Tales From The Top Shelf interview

August 8, 2012

years best fantasy and horror v1 web 200x300 Tales From The Top Shelf interviewTalie Helene has started a thing on her blog called Tales From The Top Shelf, an interview series looking at individual stories from The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (Ticonderoga Publications), edited by Liz Gryzb and Talie Helene. Why? As Talie says:

…while you may correctly surmise that in the process of editing, I’ve read all the anthology stories over, and over, and over… there’s still a lot for me to learn about them! Because between what we bring as readers, and a writer’s intentions – that spooky space of story is mysterious and always open to interpretation.

I’m lucky enough to be first cab off the rank in this new series, talking about my story, The King’s Accord, which was reprinted in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2010.

Talie asks some great questions, about the story itself and about the themes explored in the story, the nature of fantasy and horror as genres and much more. It’s a good piece – you can find the whole thing here. Check it out.


Bloodstones ToC announced, including my story, “Cephalopoda Obsessia”

July 3, 2012

blood stones web2 Bloodstones ToC announced, including my story, Cephalopoda ObsessiaI’m very pleased that I can finally announce this one. The ever brilliant Ticonderoga Publications has teamed up with award-winning editor, Amanda Pillar, to produce an anthology of myth inspired dark urban fantasy called Bloodstones.  The anthology is loaded with seventeen fantastic tales of monsters, gods, magic and so much more. It’s going to be an annual series, I think, and I’m very pleased to say that my story, Cephalopoda Obsessia, is going to be in this inaugural volume.

My story is the result of a daft Facebook conversation that occurred quite a while ago, about the psychic octopus, Paul. Remember him? He was the one predicting the football world cup results from his tank in Germany. If you want to know just what I did with that unusual character, you’ll have to get Bloodstones and read the story.

Bloodstones will be published in October 2012, in time for Halloween, and will be available in trade paperback and ebook formats.

Pre-orders for the anthology will be available shortly from Ticonderoga’s online shop at, and on release from internet bookstores such as Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository,, and anywhere good books are found.

And I have to say, I’m in some stellar company in the book. Ticonderoga today released the full Table of Contents. The 17 stories are:

  • Joanne Anderton, “Sanaa’s Army”
  • Alan Baxter, “Cephalopoda Obsessia”
  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”
  • Vivian Caethe, “Skin”
  • MD Curelas, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Surviving Film”
  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull in Winter”
  • Stephanie Gunn, “The Skin of the World”
  • Richard Harland, “A Mother’s Love”
  • Pete Kempshall, “Dead Inside”
  • Penny Love, “A Small Bad Thing”
  • Karen Maric, “Embracing the Invisible”
  • Christine Morgan, “Ferreau’s Curse”
  • Nicole Murphy, “Euryale”
  • Jessica Otis, “And the Dead Shall be Raised Incorruptible”
  • Dan Rabarts, “The Bone Plate”
  • Erin Underwood, “The Foam Born”

Behold the awesome. Can’t wait to read this one.


Launching Bread & Circuses

May 31, 2012

Further to my NatCon update post below, the cat is out of the bag that the reason I’m attending the launch of Felicity Dowker’s debut collection, Bread & Circuses, other than because she’s a very good friend of mine, is because I have the honour of actually launching the book. And that might be the longest opening sentence to a blog post I’ve ever written.

It really is an honour to launch this book and I just got myself a real, actual copy of the thing in the post this morning. Lookit, it’s lovely:

bandc Launching Bread & Circuses

So Sunday 4 until 5pm in the Drummond Room at Continuum 8. Be there!

(I better work on my speech…)


Damnation & Dames in my sweaty paw

April 30, 2012

tumblr m39zy1LLHm1rry0wno1 500 Damnation & Dames in my sweaty pawLookit! I got my contributor copy of Damnation & Dames in the post today. It features the story I co-wrote with Felicity Dowker (who you may remember from such posts as the one right before this one). Our story is called Burning, Always Burning and I’m very proud of it. It’s my first published collaboration, and Felicity’s, so it’s a pleasure to not only feature in another Ticonderoga Publications book, but to share that feature with Felicity.

And remember me saying in the previous post about how Ticonderoga are producing some of the best books in Australia at the moment, with some of the best covers? Seriously, check that shit out. That’s another sweet-looking cover. Compared to a lot of stuff coming out these days you could be forgiven for thinking that covers are deemed unimportant and can therefore be bland and unimaginative. But not with Ticonderoga.

I can’t wait to read this book, with sixteen paranoirmal tales from a selection of great authors. It’s available now, from here.

Damnation and Dames (tpb)
[978-1-921857-03-4 ]

edited by Liz Grzyb & Amanda Pillar

The anthology brings you sixteen stories of murder and mayhem, monsters and mysterious femme fatales.

324 pages

  • Lindsy Anderson – The Third Circle
  • Chris Bauer – Three Questions and One Troll
  • Alan Baxter & Felicity Dowker – Burning, Always Burning
  • Jay Caselberg – Blind Pig
  • M.L.D. Curelas – Silver Comes the Night
  • Karen Dent – A Case to Die For
  • Dirk Flinthart – Outlines
  • Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter – Prohibition Blues
  • Donna Maree Hanson – Sangue Sella Notte
  • Rob Hood – Walking the Dead Beat
  • Joseph L Kellogg – The Awakened Adventure of Rick Candle
  • Pete Kempshall – Sound and Fury
  • Chris Large – One Night at the Cherry
  • Penelope Love – Be Good Sweet Maid
  • Nicole Murphy – The Black Star Killer
  • Brian G. Ross – Hard Boiled


Bread & Circuses available for pre-order

April 30, 2012

bread and circuses web Bread & Circuses available for pre orderMy good friend, occasional collaborator and all-round top wordsmith, Felicity Dowker, has her debut collection of short stories coming out soon from Ticonderoga Publications. It’s called Bread & Circuses and it’s brilliant. I know this for two reasons – 1. Felicity is an awesome writer, so all her stuff is brilliant; and 2. I’ve read all the work included. Yes, even the new, as yet unpublished stories unique to this collection. I know, I’m very lucky. You will be too if you get a copy.

Incidentally, how freaking sweet is that cover? Ticonderoga are producing some of the best books in Australia at the moment and they always have outstanding covers.

Felicity’s work is dark and unrelenting, with delicious stories of revenge and consequence. She mixes the fantastic with the horrific and the mundane with a masterful stroke of beautiful prose. Don’t take my word for it:

“She is one of those rare and talented writers of horror who can creep you out while still making you admire the graceful construction of her prose.” – World Fantasy Award nominee Angela Slatter

“Felicity Dowker is one of the all-too-rare writers who really understands both horror and its appeal. She can show the terrifying aspect of things as outre as enchanted dragons or the zombie apocalypse, or as commonplace as dysfunctional families and the Santa Claus army. To borrow her own words, ‘It hurts, and it’s horrible, and it’s beautiful . . . and we might as well enjoy it’.” – Award-winning Stephen Dedman

The book is available for pre-order now, so go get some. The official launch will be at Continuum in Melbourne in June, so get there too if you can.


Lots of love for Dead Red Heart

April 19, 2012

133x200xDead Red Heart.jpg.pagespeed.ic .wniDKuDemx Lots of love for Dead Red HeartYou guys will remember the massive Australian vampire anthology from Ticonderoga Publications called Dead Red Heart. It featured my story, Punishment Of The Sun.

My story got a place in Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mentions for 2011, and will be listed in Best Horror Of The Year, Volume 4. As if that wasn’t happy-happy news enough for me, Ellen released the full list of 608 recommended stories for 2011 and no fewer than 16 of the 33 stories in Dead Red Heart are on it. Congratulations to editor Russell B Farr for putting together such an amazing book.

So huge congratulations to:

  • Anderton, Joanne “The Sea at Night,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Baxter, Alan “Punishment of the Sun,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Brown, Simon “Thin Air,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Cavalchini, Damon “Renfield’s Wife,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Edwards, Jacob “Behind the Black Mask,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Fay, Joanna “Black Heart,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Gates, Raymond “The Little Red Man,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Hannett, Lisa L. White and Red in the Black,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Hanson, Donna Marie “The Life Stealer,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Ivanoff, George “Vitality,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Jensen, Patty “Quarantine,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Kempshall, Pete “All that Glisters,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Lawson, Chris “Apologetoi,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Mok, Anne “Interview with the Jiangshi,” Dead Red Heart.
  • Slatter, Angela “Sun Falls,” Dead Red Heart.
  • White, Jen “Listening to Tracy,” Dead Red Heart.

And, on top of that, the latest BLACK STATIC magazine ( has reviewed Dead Red Heart as part of a big vampire feature. Their reviewer has gone through all 33 stories and had something to say about each and every one. I got to see a preview of the review and this is what the reviewer said about my story:

Genuinely creepy, ‘Punishment of the Sun’ by Alan Baxter has a vampire isolated by his kind at a remote farming station, and the family slowly realising that they are prey, the sense of menace and gradual, mounting terror put over well.

When anything of mine is called “genuinely creepy” one of my demon minions gets a new set of wings.

The reviewer said of the book as a whole:

an overall excellent collection, one in which nearly all of the stories are unusual and offer different slants on the idea of the vampire, while retaining an essentially Australian feel.

So seriously, if you haven’t got it yet, get it now.

And while you’re at it, get yourself on a subscription to Black Static magazine, because that’s one great publication too.


Some genre news and links

April 18, 2012

There’s been some interesting bits and pieces cropping up around the web just lately. First off, you may remember I was very pleased to discover that my story, Punishment Of The Sun, from the Dead Red Heart anthology is going to be included in Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mentions that will be appearing in The Best Horror of the Year volume four. The HM stories actually listed in the book are the top fifty from a massive Honorable Mentions list that Ellen compiles. She’s just released the full list of 608 Honorable Mentions, which is the best of what she’s read in 2011. I have no idea how she manages to read so much, but bless her for doing do – Ellen Datlow is an absolute treasure and a giant in her field. The full list of 608 is here. And there’s a lot of Aussies on there.

Secondly, there’s a new genre convention coming. The first one is in Sydney, arranged by the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. It’s called, fittingly enough, GenreCon. From the website:

GenreCon is a three-day convention for Australian fans and professionals working within the fields of romance, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and more. One part party, one part celebration, one part professional development: GenreCon is the place to be if you’re an aspiring or established writer with a penchant for the types of fiction that get relegated to their own corner of the bookstore.

I’ll definitely try to get along to that one, especially as it’s relatively local for me.

Lastly, there’s this:

It’s a survey collecting votes for the Independent eBook Award. I’m not really sure what the Award is and I’m having trouble finding out much about anything to do with it, to be honest. But it’s drawing attention, hopefully, to independent and small press publications, which is a good thing. From the site:

Nominations are open to an independent author or independent/small press. For purposes of this award, we are defining a “small press” as follows:

1. Publisher does not charge authors for publication, and is fully responsible for all production of the book
2. Publisher produces fewer than 50 titles a year
3. Publisher is publishing original work, not predominately public domain titles or Private-Label rights titles
4. Publisher is independently owned, not part of a larger corporation.

Authors and publishers are not allowed to vote for themselves and will be disqualified for doing so. They’re trying to make this as transparent and fair as possible, but it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. And yes, for point of reference, my books do qualify under their definition of small press. I really wish there were some further links or references on that survey page, though, so we could find out more about who these people are and what they’re doing. If you know any more, please leave a comment below!


Tuesday Toot – Angela Slatter

April 10, 2012

Tuesday Toot is a semi-regular feature here at The Word. An invite-only series of short posts where writers, editors, booksellers and other creatives have been asked to share their stuff and toot their own horn. It’s hard to be seen in the digital morass and hopefully this occasional segment will help some of the quality stuff out there get noticed. It should all be things that readers of The Word will find edifying.

Today, it’s Angela Slatter:

angela2 Tuesday Toot   Angela SlatterWho is Angela?

Some (okay, many) will say I’m a force for chaotic evil or chaotic good. It all depends on the day. I like to think of myself as a writer of speculative fiction (with two collections under my belt thus far), mostly on the side of dark fantasy and horror … with occasional patches of über-light science fiction (an ‘I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter’ kind of science fiction). My short fiction has appeared in venues such as Dreaming Again, Steampunk Reloaded, A Book of Horrors, Strange Tales II & III, 2012, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Shimmer, and has had Honorable Mentions in the Datlow, Link, Grant Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies.

I’m a graduate of Tin House 2006 and Clarion South 2009. I’ve been shortlisted for Aurealis Awards and Australian Shadows Awards. In 2011 my collection The Girl with No Hands & Other Tales (Ticonderoga Publications) won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection, and the story Lisa Hannett and I co-authored, “The February Dragon” (from Ticonderoga’s Scary Kisses anthology), won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Story. My other collection, Sourdough & Other Stories (Tartarus Press), was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award for Best Collection in 2011.

I blog here about shiny things that catch my eye.

What are you tooting about?

sourdough Tuesday Toot   Angela SlatterWell, I guess the reprinting of my collection Sourdough & Other Stories by Tartarus Press. They originally did a limited edition hard cover version in 2010 – a gorgeous book with amazing cover art by Stephen J Clark. When that sold out, Ray asked if I was interested in having a paperback reprint. The cool, professional author response was ‘Oh, yes’. The author response one does at home alone is to Snoopy Dance in one’s underpants, throwing in a few jetés and pliés for good measure. No, really, it’s an essential part of appeasing the Gods of Writing (also known as Fear, Famine and Fuck-you).

The book is a mosaic of grown-up fairy tales, with links between them so that the work can be viewed as more than just a series of unrelated stories. It’s not a linear book and time shifts around in it (bit like a malfunctioning vortex manipulator), but I think it’s a book of surprises and I’m very proud of it. The lovely Robert Shearman wrote the Introduction and the equally lovely Jeff VanderMeer wrote the Afterword, which is like a total bonus!

Don’t read it to children though, the therapy bills will be through the roof.

What’s in store for Angela:

Well, first and foremost there’s Midnight and Moonshine, co-authored with Lisa Hannett, which is, depending on your point of view, either a collection of interlinked short stories or a mosaic novel. M & M will be published in November 2012 under the aegis of Ticonderoga Publications. The blurb reads:

Midnight and Moonshine traces the origins of the icy and dangerous Fae and explores their interactions over the centuries with the Laveaux and Beaufort families. Driven from their realm, the Fae come to America with Viking raiders in the 10th century; when the Vikings discover the nature of their stowaways, they desert them in the new land. Left to their own devices the Fae worm their way through history, largely keeping apart from humanity, but occasionally making connections that come to have long-term effects in America’s alternative Deep South.

This year there’s also: “Winter Children”, which will be appearing in PS Publishing’s Postscripts anthology; “Sun Falls” (originally in Ticonderoga’s Dead Red Heart) will be reprinted in Prime’s Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror; and “Prohibition Blues” (part of the Midnight and Moonshine suite), will make a cameo in Ticonderoga’s Damnation and Dames. In 2013, “Cuckoo” will appear in the Dark Prints Press anthology, A Killer Among Demons. In 2014, Simon Marshall-Jones’s Spectral Press will publish “Hearth and Home” as part of its chapbook series.

I’m also working a follow-up collection to Sourdough and Other Stories, called The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and a novel, Brisneyland by Night (with a sequel, Vigil).

You can get a copy of Sourdough and Other Stories here:, and a copy of The Girl with No Hands & Other Tales at (or Book Depository, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers).


Seriously, talk about prolific. Just reading that makes me feel inadequate. Regular readers will know something of Angela and her work from previous posts here. I reviewed Sourdough & Other Stories here and I’m very proud to have one of the limited edition hardcovers. But seriously, beautiful an artefact the book may be, but absolutely essential are the stories within. Go get your paperback copy of this book now – you won’t regret it. Easily one of the best things I read that year. – Alan


Damnation and Dames launching at Swancon this Friday

April 3, 2012

Just a quick reminder to anyone in the Perth area that Damnation and Dames will be launching at Swancon this Friday. Sadly, I won’t be attending Swancon this year, but if you’re in the Perth area you should really give it a go.

damnation  dames   ed grzyb  pillar web Damnation and Dames launching at Swancon this Friday

Damnation and Dames is a collection of ‘paranormal noir’ stories from the likes of Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter, Rob Hood, Pete Kempshall and many more, including myself, in my first ever fiction collaboration. My story is called Burning, Always Burning and was co-written with the hugely talented Felicity Dowker. The anthology is edited by Liz Grzyb and Amanda Pillar, who’ve got stellar records at this kind of thing, and published by Ticonderoga Publications, so you know it’ll be well worth a look.

Usually you’d have to have forked out for convention tickets to attend, but this year – for the Friday only – a gold coin donation is enough to get you in the door. The launch kicks off at 5.30pm at the Pan Pacific Hotel on Adelaide Terrace in Perth city. I’m not completely sure what the format is, but I imagine there’ll be signings and stuff.

So if you’re at a loose end on Friday, pop along – you won’t be disappointed. Say hello to everyone there from me.

(This post stolen almost word for word from Pete Kempshall – thanks mate.)


Tuesday Toot – Angel Leigh McCoy

March 27, 2012

Tuesday Toot is a semi-regular feature here at The Word. An invite-only series of short posts where writers, editors, booksellers and other creatives have been asked to share their stuff and toot their own horn. It’s hard to be seen in the digital morass and hopefully this occasional segment will help some of the quality stuff out there get noticed. It should all be things that readers of The Word will find edifying.

This week, it’s Angel Leigh McCoy tooting. You might recognise the name – she’s in charge of Wily Writers, one of my favourite fiction podcasts/publishers. They’ve published a couple of my stories (Stand Off and Declan’s Plan) and loads of other good stuff. I was also recently a guest editor there and got to pick two stories for publication. So I’m very happy to give Angel some space here today.

AngelMcCoy2 200h Tuesday Toot   Angel Leigh McCoyWho is Angel?

I’m hijacking my own bio space to say two things, Alan. First, OMG! Your novel is on Audible! You have no idea how happy that makes me. I read audio books while I’m commuting across the Seattle asphaultscape to and from work. So psyched! [Thanks! - Alan] And secondly, I just want to say I love that I get to toot today in public and not feel embarrassed. Thank you for allowing me a little swatch of your blogspace.

When you get to be my age, your bio becomes a daunting exercise in what to leave out, so I’ll just mention that I live in the upper-left corner of the USA, with three loving cats. Oh, and I’m a writer. During the day, I work at a company called ArenaNet, writing dialogue for a little game called Guild Wars 2. The Border House recently published a two-part interview with me, in which I talk about game design and the sylvari race of characters in the game. I’ve been a game writer for almost 20 years, so you can guess how much I love my job.

2011 cover front200 Tuesday Toot   Angel Leigh McCoyWhat are you tooting?

As for what I’m tooting today, I want to tell your peeps about my speculative fiction podcast,Wily Writers. Folks, you may have listened to a couple of Alan’s incredible stories there, but if you haven’t, go do so! You’ll enjoy them. We liked his story “Stand Off” so well that we put it into our first Best of Wily Writers anthology alongside a primo selection of our best from 2010. We’ve also recently released our second collection of the Best of Wily Writers.

Wily Writers is all speculative fiction, all the time, and that means some of the best horror, fantasy, and science fiction out there today. Also, we just became a pro-rate market, so if you’re a writer, check out our submission guidelines. We have a special contest coming up for SpecFicNZ members. SpecFicNZ is a New Zealand writers organization.

I also wanted to mention a little story I wrote, a novella, called “Charlie Darwin; Or, the Trine of 1809.” “Charlie Darwin” is about three boys who get kidnapped and taken to a magical dimension land while in their formative years. These boys are Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and Edgar Allan Poe.

charlie darwin cover200 Tuesday Toot   Angel Leigh McCoyIn real life, these three were born within a month of each other, and all three went on to become extremely influential in the world. The story I wrote suggests that maybe the reason these men lived such amazing lives was because they had an adventure when they were nine years old that opened their minds to possibilities others couldn’t imagine.

The story is great to read to your kids, but it’s also fun for adults. I had an awesome time doing research, and I wove some of their futures into their pasts.

That’s all I wanted to tell you about today. I’ll leave you with this brief excerpt from “Charlie Darwin.” If you end up reading the rest of the story, please do drop me an email and let me know what you thought.


“What in tarnation?”

The strange words awakened young Charlie Darwin. He wasn’t positive what they meant, spoken as they were with unfamiliar inflection, but he got the gist. Charlie pushed up on one elbow and gawped. He lay on the deck of a galleon constructed and carved of dark wood. It swayed and swashed as if afloat.

A bean-pole of a boy with ragged brown hair was pacing back and forth, his unpolished boots thudding upon the deck. He was the one who had spoken.

Another boy lay on the deck next to Charlie. He slept, eyes closed, mouth open, snoring a wheezy little snore. He wore a black suit and had hair as slick as a raven’s feathers.

Charlie spied a man on the quarter deck, standing at the helm, attention focused on adjusting a set of brass levers. He wore white from head to toe, including cowboy boots, a European-style cloak, a knee-length Templar tunic (slit to reveal fringed chaps) and a ten-gallon hat on his head. The wind whipped his cloak out behind him and flattened the tunic to his thighs.

Charlie’s perusal of the man was curtailed by a thunderous whoosh from overhead. He ducked, covered his ears, and looked up. Where he had expected to see sails pulled taut by the wind, he found a trio of white balloons tethered to the boat with criss-crossing ropes. It took a moment for the sight to sink in and for his brain to analyze what he was seeing, but only a moment. In the next instant, he was up and running to the deck railing so he could look out over the ocean. It was there, vast and blue-gray, but it was far, far below.

Charlie sat down and wrapped his arms around his knees.

“You okay?” asked the tall, thin boy.

“I don’t like heights.”

The other boy patted Charlie on the shoulder. “Sorry about that.” He plopped down too. “You’re awake.”

“That remains to be seen,” Charlie said.

Read the rest of “Charlie Darwin”.

Find Angel at her website:

Tweet her at @AngelMcCoy and find her on Facebook!

You really don’t need me to tell you again how good Wily Writers is, but I’m going to anyway. Seriously, get over there and get your fix of great spec fic, in text and podcast flavours. – Alan



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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