Horror

Talking up the good stuff

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July 30, 2014

I’ve been going on a lot lately about Bound. It’s no surprise, really. I have a book out from a major publisher and it’s on shelves in bookstores and everything! I’m still finding it hard to believe, but I’m certainly enjoying it. However, now I want to spread the love – I’ve been going on so much lately about myself, it’s time I talked about other people a bit. Below are the books and stories I’ve been really enjoying lately and I highly recommend you check them out. Let’s go:

The Hunt for Pierre Jnr By David M. Henley (the sequel, Manifestations, is out now too.) As the blurb says, “He can make you forget, he can control you and he is only eight years old. Three months after his birth he escaped. An hour later he was lost to surveillance. No one knows where he has been for the last eight years … Now Pierre Jnr is about to return.” Sounds good, right? It is.

Home & Hearth by Angela Slatter. All you need to know about this one is covered perfectly in Andrew McKiernan’s review here. I agree with him completely.

Last Year, When We Were Young by Andrew McKiernan. I had the pleasure of MCing the launch of this excellent debut collection of short stories. It’s fantastic and Greg Chapman sums it up nicely in this review here.

Exile by Peter M Ball. Okay, I haven’t read this one yet as I’ve only just bought it, but Peter Ball’s stuff is always good and I expect this novella to be up there as well. So I’m including it here.

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott. This is a great novel and I reviewed it myself at Thirteen O’Clock, so head over here to learn more.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I mean, really, it’s enough that it’s by Gaiman, right? But this is a wonderful book and very British in style and setting. As an ex-pat Brit, that appealed to me a lot. But whether you’re British or not, it’s well worth your time.

SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror edited by Geoff Brown and A J Spedding. I had the honour of writing a foreword for this collection of military horror short stories. There’s fantastic variety here and it’s a tremendous collection. You’ll be surprised at the scope.

Trucksong by Andrew Macrae. A post-apocalyptic Australia with sentient trucks fighting and fucking and stuff. I know, right? It’s written in an incredibly well-developed Australian voice and is something quite different.

Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto. This is the guy who wrote True Detective, which is some of the best television I’ve seen in recent years. This is a southern crime noir kinda thing, fantasically written. I loved it.

North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud. Possibly the best short story collection I’ve read in recent years. Again, I reviewed it for Thirteen O’Clock, so go here to read me gushing about it.

Lexicon by Max Barry. My book of the year last year and it won an Aurealis Award. A fantastic story about the power of words and language and modern magic rolled up with science and it’s a thriller and… and… Just read it.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. A superb supernatural serial killer, crime thriller thing. This book has had loads of attention and all of it well-deserved. A must read.

And next up on my list are Guardian by Jo Anderton (which will be great because it’s book three after Debris and Suited, which were great), Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (after the awesomeness of The Shining Girls, I can’t wait for this one) and Dreaming of Zhou Gong by Traci Harding (which I only got yesterday, signed no less, and I’m looking forward to a lot). Very exciting reading ahead, I think.

A quick web search will reveal any of these to you, so off you go and get some good stuff. Let me know what you think. And if you’ve read something simply brilliant lately, drop a mention in the comments and we can keep this sharing of good stuff going.

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

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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.

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Five Qs with Dr Angela Slatter

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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/

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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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“Upon a Distant Shore” out now and free in Dimension6

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July 4, 2014

D6badge 300x256 Upon a Distant Shore out now and free in Dimension6I’ve been going on a lot lately about the release of Bound, but I’m a greedy little writer and have another release out today as well. This one is a short story called “Upon a Distant Shore”, available for free in Dimension6 magazine, issue 2.

Dimension6 is a great new project from editor, Keith Stevenson. Three new stories per issue, three issues a year, of great spec fic over 4,500 words. So that’s longform short stories, novelettes and novellas, in any ebook format you prefer, for free! You can’t ask for better than that.

My story is a short one at around 5,000 words. It’s about an astronaut on the ISS who really wants something to happen that’ll carve his name in the history books. And he gets it. Be careful what you wish for.

I share this issue with Dirk Strasser and Robert Stephenson – fine company indeed. While you’re grabbing this issue, you can snag issue 1 as well. All the details here. I hope you enjoy it!

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“Mephisto” published at Daily Science Fiction

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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.

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Early reviews for Bound coming in

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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!

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Alex Caine series covers reveal

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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!

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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!

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

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May 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Official public launch of Bound

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

From 6.00pm for  6.30pm start.

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

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

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

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

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