Grand Theft Octo – Promo Gallery

Promo images of Grand Theft Octo

To promote the release of my latest novel Grand Theft Octo, I’ve been sharing promotional images on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Here they all are, along with their quotes, in one handy place:

Jonathan Doe - Professional Octopus Teaser

“Octopus owners until now have been thinking, ‘My octopus is sluggish, sure, but they’re docile creatures.’ Bullshit, I’m saying, you’ve just got a boring octopus in need of a good teasing. Listen, don’t expect it to turn into the sea life of the party. It won’t somersault from the tank like a dolphin or do a flawless impression of Sir Michael Caine, but after I’m done you’ll own a livelier, friendlier and more interesting invertebrate. And you’ll notice the difference within twenty-four hours.” – Jonathan Doe, Professional Octopus Teaser

Herbert Malt from Grand Theft Octo

“Teasing an octopus is nothing so vulgar as a bullfight. It’s an act of precision, the threading of a needle. I began my training by convincing cats to climb down trees just by frowning at them.” – Herbert Malt, Apprentice Octopus Teaser

Holly Sarashina from Grand Theft Octo

“I’ve rather wear a mask than live in a hall of mirrors.” – Holly Sarashina, Lady of the Dead

Hank Butterfield from Grand Theft Octo

“Hank Butterfield is smiling right at me. Against my own wishes, my heart skips a beat. I’d always assumed I was immune to being star-struck but all I want to do is giggle like a teenage girl and throw my knickers at him. He bids his crowd farewell and strolls toward us while sniffing his martini. I’m so excited about him coming over that I feel weirdly violated.” – Jonathan Doe, Reluctant Hank Butterfield Fan

Harry Jenkins from Grand Theft Octo

“I try to remember the Harry I knew, the man who met insults with wounded smiles, so terrified of treading on toes that he ended up sidling through life. Who are we, truly, deep down? The child we outgrow or the shell we become?” – Jonathan Doe, Professional Plant Killer

Rupert Whistler from Grand Theft Octo

“That’s it. Down the steps, one at a time. Not too slowly, not too snappy. If you get too snappy, I might snap, and I can be a very scary gator.” – Rupert Whistler, Man of Leisure

Lewis Caputo from Grand Theft Octo

“The only way to never get whiplash is to never slow down.” – Lewis Caputo, Hotdog in the Centre

Gertrude Pot Plant from Grand Theft Octo

“Caring for plants is a delicate form of starvation. Of water, food and affection. You can’t give one species too much attention. It’s a process of balance. You shall be Libra, holding the scales.” – Harry Jenkins, Lord of the Plants

Green Man from Grand Theft Octo

“You know when you wait at the side of the road for the little green man to appear? Well today we are the green man. Nothing is going to stop us. Beep beep.” – Jonathan Doe, Professional Octopus Kidnapper

If those pictures and quotes have piqued your curiosity, Grand Theft Octo is available in ebook ($2.99) and paperback ($7.99) from Amazon right now. You can also read the first couple of chapters for free there too. Do you have a favourite image or quote from the gallery? Are you even more baffled about what the book’s actually about? Here’s a brief synopsis, to help you find your way:

When Jonathan Doe is fired from his office job for stealing too much stationery, he becomes an entrepreneur of businesses the world has never seen. After a disastrous start at freelance taxidermy, he moves onto professional octopus teasing. Will he fail again or make his fortune? Is he really a professional or just a con artist? Desperate to succeed, his plans become more outlandish, from stealing theme park mascots at gunpoint to fighting deranged restaurant tycoons. As the enemies he makes seek revenge, both his life and business are threatened, until his world spirals into mayhem and violence. Set in the fictional city of Vestibue, England, Grand Theft Octo is a wild and hilarious ride that strikes at the heart of aspirational culture.

Grand Theft Octo – What is Octopus Teasing?

Jonathan Doe - Professional Octopus Teaser

Meet Jonathan Doe

I’ve just released my latest novel, Grand Theft Octo. It’s available in paperback and ebook from Amazon worldwide. The narrator, Jonathan Doe, becomes the world’s most unusual businessman after being fired from his mundane office job for stealing too much stationery. First off, he tries his hand at professional plant-watering. This is soon followed by freelance taxidermy. Due to his irrational hatred of plants, and total lack of experience at taxidermy, neither go well. That’s when he has a brainwave: professional octopus teasing. Doe believes this unconventional (and some might say utterly insane) business idea will earn him a fortune from the affluent and gullible. To find out if he succeeds, you’ll have to read the book, but let’s hear from Doe himself about his business plan.

Professional Octopus Teaser

I’m opening gaps in markets that don’t even exist. When someone reads my advert, the gap opens up. They think: Perhaps my octopus needs to be teased. It floats in its tank forlornly, and maybe it needs pizzazz.

Clear the stage, enter Jonathan Doe.

People never stay happy for long. If someone’s dream is owning a pet octopus, they’ll feel like a king on the day they bring their own home. But soon they get peckish. They browse catalogues for nifty treats to buy their beloved invertebrate: a bigger tank, a fifty-kilo Tufa rock with artificial corals, a little waterproof tuxedo to wear for Sunday best.

Octopus teasing costs a premium. It’s deluxe, a luxury. No one else provides it, so I’ve already got the monopoly. I’m going at 360 different angles. It’s therapeutic for the octopus, a treat, a way to say sorry. I need to get word on the octopus circuit, work an interview into Regional Aquatic and come out with this sort of stuff: “It’s like a massage for your octopus, based on scientific research and new understanding of their anatomy.”

Everything’s on its mark. I’m going to make a fortune. According to my research, octopi are rather dull. Many only sneak out of their corners for meals while others get scared at the drop of a hat and fart out a payload of ink. Octopus owners until now have been thinking: My octopus is sluggish, sure, but they’re docile creatures. Bullshit, I’m saying, you’ve just got a boring octopus in need of a good teasing. Listen, don’t expect it to turn into the sea life of the party. It won’t somersault from the tank like a dolphin or do a flawless impression of Sir Michael Caine, but after I’m done you’ll own a livelier, friendlier and more interesting invertebrate. And you’ll notice the difference within twenty-four hours.

I’m not planning to scam anyone. If you look for a difference, you see a difference. It’s tabloid astrology. You see what you want and ignore the rest. “Wow!” people gasp after reading their star sign. “I do have money trouble!” Let’s get it straight, nobody’s a prophet. You’re not the only chump who’s short on cash and matters of the heart are always convoluted. So let Jonathan Doe read your sign. You’ve got a boring octopus and I’m here to jazz it up. “I’ve just had my octopus teased,” you explain, “and this morning it span like a top while changing colour.” All octopi do that, you fool. It’s nothing to do with me. Coincidence, people. There’s gold in them hills.

Michael Caine With Octopus

Is Octopus Teasing Right for You?

Clearly, Doe talks the talk. Whether octopus teasing is a worthwhile service or it’s simply his eloquence and verve that attracts customers is one of the main questions posed by the book. Doe is a showman as much as a salesman. He sells things to people they never knew they needed. Some are delighted by this, others furious. As you can see from the above extract, octopus teasing itself is a satire of aspirational culture. It mocks both the consumers who are so easily duped and the cynical advertisers who make us want their products. Throughout the story, the reader wonders whether Doe is really just in it for the money or if he’s a misunderstood artist hiding behind the posture of a conman.

If you enjoyed this edited extract of Grand Theft Octo and would like to see Jonathan Doe in action, I hope you’ll consider buying the book or reading the sample chapters which are available at Amazon.

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Book Launch – Grand Theft Octo by Niels Saunders

Niels Saunders - Grand Theft Octo Cover
Hello everyone. Yes, I am still alive. Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. As you can probably tell from the fact that I’m launching a book, I’ve been extremely busy, well, writing a book.

It’s called Grand Theft Octo and is now available to buy in paperback and ebook from Amazon. Here’s the synopsis:

When Jonathan Doe is fired from his office job for stealing too much stationery, he becomes an entrepreneur of businesses the world has never seen. After a disastrous start at freelance taxidermy, he moves onto professional octopus teasing. Will he fail again or make his fortune? Is he really a professional or just a con artist? Desperate to succeed, his plans become more outlandish, from stealing theme park mascots at gunpoint to fighting deranged restaurant tycoons. As the enemies he makes seek revenge, both his life and business are threatened, until his world spirals into mayhem and violence. Set in the fictional city of Vestibue, England, Grand Theft Octo is a wild and hilarious ride that strikes at the heart of aspirational culture.

For those of you who read my last book, Mervyn vs. Dennis, you’ll either be delighted or despondent to hear there are no pineapples in this one and almost no toilet humour at all.

Here are the links, for your purchasing pleasure:

UK ebook £1.99:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niel…/…/B071V8XRQC

UK paperback £5.99:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niel…/…/1521121516

US ebook $2.99:

https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niels-…/…/B071V8XRQC

US paperback $7.99:

https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niels-…/…/1521121516

It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited, if you’re a subscriber.

I hope you’ll check it out. Thanks everyone!

Video Review of Mervyn vs. Dennis

I’m still at the stage in my writing career where every review is special to me. I’ve recently had a couple of great ones from talented bloggers Shaun Green and Sadie Forsythe , who both wrote insightful and witty critiques of Mervyn vs. Dennis. Alongside these, something new and exciting has just happened: my first ever video review. It’s by J. Cassidy (or perhaps Faye Kename) who runs a great blog called 6twistedbiscuits specialising in comedy and book reviews. She’s also a talented writer and game developer herself, so be sure to check out her site and work too. Here it is:

Don’t forget to like and subscribe to her channel!

Interview: A Friend We Later Regretted

Here’s a quick interview with me about Mervyn vs. Dennis:

LITERARY TITAN

Niels Saunders Author Interview Niels Saunders Author Interview

Mervyn vs. Dennis is one of the funnest books I’ve read this year. Mervyn struggles with keeping his strange and intrusive boss out of his personal life. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Mervyn and Dennis?

Most of us have made a friend that we later regretted. I wanted to take that idea to its furthest extreme. Likewise, unless you’ve never worked or been extremely lucky, you’ve probably had a boss who made your life a living hell. Both of these situations are familiar comedy tropes but I wanted to combine them into something fresh. In both personality and outlook, Mervyn and Dennis couldn’t be more different. Mervyn is liberal and open-minded whereas Dennis is bigoted and mean-spirited. I wanted to explore whether two such disparate men could ever reconcile their differences or if they’d clash until the bitter end. During the writing process…

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Writing Tips: The Author as God

The Author as God by Niels Saunders

Don’t mess with Zeus

As an author, you are god to your characters. No matter their religious beliefs, when your characters pray to their own gods, they are really praying to an empty sky. You, as god, decide which prayers to answer and which to ignore. Likewise, if your characters are atheists, you choose whether to fulfil or crush their irreligious hopes and dreams. As authors, we play god, and we have to choose what kind of god we’ll be. Will we be a vengeful and interventionist Old Testament style deity? Or will we be a caring and peaceful god who loves their characters like their own children? The choice you make will make a huge impact on the style, tone and content of your story, so it’s wise to consider what kind of god you’ll be before you start writing.

Playing God by the Rules

First off, you need ground rules. In my writing, as god, I have control over luck, the weather and coincidences. This means if a character goes to a casino, it’s entirely up to me whether they win or lose. Likewise, I decide if it’s sunny or rainy. This is where John Ruskin’s pathetic fallacy comes into play. We can use the weather to mirror a character’s emotions or we can use it ironically as a contrast. It’s something of a cliché to have a broken-hearted character walk through rainy streets but it doesn’t have to be so dramatic. A depressed character, for example, is more likely to notice the grey clouds in the sky than the warm and pleasant breeze on their face.

Don’t Reveal Yourself

As god, you have a responsibility not to reveal yourself. Imagine having a character who won the lottery ten weeks in a row. Both your character and your reader wouldn’t believe it. By fixing the odds irresponsibly, you’ve broken the reader’s suspension of disbelief and also likely driven your character insane. They might, understandably, start to believe they’ve been blessed by a higher power. This would cause them to act irrationally and doubt the very order of the universe itself. This could make a good starting off point for a story but you’d have to balance all that good luck with something else to satisfy the reader’s desire for order. If a character prays, they are actually praying to you. If you choose to answer back, you’ll have to accept the consequences.

Telling a Good Story

What does a good story typically need? Conflict. As god, it’s your job to engineer situations whereby characters will find themselves entrenched in conflict. This is where it starts getting tricky to be a benevolent god. If you grant all your characters’ wishes, your story will be over. Therefore, you have to take a step back and allow your characters to achieve them on their own. Unfortunately, happiness is rarely interesting for long. To tell a compelling story, we need our characters to struggle and suffer. For the greater good of your story, you have to be cruel to be kind. As always, though, it’s a balance. Be too cruel and the reader may become so depressed they can’t even finish your book.

The Power of Free Will

As a god, you have a lot of power, but you also have your limits. Never force your characters to do things they don’t want to. It’s tempting to do this if you have a great idea and want the character to fulfil it, but I can guarantee one thing: if you allow your characters to make their own decisions, they’ll do something more interesting than what you had planned. If you force your godly will upon your characters, there’s a good chance your characters will revolt and you’ll suffer from writer’s block. Throw as many obstacles in their path as you want but never influence their will. If you want to change their mind, try doing it obliquely through metaphors and coincidences. In this way, your characters’ interaction with their god (you) may well mirror your own interaction with God (if you’re a believer).

Do You Believe in Fate?

If you’ve sketched out your story in a plan, you may have plotted the deaths of certain characters. In my experience, these rarely change. This might contradict what I said above about free will but if you’ve decided a certain character is fated to die, it’s likely you’ve foreshadowed that death and made it such an integral part of the story that they simply have to die. This is one place where, as an author, you can make death mean more than it does in real life. Whereas death in our own world often seems random, pointless and cruel, in our stories, death is a narrative device to drive or resolve conflict. Have fun killing your characters but make sure it means something.

Authors Work in Mysterious Ways

As writers we are bound to the conventions of storytelling. Readers expect mysteries to be revealed and conflicts to be resolved. As the author, it’s up to you choose if you’re a fickle god or not. Will you punish the good guy and reward the bad? Will the wishes you grant be double-edged swords? A lot of it is guided by the kind of story we want to tell, whether moralistic or nihilistic. For the sake of a good story, I tend to put my characters through the wringer. On more than one occasion, I’ve had characters directly curse me, as their god, for the situations I’ve engineered. The weird thing is, I adore them all. My characters are like my kids. Even though I love them, I want them to have compelling stories, so I make bad things happen to them (which I wouldn’t wish upon my real life kids).

What Kind of God Are You?

Are you benevolent? Malevolent? An interventionist? Do you agree that characters should have their own free will? Let me know in the comments!

Update: Here’s a great  piece of flash fiction from mythicalmusingsblog that was inspired by this post!

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20 Questions ~ Chapter 3

Here’s 20 questions about me via the very talented Evie Gaughan’s blog.

Evie Gaughan

book_nerd1

Next up for the quick-fire round of 20 questions is newcomer Niels Saunders.  The most important thing you need to know about Niels? Do Not Challenge This Man To A Chili Eating Competition!  You will lose.  And if you want to find out why he’s holding a pineapple, you’ll have to read his book.  Take it away Niels!

Niels Saunders, Author of Mervyn vs. Dennis ‘God I love a good pineapple’

1. Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Where the hell do you find the motivation to stick at it?
Once I invent a character, they’re extremely pushy. They demand to have their story told and won’t let me rest. Writing is the only way I can get them to shut up. Stories are like secrets : they demand to be told. As storytellers, it’s our duty to tell them the best we…

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