Chuck Wendig on ThrillerCast

December 17, 2012

thrillercastlogo2It’s been a while since I posted about a new episode of ThrillerCast, which is a bit slack of me really. In case you’re new here, ThrillerCast is the podcast I co-host with action/adventure author, David Wood. It’s all kinds of chat about anything thriller and genre fiction related, with stuff for readers and writers. In the latest episode, I have a chat with the potty-mouthed paragon of awesome penmonkey advice, Chuck Wendig. You can find the episode here.

In recent episodes, we’ve talked about all kinds of writer-related stuff and had great chats with the likes of Greig Beck, Thomas Greanias, Rich Steeves and many more. Have a stroll through the archives or, even better, subscribe via iTunes.

And if you’re a fan, please drop by iTunes to leave us a rating or review, and tell your friends. If you’re unsure, why not let our two existing iTunes reviews speak for themselves:

Thrillercast is seriously good writer talk. (Five-star review)

by Lynda Washington

David Wood is American writer of action adventure. Alan Baxter is an English writer of dark fantasy/horror with a pronounced Aussie accent. Both are serious students and practitioners of their art, and they share generously with the listener. I’m a serious student, too, though not a practitioner. My judgment is trustworthy. If you want to strengthen your understanding of writing and the writer’s place in publishing, listen to these guys. They are intelligent and focused. The sound quality is good. The episodes never seem to go on longer than they should. No downside.

Great Podcast! (Five-star review)

by GregD65

David and Alan produce an ejoyable, intelligent, and always entertaining look at writing thrillers. Writers and readers of others genres should give a lsiten as well since the advice, interviews, and banter cross genres easily. My only complaint — frequency!!! I need MORE ThrillerCast!!!


A new authorly tattoo

December 7, 2012

I’m no stranger to inking my skin. For a long time now I’ve wanted a writing related tattoo – a writer’s quill, in fact. I know several writers who have the quill or a variation of it, so it’s definitely a bit of a thing among writerly folk. In fact, myself and two friends all discovered a couple of years ago that we wanted a quill tattoo and decided we would get one together at the Australian Worldcon, as we were all going to be there. As it turned out, only one of us, who happened to live in Melbourne anyway, managed to organise it then. She got a very cool peacock-style quill on her thigh. It’s taken me until now, two years later, to finally get mine. The third among us, and he knows who he is, is still very slack on the whole affair.

Anyway, I wanted my quill to be unique, obviously, even though it was following a common theme. I wanted it to reflect me as a person and a writer, and to reflect my writing and style too. I worked on the design for a long time. I’m no artist, so I had to source suitable images and work in photoshop until I’d built the design I wanted. Then I took it to a tattooist of high repute, Karen Rand of Rand Family Tattoo. Karen did an amazing job of turning my photoshopped design into an actual tattoo. I couldn’t be happier with the finished result.

Along with the quill/writing aspect, you’ll see that there are obviously other influences at work – ravens, crows, bats, clouds, and so on. There’s actually a lot going on in this design, but tattoos being, at their core, intensely personal things, I’m going to go into too much detail here. Feel free to interpret it however you see fit. If you get me drunk at a con one day, I might be persuaded to talk more about it.

(Note: the fact that the tattoo is on my chest meant that there was very clear nipple action in the photos below which, when posted online yesterday, caused quite a stir. So I’ve spared you all the nipple in this version.)

These photos are obviously taken during and right after, to show the process, so the skin is very red. Once the tatt heals, all the areas that look red or brown will settle back to black or grey. I’ll try to remember to post a follow-up pic when it’s all healed.


Tuesday Toot – Jodi Cleghorn and Deck The Halls

December 4, 2012

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

This time, it’s Jodi Cleghorn talking about something I can really get behind. Take it away, Jodi!

Who is Jodi?

Jodi (@jodicleghorn) is an author, editor, publisher and innovator.

By day (and sometimes night), she runs the many facets of eMergent Publishing (eP), a small press dedicated to nurturing next-crop authors, editors and visual artists.

Between the cracks she chases her own characters in a blending of themes and genres best described as “dark weird shit”. Fruits of these adventures include the collaborative epistolary serial Post Marked: Piper’s Reach and Elyora (Review of Australian Fiction—special edition), a horror novella set just off the New England Highway.

She’s occasionally known to loiter at her blog 1000 Pieces of Blue Sky.

What are you tooting about?

Deck the Halls: festive tales of fear and cheer, the first and most recent (I can explain) publication from eP’s Literary Mix Tapes imprint of conceptual anthologies. But first…that explanation.

Born From…

The origins of Deck the Halls are bizarre, to say the least.

In December 2010 I created a shit storm on Facebook when I commented about my displeasure with the overtly Christian tone of the carols night at my son’s school. (He goes to a state school with a diverse ethnic demographic and I felt it totally inappropriate to push any one brand of religious fervour, when their Easter bonnet parade is included as a ‘cultural’ event on the school’s calendar, devoid of religious connotations).

I know, I know, Christmas is a Christian holiday… but, historically, it was many other things before the Christian’s got their pesky hands on it.

Rather than whinge—or delete the exploding Facebook thread (with people telling me, among other things, how intolerant I was)—I decided to publish a bunch of twisted, non-traditional Christmas tales. It’s apparently the sort of therapy an editor-writer-publisher seeks out in the wake of a social media implosion.

In The Beginning

The original idea was to rope nine friends into writing stories based on the lyrics of Deck the Halls (the idea of a troll for Christmas set my imagination on fire as I sat there in the hot, humid school hall!) and then publish the stories online on Christmas Eve. First, I contacted Jim Wisneski to get his blessings (I was riffing off his idea from 12 Days project) and then sent announcements out through the usual channels to see who was interested. I referred to the project as a Literary Mix Tape (a concept everyone immediately got and a name that’s stuck.)

Nine places became nineteen places, with the caveat everyone was to beta read for each other—I was too busy to edit. On Christmas Eve twenty twisted stories—rocking the dark and light side of the Christmas and New Year period—went up, one an hour, on a dedicated website. Christmas Day I made all the stories available as a free eBook.

Beyond Christmas

The ideas of writing to musical prompts and cooperative submission (a term later coined by Tom Dullemond) found traction. That traction spawned the official launch of Literary Mix Tapes (as an imprint under the eMergent Publishing umbrella) and three more anthologies: Nothing But Flowers: tales of post apocalyptic love, Eighty Nine and From Stage Door Shadows [I have a story in that one! – Alan]. Two years on I am still amazed that of all the ideas I’ve had over the years, this was the one that garnered the most enthusiasm. Many of the cornerstones of the LMT imprint, and the way each anthology is released, can be directly traced back to that very first Christmas adventure.


I felt the original authors deserved to see their stories in a paperback, so I rebooted Deck the Halls in 2011, opening ten (then twelve) new places in the anthology. Andrew McKiernan offered to do the front cover (based on Susan May James’ chilling story, “Bosch’s Troll”). This Thursday (6th December) a revised, revamped, extended and fully edited edition of Deck the Halls goes on worldwide sale as Deck the Halls: tales of festive fear and cheer.

DECK THE HALLS traverses the joy and jeopardy of the festive season, from Yule to Mōdraniht, Summer Solstice to Years’ End. The stories journey through consternations and celebrations, past, present and future, which might be or never were.

Along the way you’ll meet troll hunters, consumer dissidents, corset-bound adventurers, a joint-toking spirit, big-hearted gangbangers, an outcast hybrid spaceship, petrol-toting politicians, mythical swingers and a boy who unwittingly controls the weather.

Heart-warming and horrifying, the collection is a merry measure of cross-genre, short fiction subverting traditional notions of the holiday season.

At under $20 for the paperback (or $4.95 for the eBook) it’s a brilliant stocking stuffer or Secret Santa present. Better still, treat yourself to a copy and use it as an antidote to everything irritating, painful and nauseating about the holiday season.


Dreaming Of Djinn and Urban Occult

December 4, 2012

I love being able to announce new forthcoming publications, so you can imagine how happy I am to be announcing two. This is a fine way to round out the year. Two new anthologies have bought stories from me and both will be published in the first half of 2013.

The first is Dreaming Of Djinn from Ticonderoga Publications, edited by Liz Grzyb, which will feature my story, “On A Crooked Leg Lightly”. The blurb goes like this:

Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights stories have captured imaginations for a millennia. Fairy tales and fables abound, telling of the fantastic and mysterious, the comic and dramatic.

This anthology will explore romantic Orientalism through a speculative fiction lens. You might find lost cities, magical lamps, mummies, thieves, intrepid explorers, slaves, robotic horsemen, noble queens, sorcerers, outcast princes, harems, dancers, djinn, assassins and even smart-talking camels and cats, set in exotic Persia, Egypt, Arabia, the Ottoman Empire, or a modern incarnation of these. More information on the exact mysteries contained will be revealed shortly.

I can tell you that my story contains assassins and djinn and palaces and market bazaars and all kinds of dark magical goodness. I’m very happy to have scored a place in this book. Here’s the full ToC:

Marilag Angway – “Shadow Dancer”
Cherith Baldry – “The Green Rose”
Alan Baxter – “On A Crooked Leg Lightly”
Jenny Blackford – “The Quiet Realm of the Dark Queen”
Jetse de Vries – “Djinni Djinni Dream Dream”
Thoraiya Dyer – “The Saint George Hotel”
Joshua Gage – “The Dancer of Smoke”
Richard Harland – “Tale of the Arrow Girl”
Faith Mudge – “The Oblivion Box”
Havva Murat – “Harmony Thicket and the Persian Shoes”
Charlotte Nash-Stewart – “Parvaz”
Anthony Panegyres – “Oleander: An Ottoman Tale”
Dan Rabarts – “Silver, Sharp as Silk”
Angela Rega – “The Belly Dancing Crimes of Ms Sahara Desserts”
Jenny Schwartz – “The Pearl Flower Harvest”
Barb Siples – “The Sultan’s Debt”
Pia Van Ravestein – “Street Dancer”
DC White – “A Dash of Djinn and Tonic”

No cover for this one yet, but I’ll be sure to share it when it comes around.

The other publication I can reveal today is Urban Occult from Anachron Press, edited by Colin F Barnes. As you can see, this one does have a cover, with artwork by Sarah Anne-Langton.

The blurb for this one says:

Urban Occult is a horror/weird anthology due for release around February 2013. The exact date will be announced closer to the time. It will contain fifteen stories of the weird and the strange events set within urban environments. We have a rich collection of authors spanning the globe.”

My story in this one has strange amulets, time-bending and lost love.

The ToC for this one is:

Gary McMahon – “Just Another Job”
Gary Fry – “On the Horizon”
K.T Davies – “Wonderland”
Jennifer Williams – “Spider Daughter Spider”
Alan Baxter – “A Time for Redemption”
Saran Anne-Langton – “The Strange Case of Mrs West and the Dead”
Chris Barnhem – “The Other Woman”
Adam Millard – “Elevator”
Julie Travis – “Pieces”
Jason Andrew – “A Simple Job”
A.A. Garrison – “A Kind of Love”
James Brogden – “Remover of Obstacles”
Nerine Dorman – “Probatio Diabolica”
Mystery Writer 1 – TBA soon
Mystery Writer 2 – TBA soon

Mystery writers! Exciting stuff.

So keep an eye out for these. I’ll blog again when they’re available.


An interview and an ebook

November 27, 2012

A strange little double header of news today. Firstly, I’ve been interviewed over at On Fiction Writing, wherein I answer questions like Has a book every made you angry? and Which four literary characters would you like to invite to dinner, and why? and What was the first story that ever made you afraid? among others. You can find the full interview right here. It’s a good bit of fun.

Secondly, the ebook edition of The Red Penny Papers: Vol III, Issue 1, Fall 2012 is now available at Smashwords for FREE! That’s the one that contains my story, Crossroads & Carousels, as well as fiction by Cat Rambo, M Bennardo, Jamie Mason and Katy Gunn. It’s available in any e format you can think of there, so have at it. While you’re there, you might like to pick up my supernatural noir novella, The Darkest Shade Of Grey, also published by Red Penny Papers, and only $1.99.



The Next Big Thing

November 21, 2012

THE NEXT BIG THING is a chain of book and author recommendations. One author tags five others, who then each tag five others. The idea is that we all help people out there learn about all the good stuff that’s just out or coming soon. The wonderful Angela Slatter tagged me on her blog and now it’s my turn.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

It’s called Bound. That’s actually the final title, so I hope it sticks. Although you can never be sure until the ink is dry on the cover.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always been told that I write great fight scenes, and I do enjoy writing them. I’ve even run successful workshops on the subject. So it occurred to me that I should embrace that in a full novel and I came up with a character who is a very talented martial artist and the story grew from there. I combined it with a nasty little idea I’d had knocking around in my fevered noggin for a while and it turned into a book of which I’m very proud.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Like RealmShift and MageSign, it’s a dark urban fantasy horror kinda thing.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea. There are two main couples in the book, but I’m reluctant to suggest actors because I like readers to paint their own pictures of what my characters look like.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Alex Caine is a masterful fighter and the master of his life, until a chance encounter exposes him to magic, danger and a total loss of control.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

That’s currently in process, but it won’t be self-published.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Hard to say. Probably somewhere around 6 to 8 months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Well, it’s in a similar vein to RealmShift and MageSign, as it’s set in the same world. In fact, there are a few cameos from those books. As for other authors’ work it compares to, it bears similarities to the work of Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, H P Lovecraft… and more. Think good, dark urban fantasy and hopefully it bears comparison.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As mentioned in 2. above, it came partly from the main character, which was a person I wanted to explore. And also from the primary item the character gets tied up with, but I won’t say what that is, because I don’t want to give anything away.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Martial arts, beautiful people, monsters, magic, items of magical power, elder gods, chaos, mayhem and excitement! And that’s only in the first few chapters.

And now to tag other authors. You can read their answers to the same questions next Wednesday.

I tag:

Joanne Anderton

Andrew McKiernan

Rob Hood

David Wood

Jason Fischer

You can see their answers to the questions above next week, on Wednesday, November 28th.


Tuesday Toot – Jo Anderton

November 20, 2012

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

This time, it’s Jo Anderton. Take it away, Jo!

Who is Jo?

Apparently, Jo Anderton looks quite normal from the outside. But don’t let this fool you, because she’s actually a writer, and you know what they’re like. Even worse, she writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. You should feel sorry for her characters.

Jo’s had a few short stories published here and there, most recently in Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear and Epilogue. She won the Australian Horror Writer’s Association short story competition in 2012. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for a couple of Aurealis Awards, and the WSFA small press award. Her first novel, Debris, was published by Angry Robot Books in 2011. It was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award and a Ditmar. Jo won the Ditmar for Best New Talent.

Whenever she’s not torturing characters and cackling manically to herself, Jo works as a marketing co-ordinator for an Australian book distributor. She lives in Sydney with her husband and too many pets.

What are you tooting about?

Suited, the sequel to Debris! This series is set in a world of industrialised magic, where most people can see and manipulate semi-sentient, subatomic particles called pions. Pions can be used to rearrange matter, and the stronger you are or the more people you have working with them, the greater the effects. So you have enormous cities full of impossible, majestic buildings, all powered by massive pion-binding factories. But this comes at a cost. Pion manipulation creates debris — a waste product that destabilises pion bonds. As you can imagine, this could be terribly dangerous for a world built on pions. Most people can’t even see debris, so the ones who do are conscripted by the state to clean it up. Really, they’re nothing more than glorified garbage collectors, over worked, poorly paid and definitely underappreciated.

In Debris we met Tanyana. She starts off as a powerful and wealthy pion binder. But a terrible accident leaves her scarred, and her pion sight gone, replaced with an ability to see debris instead. She’s forced to become a debris collector, with a suit of living metal drilled into her very bones, her income slashed and her life in ruins. The first book is about Tanyana struggling to come to terms with her new identity… but nothing is what it seems. The accident that ruined her might not have been an accident at all. In fact, debris itself might not be the waste product everyone thinks it is. It might be something much more important.

Suited follows straight on from where Debris left off. Tanyana deals with the consequences of the choices she’s made, the alliances formed and the enemies she’s well and truly pissed off. But the hardest battle is within herself.

These books are a little bit science fiction and a little bit fantasy, with influences from anime and video games. I’ve loved writing these books, and I hope readers enjoy them too!

You can find Jo online here.

I should post a caveat here, as Jo is a very good friend of mine, but I can also vouch for the fact that her writing is awesome and her books are well worth the read. I loved them and can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy. If there’s any doubt about her talent, look at it this way – she was nominated for the 2011 Ditmar Award for Best New Talent, and I was nominated for the same award. Jo won it and I couldn’t be happier for her, because she totally deserved that win. (I mean, sure, I wish I’d won a Ditmar, but Jo totally deserved it.) So, go and buy her books. You won’t regret it.


My work is recommended reading

November 9, 2012

Look at that lovely cover. That’s the latest Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (2011) from Ticonderoga Publications. It’s a lovely book with 32 awesome stories in it. Sadly, none of mine made the book this year. My story The King’s Accord was reprinted in last year’s Year’s Best, which I’m still very chuffed about. But I have just discovered that no less than five of my stories published in 2011 made the Recommended Reading List in this latest edition. Five of ’em! Fuck me, can’t complain about that.

So, as they’re recommended reading, I thought I’d help people find them, in order to read them. As recommended. They were published in a variety of anthologies, a podcast (now in print too) and one in a magazine, but you can still find them all easily enough. So here they are:

Dream Shadow – This is an urban horror story, first published in the Winds Of Change anthology from CSfG Publications. You can get a copy of that book here (use the Contact Us page to order a copy).

The Seven Garages Of Kevin Simpson – This was a podcast original, on Pseudopod, episode 242. You can still listen to it there for free. It was also just reprinted in Dark Places 2, the e-anthology from Gryphonwood Press, and you can get that for just 99c right here.

Duty And Sacrifice – This is a fantasy story I wrote for the Hope anthology, published by Kayelle Press. This is a really important book, with lots of great stories and information about suicide and suicide awareness. All profits of the book go to relevant charities. I wrote a big post all about that stuff here. You can get this great anthology here.

Mirrorwalk – This is a dark urban fantasy/horror story that was originally published in issue 16 of Murky Depths magazine. You can still get a copy of that from here.

Punishment of the Sun – This is a vampire horror story, written for the Australian vampire anthology Dead Red Heart, from Ticongeroga Publications. This story also made the recommended reading list in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror 4. Dead Red Heart is a great big book of vampire yarns, with some real crackers among them. You can get your copy of that book here.

Of course, all these great books and magazines are also available from Amazon, B&N, etc. or you can order them through your local bookstore or library. So hopefully that will help you find some stuff that editors extraordinaire Talie Helene and Liz Grzyb recommend. And you know what else is recommended reading? The whole Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2011. Go get it here. Seriously.


Urban Fantasy, or is it?

November 9, 2012

I’ve got this guest post up at S F Signal at the moment:

Genre definitions are always very slippery things. I was recently asked by the wonderful folks here at SF Signal to take part in a Mind Meld. It was a pleasure, as I’ve always enjoyed reading those thought-provoking posts. The subject we discussed was The Intersection Between Gothic Horror and Urban Fantasy and the subsequent answers really gave me pause for thought.

The concept of the question, based on this year’s World Fantasy Convention theme of “Northern Gothic and Urban Fantasy”, is that Urban Fantasy represents the new Gothic; castles and haunted locations have been replaced by the Modern City. There was a lot of variation in the responses and I realised it was largely due to the definition of urban fantasy being considered. Many people didn’t think there was a connection between gothic and urban fantasy, which really surprised me. Among those who thought urban fantasy might well be born from gothic horror, there was an implication that it’s somehow lighter in tone, or that it needs to have a romantic element or female lead to be urban fantasy. Are any of those things true?

It’s not news to anyone that urban fantasy is regularly used to refer to that branch of modern paranormal romance where there’s not necessarily a happy ending (whereas, to be a romance, the lead couple have to get together in the end). I’ll explore the romance aspects below. But to me, especially in the context of the Mind Meld question posed, urban fantasy is a far broader term. It’s in the broader context of the genre definition that I answered the Mind Meld, as did many others, but it still raised problems with just what urban fantasy is…

Read the rest of the post here at S F Signal.


Bloodstones anthology is out, featuring me!

November 2, 2012

The Bloodstones anthology from Ticonderoga Publications, edited by the amazing Amanda Pillar, is now out. It’s ” loaded with stories of dark urban fantasy imbued with mythology; seventeen fantastic tales of monsters, gods, magic and so much more.” Alphabetically, here’s what’s in it:

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

You can buy it here now in trade paperback. Or you can get a shiny hardcover here. It’ll be available on Amazon any day now. Go get some!



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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