I first started writing in a foreign prison in 1998. The prison was the infamous Carabanchel, in Madrid, Spain. I say ‘was’ because that evil place has now been demolished, but like Belsen and Alcatraz, it will never be forgotten.
I realised I was in a situation that demanded great presence of mind to survive and perhaps start writing a journal to record the events that will take place during the run up to the ‘last rites,’ the final fetid gasps of breath this evil beast has to take as its gates close finally behind the last of its inmates. Little did I know that I was to be the last Englishman to be held here and that my pen was to continue its scribbling for many years to come.
I must first tell you that writing has turned my life around and I am no longer the adrenalin junkie that I used to be, which caused my incarceration in the first place. Actually, there’s more to it than that, but that is not for this brief introduction; those stories are in my books.
However, I must tell you that I was a high seas hashish smuggler operating between Africa and Europe. I also smuggled through most of the UK airports and all of the English Channel ports. My eventual capture and arrest was not due to the skills of the police, but rather to an informer; a grass, the lowest of the low, which led me to a prison cell from where my writing career began.
Writing in my cell was both therapeutic and time consuming. Reliving the harrowing events to describe them in my books was a means of putting closure on things that could have been mentally debilitating. Perhaps writing about their experiences may help soldiers suffering with the after effects of being in action… just a thought. I say that because I was also a professional soldier and witnessed much violence and the deaths of my friends.
I was thrilled when my first book was published and ecstatic when the second book was on the bookshop shelves next to each other. This gave me the confidence to write another book about drugs and arms deals based on actual events. The book is now published and I have called it, THE ASSASSINS CODE 1, which I have now adapted to screenplay.
This book was not the product of a prison cell. I wrote it when I was living in Cyprus enjoying the warm climate, which is more of an achievement for me because I am not formally educated and I didn’t have the props of a prison to create the reality.
I started to write my third ‘prison’ book; SATAN’S ARENA when I was arrested in France in January, 2007. I was arrested in the port of Calais because I was wanted for extradition to Spain, from where I had been on the run for five years.
After first being incarcerated in Sangatte I was taken to the Douai dungeon, where the second-to-last convicted criminal to be guillotined in France was executed; a most harrowing place of detention, I realised that life in the French Penal System will be like living in the Middle-Ages.
I shared a filthy cell with the French surgeon, Jean Beclet, who butchered his wife. I didn’t spend much time with the wife killer because one week later I was trussed in leg-irons and manacles and taken to Douai Court where my extradition to Spain hearing took place.
Just a few days later I was again chained in leg-irons and manacles for my transfer to Bapaume prison and later on to the dreaded Fresnes prison in the southern suburbs of Paris. This chaotic prison is where the Gestapo tortured the Resistance heroine, Odette, before she was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. This place reeks of evil.
Fresnes is notorious for being the harshest prison in France but I was soon to find myself in a much darker place when I arrived in Spain. But I must first tell you that I was grossly mistreated in France and fed on bread and water for breakfast in each of the prisons: Yes, it is the 21st Century and France still is in the Middle-Ages regarding its penal system… and guess what? I never committed a crime in France, I was held merely for extradition.
For my extradition to Spain, I was shackled and escorted by four armed guards from Fresnes prison to Orly airport, where the guards were reinforced with two sub-machine gun toting legionnaires.
I was escorted through the concourse with tourists taking photos of me while others scurried away in shock – thinking I was Osama bin Laden, or some other terrorist.
The Spanish escort team arrived and insisted the hardware be removed and the legionnaires be sent back to the battle field so we could board the flight without frightening the other passengers.
We boarded the aircraft just like all the other passengers and off we went; nobody any the wiser, until we landed in Madrid where a police car awaited me.
I was taken to a court room and told I was going to Soto del Real prison in Madrid.
Eventually, after spending time in Soto del Real prison and Valdemoro top security prison in Madrid, I was sent north to Daroca prison, possibly the most dangerous place to be in all of Europe.
Many of the inmates here have committed the most atrocious crimes and here I am sharing my space with cannibals; child sex killers, murderers and rapists. Men who should have been put to death for their barbarism are everywhere I look. My prison cell is my safe haven – or so I thought… I suffered terribly with stress and nightmares in that hell-hole.
I wrote a book in Daroca and have now published it as an e-book on Amazon kindle. The book is now published by Strand Publishing UK as a paperback and is now available on Amazon and Strand Publishing; here’s the link: SATAN’S ARENA – Strand Publishing UK
This book is not for the squeamish or the politically correct brigade and like my previous prison books has plenty of anti-Spanish and French sentiment due to my undiluted emotions at the time of writing because of the treatment I received at the hands of my jailers. Welcome to the brutal, ugly and dangerous corridors of Satan’s Arena.
However, regarding political incorrectness, I intend to write further about ‘nonces’ (paedophiles), homosexual men in prison (irons) and members of various Arabic tribes and gypsy tribes. The writing will be about my own personal experiences; bad and horrendous, during the time I spent in 12 (yes, twelve) different foreign prisons. And yes, I must write about the other person who suffered; possibly more than I did, my lovely, loyal wife, Susan.
She lived alone in an old finca (farmhouse) on a remote hillside in Andalusia, Spain. During my incarceration in all of the prisons, she wrote to me each day just as soon as she received my first letter from each prison telling her where I am.
How she survived alone is worthy of several pages, which I hope to write about on my blog page. However, I will put her poem on here right now, I found it during a recent house move and it touched me deeply. She titled it:
I AM NOT ALONE.
I WAKE ALONE
I EAT ALONE
I WALK ALONE
I SLEEP ALONE
I LIVE ALONE
BUT I AM NOT ALONE
FOR I AM LOVED
MY LOVE WAKES WITH ME – EATS WITH ME – WALKS WITH ME – SLEEPS WITH ME
HE IS ALWAYS THERE, YOU SEE. THOUGH WE ARE APART MY LOVE IS WITH ME ALWAYS.
You may wonder what two people can write about on a daily basis. For me it was often difficult because life in a foreign prison is brutally hard and often painful. Of course, I would never disclose to my loved ones the way things were in those foreign pits so I would write about the foreign friends I made and our various activities in the martial arts i.e., training and teaching and about writing my journal, which I used to write my books. My journals contain all the foul, brutal experiences, which people would learn about when I gained my freedom.
Anyway, till the next time: WALK IN PEACE.
If you are interested in my work, you can read about it on my website: http://www.chrischance.co.uk/the-books/
I have been script writing for several years now and you will find the relevant page on my website. Also, THE ASSASSINS CODE 1 and BENEATH THE POPPY FIELDS can be seen and purchased with SATAN’S ARENA here: Shop – Strand Publishing UK
Or, if you are in the US: http://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Chance/e/B001K88S64/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1445005996&sr=1-2-ent
Or, in Europe: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christopher-Chance/e/B001K88S64/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1445006176&sr=1-2-ent