Books

Bound official Sydney launch at Kinokuniya, plus Continuum and Supanova news!

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May 16, 2014

This writing life sure has its ups and downs, often to great extremes. There has been one huge downer recently, but I’ll keep that to myself – I don’t want to bring you guys down and, after all, the nature of a down is that it can only go up again, right? Thankfully there have been some real highs too, so I’ll share those. These really are Good Things!

9bc96de8 8acc 4faa aef7 3edfc849e6fe Bound official Sydney launch at Kinokuniya, plus Continuum and Supanova news!Firstly, Bound, Alex Caine #1, is now on Goodreads. You can add it to your shelves and list it among the books you want to read – click here to find it. It would be great if you could add it and give the book some early exposure among your pals.

And talking of exposure, I’ll be on the promotional tour soon, starting with Continuum X, this year’s National Science Fiction convention in Melbourne, over the first weekend in June (7th – 9th). Bound is officially out on July 1st, so I don’t think we’ll have copies for Continuum, but there will be Bound-related stuff going on, and maybe a few ARCs up for grabs. If you can get along to Continuum, come and say hi and we’ll have a drink at the bar. I’ll be on a few panels and doing a couple of signings and a reading too, so plenty happening. Signings will most likely be previous things, as Bound won’t be out yet, but I’ll definitely do a reading from Bound, so if you want an early sneak peek, come and have a listen then.

Talking of sneak peeks, over the next weekend in June (13th-15th), I’m very excited to say I’ll be an author guest at Supanova in Sydney. It’ll be my first Supanova. And here I can reveal that we’ll have the first official pre-release launch of Bound during the Supanova weekend and there will be copies of the book available. If you get to Supanova, you can get the book three weeks before it’s officially out and available in shops. And I’ll be there to sign it for you. Here’s the list of author guests – I’m honoured to be in this kind of company.

But, if you can’t make Continuum or Supanova (or even if you can) and you’re in or near Sydney, here’s the skinny on the:

Official public launch of Bound

Thursday, July 10th at Kinokuniya Bookshop
Level 2, The Galeries, 500 George Street (opposite QVB) Sydney NSW 2000

From 6.00pm for  6.30pm start.

And I’m very chuffed and more than a little honoured to announce that the wonderful Margo Lanagan will be there to launch the book.

Margo is a good friend and a tremendous writer. Honestly, you need to seek out and read her stuff. This launch should be a good party, with reading, signing, nibbles, booze and great people. Of course, if you just can’t wait and you buy the book on release day, that’s absolutely fine – You’re more than welcome to bring it along to the launch if you want to get it signed and join in the festivities.

Please tell everyone who you think might be interested and help me spread the word about these events. I can’t wait to share the story of Alex Caine with you.

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2013 Aurealis Award winners announced

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April 8, 2014

Saturday was a big day. I drove down to Canberra, took part in the Conflux Writer’s Day minicon, where I did a highspeed “Social Media for Authors” presentation, then went for a quick change of clothes in order to attend the Aurealis Awards ceremony. Nicole Murphy, who organised everything that day, did a truly amazing job. The writers day and awards ceremony were both superb. We caroused and drank and laughed, and fantastic Australian fiction scored very well-deserved awards.

Here are all the fantastic nominees and winners. If you want a sampler of excellent recent Aussie spec fic, here’s your huckleberry:

(The winners are separated at the top of each list of nominees.)

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Lexicon, Max Barry (Hachette)


  • Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet)
  • A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge)
  • True Path, Graham Storrs (Momentum)
  • Rupetta, Nike Sulway (Tartarus)

Best Science Fiction Short Story

  • “Air, Water and the Grove”, Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven)


  • “The Last Tiger”, Joanne Anderton (Daily Science Fiction 5/17/13)
  • “Mah Song”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “Seven Days in Paris”, Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry)
  • “Version 4.3.0.1”, Lucy Stone (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #57)

Best Fantasy Novel

  • A Crucible of Souls, Mitchell Hogan (self-published)


  • Lexicon, Max Barry (Hachette Australia)
  • These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Newt’s Emerald, Garth Nix (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)
  • Ink Black Magic, Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft)

Best Fantasy Short Story

  • The Last Stormdancer, Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne)


  • “The Touch of the Taniwha”, Tracie McBride (Fish)
  • “Cold, Cold War”, Ian McHugh (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/13/13)
  • “Short Circuit”, Kirstie Olley (Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way)
  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)

Best Horror Novel

  • Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House Australia)


  • The Marching Dead, Lee Battersby (Angry Robot)
  • The First Bird, Greig Beck (Momentum)
  • Path of Night, Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft)

Best Horror Short Story

  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)


  • “Fencelines”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “The Sleepover”, Terry Dowling (Exotic Gothic 5)
  • “The Home for Broken Dolls”, Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts)
  • “The Human Moth”, Kaaron Warren (The Grimscribe’s Puppets)

Best Young Adult Novel (Tie)

  • These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House Australia)


  • The Big Dry, Tony Davies (Harper Collins)
  • Hunting, Andrea Host (self-published)
  • The Sky So Heavy, Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press)

Young Adult Short Story

  • “By Bone-Light”, Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon)


  • “Mah Song”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “Morning Star”, D.K. Mok (One Small Step)
  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)

Best Collection

  • The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, Joanne Anderton (FableCroft)


  • Asymmetry, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet)
  • Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet)
  • The Bride Price, Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga)
  • The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Kim Wilkins (Ticonderoga)

Best Anthology (Tie)

  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012, Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene, eds. (Ticonderoga)
  • One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries, Tehani Wessely, ed. (FableCroft)


  • Dreaming of Djinn, Liz Grzyb, ed. (Ticonderoga)
  • The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Of The Year: Volume Seven, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)
  • Focus 2012: Highlights of Australian Short Fiction, Tehani Wessely, ed. (FableCroft)

Best Children’s Fiction

  • The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie, Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)


  • Kingdom of the Lost, Book 2: Cloud Road, Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)
  • Refuge, Jackie French (Harper Collins)
  • Song for a Scarlet Runner, Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)
  • Rules of Summer, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
  • Ice Breaker: The Hidden 1, Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel (Tie)

  • Burger Force, Jackie Ryan (self-published)
  • The Deep Vol. 2: The Vanishing Island, Tom Taylor & James Brouwer (Gestalt)


  • Savage Bitch, Steve Carter & Antoinette Rydyr (Scar Studios)
  • Mr Unpronounceable Adventures, Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow)
  • Peaceful Tomorrows Volume Two, Shane W Smith (Zetabella)

The annual Aurealis Awards ceremony took place at the Great Hall, University House, Australian National University, Canberra. All the details of the awards can be found at the Aurealis Awards website.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

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Bound – This is the really real world!

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March 24, 2014

Bound proof 288x300 Bound   This is the really real world!So HarperVoyager AU tweeted a blurry image today of the proof copies of Bound, Book 1 of The Alex Caine Series. The proofs have just arrived in the office there. It’s really real. Look! It’s an actual freaking book right there in the picture in the really real world. To say I’m a bit excited about this is like saying the Catholic Church has a couple of bucks stashed away for a rainy day. In other words, it’s a celestially massive understatement. It’s really actually happening, you guys. This also constitutes a sneaky little cover reveal for the first book.

I’m glad it’s a bit blurry because, as far as I know, there are going to be a couple of small artistic tweaks to the cover yet before the final version that will officially go to print. Plus it maintains a little but of mystery. It’s quite normal for advanced copies like these to have a few small last minute changes, as I understand it.

But I can tell you that the next two books will have covers like this one, obviously with a 2 and a 3 in the background respectively, with variations in the distance background and in the character poses, but all three make a kind of connected triptych design. Honestly, how cool is that? For anyone wondering, the title, Bound, is big and clear on the spine. I should be getting a copy of this proof myself this week, so I’ll post another picture of it then. Probably with my maniacally grinning face right next to it. Now scuse me while go Snoopy dancing.

EDIT: HarperVoyager posted a better picture, so I’m sharing that too.

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20140324 155817 Bound   This is the really real world!

Bound is done

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February 21, 2014

It’s a terrifying feeling, to let go of a book. To say, “Okay, this is as good as I can make it and it’s time to let it go.” There’s that saying – Great art is never finished, only abandoned. There’s a lot of truth to it. Eventually you have to say, “Enough!” And I just have with Bound, the first Alex Caine book. I approved or not the last copy edits, made the last few tweaks and sent the manuscript back to HarperVoyager yesterday. That’s it. No more. Once the typesetter puts in those last changes we’re done. That’s the book that will be published in July. I can’t have anything more to do with it. It belongs to the readers now. And, fuck, I hope they like it!

I like it. I really do. I’m terrified, racked with self-doubt like always, of course. That destructive little voice is still whispering away. You’re a fucking fraud, it mutters. This book, it’ll ruin you. People will read it and laugh. Reviewers will refuse to even give it a rating. Not worthy of a single star. They’ll invent a new way to anti-review books just for you. It’ll get MINUS FIVE STARS!

Honestly, that voice is a complete bollocks. It never goes away. But I draw a deep breath and tell it to go fuck itself. Because I’ve worked my arse off on this book and I’m really bloody proud of it. People I hugely respect – Paul Haines, Angela Slatter, Joanne Anderton, Kylie Chan – have endorsed it. All amazing writers and they tell me it’s good. HarperVoyager are totally behind it. It would be disingenuous of me to insist in the face of all that support that the book is shit. Of course there will be people who don’t like it. You can never write something that everyone will love. And I can already think of things that I might do differently if I had a chance. But I have to let go of those things. I have to accept that I’ve written a good book here, one I can be proud of and stand tall.

Come July, when it’s released, I’ll be a mess, I’m sure. I’ll be breathing into a paper bag and intravenously consuming single malt scotch. But regardless, I’m proud as fuck of this book. And of Obsidian and Abduction, which follow it and will both be released in quick succession after Bound. I’ve yet to do the last edits and release on those, so I don’t have to let them go just yet. But I will. I’ve seen the covers (not yet finished, but close) and they are brilliant. I honestly can’t wait to share these books with the world and I really hope they go down well. I know I’ve done the best I can and hopefully that’ll show.

Bound is done and out of my hands. It’s a very strange feeling – exultation and trepidation. But it’s a good feeling. Fuck, yeah!

Excuse me, I gotta go find a paper bag.

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10 Question SFF reading meme

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January 19, 2014

I saw this over at S F Signal, and thought it asked some interesting questions about sci-fi/fantasy/horror reading. So I’ve snurched it for my blog here. Feel free to copy the questions and add your answers in the comments, or snag it for your own blog, Facebook, blood-scrawling on the wall of your cold, wet dungeon or wherever else you like to write things down.

The last sf/f/h book I read and liked was:

On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers. This is the book that Pirates of the Caribbean was based on. It’s been on my To Read list for ages and I finally got around to it. It’s a brilliant book, the story far better than the movie. (Although, I do love those movies.)

The last sf/f/h book I read and wasn’t crazy about was:

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. It’s not a bad book, but it’s far from a great book. It’s just kinda okay and I suppose I expect more than that from King. The previous King book I read, Joyland, was excellent.

The sf/f/h book I am reading now is:

North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud. This is a short story collection. I’ve never heard of Ballingrud before or read his stuff, but I saw this book being touted a lot in my social media. I always take the advice of those good people, so I bought it. I’ve only read the first two stories so far and it’s really quite excellent.

The sf/f/h book(s) I most want to read next is/are:

The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig and The Book of the Crowman by Joseph D’Lacey. The first is the third Miriam Black book and I was a huge fan of the first two, Blackbirds and Mockingbird. The second is Volume 2 of The Black Dawn. I read the first one, Black Feathers, a while back and it was very good. In fact, I reviewed these books for Thirteen O’Clock. Blackbirds here, Mockingbird here, and Black Feathers here.

An underrated sf/f/h book is:

I’m not sure about this, as I don’t really know what’s underrated among other people. If I had to pick something that certainly deserves more attention I would suggest Joanne Anderton’s Veiled Worlds trilogy. The third one of those is out soon. (Jo is a friend, yes, but her books are fucking amazing, so shut up.) Another book I read last year that blew me away and I haven’t seen much about it elsewhere is Max Barry’s amazing novel, Lexicon. And the last thing to spring to mind is a novella from Spectral Press that I read last year, called Whitstable by Stephen Volk. It’s an amazing blend of fact and fiction.

An overrated sf/f/h book is:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. And not just because Card is a hoofwanking bunglecunt of the highest order. (I saw that insult on Twitter this morning and just had to find a place to use it.) But seriously, I hated this book before I really knew anything about Card’s despicable views. I read it because it’s always on top 100 sci-fi book lists so I thought I should try it. And it was very dull, and the central conceit was really obvious from early on and it’s just stupid. On that front, another highly overrated SF book is John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. Now Scalzi isn’t a nasty piece of human sputum like Card. Scalzi is actually a stand-up guy, a really nice fella if my social media interaction is anything to go by and he does fantastic things for the SFF community. But this book did not work for me at all, I couldn’t finish it. I reviewed it briefly on Goodreads here if you’re interested in more of my opinion on it.

The last sf/f/h book that was recommended to me was:

I honestly can’t remember… I talk about books with people so much that it’s impossible to keep track. I know Lexicon was recommended to me not that long ago. Sorry, my brain isn’t up to this question.

A sf/f/h book I recommended to someone else was:

Recently I’ve been happily recommending these wherever I can:

Lexicon by Max Barry
Whitstable by Stephen Volk
The Dog-Faced Gods trilogy by Sarah Pinborough
Midnight & Moonshine by Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannett
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker
Cabal by Clive Barker

Seriously, if you’ve been stuck for a good read lately, go and buy all of those now and you’ll be reinvigorated. Amazing stories, brilliantly written.

A sf/f/h book I have re-read is:

The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker. I lovelovelove this book and recently reread it again. It is a truly outstanding achievement, but I’m a total Clive Barker fanboy, so maybe I’m biased. But seriously, if you haven’t read it, do. In fact, I’m going to add it to the list answering the previous question, because I’m always recommending this and Cabal by Barker whenever I get the chance. I’m adding Cabal too. I’d better stop there though – honestly, I could sit here and recommend books all day.

A sf/f/h book I want to re-read is:

The Earthsea series by Ursula K Le Guin. I’ve read and loved the original trilogy a few times, but never read the others. I recently bought all the various volumes and have them sitting on my side table ready for a big reread. (Well, reread of the first three, then read of the rest.) I’m really looking forward to it.

So there you go. I thought those questions might lead to an interesting discussion of good reading. Mmmmbooks, how I love them…

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Obligatory eligibility post for award season

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January 17, 2014

It’s award season in the SFF world and I’ve seen several people post things on Twitter and Facebook and the like that basically say, “Yes, I want a reminder of what you’ve had published in 2013 so I can make informed votes, but no, I don’t want to be spammed upside the head with it constantly.” Which is really fair enough. I’ve been enjoying several of these posts and remembering books and stories I enjoyed last year. So, I’ll just leave this post here for people to do with as they please.

In short fiction, I’ve had the following publications in 2013 (if there’s a link, you can read it online):

Not the Worst of Sins” – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #133 (October 31st, 2013)

“Roll the Bones” – Crowded Magazine issue #2 (August 2013)

“The Beat Of A Pale Wing” – A Killer Among Demons anthology (Dark Prints Press, June 2013)

“The Fathomed Wreck To See” – Midnight Echo Magazine, issue 9 (May 2013)

“On A Crooked Leg Lightly” – Dreaming Of Djinn anthology (Ticonderoga Publications, May 2013)

“Quantum Echoes” – Next anthology (CFSG Publishing, April 2013)

“A Time For Redemption” – Urban Occult anthology (Anachron Press, March 2013)

“It’s Always the Children Who Suffer” – Midnight Echo Magazine, issue 10, Winner of the 2013 AHWA Short Story Competition (due end of December, 2013)

“Exposure Compensation” – Midnight Echo Magazine, issue 10 (due end of December, 2013)

Also published in 2013 was “Dark Rite”, the short horror novel I co-wrote with David Wood. That’s some good, pulpy, Hammer-esque horror fun if you’re into that sort of thing, and barely more than a novella, so a quick, easy read.

All the anthologies, magazines, novels and so on I’ve talked about above, and all the others I’m involved with, can be tracked down via this page: http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/books/.

So if you enjoyed any of the above last year and you fancy voting for it anywhere, I would be most grateful. And remember to check in with the blogs of your favourite writers for a reminder of their eligible stuff. The more people who vote in popular awards, the better the awards reflect the will of the reading public. Have at it.

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My year in review

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December 20, 2013

I guess this post is more for my own benefit than the interest of readers, but what the fuck? They say blogging is dead anyway. Actually, it’s not, by a long way, it’s just changed. But still. I’d like to think this post might also serve as some kind of inspiration. After all, it’s been a hell of a good year for me, writing-wise, and I’ve been working my arse off for a long time to get to this point. Maybe others can draw strength from that. I started to take being a professional writer seriously in 1997, after all. That’s 16 years ago now. Shit, eh? Where does the time go? We’re all getting older, life’s a bitch and all that. But 2013 was a fucking good year for me, so maybe it can inspire others who are trudging this long road to keep going. One more step. Then another. Art hard and don’t give up, motherhumpers.

After all, a successful person is a simply a failure who refused to godsdamn quit.

And you know, the longer I work at this gig, the more true that becomes. I’ve talked before about how success is basically hard work, luck and determination. It’s really the determination that’s the key. If you’re determined to keep going and keep working hard, you’ll get better. If you get better and stay determined, you’ll get more luck. More opportunities will come along if you’re busy working hard. You just have to notice and take them.

So, professionally, what’s happened this year for me? In short fiction, I’ve had the following publications:

“Not the Worst of Sins” – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #133 (October 31st, 2013)

“Roll the Bones” – Crowded Magazine issue #2 (August 2013)

“The Beat Of A Pale Wing” – A Killer Among Demons anthology (Dark Prints Press, June 2013)

“The Fathomed Wreck To See” – Midnight Echo Magazine, issue 9 (May 2013)

“On A Crooked Leg Lightly” – Dreaming Of Djinn anthology (Ticonderoga Publications, May 2013)

“Quantum Echoes” – Next anthology (CFSG Publishing, April 2013)

“A Time For Redemption” – Urban Occult anthology (Anachron Press, March 2013)

“Tiny Lives” – originally published in Daily Science Fiction (25th December 2012) this was reprinted in the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2012 (Ticonderoga Publications, August 2013)

That’s seven original stories and a reprint published already, including two pro sales (5c/word or more). I’ve still got three more publications due out this year, all in December:

“All the Wealth in the World” – Lakeside Circus 1, due any day now.

“It’s Always the Children Who Suffer” – Midnight Echo Magazine, issue 10, Winner of the 2013 AHWA Short Story Competition (due end of December, 2013)

“Exposure Compensation” – Midnight Echo Magazine, issue 10 (due end of December, 2013)

So that’s 10 original stories published and one Year’s Best reprint. Which is pretty awesome. And you’ll notice one of those originals is the winner of the 2013 AHWA Short Story Competition, another great high point for the year. I’ve also sold a couple of stories already that will be out next year, so it’s good to get a start on that.

Also published this year was Dark Rite, the short horror novel I co-wrote with David Wood. That’s some good, pulpy, Hammer-esque horror fun if you’re into that sort of thing, and barely more than a novella, so a quick, easy read.

All the anthologies, magazines, novels and so on I’ve talked about here, and all the others I’m involved with, can be tracked down via this page: http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/books/

I’d be very happy with all that as a year’s work on its own, but of course, I’m saving the best for last. A couple of months ago I signed a three book deal with HarperVoyager Australia, and they’re publishing my trilogy The Alex Caine Series between July and December next year. That’s not only the high point of the year, it’s the high point of my career to date. I couldn’t be more excited about it.

And on top of all that, my son was born at the end of October.

Oh yes, 2013 is going down as one HELL of a year. It’s hard work all the way, but it’s paying off. I’m getting better all the time, I’m staying determined, I’m working hard and I’m starting to see real results.

You can too. Go for it!

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Ecstatic to announce my three book deal with HarperVoyager Australia

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October 4, 2013

There is no doubt in my mind that October 2013 will live on as possibly the most amazing month of my life. Not only is my first born child due at the end of this month, which is amazing enough news on its own, but I’ve just signed a deal with Harper Collins Australia for their Voyager imprint to publish my new trilogy in the second half of next year. Honestly, I’m bouncing off the walls here. Never has so much Snoopy dancing been done.

This news has been burning me from the inside out while the deal has been negotiated, so it’s an incredible relief to finally be able to announce it publicly. The trilogy is the start of The Alex Caine Series. If it does well, there could certainly be further Alex Caine books in the future. Voyager are looking to publish all three books throughout Australia and New Zealand through the second half of next year, between July and December. The books are modern grim dark fantasy thrillers called Bound, Obsidian and Abduction. They follow the trials of an underground MMA fighter, Alex Caine, and his introduction to a world of magic, monsters, mayhem and life-threatening danger he could never have imagined. That’s all I’m going to say about the books for now, but I’ll certainly be talking a lot more about this series as things progress.

I want to thank my amazing agent, Alex Adsett, for her hard work on this, and the wonderful Rochelle Fernandez at HarperVoyager. I also need to thank three very special people who helped me turn the books from good idea into publishable gems. Firstly, the late, great Paul Haines. I wish he was still here for so many reasons, but not least of which to share this. He was the first person to critique the original manuscript of Bound, even as he was fading to cancer, and he ripped that thing to pieces and helped me make it so much better. I miss you, Haines – thanks, mate. I also need to thank Angela Slatter and Jo Anderton, who subsequently read, critiqued, flensed and cajoled me about both Bound and Obsidian, to really turn those books into something of which I can be very proud.

And above and beyond all that, I have to thank my fantastic wife, Halinka. She puts up with me and believes in me all the way. Extra special thanks are due because I’ve been a fucking mess while this deal was being sorted out and she not only supported me through that, but did so while heavily pregnant! Amazing woman.

So I couldn’t be more excited to be working with HarperVoyagerAU. With any luck, the series will sell into other territories too, as I would obviously love to see it released in the US and UK as well, and then the world! But for right now, I’m having trouble peeling myself off the ceiling with this tremendous news. Please excuse me, while I Snoopy dance into a wall. Again.

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Great Inspiration – guest post from Thoraiya Dyer

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September 23, 2013

Last week I posted about the time, back in 1989, when I met Neil Gaiman and got a signed copy of Sandman #1, with no idea at the time of the significance of the event. You can see that post here. At the end of the post I said I would put the call out to my writerly friends and see if any of them had similar inspirations in their lives they might like to share. The wonderful Thoraiya Dyer got back to me with this excellent post:

Inspirational things – The Empire Trilogy by Feist and Wurts

daughter 183x300 Great Inspiration   guest post from Thoraiya DyerDaughter of the Empire, by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts, was published in 1987.

I didn’t read it until 1992. That year, the third book in the series came out; I saw my mother actually go without food so that she could buy the book and find out the fate of Mara, Lady of the Acoma.

Meanwhile, I was just starting high school. Daughter of the Empire had a turreted, cathedral-looking castle and a blonde with a broadsword on the cover. Yet the first line was: “The priest struck the gong.” I’d sure never seen a gong in a cathedral.

I hadn’t heard of whitewashing in 1992 but soon lost myself in a story devoid of blondes. There were no turrets. There weren’t even any broadswords. The fascinating tale of a teenage girl inheriting the leadership of a once-mighty feudal family and battling with her wits to keep from being crushed by her rivals kept me absolutely riveted to the very last page.

Along the way there were honour-bound Tsurani warriors that sounded suspiciously like samurai. Grey warriors that might have been ronin. There were wood-framed palaces with paper screens instead of solid walls. There were spies who did not brawl like James Bond but infiltrated like ninjas.

Later, I discovered that Feist and Wurts had used Korea and Ancient Rome as their inspiration, but by then, barking up the wrong tree, I’d already delved into all things Japanese.

I took Japanese for my language elective that year. When Mum asked if I wanted to do netball or soccer, I told her I wanted to do karate. I read Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and The Book of Five Rings. I set my alarm for 3am to get up and watch inappropriately classified and poorly dubbed anime while drinking green tea. Pre-internet, I sent physical letters to the Japanese pen pal I later met on my first amazing trip to Japan.

I learned enough about this other culture that when older Australians with hangovers from World War II told me that the Japanese were a cruel and inhuman race, I could set them straight in no uncertain terms.

The cultural diversity to be found in today’s SFF is an absolute joy to me but I’ll never forget where I found it first. The vivid fantasy world of the fictional Empire was not Japan, not Korea and not Ancient Rome. Some might argue, today, that the borrowed elements of it were not Feist’s or Wurts’ to borrow, but what they did, while they were borrowing it, was wave it in my young, impressionable face and say, “Look! How incredibly cool is this? People can live lives that are completely different to yours, so different that you’ll never be able to look at your own culture the same way again, and yet just as rich, just as dangerous, just as colourful, just as gut-wrenching, just as meaningful and just as true.”

I’ll owe them a debt forever, because of that.

I’ve borrowed many places and people in my short fiction that didn’t belong to me. I’ve set stories in Nepal, Scotland, the Caribbean and New South Wales pre-colonisation. I’ve written Spaniards and South Americans, Quakers and Christian Saints.

When I make mistakes, I’m very sorry for it, I feel inadequacy and terrible remorse, but I hope that for every person offended by my ignorance, five more will be inspired to go to the source, to museums or the internet, to film, art, fiction or non-fiction made or written by people who are of that culture or to meet and speak with those people, and become immersed, drinking up all the detail I could not give them, because all I was really doing, all I was trying to do, was shout out to my readers, “Look! How incredibly cool is this?”

Thoraiya Dyer is an Australian writer who lives online at http://www.thoraiyadyer.com . Her four-story collection, Asymmetry, is available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Asymmetry-Twelve-Planets-ebook/dp/B00BWWK94W ), Wizard’s Tower (http://www.wizardstowerbooks.com/products/asymmetry-thoraiya-dyer ) or direct from Twelfth Planet Press (http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/products/paperbacks/asymmetry ). The naginata, or Japanese halberd, a women’s weapon of feudal times, features in one of the stories.

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All Hallow’s Read

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0
September 20, 2013

Talking of Neil Gaiman (see last post) there’s this. Watch, share, OBEY!

And if you need any ideas for scary books to give to people, might I suggest RealmShift, MageSign or Dark Rite.

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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. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

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