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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Adelaide this weekend, Brisbane the one after

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July 15, 2014

So the Bound train rolls on, and I’m having a ball! I’ll be heading down to Adelaide this weekend, then up to Brisbane the weekend after. If you’re near either of those cities, I’d love to see you. Below are the details and a few links to relevant events.

Adelaide

Saturday, July 19th I’ll be doing a signing at Collins Edwardstown from 1.00 to 2.00pm. There’s a Facebook Event page here. Please come on by and say hello – it’s at Collins Booksellers, Shop 54, Castle Plaza, 992 South Road, Edwardstown.

If you can’t make it on Saturday, the day before, Friday, July 18th, I’ll be dropping briefly into Dymocks in Rundle Mall around 12.30, so if you’re in the city, it would be great to see you then.

Also on Friday afternoon, I’ll be having a chat with Richard Stubbs on ABC 774 Melbourne via live link.

Brisbane

Friday, July 25th is going to be loads of fun. From 6.00 to 8.00pm I’ll be at Avid Reader Bookshop at 193 Boundary Street, West End, where I will be in conversation with the excellent Kylie Chan, hosted by the equally excellent Trent Jamieson. There will be a bunch of other awesome writers in attendance and all kinds of other cool people, plus wine. How can you go wrong? There’s a Facebook Event page for this one too, right here, and here’s the Avid page where you can book a ticket.

I’ll try to visit other stores in the region of these events and sign stock, so watch my Twitter and Facebook pages for updates.

And Melbourne, we haven’t forgotten you! We’re working on something in your fine city and I’ll be sure to let you know when and where that is once it’s sorted out.

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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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The best work is always unofficially collaborative

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July 9, 2014

I was reading stuff online today, procrastinating because sleep-deprived, when I came across this great post by Peter M Ball on the value of his weekly Write Club. Basically, he gets together with Angela Slatter once a week and they help each other get the writing done and get it done well.

It got me thinking. My most recent short story is all my own work supposedly. But it was critiqued by three of my best writing pals. It has significant additional scenes in the middle from one pal’s suggestions, a completely reworked end from another pal’s suggestion, much juggling of motivations from the third pal’s concerns and greatly polished final words from the input of all three. All of those things I’ve just credited separately were actually raised by all three because they’re bloody good advisors. It’s the solutions I used that I’m crediting really, all of them tempered with my own ideas. The best critiquers don’t tell you how to fix something – they just tell you what doesn’t work and maybe why (for them). It’s your job to decide whether to take that on board and it’s your job to fix it.

Let’s tie this back to Bound, as I’m harping on endlessly about that at the moment because of course I am. That book was turned from an okay manuscript into a great one by my mate, Paul Haines. It was subsequently thoroughly beaten senseless by Angela Slatter and Joanne Anderton. Without the help of those people it would not be published. No way. It wasn’t good enough. All the potential was there, of course, but those people said what didn’t work and I fixed it. They weren’t nice about it. Haines in particular has an acerbic crit voice that’ll take the skin right off your flesh. Fuck, I miss him for so many reasons, and that’s only one. But that’s what a writer needs. Not people who will say, “You’re brilliant! That story is great!” because it almost certainly isn’t. It could be, but it’s not yet.

You need that critical honesty from someone who wants to see you be the best you can. And you can do the same for them.

I get asked more and more often: “What advice do you have for aspiring writers?” My standard answer is always my best advice:

Write. Write as much as you can, always strive to get better and don’t give up. When not writing, read.

That’s still my best advice. You can have that for nothing. But on top of that, here’s part two:

Find a few like-minded friends and be honest with each other. If you can find people better than you, that’s great. (I was lucky cos I did!) But very little of any real quality happens without help.

With that kind of help, the stuff you produce will always be better than it might have been if you did it without help. To paraphrase one of my favourite bands, All writers need a little help from their friends.

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Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

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July 7, 2014

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

Here are the results:

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

10406946 901985129828400 6411272847290657643 n 300x131 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners


Also:

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

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

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

10488154 901410969885816 990162268133634488 n 300x294 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

10500272 901373406556239 5073336900287324176 n 300x214 Photoshop Bound giveaway winners

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

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

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“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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One week left to register for the Sydney launch of Bound – please come along

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July 3, 2014

Just a quick reminder that Bound is being launched by the wonderful Margo Lanagan at Kinokinuya Bookshop in Sydney at 6.30pm on Thursday July 10th.

All the details, including an RSVP email address, on the evite below. Click for a larger version. There will be free wine! And books, obviously. And me to sign them. And Margo Lanagan. I’d love to see you there.

Bound evite 300x150 One week left to register for the Sydney launch of Bound   please come along

A timely repost of the article about authors dying (on the shelves)

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July 1, 2014

I originally posted this back in September 2010, but it seems very relevant to post it again now. After all, the first book in my new (so far) trilogy has just come out. (Yes, it’s all about me. I don’t have a new book come out very often, so give me this. Come on – hug?) I wrote the original post based on my observations as a reader, and now it’s something that applies directly to me as an author. While Bound is a standalone novel, it’s also the first in a series. There’s a big story that arches over the first three books (Bound, Obsidian and Abduction) with threads left for more books in the series, even though each one is a standalone novel too. So please, don’t wait for the others to come out before you buy Bound if you think the ideas interest you. I’ll explain why by reposting my 2010 article below. It was originally, and very sensationalistically (yeah, that’s a word!), called “While you wait for book three, authors die!” So even though Bound is a standalone novel as well as the start of a new series, the principle still applies. So here it is again:

The title of this post is slightly sensationalist, but in a literary sense it’s actually very true. I mentioned recently that I’ve finally started reading A Game Of Thrones, which is the first book in George R R Martin’s A Song Of Ice & Fire series. This comment lead to a few discussions in various places that has subsequently lead to this post.

When I mentioned that I was finally getting around to reading A Game Of Thrones a lot of people assumed that also meant that I’d only just bought it. Especially when, in answer to the question, “Why has it taken you this long?” I replied, “I was waiting for the complete story before I started.”

A lot of people do this, and fair enough. When you notice a big old fantasy series that you think catches your interest, it’s reasonable to assume there’s going to be a whole story told. Often these days a writer will sell a trilogy (or bigger series) to a publisher and that publisher will set a publication schedule to release those books over a relatively short period of time, maybe even inside a year.

However, if no one buys the first book, it’s very possible that books two and three will never see the light of day. An author survives on their sales figures. If they perform poorly at the checkout, the publisher will discard them like a greasy burger wrapper and think nothing of it. That’s business. It’s fucked, but it’s business.

Going back to Martin’s series, when people started telling me how awesome it was, I started buying the books. They’ve sat on my shelf for ages. I wasn’t going to read them until there was a whole finished set, but I bought them to ensure that Martin showed solid sales figures and stayed in favour with his publisher. (I ended up starting to read recently because of the forthcoming TV series, and I wanted to have read the books first).

Obviously someone like George R R Martin doesn’t need my help, but the same thing applies across the board. For example, I was on a panel recently with Paul Cornell and he talked about one of his comic series being cancelled. There was conjecture that the series was cancelled because so many people these days wait for the trade, rather than collect the individual comic books. If no one buys the comic books, the story is considered a failure and there’ll be no trade.

The same applies to big series of novels. If no one buys the first book, the author/story will be considered a failure and there’ll be no release of the rest of the books. The people who read the first one are denied closure, the people who were waiting for a whole series have missed the opportunity and, most importantly, the author is dropped and never has the chance to expand their career. This is a very sad result of market forces and it’s actually a false result.

So if you see the first book of a series that you think you might like, buy it! You don’t have to read it right away – consider it an investment in your reading future. Buy the subsequent volumes as they come out and you’ll end up with a solid reading experience once the whole series is finished. And you’ve done your bit to ensure the success of an author and their literary vision. Hopefully you’ve had a good read too.

EDIT: And you know what’s even more powerful? Early sales figures. The more books an author sells in the first few weeks after publication, the better for that author’s career. So if you think you like the idea of Bound, please buy it sooner rather than later, even if you’re not likely to read it for ages. I’ll be forever in your debt – and I promise you  great read! Learn all about Bound and sample the first three chapters for free here.

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It’s me and Kylie Chan in Brisbane

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June 26, 2014

Or, I should say, Kylie Chan and I. As part of the ongoing promotion of Bound, I’m coming to Brisbane on July 25th and I’ll be in conversation with Kylie Chan at Avid Reader Bookshop, hosted by the awesome Trent Jamieson. Honestly, I couldn’t be more honoured by that company. It’ll be from 6 to 8pm on Friday evening. Let’s all go out and get drunk afterwards, yeah? Who’s with me!?

Location: Avid Reader Bookshop , 193 Boundary St, West End, Brisbane, Queensland 4101.
Date: Friday, 25th July, 2014
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Here’s the event on the Avid page. Put the date in your diaries – it’ll be great to see you there. And bring your friends!

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Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

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June 24, 2014

I saw this done by Mark Lawrence on Facebook and I’m shamelessly stealing it because it’s a very cool concept. The idea is that you photoshop my book into another image and link me to your work of art. The one I like (or perhaps the one that disturbs me) the most, gets a signed copy of Bound. Even though the book is only out in the Australia and New Zealand region this week, I’ll send the comp winner anywhere in the world, so you could score the book long before it’s available in your area.

The cover images are below. Click on them for a higher res version, then right click and save as, and let your creativity fly. You don’t have to be a dab hand at photoshop either – I don’t care about your technical skills so much as the idea. Dodgy graphic art can be hilarious. Impress, amuse or disturb me and you could score the book. Think things like King Kong reading a copy of Bound atop the Empire State Building, or Batman with a copy in the Batmobile or Bound as the Necronomicon or… or… the possibilities are endless. Get surreal, get nightmarish, get weird. When you’ve made your image, you can post a link to it in the comments here, or post it on my Facebook page here, or Tweet it to me here. I’ll start a gallery of entries on my Facebook page and pick a winner at some future point not too far from now.

EDIT: Some entries are coming in and they’re very cool. I’ve started to collect them in an album on my Facebook page here.

Here are the images – have at it!

Front cover:

bound cover large 195x300 Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

Full cover:

COV Bound med 300x212 Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

3D book mockup:

Bound 3D Cover 300x300 Photoshop competition for a signed copy of Bound

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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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