Ticonderoga to publish my first short fiction collection, Crow Shine

crowshine-cover1cSo this is news that makes me happier than a drunk in a brewery. Ticonderoga Publications, one of Australia’s premier presses, is going to publish my first collection of short fiction in September. It’s going to be called Crow Shine, and just look at that amazing cover!

It’s no news to regular readers here what a fan I am of short stories. Ever since I was about 11 years old and picked up a Roald Dahl book called Switch Bitch, expecting something like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Danny the Champion of the World and got… well, I got my mind blown. I think the short story and novella are a unique art form, one that is incredibly hard to do well, entirely different from novels, but one that is utterly captivating. They’re something I’ve loved reading, and subsequently writing, ever since I was that wide-eyed eleven-year-old holding Switch Bitch like it was both beautiful and dangerous. Which is was. Which all good short fiction is, hopefully. Like a brightly polished and finely honed knife.

So to be in a position now where a publisher as respected as Ticonderoga are publishing a book collecting the best of my own short stories? My mind is blown again. It’s amazing. Crow Shine will contain nineteen short stories and novellas, and is named after one of the three stories original to this collection. The other sixteen are drawn across many years of my yarns exploring the dark weird fantastic that I love so much. Crow Shine will be released in ebook and papaerback, of course, but also in hardcover and (get this!) Limited Edition signed and numbered hardcover. The Limited Edition will be restricted to 100 copies. Honestly, it just gets better and better, right?

Here’s what editor, Russell B Farr, had to say in the official Ticonderoga Publications press release about the deal:

“Alan Baxter is rapidly becoming one of Australia’s premier dark fantasists, and Crow Shine showcases some incredible work. While his stories can be dark, they also show an incredible respect for the human condition, and each one enriches the reader.”

That’s some sweet praise right there. And thanks to my wonderful agent, Alex Adsett, for brokering this deal. Crow Shine will be launched in early October, so watch this space and keep an eye on my social media to know when things are happening, especially if you want one of those 100 Limited Edition hardcovers.

Now, please excuse me while I Snoopy dance.

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New Alex Caine Series covers revealed!

This is so very exciting! The entire Alex Caine Series will finally be available in print everywhere in Australia and New Zealand in July. All three books will land in bookstores and you can at last get the whole set in paperback. And they’ve got these amazing new covers. The ebooks are out now, so get on board at your favourite ebook retailer if you can’t wait for the paperbacks. Check them out:

postcards copy

These covers are so much better, really conveying the dark thriller style of the books. What do you think of them? I can’t wait to see them actually for real, all papery and solid and in my greedy little hands! In the meantime, we can enjoy the dark awesomeness of these new covers. Magic, monsters, mayhem and martial arts, coming your way in just a few short months. Tell your friends!

And for the rest of the world, you’ll remember a little while ago I revealed in the international cover for Bound: Alex Caine #1, which will be available in the US, UK, Canada, etc. Well, that should drop in December this year, with Obsidian and Abduction hopefully not too far behind. Sorry you have to wait a bit longer, but it’ll be worth it!

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Conflux 12 Guest of Honour!

Now this is a big one! Certainly a career milestone for me, and I’m chuffed to be able to talk about it now: I’m going to be the Special Guest at Conflux 12 in Canberra next year, across the long weekend September 30th to October 3rd, 2016. The official site is here: http://conflux.org.au/

I’m stunned that I’ve been invited to be a Guest of Honour at a con. I’ve always seen it as something famous people do! Conflux was the first convention I ever attended and it’s always had a special place in my heart. To go again in 2016 as the Guest is just mind-blowing. So I hope that any of you who can get to Canberra next year will come along!

The Red Fire Monkey theme should be pretty cool – I’m still not entirely sure what that entails, but I know that among many other things, I’ll be running my Write The Fight Right workshop there. The first place I ran that workshop was Conflux many years ago, so there’s a nice synchronicity there. I need to get myself a Monkey Magic costume organised for the ball.

I’m still pinching myself. More news on all that as it gets more organised over coming months. But put the dates in your diary!

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Guest Post – Donna Maree Hanson, Dragon Wine

Dragon Wine Book 1: Shatterwing by Donna Maree Hanson is free in e-book for a short time. As part of spreading the word about Shatterwing, Donna is doing a blog tour and offering a give away of a hard copy of Shatterwing. Winners will be drawn from people who comment during the blog tour. So leave a comment to be in to win.

shatterwingDragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

Dragon Wine Book 2 :Skywatcher, the follow on book is also available in ebook and print.

http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/shatterwing-dragon-wine-1/

Thank you for having me on your blog, Alan. You asked me to talk about my inspiration in world building for Dragon Wine.

The inspiration behind the world building in Dragonwine (Shatterwing and Skywatcher)

Dragon wine was probably the first book I worked on where I did quite a bit of deliberate thinking , planning and worldbuildiing. One of the main things I did was have a good think about the fantasy novels I loved and why I loved them. What came to me was that I loved the backstory and ancient technology in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I liked it more than the front story. So I knew then that I wanted to create a world steeped in history, in old machines and mysterious people who are only known by their relics. I also wanted something alien in there too, like a people who were legend but still existed. I love fantasy stories that have magic and bravery and love so I knew my story had to have those elements. At the same time, things were happening in this world that made me question life, people and what it means to be human. Those things joined in with my creativity to establish a nasty, dark element to the story. Sad that it is reality that gives Dragon Wine its dark focus. Those things like terrorism continue on to this day and I still don’t know how it will all end in reality and in the story. I think the resolution hangs in the balance.

skywatcherThe other consideration for me is that I wanted to create an unusual world something different from the norm. That meant moving away from a pastoral, medieval type setting. I also love science fiction so I created a world that has strong science fiction setting with some SF tropes. The world is dominated by a fractured moon that is in now a dispersed field called Shatterwing. As the people are living in a post-apocalyptic world and have lost their technology and sciences, Shatterwing dominates their mythology. It seemed to me that this thing in the sky would be a source of wonder, fear and superstition. This is further strengthened by the fact that bits of Shatterwing fall down to the planet on a regular basis.

Of course, Dragon Wine has dragons. I can’t really explain why I did put dragons in there. They were just a result of the workings of my mind. I didn’t read other dragon novels and I guess that helped me create something a bit different in the dragons. I did some research into dragons and how they are represented in a number of cultures. My influences for the dragons would have to be film and in my formative years, Godzilla! Also, there is some technology on Margra but it’s a remnant of a former time. Going further back, I have alien technology that’s quite unfathomable and then there is the Hiem. I guess they are kind of space elves when you think about it, but maybe not. However, I love that abandoned city, lost civilisation trope immensely. I remember reading Alan Dean Foster’s Flinx novels when I was young and that’s what I loved about that. The sense of the alien and its impact.

IMG_0916Dragon Wine also has three different distinct forms of magic. There is the magic of the dragons. Their life force is so strong that when grapes are grown in their dung the magic seeps into the wine made from the grapes. It is that wine that keeps the humans from dying off completely. The second type of magic is the magic of Salinda’s cadre. The magic grown from the minds of people that has been passed down since the time of moon fall. It is likely that that magic has a technological basis that has grown over time into something more. The third type of magic is that used by Skywatchers, particularly Garan, to shoot down meteors. The Skywatchers use crystals to focus their power which gives off powerful heat beam to blow up meteors. Why three different types of magic? For me they all represent different things. The dragon magic for me comes from their majesty as beasts. There is probably more to it than that, but that’s the inspiration. Salinda’s magic or the magic of the cadre is something that has evolved over time and it comes from the bearers of the cadre and what part of their essence they contribute to it. I consider this more a ripening of power over time and it’s just coming into its own. The power of the Skywatchers is more earthy. It’s something in them although they think it’s a talent that’s in the crystals themselves.

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And Then… Big book of awesome on its way

So this is quite exciting. I’ve been sitting on this one for ages and it’s finally being officially announced.

Clan Destine Press are crowd funding a giant anthology of cross-genre buddy-adventure sff stories by the likes of Jack Dann, Narrelle Harris, Jason Nahrung, Dan Rabarts, Tor Roxburgh, Amanda Pillar, Mary Borsellino, Jason Franks… and many more excellent writers of genre fiction. And me. I have a historical fantasy story in there that includes kung fu, Chinese spirit magic, the Australian gold rush and all kinds of heroic fun. Sounds great, right?

It’s going to be huge. Check it out here:

http://clandestinepress.com.au/content/and-then-great-big-book-awesome

There’s an indiegogo campaign to get involved too, from as simple as a couple of bucks in support, to paying now to pre-order the book, right up to some very sweet rewards, including critiques of your fight scenes by me and loads of other stuff. Check out all that goodness here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/and-then-the-great-big-book-of-awesome–2#/

The fact that this commissioned anthology grew from one into two books, just because all the contributors turned in such great, and long, stories, is pretty exciting. My own yarn ran right up to the word limit and even tumbled over just a fraction. It’s a different story to anything I’ve written before and I’m really pleased with it. I can’t wait for it to get out there into the world.

Watch this space for more details, or just go and sling a few bucks at the indiegogo campaign and you’ll get regular updates.

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