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What a wonderful launch for Bound

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July 11, 2014

I’m on the train heading home from Sydney, tapping away on my iPad, still a little stunned by the awesome night I had last night. Bound was launched at Kinokuniya Bookshop and I have to admit, I was a little nervous.

The bookshop were being wonderfully supportive, the truly excellent Margo Lanagan had agreed to be my official launcher, my publishing team (Rochelle Fernandez, Amanda Diaz, Shona Martyn, my agent, Alex Adsett, and many others) were all in my corner and assuring me it would be great. But what if no one showed up? What if it was a complete flop? At 6pm I started hoping we’d get enough people to have at least one or two folk in each row of seats. By 6.30, all the seats were full and there was an arc of people two or three deep across the back. I couldn’t believe it!

My editor, Rochelle, did a great job introducing us and said things about the book I didn’t know. Things like how it was the third biggest seller at Sydney Supanova. Wow!

Then Margo did a fantastic job of launching, saying truly humbling things about the book and asking me searching questions. There is now such a thing as a “kettle scene”. Here’s a great photo by Jodi Cleghorn of Margo and I enjoying ourselves immensely:

photo1 300x225 What a wonderful launch for Bound

I really did enjoy the whole experience and it seems that everyone else there did as well. They laughed in all the right places and I signed a load of books afterwards and got to chat with an array of excellent people. If I didn’t get to chat with you for long or at all, I’m sorry. The whole evening is a bit of a happy, hazy blur for me and not only because of the wine.

I’m utterly humbled by the event. I am genuinely living the dream here and I plan to soak up every bit of it I can. And it’s all due to the best people out there: my publishers and their belief in me, my friends for their support, and all the people who have taken a chance on buying Bound. I really hope you enjoy it and come back for the next books in the series. I can’t thank all of you enough. All I did was write the best book I could – you all made it real. I couldn’t be happier.

The always generous Cat Sparks took photos throughout the evening and you can see them at her Flickr page here. Thanks Cat!

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Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

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July 7, 2014

So I stole this idea from Mark Lawrence and asked people to photoshop the cover of Bound into whacky pictures, just for a laugh. I was going to pick a winner. Then I couldn’t decide and asked people to go the Facebook album where I put all the pics and Like their favourites. Then I decided to reward the top three, which turned out to be four due to a tie! So I’ll be sending out four signed copies this week.

Here are the results:

Geoff Brown’s entry was a clear winner with 27 Likes (plus it panders beautifully to my ego.)

10406946 901985129828400 6411272847290657643 n 300x131 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners


Also:

David Wood with 11 Likes (you sick fuckers, all o’ya!)

10472731 902581919768721 2932070921505772847 n 300x220 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners
And joint third:

Voytek Zochowski and Josh Connolly with 7 Likes each. And come on, Bruce Lee and CoD Predator? Top work.

10488154 901410969885816 990162268133634488 n 300x294 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

10500272 901373406556239 5073336900287324176 n 300x214 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

Click on each image for  larger version. Those Likes might change, but that’s how they stood at 11pm Sunday when I decided to call it.

I’ll contact the winners privately for address details. Congrats all, and thanks to everyone who entered. What a lot of fun that was!

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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… or not – with Peter Watts

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September 30, 2013

Since I wrote this post about a moment of great inspiration I wasn’t even aware of at the time (when I met Neil Gaiman in 1989), I’ve been hosting some guest posts from other writer friends where they share their moments of equally great inspiration. You can read all the posts so far under the Great Inspiration category here. It’s really cool to have these people share inspiring moments with us. Or not, in the case of Peter Watts. And Peter’s response made me realise that some readers might be a bit concerned if they couldn’t put their finger on a moment of equal importance in their own lives. As you can see from his comments below, you really needed worry about that. After Peter responded to my email, making me realise this potential angle, I asked if I could post his comments anyway, as an example to others that a moment of great clarity (even realised much later) is not actually necessary. I mean, this is Hugo Award-winning Peter Watts. Author of the Rifters and Blindsight (the seminal first contact novel.) So take heart:

Your email got me thinking– and oddly, I can’t think of anything in my life that proved especially pivotal or inspirational. I wanted to be a writer ever since I plagiarized 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at the age of seven; I wanted to be a marine biologist ever since I stumbled across a friend’s 10-gal aquarium the year before. Ever since then, y trajectory’s been relatively unwavering.

I discovered the three brands of author most relevant to my own development (1 – How can this bozo be selling so well when he can’t write his way out of a goddamn fortune cookie?; 2 – Oh, I see how you did that, that’s brilliant. Now I know how to do it too. Too bad I can’t because you already did it first; and 3 – You told me exactly what you were going to do before you did it, and I thought you were crazy, and then you went ahead and did it and I still have no idea how you pulled it off.)

I think I may have petted William Gibson’s cat once (at least, I’m pretty sure it was Gibson’s doorstep the cat was sitting on). But there was no one-on-one meeting, no life-changing experience that set my course. I’d like to say that some Monty Python cutout God appeared in the heavens and told me I’d have to get a day job as a marine biologist before I could break out and become a midlist SF writer, but really, it was just kinda steady-as-she-goes.

Sorry.

No apology needed, Peter. That’s actually quite inspiring in itself.

Peter Watts is an outstanding author and fascinating guy. I highly recommend you read his full bio here, on his site, rifters.com

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Great Inspiration – guest post from Jason Nahrung

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September 27, 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 and Martin Livings wrote me this great post. Now I have a little something from Jason Nahrung:

When art and circumstance collide.

It was back in 2011 when I’d been to an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria about the Secessionist movement — Gustav Klimt is probably the most famous of them. But it was a painting by Oskar Kokoschka, of a Count Verona, and the enigmatic personality of seamstress and muse Emilie Floge that really got under my skin.

Lo, the very next day, an email arrived announcing a new anthology, Tales from the Bell Club (KnightWatch Press, 2012), looking for stories set in a time period that included the Secessionists. A little more research about Verona and the group, and ‘The Kiss’ was born, incorporating Emilie and Gustav and Oskar, a tuberculosis clinic and a cult led by another enigmatic figure, the Comte de St Germain (under one of his nom de plumes).

One of those wonderful moments when arts and circumstances collided, and I got to be an Austrian suffragette of the early 1900s.

Thanks to Amazon’s Look Inside feature, you can read (and buy) the end product here.

This is the Verona painting:

verona web Great Inspiration   guest post from Jason Nahrung

And here’s Emilie:

emilie web 240x300 Great Inspiration   guest post from Jason Nahrung

Jason Nahrung is a Ballarat-based writer and editor. His latest novel is Blood and Dust, an outback vampire adventure melding Mad Max and Anne Rice. www.jasonnahrung.com

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Great Inspiration – guest post from Martin Livings

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September 25, 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, and today I have a post from Martin Livings:

The Year 1990

1990 was the year that made me. Or ruined me, depending on your point of view. I’d already been writing and submitting stories to the only local SF magazine I knew of, a trashy little beast called “Far Out”. They were amazing tales I sent them, like the one about the advanced civilisation being wiped out by a natural disaster, only to be revealed that it was actually an ants’ nest being stepped on by a small child. Or the one about the two armies fighting to the death that turned out to be a game of chess. Wow, incredible stuff. I wonder why they never accepted them?

Then in 1990 I attended Curtin University for less than a semester, my second unsuccessful foray into academic life. But during that semester, I joined the Curtin Imagination Association (CIA), as a high school friend of mine was already a member, and through them found out about the existence of Swancon, the annual Perth science fiction convention. So I thought, what the hell, sounds like it could be fun, and went along.

And that, as they say, was that.

The guest of honour was the brilliant Terry Dowling. I’d never heard of Terry before that, but hearing him talk, hearing him read, I was gone. Here was an Australian spec fic writer, doing things I’d never seen done in spec fic before. Rynosseros blew my tiny mind; I still have the copy I bought at the con, signed by Terry. I also met Nick Stathopolous for the first time there, artist extraordinaire. And it wasn’t just meeting them, either, but all of the people there, people like me, yet all different too. I wasn’t alone any more. It was energising and liberating to discover this.

These were huge inspirations, but the biggest inspiration that came out of Swancon 1990 was meeting the incredible team that were putting together what was at the time (and in my humble opinion still is) the finest Australian spec fic journal ever, Eidolon. Meeting the editors, Jeremy G. Byrne, Richard Scriven and Jonathan Strahan, plus of course the others involved in getting the magazine up and running, Keira McKenzie, Robin Pen and Chris Stronach, was like a lightbulb going off in my brain. Or maybe a nuclear explosion. These guys were locals, they were here in Perth, and they were doing incredible things with the genre.

I wanted in. I wanted in bad.

bjaheiff Great Inspiration   guest post from Martin Livings

(Martin in home-made Freddy Krueger makeup, Swancon 1990)

It took me two years to get a story accepted by them. That sounds like a long time, but considering the legendary slowness of the Eidolon reading process, it was actually pretty quick. At around the same time, I also had a story accepted by Aurealis, the other local powerhouse on the scene, which I’m so glad is still alive and well today. I ended up working for Eidolon in the end, first writing book reviews, then editing the book review column, and finally as an associate editor. I made so many great friends through this; Sean Williams and Kirstyn McDermott were two of my favourite go-to book reviewers, and of course the amazing (and Oscar-winning!) Shaun Tan was the art editor, to name only three of many. But more than that, I learned. I learned about the craft and the art. I learned what was good, what was bad, and, worse, what was ordinary and dull. I learned more than I ever could have in any university.

1990, Swancon and Eidolon teamed up and created the beginning of my writing career. And even though Eidolon may no longer be with us, it sits on my bookshelf and continues to inspire me, to make me want to do better, write better, be better. Hopefully it always will.

Perth-based writer Martin Livings has had nearly eighty short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Carnies, was published by Hachette Livre in 2006, and his first short story collection, Living With the Dead, was published in 2012 by Dark Prints Press. http://www.martinlivings.com

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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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ABE – Short film

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September 5, 2013

A strange conversation on Facebook today led me to discover this short film. It’s a rather disturbing and dark sci-fi exploration of robots and feelings. Great production values.

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Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Recommended Reading

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August 19, 2013

years best fantasy and horror v3 slide Years Best Fantasy & Horror Recommended ReadingI’m doing my Snoopy dance. Ticonderoga Publications have just released their Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror Recommended Reading List and I feature on it four times. Four! That’s so cool. I’ve mentioned before how proud I am that my story, Tiny Lives, (originally published at Daily Science Fiction) is being reprinted in the book. To have a Year’s Best reprint is just such an honour. But to also have four other stories given a nod in the recommended reading is fantastic. It includes the story I co-wrote with Felicity Dowker. My listed stories are:

“Cephalopoda Obsessia”, Bloodstones anthology.
“Crossroads and Carousels”, The Red Penny Papers. (Free to read online)
“Fear is the Sin”, From Stage Door Shadows anthology.
“Burning, Always Burning”, with Felicity Dowker, Damnation and Dames anthology.

Check out the full list of recommended reading here. That’s some sweet company I’m keeping. And at the end of the page linked there is information on where to buy the book, jam-packed full of Year’s Best awesomenitude. And yes, that is totally a word. Now. Also, check out my Books page and Dark Shorts page for details on where to find the recommended stories.

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Stranger than fiction – Pentacle in Kazakhstan

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August 15, 2013

I love stuff like this. You know when you see something bizarre in the real world and it just blows your mind? When you’re a writer, you see stuff like that and think, I’d never get away with that in a book. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said: “Fiction is hard, because it has to make sense. Real life doesn’t.” Or words to that effect. Apologies to Neil if that’s a bad paraphrase. And apologies to someone else if it wasn’t Neil Gaiman who said it originally. I honestly can’t be arsed to check. The principle is sound and has been echoed in many ways over the years. Which is why I love stuff like this. It’s just so out there, but it’s real. At least, it exists. It all starts with this headline: Gigantic Pentagram Found in Kazakhstan – Can Be Seen in Google Maps. The headline there links to the original article. Go have a read.

Essentially, it boils down to: A gigantic pentagram was found in Google Maps in an isolated region of Kazakhstan, West of the city of Lisakovsk (coordinates +52° 28′ 47.14″, +62° 11′ 8.38″). The circle’s circumference is over 1000 feet wide and contains a clearly defined, mathematically correct pentagram.

It’s actually a pentacle (a pentagram in a circle) but the article does mention that later.

Beyond that, it’s all speculation. I’d love to know more about why it’s there, who made it, etc. Is it for some magical rituals? Is there a great conspiracy at work or is it just a bit of fun and nonsense? Kazakhstan is apparently well-favoured among the occult elite, whatever that means. I really must arrange a visit there one day. Next book set in Kazakhstan, maybe? Then I can write off a research trip.

Of course, the first thought is that it’s all a hoax, so I double-checked. You can indeed see the thing on Google maps, so it’s at least that real. Here’s a crop from a screenshot I took after I tracked it down:

kazak 300x169 Stranger than fiction   Pentacle in Kazakhstan

I think this whole thing is pretty cool!

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Welcome

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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