promote and support each other and arrange a few ‘personal appearances.’ Most libraries, education centres, and even coffee shops welcome local authors who arrange signings or readings there. It’s good for business. Post about these appearances on social media.

Next, consider undertaking a blog tour. This is a simple matter of identifying a selection of websites and blogs within your niche area, contacting them, and asking if you could write a guest post for them, or do an author interview, or maybe even a giveaway or competition. This is a great way of reaching a wider audience, and some places even pay for content. When each piece comes out, share the links on your social networks. Spread your ‘appearances’ out over a few weeks or months to maximise impact, and when the tour is over write a blog post about it.

See how all the components fit together?

Yes, all this requires time and effort, but if you want to sell books, it needs to be done. Nothing in life is truly free.

C.M. Saunders is a freelance journalist and editor from Wales. His work has appeared in over 70 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide, including Loaded, Maxim, Record Collector, Fortean Times, Fantastic Horror, Trigger Warning, Liquid imagination, Crimson Streets and the Literary Hatchet. His books have been both traditionally and independently published, the most recent being X3, his third collection of short fiction, which is available now on Deviant Dolls Publications.


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