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Book of the Bloodless Volume 1:

Alternative Afterlives

Quick links on this page:

buy the book  - about the book - reviews - book cover - book launch

Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives is a collection of my short stories published by Victorina Press, an independent UK publishing house who follow principles of bibliodiversity. The book was officially released on 30th November 2019.

Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives

Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives by Christopher Fielden

Cover designed by David Whitlam

Buy Alternative Afterlives

Alternative Afterlives is currently available from:

Alternative Afterlives at Foyles

Alternative Afterlives at Victorina Press

Alternative Afterlives at Waterstones

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About The Anthology

The book contains 14 of my short stories, many of which have won awards. All of the stories are themed around death. The genre is humorous fantasy.

International Book Awards Finalist Badge

The book has been awarded the title of 'Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: Short Story category of the 2019 International Book Awards', sponsored by American Book Fest.

International Book Awards Finalist: Fiction Short Story

Screenshot from the International Book Awards website for the category Fiction: Short Story

The book's cover won Author Shout's Cover Wars in December 2019. Congratulations to David Whitlam, the artist who designed the cover.

Author Shout Cover Wars winner of best book cover

Screenshot of Author Shout's Facebook post, announcing the winner

The stories in the book are:

  1. Death of a Superhero (click the link to read the story on the Victorina Press website)
  2. Devil's Crush (click link to read an excerpt)
  3. The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle (click link to read an excerpt)
  4. Troll's Head
  5. The El Paso Phantom Feeder
  6. The Cat, the Bull and the Madman (click link to read an excerpt)
  7. Mr Kill (click link to read an excerpt)
  8. The Treasure No Thief Can Steal (click link to read an excerpt)
  9. Shot in the Head and Left for Dead
  10. Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap
  11. I Am the Warlock
  12. The Day My Prayers Were Answered
  13. The Keith Of Death
  14. Bloodless (listen to an early version of the story performed at the Bristol Festival of Literature below)

'Bloodless', performed by Christopher Fielden and Christie Cluett at Talking Tales, a short story reading event run in conjunction with the Bristol Festival of Literature

Many of these stories have been published before, in magazines, anthologies and online. Please note that the versions featured in this book have been edited extensively and some are very different to those previously published.

Victorina Press

Victorina Press logo

Excerpts of some of the stories featured in the book are available to read for free in the Short Stories section of this website, or by clicking the links in the list of stories above.

What other people have said about Alternative Afterlives:

'These darkly comic tales place the author snugly between Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Be sure: Chris Fielden is one funny feller.' Allen Ashley, British Fantasy Award winner

'Sharp, subversive and always surprising, Chris's stories are like hiking without a GPS – you think you know where you're going but you end up somewhere else.' Dr Lynda Nash, creative writing tutor

'Extraordinarily good. Darkly laconic humour that made me smile, often when I felt as if I shouldn't.' Sue Moorcroft, Writers’ Forum

'Immaculately crafted stories that hold the attention through every unexpected twist. Keeps the reader surprised, amused and engaged.' Dr John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, founder of Writers’ Village

'There is excellent use of humour and the writing is colourful and bold.' Anthony Howcroft, founder and Executive Chairman of InkTears

Reviews

Below, you will find links to reviews along with quotes about the book:

  • Review by Dr Lynda Nash, creative writing tutor – "This is such an easy book to read because Fielden's prose is feather-light. The stories are original, cliche-less and quirky - and if you think you can guess the direction they are going then you'd be wrong."
  • Review by KM Elkes, author of All That Is Between Us – "It is a book that has echoes of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, in the way it contains intriguing flights of fantasy while regularly subverting expectations. Read a few of these tales of the afterlife and you could well be dying to read some more."
  • Review by Sara Rebotim, book addict and reviewer – "Absolutely loved every story in this book - impossible not to like!"
  • Review by Steph Minns, author of The Obsidian Path"Guaranteed to bring a chuckle and often a little thought provoking too, I thoroughly recommend this collection."

You can see more on Goodreads and in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

List of Advance Readers

Below is a list of advance readers, who have been kind enough to review the book prior to its publication.

Ann Leander, Barnaby Page, Caroline Price, Dan Brotzel, Dave Langdale, Eileen Baldwin, Gail Everett, J. Rosina Harlow, Jennifer Elphame Meyer, KM Elkes, Lesley Anne Truchet, Lynda Nash, Lynn Zeleski, Mark Rutterford, Martin Strike, Mel Ciavucco, Mike Scott Thomson, Pat Mudge, Paul Mastaglio, Sara Rebotim, Steph Minns and Steven Jenkins.

The Book's Cover

The book cover for Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives was designed by David Whitlam.

Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives full book cover

Dave also created 14 pieces of artwork for the interior of the book. One accompanies each story. Below is an example. It's the picture that accompanies 'I Am the Warlock'.

I Am The Warlock short story by Christopher Fielden

Interior artwork: 'I Am the Warlock'

David Whitlam is a surrealist artist and illustrator from Stockport. From an early age, he showed signs of a vivid imagination and a talent for drawing. He graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2000 with a degree in Graphic Art and Illustration.

Since then, David’s artwork has adorned more than 20 book covers, including work for award winning authors like Ramsey Campbell, Gary McMahon and Christopher Fielden. He works in a variety of mediums, often combing traditional drawings and paintings with digital art.

David’s paintings have been exhibited in galleries in the UK and US and have sold to collectors around the world.

You can learn more about Dave and his artwork on his website.

Christopher Fielden and David Whitlam

Chris Fielden and Dave Whitlam, pictured in Manchester, UK

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Book Launch

The book launch party took place on Saturday 30th November 2019 at Max Minerva's Marvellous Books, 39 North View, Westbury Park, Bristol, BS6 7PY.

Jess and Chris at Max Minerva's Marvellous Books

Chris with Jess, who runs Max Minerva's Marvellous Books

Sophie and Jorge from Victorina Press came to Bristol for the event. I did a reading of 'Death of a Superhero', sophie talked about Victorina Press and we did a short Q&A session.

There were drinks and nibbles and a wide variety of cake (thank you Mum) and, of course, lots of lovely books. I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who attended - your support is very much appreciated.

Below are some pictures taken by Tom Parker and Mel Ciavucco at the event.

Chris Fielden and Sophie Lloyd-Owen from Victorina Press

Chris Fielden and Sophie Lloyd-Owen from Victorina Press

Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives

Lots of copies of Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives

Christopher Fielden reading a short story

Me, reading 'Death of a Superhero', one of the short stories in the book

Book launch audience

Some of the lovely people who attended the launch, featuring my frighteningly bald head bottom left (WTF HAS HAPPENED TO ALL MY HAIR)

Stokes Croft Writers

Some of my awesome writing group, Stokes Croft Writers - without their critiques, help and support, this book simply wouldn't exist - they are LEGENDS

Chris and Sophie, talking about publishing

Me and Sophie, talking about serious publishing stuff. Or cats. We do like cats.

Book launch

Some more of the lovely people who attended the launch

Chris and Andy

Me and Andy, looking very pleased with ourselves because we've known each other since we were five

Edward Field book editor

My editor, Edward Field, trying not to look suspicious while stealing books

Chris Fielden

Hmm... I wonder if I turned off the gas...

Sophie talking about Victorina Press

Sophie, educating the audience about Victorina Press and the principles of bibliodiversity

Chris Fielden reading a short story

Me, reading

Martin, Christie and Mel

Martin, plotting to take over the world, while Christie and Mel prepare for a cage fight

Chris Fielden with his book Alternative Afterlives

Me, being serious, professional and authory

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Lynn Z
Book of the BloodlessVolume 1: Alternative Afterlives - now there's an eye catcher! What if the stories we are told about the afterlife are wrong? If not heaven, hell or oblivion, what else could there be? Christopher Fielden brings us a smorgasbord of delectable, thought provoking, fun tales that explore that very possibility. Full of unexpected characters, O. Henry like twists, and sublime drawings, this page turner will take you on a fantastic journey through alternate realities. Don't worry that the book ends too quickly. It is Volume 1, so we can look forward to Volume 2.

Chris Fielden
Thank you, Lynn - very much appreciated. Really glad you liked the book. Being likened to O. Henry has made my head swell in a most pleasing manner. Thank you.

Gail E
Book of the Bloodless Volume 1: Alternative Afterlives. Fantasy, horror and humour come together perfectly in this collection of short stories by Chris Fielden. Expect the unexpected – the weird and the wacky, the twists and turns as the plot develops, and the surreal surprises, all work together to make this book an interesting experience. Be careful if you're reading it in the presence of anyone else – there were several moments when my face must have been a picture, several others when I laughed out loud, and one famous occasion when I thought they might have me taken away in a plain van!

Chris Fielden
Thank you, Gail. I hope you managed to evade the men in white coats :-)

Lesley T
I don't enjoy reading extended descriptive passages in writing and tend to skim them. That was until I read this book. In my opinion, it takes a great deal of skill to write long descriptions which hold the reader's attention. Mr Fielden does it brilliantly:

'An abundance of plant and animal life can be found near a beach, and, more often than not, a plentiful supply of intoxicated virgins, all intrigued by talk of carnal rituals. Most magic, especially an invocation of summoning, requires all these resources to be readily available.' (Quote from 'I am the Warlock')

He also has an exceptional capability to present surreal characters or situations as an ordinary event:

'I'd been enjoying a surreal dream. I was in a kitchen, watching an impossibly fat cook basting human heads on a baking tray. The heads were all chatting amiably about the manner in which they’d been murdered.' (Quote from 'The Cat, the Bull and the Madman')

These stories contain more direction changes than a labyrinth and each paragraph reveals yet another surprise angle, ensuring that the often 'twist' endings are impossible to predict, coexisting with elements of humour, some of which made me laugh aloud:

'I look at the rest of the band. None of them seem to be zombies, although it’s always hard to tell with the rhythm section.' (Quote from 'Shot in the Head and Left for Dead')

'Although dressed like Batman, the person standing before him didn't exhibit the level of physical fitness you might expect from a successful crime fighting vigilante.' (Quote from 'Death of a Superhero')

'Death of a Superhero' ends with a fitting and comic punchline and the conclusion of 'Shot in the Head and Left for Dead' is simply brilliant. Whilst savouring one particularly gory description regarding the removal of an eyeball in the story 'Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap', I actually put both my hands over my mouth.

14 superb stories. Dark, sharp, funny, curious, sometimes gory and all interwoven with death. I was mesmerized. Christopher Fielden is a gifted storyteller and an outstanding wordsmith. I haven't enjoyed a book so much since my first encounter with Bill Bryson's work.

And the icing – beautiful artwork to illustrate each story.

A gem of a book.

Chris Fielden
Thank you so much, Lesley :-)

Paul M
BOOK OF THE BLOODLESS VOLUME 1. A varied range of stories depicting death with Chris's imagination in overdrive. My favourites were 'Death of a Superhero' featuring an amusing confrontation between the deceased, Doris, and the character, Death. Also, I loved 'The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle'. The title alone was hilarious but the story hinted at something dreadful happening. Another good one was 'The El Paso Phantom Feeder'. A tense tale that had you on the edge of your seat. There's something for everybody here: humour, tension and moral tales like 'Bloodless' and 'The Treasure No Thief Can Steal' to make you think. A talented man, this Chris Fielden. When my time arrives, I'm definitely going as Batman!

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Paul. I've got my Batman costume at the ready too :-)

Ann L
Loved these stories, Chis. I was way outside my comfort reading zone but hooked from the very first story. I love the way you combine the almost domestic to the grim and whacky and, in measured undertones, draw us into a dark and zany world. There is something oddly human about these fearsome monsters. Humour adds to the bizarre and I rarely stopped chuckling. I read the book in almost one sitting and I'll be looking out for Volume 2. Loved the artwork too.

Chris Fielden
Thank you very much, Ann. I'm glad you enjoyed the book, despite it being outside of your usual comfort reading zone :-)

J. Rosina H
Alternative Afterlives is an energetic, colourful romp of a collection. (Hmm... romp... never thought I'd use that word in a book review!) It's an enjoyable, accessible read, easy to pick up and get drawn into each tale. In places it reminded me of a Matt Groening series and there are undeniable nods to the late greats – Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and the master himself, Tolkein.

Most of the stories have a strong element of humour and it really bursts out in one of my favourites, a vibrant Spinal Tap-esque tribute, 'Shot in the Head and Left for Dead'.

Other highlights for me were 'Troll's Head', beautifully written and quite poignant, and 'The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle', which, I'm pleased to say, lived up to the promise in the title!

Many of Chris Fielden's characters are flawed rogues who travel through life on a wink and a guffaw, doing questionable deals with entities for a better life. We know how that too often ends...

In this collection you'll also find ghosts and ghouls, superheroes, gangsters, zombies, pirates and killers, as well as the Prince of Darkness himself.

I was expecting it to be heavier and darker, but although there is gore and some very visceral characters, the collection is a largely lighthearted and robust read, full of fun. I enjoyed it a lot.

Chris Fielden
Thank you, J. Rosina. I'm glad the Spinal Tap-esque-ness came through. One of my favourite films :-)