Dark Fantasy

All about The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings

By
0
August 12, 2014

By now you all know I’m good friends with Angela Slatter. You should also know that I’m a huge fan of her work – it’s great when one of your friends is also one of your favourite writers. One of the best books I’ve read in recent years was Sourdough & Other Stories, Angela’s collection of short stories published by Tartarus Press. Not only is it a collection of brilliant stories, it’s a beautiful artifact of a book too. Tartarus make wonderful things. Well, Angela was supposed to write a sequel collection, but being the contrary writer she is, she wrote a prequel collection instead. It’s called The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings. Tartarus agreed to publish it and Angela scored the amazing Kathleen Jennings to do internal illustrations for it. The result is a book even more beautiful than Sourdough, and equally chock full of amazing stories. I know that, because I’ve read it. The book’s not out til September 1st, but we’re friends, remember? So I got Angela and Kathleen to talk a bit about it and the process of its creation. You can read that below. At the end is a link to the Tartarus Press website where you can pre-order the book, and I really, really recommend that you do. And if you haven’t read Sourdough, buy that too and you can read it while you wait. I’m not just talking up my friends here, either – Sourdough was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Aurealis Award for Best Collection. These are books you do not want to miss. Over to Angela and Kathleen.

***

Angela3 206x300 All about The Bitterwood Bible and Other RecountingsAngela:

My Author’s Note to Bitterwood goes thus:

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings is intended as a prequel to Sourdough and Other Stories. It was meant to be a sequel, but the tales were determined to defy me—they insisted upon telling what had happened before, to show how the books of Murcianus came to be, how Ella came into the world, where Hepsibah Ballantyne—who appears only as a name on a headstone in Sourdough’s Lodellan cemetery—began the chain of events that are traced through the mosaic of this book. Bitterwood expands and builds upon the world of Sourdough and, I hope, makes readers feel they are coming home once again.

I’d written “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” in 2011 as a standalone story for Steve Jones’s A Book of Horrors anthology, and that seemed the place to start. Hepsibah had gone from being a name on a grave to a powerful presence, so that story is one that threads through the whole of Bitterwood. As I wrote the stories fell into place and I can honestly say that this collection was one of those rare things that a writer dreams of: knowing exactly what was going to happen, when, and to whom. I was able to weave together so many of the things I love: elements of history and myth and fairy tale and folklore. There are little nods to writers as diverse as Umberto Eco and Kim Newman. There are vampires, boarding schools for assassins, pirates who are being hunted to extinction, a brazen head that tells the future, bakeries and rats, transformed badgers and dreadful revenges − and books. So many books.

bitterwood7 225x300 All about The Bitterwood Bible and Other RecountingsAs the narrative came together I started to think not about a cover, strangely, but about internal illustrations. I love Kathleen Jennings’ artwork and I knew she had an ambition to do endpapers, so I asked if she would like to beta read the stories as I finished them and, if perhaps the spirit moved her, do some illustrations as she read? She said yes, which was lucky for me; luckier still the lovely people at Tartarus took both the collection and agreed to use Kathleen’s illustrations. I feel very fortunate and privileged to have drawings done that truly capture the spirit of the tales I wrote. And of course there was the absolute wicked delight of having Kathleen text me photos of what she’d done as she read a story.

It was such a pleasure to work with her and I hope I was a well-behaved author! I don’t think I was critical or asked for any kangaroos to be added to The Last Supper. I’m doubly spoiled because Kathleen also did the artwork for my limited edition collection of Black-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications), which echoes the silhouette technique of Arthur Rackham, but has its own wonderful unique beauty.

kathleen colour 287x300 All about The Bitterwood Bible and Other RecountingsKathleen:

Angela would keep dropping hints about the most beautiful parts of her stories, often before they were written – badgers (sigh) and a school for poison girls, doors in trees, dangerous quilts… so any workload-related resolve was fairly well weakened by the time she sent me the manuscript, because now they were here! They were real stories in the world, and I could read them!

I spent a lot of time in cafes, reading and sketching, sending Angela texts with reactions and pictures – each gaining energy from the other’s excitement! We’re still doing this, if you saw our comments back and forth when Tartarus released pictures of the Actual Book.

It was a lovely way to work, actually: just a free hand to sketch my way through the book. Because the original plan was to try and sell Tartarus on the idea of endpapers, I was going for multiple small images and the individual pressure was off – I could just draw anything that caught my fancy. And then Angela would edit it out of the manuscript. But anyway.

bbparts All about The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings

I’m still haunted by images from this book. Images and titles (‘Now all pirates are gone’). And Tartarus did a lovely job of putting the pictures in just where they ought to be – Angela and I had to check in with each other to say, “Did you see where they put the badgers? I knowwww!”

Still haven’t drawn endpapers.

***

The Tartarus Press website is here and you can buy Sourdough & Other Stories here (This is a link to the paperback. I think the beautiful hardback is sold out, but worth sending an email maybe) and pre-order The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings here. Go. Now!

You can learn more about Angela here and more about Kathleen here.

bitterwoodfinis 300x215 All about The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings

.

Obsidian, Alex Caine #2, out now in ebook in Aus and NZ!

By
0
July 22, 2014

Obsidian cover 196x300 Obsidian, Alex Caine #2, out now in ebook in Aus and NZ!Hard to believe, I know, given that it seems like Bound has only just come out. Well, that’s because Bound has only just come out! But Harper Voyager are giving ebook readers that digital first binge read opportunity. Bound is still free until the end of July, and Obsidian, Alex Caine #2, is out already and only $4.99 across all Australian and New Zealand ebook stores.

Obsidian is another standalone Alex Caine book, but it’s the second in a series and effectively the middle book of the first trilogy. Could I make it any more complicated? Yes, I probably could, but it’s actually not so bad. Each Alex Caine book is a standalone novel. There are threads that continue throughout the series and several major parts of a bigger story arc are wrapped up the first three books. But there are still some small things left tantalisingly hanging that I’ll hopefully get the opportunity to address in future installments.

Here’s the blurb for Obsidian:

Alex Caine wishes he had a direction, but it pays to be careful what you wish for.

Alex Caine is looking for direction and trying to build a new life with his recently acquired magical talents, and Kin girlfriend, Silhouette. He is recruited by a secret organisation to head off an impending doom, foretold by Seers as already somehow linked to his destiny. Claude Darvill is desperately trying to get in touch with his father, Robert Hood. When the company, Black Diamond, reveals that Hood had gone missing after chasing Alex Caine, Darvill takes over control of Black Diamond and starts hunting Caine himself. Alex and his crew close in on three amateur mages in Britain’s north, who think they have uncovered ancient magic that will reveal great powers. But they are caught in a vortex and pulled through to a strange lost city, isolated in the void. Trapped in a place removed from everything they know, ruled by a hierarchy of monsters, Alex and his friends must find a way to escape Obsidian.

This is my great “lost city” novel that I’ve always wanted to write and I had a load of fun with the worldbuilding. It’s got the same great action, martial arts, monsters and twisted mythology that you found in Bound, only ramped up even more. You can learn more about it on the Obsidian page here, or just go and buy it from your favourite ebook store right now.

If you’re keen to see the print edition of Obsidian (and let’s be honest, who isn’t, right?) be sure to hassle your local book shop for it. The shop will tell their reps, the reps will tell the publisher and we’ll get everything moving along sooner rather than later.

I really hope you enjoy Obsidian. If you do enjoy Bound and Obsidian, please tell people about them. Nothing is of more value to an author than word of mouth, so even if you’re not the type to review or rate on Goodreads and the iBook Store, etc., just telling people about books you enjoy is absolutely gold. Mention it on Twitter or Facebook, tell your friends and colleagues and family. And not just about my books, but about all the books you enjoy. Signal boost the good stuff by telling people how good it is. It makes you a better person and every time you recommend a book, an orphan gets a new puppy. It’s true, it’s like magic, you wouldn’t believe it.

.

Five Qs with Dr Angela Slatter

By
1
July 21, 2014

Angela3 206x300 Five Qs with Dr Angela SlatterYou guys have heard me talk about Angela Slatter plenty before. She’s a good friend of mine, but more than that, she’s one of the best writers I know. Specialising in dark fantasy and horror, she’s the author of the Aurealis Award-winning The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, the World Fantasy Award finalist Sourdough and Other Stories, and the Aurealis finalist Midnight and Moonshine (with Lisa L. Hannett). And that’s just a fraction of her bio. She’s the first Aussie to win a British Fantasy Award too. Check out all about her publications and awards here.

Angela has a new chapbook out from Spectral Press called Hearth and Home. It’s a great read and I’ve asked her five questions about it and about horror and her writing in general. The questions are below, but before you read them, go and get the chapbook, as it’s limited edition and there aren’t many left. You can send an email to spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com or maybe get one of the last ones from Angela herself by emailing me[at]angelaslatter[dot]com

You won’t be sorry. So, on with the Qs:

1. What’s “Hearth and Home” all about and why did you write this story?

Well, it’s about a woman whose teenaged son has come home after a lengthy trial. He was found innocent but things are not as they should be, life doesn’t return to ‘normal’. Basically it’s the story of Caroline’s journey through figuring out just how far from normal things are. I wrote it because Simon Marshall-Jones from Spectral Press had said ‘Sooo, hey, how about a chapbook story?’ And I’d seen the work he’d done with other authors such as Gary McMahon in the chapbook series and thought ‘Yep, get me some of that!’

2. What’s the real draw card for you with horror?

I don’t mind gore if it’s well used and cleverly placed for maximum effect, but I really, really hate explicit shock for the sake of shock. It has a numbing effect after a while and that is not the point of horror for me. Horror is about the creeping shiver that becomes a full-blooded scream … I enjoy the psychology of that journey, that’s what wraps me up in a good horror story.

Home Hearth Front Cover 211x300 Five Qs with Dr Angela Slatter3. Chapbooks are still cool. Why?

I think they’ve never really gone out of fashion in particular, i.e. genre, quarters, and they’re now riding the wave of small press resurgence. I think that’s because small presses are in a unique position to create books that aren’t your traditional trade paperback with the imperative to sell millions. That’s not to say they don’t want to make money, but there’s definitely a place for books are collectable artefacts that remains even in an age of e-books and the throwaway paperback.

I also like to think that you can see the craft in them, they don’t necessarily look like something that’s from a cookie cutter … there’s an individuality to them that feels very human and person-made.

4. If you could organise one of those haunted house murder mystery dinners, who would you invite? And who would be the killer?

Oooooh. I’m going to ask the living and the dead, the real and the imagined! Angela Carter and Tanith Lee, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Shearman and Lisa Hannett, Mark Gatiss and Christopher Lee, Helen Marshall and Helen Mirren. And Neil Gaiman, who would be the killer and whom no one would suspect coz he always seems so nice.

5. What’s next for Doctor Slatter?

Dr Slatter has three books out this year: The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (from Tartarus Press), Black-Winged Angels (from Ticonderoga Publications), and The Female Factory (written with Lisa Hannett and coming out from Twelfth Planet Press). No matter what anyone tells you, I am open to working with publishers that don’t start with the letter ‘T’.

I currently have a novel called Vigil doing the rounds; I am finishing my novella for Spectral Press, which is called The Witch’s Scale; and I’m finishing up my collection The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales, which is the result of my Queensland Writers Fellowship year; I’m working on another novel called Scandalous Lady Detective, and going back to an old novel called Well of Souls to finish it off.

In between I am occasionally offering an editing and story development service, but it’s starting to feel like a bit of a time-squeeze at this point!

Find out more about Angela here: www.angelaslatter.com/

.

What a wonderful launch for Bound

By
0
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!

.

“Mephisto” published at Daily Science Fiction

By
0
June 24, 2014

I’m very happy to have sold another story to those wonderful people at Daily Science Fiction. If you’re not a subscriber, you should be! Fresh and awesome science fiction, fantasy and horror stories direct to your inbox every week day. The stories are also published on the website to be read for free.

My latest story there is called “Mephisto” – a little yarn about small town vaudeville. Or is it?

You can read it here – please take a moment to give it a Rocket Dragon rating when you get to the end, it’s just a single click. I recommend signing up for the subscriber emails while you’re there. If you take the time to read, you have my thanks and I hope you enjoy it.

.

Early reviews for Bound coming in

By
0
June 11, 2014

I’ve been in a state of angst for quite a while. As if impending publication of my first major publishing novel wasn’t daunting enough, several weeks ago the advance copies went out to reviewers. I’ve been chewing my nails, hoping the book wasn’t going to get thoroughly trashed. You expect a few poor or lukewarm reviews – you simply can’t please everyone – but as long as the poor reviews were few and there were some good reviews, I’d be happy. Thankfully, the feedback so far has been pretty positive. Here’s a few excerpts with links to the full reviews.

From Collins Booksellers (Edwardstown, SA):

The start to this series has given me faith that the Urban Fantasy scene is not just the same story with different characters.

Full review here.

From Mark Timmony of Booktopia and Postcards from the Emerald City:

This is a page turning dark fantasy that doesn’t shy away from sex and violence and the the underbelly of society. Filled with guts, passion, determination and the will to survive Baxter has delivered a great romp of a novel and I’m looking forward to see where he takes Alex Caine next.

Full review here.

From Jamie Marriage reviewing at Marianne de Pierres blog:

Bound is a fantastically gritty and modern view of dark fantasy, with twisted mythologies, sexual deviancy, and unapologetic characters. Most chapters have plenty of action, but not enough to hide the fact that there is a great story-line and dialogue going on from cover to cover. Greed, gluttony, wrath, and lust are all demonstrated in large portions throughout, and no character is without their vices and imperfections. It all comes together to create a book that’s difficult to put down and thoroughly worth re-reading. Baxter has proven he has real skill with this genre, and if this first novel is anything to go by, there are even greater things to come.

Full review here.

All these things make me so very happy. I couldn’t ask for better things to be said about this book. My angst is still there, but it’s been mollified a little bit!

.

Alex Caine series covers reveal

By
0
June 10, 2014

As the ad in the Continuum X program revealed all three Alex Caine covers, I thought it was time to share them here too. Bound is out in print and ebook in three weeks, on July 1st! Ebooks of Obsidian and Abduction to follow in August and September, with print editions hopefully not far behind them.

Please do pick up Bound as soon as you can, as early sales really count in publishing. And remember, all three books are standalone novels, so you get a whole story in Bound – no need to wait for the series to be published. If your bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, please ask them to get it for you. Or even ask them now, just to be certain. You can also click on the Bound cover in the sidebar on the left to find links to all the online stockists for print and ebook editions. And if you’re in Sydney and going to Supanova this weekend, don’t forget to come and find me – we’ll have early copies of Bound for you to buy there and I’ll sign them for you too.

Here are all three covers – click for a bigger resolution file:

three covers small 300x167 Alex Caine series covers reveal

Alex Caine covers.

Bound launch evite and the first 3 chapters free online!

By
1
May 30, 2014

I apologise in advance. My new book, Bound, the first Alex Caine book, comes out in almost exactly one month, on the 1st July. So my apology is because I’m going to be crapping on a lot about this book over the next month or so. I really hope I don’t bore you, and I’ll try to be interesting on other subjects too, but the reality is, I have a fucking book coming out!I’m equal parts excited, nervous and panicking. But yes, if I go on about this a lot, please forgive me. It’s not something that happens often.

So, with that in mind, here’s some more Bound news. As I’ve already blogged, there will be pre-release copies available at Supanova Sydney and a few ARCs up for grabs at Continuum in Melbourne. The book will be available in shops from July 1st or so. But the first official launch of Bound is on July 10th in Sydney and you’re all invited. Margo Lanagan is launching the book. Margo Frickin’ Lanagan who writes with a frickin’ pen! (She does, you know – writes everything longhand first. Mad.) I mean it, all of you are invited. Please come if you can, it would wonderful to see you there. It’s at Kinokuniya Bookshop, as I’ve mentioned before, but now there’s a proper electronic invite with an RSVP email address so Kino can get an idea of numbers. That’s below – click on it for a larger image.

Meanwhile, to whet your appetites (cos I know you all have voracious appetites) I’ve put a PDF of the first three chapters of Bound on the official Bound webpage here. So, go and have a read and I hope you like it. I hope you like it enough to buy the book. Nothing would make me happier. Well, world peace would make me happier. As would a cure for all cancers. And so on. But, in context, you know what I mean.

Here’s the invite – I really look forward to seeing people there.

Bound evite 300x150 Bound launch evite and the first 3 chapters free online!

EDIT: And now there’s a Facebook event for the Kinokinuya launch that can sign up to for updates. Click here!

.

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

By
1
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.

.

Suspended in Dusk anthology, ToC revealed

By
0
May 13, 2014

My story, “Shadows of the Lonely Dead”, is coming out in the Suspended in Dusk anthology (Books of the Dead Press, due mid-late 2014) and the editor, Simon Dewar, has just released the full list of contributing authors and their stories. It’s a stellar bunch:

Alan Baxter – Shadows of the Lonely Dead
Angela Slatter – The Way of All Flesh
Anna Reith – Taming the Stars
Armand Rosamilia – At Dusk They Come
Benjamin Knox – The Keeper of Secrets
Brett Rex Bruton – Outside In
Chris Limb – Ministry of Outrage
Icy Sedgwick – A Woman of Disrepute
J C Michael – Reasons to Kill
John Everson - Spirits Having Flown (Reprint)
Karen Runge – Hope is Here
Ramsey Campbell – Digging Deep  (Reprint)
Rayne Hall – Burning (Reprint)
Sarah Read – Quarter Turn to Dawn
Shane McKenzie – Fit Camp (Reprint)
S. G. Larner – Shades of Memory
Tom Dullemond - Would to God That We Were There
Toby Bennett – Maid of Bone
Wendy Hammer – Negatives

That’s alphabetical, of course. The final order of stories and a cover reveal are apparently coming soon. I think this is going to be a great book. A few of those stories are reprints, but the majority are original, and all follow the theme of “suspended in dusk” to some degree. Should be well worth a read. And can I just point out that I’m going to be in a book with Ramsey Campbell. Achievement Unlocked!

More news as it comes to hand.

.

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.

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

Subscribe to my Mailing List: For occasional news, special offers and more. When you click the Subscribe button you will be sent to a confirmation page.

------------------------------

Contact

Contact Me


Our world is built on language and storytelling. Without stories, we are nothing.

------------------------------

TOP POSTS OF OLD

An archive page of some of the most popular blog posts can be found by clicking here. Enjoy.

Stalk Me

Find me on various social networks. Hover over the icon for a description:

@AlanBaxter on Twitter Like me on Facebook Follow me on Instagram

My Tumblr of miscellany My Pinterest boards

Friend me on Goodreads My Amazon author page

feedburner

Listen to my podcast

Australian Dark Fiction News & Reviews



National Archive

This website is archived by the National Library of Australia's Web Archive

Pandora