Monthly Archives: March 2010

Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing #1

March 21, 2010

I got a nice little gift in the mail this morning. My contributor’s copy of Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing #1.

There’s my name on the cover, fourth one down. Of course, that’s alphabetical, not in order of importance or anything like that. I do love to see my name on the cover of books though, I’m kinda vain like that. This is an anthology of blog writing, put together by Miscellaneous Press. As they describe it:

Inside Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing you will find reflections on love, loss, literature, and how our lives are being affected by the shifting methods of communication in this digital age.

My piece is something I wrote about how ebooks are going to become mainstream in the future. There’s lots of interesting stuff in there, so give it a go. You can pre-order your copy here.


Australian Spec Fic blog carnival, March 2010

March 14, 2010

It’s my turn to host the Australian Spec Fic blog carnival for this month, so following is a round up of all kinds of interesting spec fic related interwebby goodness. If I’ve missed anything, add a link in the comments or email me and I’ll update the post.

First off, Eneit Press interviews Gillian Polack as part of Women In Horror Month.

That segues nicely to Gillian Polak’s own LiveJournal entries which include some thoughts on characters and Good books and equal opportunity neglect. A cryptic title, but a very interesting post.

Here, Graham Storr annouces the release of TimeSplash. A novel with a single word title containing two capital letters? The man is clearly a genius.

Throughout the last few weeks a bunch of very savvy folk have been putting together snapshot interviews of Australian spec fic writers. Links to all 90 or so 2010 Snapshots have now been collated into one place for your perusing pleasure.

Horrorscope, the Australian Dark Fiction Weblog has been busy. Here’s a review of the Horror Stories of Robert E Howard. Here’s a review of The World Is Dead, a review of Zombie: An Anthology Of The Undead and Horns, by Joe Hill.

Also from Horrorscope, a rundown of the 2009 Bram Stoker Award nominees and the 2009 Australian Shadows Awards finalists. Not only that, there’s the Table of Contents for Midnight Echo #4. Midnight Echo # 5 is now open to submissions.

At Delimiter Kim Falconer talks about ebooks.

Here’s a review of the new “superhero” movie, Kick Ass, over at The Furnace.

The fabtastic convention that is Continuum happened at the end of February. This time it was Continuum 6: Future Tense. You can read my report of the con here. One of the guests of honour was the truly inspiring Mark Pesce. Mark wrote a short story for Continuum, called Both Your Houses. You can find that story here.

Brisvegas resident Joanna Penn posts here about lessons learnt from Doctor Who. And who couldn’t learn a thing or two from the good Doctor?

Talking of Doctor Who, here’s a photo by Cat Sparks of Trudi Canavan’s pantry. Why would I post that here? Look at the photo and try to contain the awesome.

And talking of Joanna Penn (my segue skills are unrivalled!) she was kind enough to interview me for a podcast on March 4th. We cover a lot in the half-hour podcast, including writing about supernatural themes, playing with religious mythology, writing fight scenes and more. And it even comes with a warning!

And talking of podcasts (yeah, I know, you’re blown away by my skills) those legendary ladies of the genre Alisa, Tansy and Alex have started a new spec fic podcast via Twelfth Planet Press called Galactic Suburbia. The first episode has just been posted with hopefully many more to follow.

On the publishing front, Tehani Wesley has announced her new project, FableCroft Publishing, and has put a call out for strongly Australian spec fic for a reprint anthology and Liz Grzyb has released the ToC for Scary Kisses, which is now available for pre-order via Ticonderoga Publications.

This one isn’t Australian, but it’s a bit of positive reinforcement for fantasy writers everywhere. On March 5th, Publishers Weekly announced that Harper Teen paid seven figures for a debut YA trilogy based around a retelling of the Greek tragedies.

The Outlandish Voices podcast (where new and established writers read their stories for the masses) has moved to a better hosting arrangement at Podbean, so you can rate and comment on the stories now.

And what’s a blog carnival without a bit of self-pimpage? I wrote a review of The Road by Cormac McCarthy here and the Bitten By Books website wrote glowing reviews of both my books, which is always nice. Here’s their review of RealmShift and here’s their review of MageSign.

Lastly, I updated a couple of new links on my Markets For Writers page. Let me know if you’d like to see other links on there.

And don’t forget to leave a comment with anything else relevant (or completely irrelevant, I don’t mind) that I might have missed.

EDIT: Very important post I missed from Cat Sparks’ LiveJournal regarding Dudcon III and the Ditmars.


Oh, the crushing irony

March 10, 2010

Outlandish Voices podcasts moved to Podbean

March 10, 2010

Some of you may remember a while ago that I recorded one of my short stories for the Outlandish Voices podcast. The story in question was Crossfire, originally published in The Oddville Press.

Anyway, Outlandish Voices has moved to a new home. You can now find it at Podbean. Outlandish Voices has podcasts of spec fic stories by emerging and established authors, usually read by the author themselves. Now, in its new home, each story is posted seperately and you can rate and comment on each one. There’s some good stuff there, well worth a listen (my contribution notwithstanding).

You can find the main site here.

You can find me reading Crossfire here.


2009 Shadows Awards finalists

March 9, 2010

The Australian Shadows Awards finalists are in. These are an annual award presented by the Australian Horror Writers Association and judged on the overall effect – the skill, delivery, and lasting resonance – of a work of horror fiction written or edited by an Australian and published either in Australia or overseas.

The finalist for 2009 are (in alphabetical order):

Long Fiction

* A Book of Endings by Deborah Biancotti (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Red Queen by H. M. Brown (Penguin Australia)
* “Wives” by Paul Haines (X6, Coeur de Lion Publishing)
* The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin (Hachette Australia)
* Slights by Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)

Edited Publication

* Grants Pass, edited by Jennifer Brozek & Amanda Pillar (Morrigan Books)
* Festive Fear, edited by Stephen Clark (Tasmaniac Publications)
* Aurealis #42, edited by Stuart Mayne (Chimaera Publications)

Short Fiction

* “Six Suicides” by Deborah Biancotti (A Book of Endings)
* “The Emancipated Dance” by Felicity Dowker (Midnight Echo #2)
* “Busking” by Jason Fischer (Midnight Echo #3)
* “The Message” by Andrew J. McKiernan (Midnight Echo #2)
* “The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfalls” by Kaaron Warren (Exotic Gothic 3)

There are some truly excellent works in there by equally excellent writers. Best of luck to you all!


Bitten By Books reviews of RealmShift & MageSign

March 9, 2010

I love it when my books get reviewed. I really love it when they get positive reviews. It makes me do little happy dances around my study when they land 5 star reviews. Or, in this case, 5 out of 5 headstones. For both of them! Bitten By Books is a site that provides book reviews for all types of paranormal fiction, urban fantasy and horror. They’ve recently posted reviews of both my novels.

For RealmShift, the reviewer said things like:

“The novel is an action-adventure, an exploration of spiritual constructs, and a rousingly satisfying tale.”

“The writing is taut and seamless, and the storylines flow into a climatic finish.”


RealmShift is a mesmerizing novel that will both entrap and entrance the reader. It is a book to be read slowly in order to discover and savor the subtle messages and twists in it.”

You can read the whole review here.

For MageSign, the reviewer said:

MageSign is a thriller, a mystery, a love story and a thought-provoking examination of the relationship between religion and humanity in all its glory and shame. Alan Baxter takes the reader right to the edge and then pushes us over. And I thank him for it.”

You can read that whole review here.



The Road by Cormac McCarthy – review

March 8, 2010

Fuck me.

I went down to the Continuum 6 convention in Melbourne recently and, bizarrely, didn’t buy any books while I was there. I had every intention of picking up a couple in the dealer’s room, but just didn’t get the chance. At the airport to head home again I needed something to read, especially as we had an hour delay due to bad weather in Sydney. In the newsagent I spotted The Road by Cormac McCarthy and grabbed that, based on the general hype about it. I really didn’t know much about it. I finished reading it last night.

Like I said at the beginning, fuck me.

The Road is an outstanding book. It’s powerful, brutal, bleak, confronting, brilliant. And I’m not sure I ever want to read it again. The premise is as simple and spare as everything else about the novel: a father and son, “each the other’s world entire”, are travelling along a road after a cataclysmic event has reduced the world to monochrome and ash. The man and his son, never given names, are heading south as they can’t survive another winter in their original location, wherever that might have been. We don’t know what horror destroyed the world, though the implication is a nuclear holocaust; “The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions.”

The man and his son are struggling to survive, constantly starving, constantly freezing, constantly on the lookout for roving bands of “bad guys” that have been driven to madness and cannibalism. The man tells his son that they’re the “good guys”, they don’t eat people, they don’t steal or kill and they’re trying to find other good guys.

The RoadIn a few sparse flashbacks we learn a little of their history, the mother unable to cope with the broken world kills herself, the man and the boy head off with a pistol loaded with two bullets, for attackers or for them, depending on circumstance. The child knows nothing of the world before, born into this post-apocalyptic wasteland. The father entertains memories of the world before the catastrophe but quickly blots out his reminiscences as “each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins”.

They have with them a shopping cart containing all their possessions, which amount to little more than a few blankets and tins of food they scavenge along the way. They regularly search houses and stores they come across, desperate for food and water, constantly aware of the possibility of attack, always on the brink of death. Everywhere is burnt and ruined, the world around them metaphor for their future; “The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes.”

The simple truth is that the man and his son are surviving. Nothing more than that. The man coughs blood, knowing he won’t be there forever even while telling the boy that he’ll never leave him. He’s teaching the boy how to survive and telling him that they “carry the fire” and must continue to do so.

Their experiences along the road are brutal and McCarthy doesn’t shy away from the horror, but there are regular moments of light and hope in the grey and ashen world. The exploration of a father’s love for his son and the human spirit are sublime.

The writing is incredible, for the most part reading more like poetry than prose. No scene or section is more than a few paragraphs long. The description is spare to the point of clinical detachment in places, but the emotional content and evocation are remarkable. There’s virtually no punctuation, no quotes for dialogue. This works for the most part, but it became annoying when words like won’t and don’t were spelled wont and dont, while things like I’d and he’d retained their apostrophes. On occasion this was messed up in the book and it tripped up the story. The lack of dialogue tags also made some longer conversations a little hard to follow. But the device largely worked adding to the open bleakness of the novel as a whole. The conclusion of the book is a bit fast and bright to be truly convincing and I felt mildly let down by the last three or four pages, but that’s a small gripe.

This is an astounding achievement in writing and storytelling. An incredible book that I can’t recommend highly enough, though with the warning that it’s not for the faint hearted or easily upset reader. I’m aware that my own personal situation made the ending particularly poignant, but this is the only book I can remember that made me cry. It is brilliant.


Read An Ebook Week 2010

March 6, 2010

From March 7th to 13th it’s Read An Ebook Week. The movement has a website here. Ebooks are becoming more mainstream by the month and the launch of the iPad has certainly helped that along. Even though the iPad is far from what it claims to be and little more than an iPhone that you can’t get in your pocket.

Regardless, the ebook is on the up and up. Let me state again, as I have here many times before, I’m a bibliophile. I love books. I love the papery weight of them, the feel of them, the smell of them. I love loafing back on the couch with an actual book. I especially love seeing my own work in books. But I’m also a huge fan of ebooks. The two are not mutually exclusive. Ebooks give you the chance to explore new work, new authors, books you may never have spent money on before, because you can fit loads of them on a small device and pay a lot less than you would for a regular book.

To celebrate Read An Ebook Week, my novels RealmShift and MageSign are available from Smashwords at half price. They were only US$2.89 anyway, but now you can get them both for US$1.45 each. That’s two for the price of one. To get the discount you need to use the coupon code RAE50 at the checkout. You can find the books here. Scroll down for various titles.

Read an ebook this week. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.


My podcast interview at The Creative Penn

March 3, 2010

I was interviewed recently by Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn website, for a podcast. Joanna blogs, podcasts and video blogs on all aspects writing, publishing and promotion. In this podcast she asks me about all kinds of things, from the nature of writing with religious mythology and the trouble it can cause, to the nature of blasphemy and offence, to writing fight scenes, indie authorship and more. It’s surprising how much stuff we cover in the podcast, which is only a bit over half an hour.

I love the fact that the post introducing the podcast carries a warning!

This fantastic podcast roams over some interesting topics so I hope you enjoy it!

Warning: There is some questionable language and talk of horror, violence and religion so please don’t listen if you might be offended.

Yeah, that’s my kinda podcast. Talk about author branding.

So, head over to this post and download the podcast if you’re interested to have a listen. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.


Star Trek – How It Should Have Ended

March 2, 2010

I’ll thank S F Signal for this one – how the Star Trek movie should have ended. This is originally from, which comes out with some pure gold. Their Lord Of The Rings one is a blinder. This one is also. Stay for the end!


The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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