Charles R. Saunders also credited as Charles Saunders (born July 12, 1946) is an African-American author and journalist currently living in Canada. During his long career, he has written everything from novels both fiction and non-fiction, to screenplays and radio plays.
Saunders was born in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, a small town outside Pittsburgh. He later lived in Norristown before going to Lincoln University, from which he graduated in 1968 with a degree in psychology. He moved to Canada in 1969, living in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario before a 14-year stay in Ottawa. He moved to Nova Scotia in 1985.
According to Saunders he read his first work of science fiction in 1958, a misremembered novel by Andre Norton; this he states was what got him into the genre. (The mutated Siamese he recalls in an interview with Amy Harlib was most likely Lura, the giant Siamese cat and companion to the hero Fors in Norton's 1952 novel Star Man's Son [later reprinted as Daybreak 2250 A.D. and Star Man's Son – 2250 A.D.].)
In 1974, Saunders wrote a series of short stories for Gene Day's science fiction fanzine Dark Fantasy. The issue of Dark Fantasy with the first Imaro story found its way to Lin Carter, who included it in his first Year's Best Fantasy Stories collection, published by DAW Books in 1975. This publication brought Saunder's work to the attention of Daw publisher Donald A. Wollheim, who eventually suggested that Saunders turn his Imaro stories into a novel. Six of the novellas originally published by Gene Day in Dark Fantasy ("Mawanzo", "Turkhana Knives", "The Place of Stones", "Slaves of the Giant Kings", "Horror in the Black Hills", and "The City of Madness") would later be used in his first novel, Imaro, which was published by Daw in 1981.
But a lawsuit by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate over a poorly chosen cover quote, The Epic Novel of a Black Tarzan, caused a one-month delay in shipping as the books had to be reprinted, which led to poor sales. Saunders wrote and sold two more books in the series, The Quest for Cush (1984) and The Trail of Bohu (1985).
Saunders lives in Nova Scotia. He works the night shift there at a local newspaper as a copy editor, and writes his thoughts out in longhand during the day. Nova Scotia's black community is largely descended from African Americans who went over to the British side during the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812; they were given freedom and land in Nova Scotia after those wars ended, and created communities such as Africville. Saunders has written four non-fiction books about the Nova Scotia black community, including a collection of his columns.
In 2006, small press Night Shade Books made a deal with Saunders to publish an updated edition of Imaro. This new edition excludes the novella "Slaves of the Giant-Kings", which Saunders felt held too many parallels to the present day Rwandan Genocide. In 2008 the second novel in the updated Imaro trilogy The Quest for Cush was published by Night Shade Books, and the company has decided not to publish any other Imaro novels at this time.
In 2008 Saunders released the related work Dossouye through Sword & Soul Media and the online publisher Lulu. In 2009 he released The Trail of Bohu, the third title in the now ongoing Imaro series, through the Sword & Soul Media storefront. In 2010 he released The Naama War the fourth and latest Imaro novel through Lulu.