Night Falls – my latest newsletter

My email newsletter goes out infrequently, but usually once every month or two. Here’s the last one. If you want them delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

Hi friend

It’s here that I would usually say “How are you?” or “Are these strange times or what?” but it’s all starting to seem repetitious. I hope you are well and this newsletter finds you navigating the shitshow of modern life with aplomb.

I’m doing okay, for a given value of okay. While Victoria is seeing a crushing wave of COVID, we here in NSW aren’t doing too badly at the moment and my classes are back on for the time being. I do get mild anxiety attacks every time I have to get ready to go and put myself in a room full of people to teach a class, but we’re taking all reasonable precautions. I’ve honestly never wished for a bigger readership more, though. I will always teach kung fu and qi gong, as it’s a passion and has been all my life, but it would be nice to make enough from writing that I didn’t HAVE to teach. I would gladly suspend my school for a few months if that was feasible. So please tell your friends and colleagues about my books!

On that front, let’s get to the book news, shall we? First and foremost, the second Eli Carver book is imminent!

I love that cover so much! When people were so supportive of Manifest Recall and asking for more of Eli Carver’s story, I got chatting to Grey Matter Press about it and we thought perhaps this could be an ongoing novella series. GMP said, “Well, you write book 2, we’ll publish it, and see how it goes from there.” So I did. And here it is. Recall Night picks up soon after Manifest Recall left off and is more of the same high-octane, hyper-violent mayhem with Eli and his peanut gallery of hateful ghosts. I’m really pleased with how it came out and the early response has been great. Brian Keene (yes, THAT Brian Keene, the absolute horror legend) was kind enough to read it and he said:

“Eli Carver is back with a vengeance! That’s bad news for some but good news for readers. RECALL NIGHT is brutal, gritty fun and a phenomenal follow-up to MANIFEST RECALL.” — Brian Keene, author of The Complex

So that’s just fucking amazing. Thank you, Brian!

You can learn all about Recall Night here. You can read an excerpt here.

You can find the first book, Manifest Recall, here.

Please add Recall Night to your Goodreads shelves if you hang out there.

And here’s a set of Amazon links to get you started. The book is out on August 25th and you can pre-order right now.

Amazon US

Amazon AUS

Amazon UK

Of course, you can shop anywhere you prefer to buy books or order from your local store or library. And thank you in advance for any of those things.

In other news, I had the absolute honour recently of winning another Australian Shadows Award. It’s my fourth now, and that just blows my mind. My second collection of short stories, Served Cold, won in the Best Collected Works category. That also means that both volumes of my collected short stories are Shadows Award winners, as Crow Shine also won back in 2016. Massive thanks to the judges and everyone involved. You can find Served Cold here.

Lastly in book news, I’m currently working on something that I think is coming together really well. I had the idea to write a collection of long stories all set in the same fictional Australian country town. Rather than the dusty outback like in The Roo (which is still going gangbusters, so thanks to everyone who’s got behind that crazy gonzo book) I thought it would be fun to set it in a remote harbour town, which is not based on where I live at all I promise what do you mean my fingers are crossed behind my back?

I love weird horror and old pulp horror and that’s what I’m putting together here, with a distinctly regional Australian angle. The book will be five novellas, all between 15,000 and 20,000 words. Each story is entirely its own thing, but all five have overlaps and easter eggs from each other in them. In the finish, all five will make something of a mosaic novel. I’m having so much fun with it and have totally creeped myself out a few times, which is always a good sign. I’m working on the last of the five stories now, so hopefully I’ll have it finished soon and out around the end of this year or early next. Also, my wife said I could use one of her paintings for the cover and that’s starting to look incredible. Title, cover reveal and all that stuff coming soon.

So, what else have I been up to? Well, I like to share the art I’ve been consuming because I’m all about shouting out the good stuff. On that front, I’ve been watching a Netflix show called Ozark. I’m about halfway through season 3 and I just heard that season 4 will be out soon and that will be the last one. I like it when a thing is complete, so that’s good to hear. And I have to say, Ozark is compelling and anxiety-inducing television. It’s brilliantly written, the actors are all outstanding and the story is some of the most twisted and clever crime writing I’ve ever seen. No way could I live under the kind of stress these characters put themselves under, but shit man, I can’t look away!

When it comes to reading, I’ve enjoyed some amazing books lately. Christina Henry wrote a horror adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, called Alice, and it’s incredible. Definitely not what you expect and it blew me away. I read a novella by Sara Tantlinger called To Be Devoured, and that is some twisted and messed up stuff that I greatly enjoyed. Lisa Hannett has a new collection out called Songs For Dark Seasons that is well worth your time. But the standout read for me recently was Blacktop Wasteland by S A Cosby. Cosby isn’t an author I’d come across before, but this book kept showing up in my social media feeds, so I bought it and read it and holy shit am I glad I did. It’s a fantastic crime novel from an angle we don’t see much of, and it’s also an incredible study of family, especially fatherhood. It rockets along and is just fantastic. I blitzed through in only two or three sittings. Oh, and one last thing – last time I mentioned the new Laird Barron novel, Worse Angels. I read that and it’s brilliant. He takes this crime series way deeper into horror territory with this third book in the series and each book just gets better and better.

That’s about all I have to share right now. This is the part of the newsletter where I normally talk about signings and events, but all that is royally fucked at the moment. In fact, at this very moment I should be in new Zealand enjoying Worldcon. Fuck COVID. But we still have digital media, so stay in touch and now is a great time to read books!

Last thing, Aussies don’t forget you can order signed paperbacks direct from me if you’re keen, I still have a few left of:

The Alex Caine Trilogy (Bound, Obsidian & Abduction) – $50 for all three plus postage.

Devouring Dark – $20 plus postage.

Hidden City – $20 plus postage.

Manifest Recall – $15 plus postage.

The Roo – $15 plus postage.

And

Recall Night will also be $15 plus postage, available after August 25th.

Postage is $10 for one book, $15 for two or more books. All prices Australian dollars and available in Australia only, I’m afraid. Sorry about that. International postage is killer. But remember, if you want to buy my books in your country and get some signed book plates from me to stick in them, I can arrange that. Email me [email protected] and we’ll sort that out.

Lots of people are doing it really tough right now, especially in the arts sector. If you can, support the arts you love whenever and wherever you can. That includes book stores. A lot of them are really struggling, but they’re also doing their best with mail order, so that’s something to consider too. And just talking about and sharing the stuff you love helps more than you might realise. People can’t buy books they’ve never heard of!

That’s all for now. I hope you’re all safe and sound.

Stay wicked, all you witches, warlocks, and wargs.

Peace

Alan
I have a Ko-fi page if you’d like to buy me a virtual coffee.
www.alanbaxteronline.com

Contact me at [email protected]

An open letter to the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and to Norman Cates as the Chair of the 2020 WorldCon

I didn’t hesitate to add my name to this as a signatory, and the letter is being shared widely, so I’m putting it here as well.

An open letter to the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and to Norman Cates as the Chair of the 2020 WorldCon

As writers, publishers and readers of science fiction and fantasy, we are writing to express our concern that Saudi Arabia has been accepted as a potential host site for the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon).

SFF is the great genre of possibilities and pluralities. As readers, writers and publishers of SFF our task is to inspire wonder: we look up at the stars to seek out other ways of being, we look down at the earth around us to find enchantment, beauty, romance, horror, hope. We create new worlds because we believe that in doing so we can make this world a better and intellectually richer place. A Jeddah WorldCon would allow fandom a chance to visit a breathtakingly beautiful city, Jeddah. It would break new ground for SFF Fandom, open up a new world to fans who may otherwise never have an opportunity to travel there, and show solidarity with creative communities within Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. It’s therefore with great sadness that we must face reality for what it is, that the Saudi regime is antithetical to everything SFF stands for.

The most recent Amnesty International report on Saudi Arabia states that in 2019 the Saudi government ‘escalated repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. They harassed, arbitrarily detained and prosecuted dozens of government critics, human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists, members of the Shi’a minority and family members of activists. […] Some people, most of them members of the country’s Shi’a minority, were executed following grossly unfair trials.’ Saudi women face systematic legal discrimination, while identifying as LGBQT+ is illegal and can be punishable with corporal punishment and even execution. Saudi Arabia is a key player in the war in Yemen that has left 80% of the Yemeni population in need of humanitarian aid, and has been accused of war crimes in the region . The UN concluded last year that it was ‘creditable’ that the Saudi Crown Prince personally ordered the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for the crime of writing words . It cannot and must not be acceptable to stage an international event against this backdrop. Indeed, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi alone should be enough to render the concept of a literary convention in the country an absurdity.

On a personal level, we note that many of us would ourselves not be able to write or to live freely under Saudi law. We refuse to attend an event if those staffing it cannot have the same basic freedoms. We express deep concern that many members of the SFF community would be excluded from attending an event because of their sexuality, nationality or religious beliefs.

We stand in solidarity with those who seek change in the country. And we write in protest but also in hope – that by raising awareness of the political situation in Saudi Arabia a WorldCon SA will one day be possible.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Smith Spark (organiser), Andrew Angel, Helen Armfield, Allen Ashley, Graham Austin-King, Ali Baker Brooks, Andrew Bannister, RJ Barker, Alan Baxter, Donna Bond, James Brogden, Angela Cleland, Tom Clews, Adrian Collins, Lee Conley, Emily Cornell, Sarah Doyle, Margaret Eve, Mike Everest Evans, The Fantasy Hive, Fantasy Faction, Nick Ferguson, Karen Fishwick, Carol Goodwin, T. L. Greylock, Joanne Hall, Patricia Hawkes-Reed, Bethan May Hindmarsh, Stewart Hotson, Shellie Horst, Steve D. Howarth, Humber SFF, Barbara James, Cameron Johnston, Daniel Kelly, Simon Kewin, Alex Khlopenko, Shona Kinsella, Alex Knight, David Lascelles, Ulff Lehmann, Dale Lucas, Eloise Mac, Steve McHugh, Juliette McKenna, Peter McLean, Kevin McVeigh, Kareem Mahfouz, Masimba Musodza, Andy Marsden, GR Matthews, Simon Morden, Alistair Morley, T. O. Munro, Stan Nicholls, Chris Nuttall, Scott Oden, Graeme Penman, Peter Philpott, Steven Poore, Robert V.S Redick, Ian Richardson, Courtney Schaffer, S. Naomi Scott, Ian Segal, Mike Shackle, Steve J Shaw, Sheffield Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, , Rita Sloan, Sammy HK Smith, Vaughan Stanger, Mark Stay, Charlie Stross, Allen Stroud, Amanda M Suver Justice, Clayton Synder, Sue Tingey, Three Crows Magazine, Catriona Ward, Matthew Ward, David Watkins, RB Watkinson, Adam Weller, Graeme Williams, Phil Williams, Deborah A Wolf.

 

RECALL NIGHT cover and release date.

I am so excited to be revisiting the ghost-infused world of Eli Carver in RECALL NIGHT, the second supernatural noir novella in what we hope will be an ongoing series. And here’s the cover. I love it! Click for a bigger version. This book is a direct sequel to 2018’s MANIFEST RECALL. Here’s the blurb:

Back from self-imposed exile in Canada where he fled to avoid the law following the blood-stained events in Manifest Recall–the first installment of award-winning author Alan Baxter’s latest supernatural thriller series–Eli Carver returns to the states with thoughts of starting over. But an accidental encounter on a train with a mysterious woman, one he soon learns has her own dangerous past, threatens to unravel his well-intended plans.

Upon their arrival in New York, the duo quickly find themselves entangled in an ongoing war between two rival crime syndicates. And with the ghosts of his own past continuing to torment him, Eli finds himself taking the darkest of turns as he’s drawn down a perilous path into a world of ancient religion and deadly occult rituals.

Living legend of horror, Brian Keene, read an advanced copy and had this to say:

“Eli Carver is back with a vengeance! That’s bad news for some but good news for readers. RECALL NIGHT is brutal, gritty fun and a phenomenal follow-up to MANIFEST RECALL.” — Brian Keene, author of The Complex

This second instalment of gritty, high-octane supernatural crime noir drops on August 25th, and the pre-order will be up soon. Huge thanks to Grey Matter Press for bringing this book to the world.

“If you like crime/noir horror hybrids do check out Alan Baxter’s MANIFEST RECALL. It’s a fast, gritty, mind-f*ck.” – Paul Tremblay, author of Cabin at the End of the World

One Of Us, a tribute anthology to Frank Michaels Errington.

Frank Michaels Errington was a great guy, taken too soon. He was a tireless supporter of horror and would always hit me up the moment he heard I had a new book coming out, asking for a copy to review. He did the same for so many of us. I’m honoured to have my original story, “Liminal”, in this anthology in his memory, coming soon. Keep up with the details of who’s in it and release dates, etc. here: https://www.facebook.com/One-of-Us-A-Tribute-to-Frank-Michaels-Errington-114062960321771/

Here’s Frank’s site where you can see all the amazing reviews he wrote.

New story and podcast at Does The Die In This?

I have a new short story out and a podcast to go with it. Glenn Parker (The Hellbound Heart on Instagram) has this cool project where he talks to horror authors about all kinds of things on his podcast called Does The Dog Die In This. The podcast is accompanied by original short fiction from those authors and the only guideline is that there has to be a dog in the story. Does it die? You’ll have to read to find out.

Anyone who knows me can probably answer that question fairly safely, but nevertheless, I suggest you gird your loins and brace your heart for this story. It’s emotional.

You can hear the podcast here on Spotify or here on Apple.

And you can read the story for free right here. I’ll post an excerpt from the start below to whet your appetite.

Enjoy!

The Normandy Curse

by Alan Baxter

Clancy James had no idea how much longer he could resist death.

For so long it hadn’t mattered. Then age began to show itself and he’d wondered about the past. Then infirmity kicked in and the fear came with it. Now there was no doubt, and he thought perhaps it was purely terror keeping him alive.

He stared at the coruscating colours where the wall should be. The flexing shadows. The ink dark tendrils questing forward, reaching, writhing. Clancy put one hand to his toast rack of a chest, felt the hammer of his heart through the papery skin. His breaths were shallow and ragged.

“Not now,” he muttered. “Not yet.”

But how much longer could there be? Just turned 96 years old, alone and unnoticed, it had to be weeks now at best, not months or years. And this, whatever this was, would be waiting. As promised.

Henry bounced forward, front legs stiff, his hackles a ridge of fur from under his collar to the base of his tail. He barked, deep and threatening, his most serious voice. Grey around the muzzle, a little tight in the joints himself, but always young at heart.

“Henry!” Clancy gasped. “Back up, boy. Back up!”

Henry glanced quickly at his master, then back to the impossible portal. He barked once more, sharp and angry, but did as he was told.

“Good boy,” Clancy said, bony fingers with swollen knuckles scratching deep into the brown fur of Henry’s rump. With his other hand, Clancy shook out one of the small white heart tablets, managed to put it on his tongue with shaking fingers. He gulped cold tea from the mug beside the chair where he’d fallen asleep, only to wake with tautness in his chest, sharp pains in his arm, shortness of breath.

“Not yet,” he whispered again. “Not yet.”

Read on here…

SERVED COLD wins Australian Shadows Award for Best Collected Work

Holy freaking shirtballs! I won another of these sweet demon head trophies.

Last night the Australian Shadows Awards were announced. I was already stoked to be a finalists in two categories – one for Best Short Fiction for my story, “The Ocean Hushed the Stones” from Served Cold, and one for Best Collected Work for Served Cold itself. And I bloody won for Best Collected Work. Not only is that a huge thrill on its own, it’s also the second Best Collected Work Shadows Award I’ve won. Crow Shine scored me the same award back in 2016. I’ve had two collected volumes of short fiction published and they’ve both won a Shadows demon. A-fucking-mazing.

That means that I’ll soon have four of those cool as hell demon heads on my brag shelf (as well as previously winning for Crow Shine, I also won in 2014 for Best Short Story for “Shadows of the Lonely Dead”, and in 2015 for The Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction for “In Vaulted Halls Entombed”.

The coolest trophy in horror and I have four of the things. Bloody brilliant. Served Cold has been working hard for me, because I also have an Aurealis Award nomination for the original novella in that collection, “Yellowheart”. Not sure when the winners there are announced, but it must be soon. Massive thanks to all the judges and organisers of the Shadows Awards, it’s an absolute honour to have my work recognised this way.

Mephisto audio at Planet Raconteur

My short story “Mephisto” was originally published at Daily Science Fiction on the 23rd June, 2014. It was a finalist in the 2014 Australian Shadows Awards for Best Short Story, which is always a thrill. The story is very short, but it’s powerful, and I wrote it before I had a son. A lot of writers say they can’t write about horror with children after they’ve had kids of their own, which I totally understand. It’s not quite like that for me, I can still explore those themes with my fiction despite being a father now – Manifest Recall is proof enough of that! But even then, this particular story slays me now. It’s a brutal gut punch of a yarn. It’s in Crow Shine, or you can read it at Daily SF (that’s the link above). However, I strongly recommend you listen to it instead. The good people at Planet Raconteur have done a fantastic full audio version of the story that really brings it to life. Which is maybe not for the faint of heart.

Their podcast episode 7 features “Mephisto”, along with stories by authors Ryan Creel and J. Robert Dewitt. Relevant links below. Enjoy!

RSS – feeds.feedburner.com/planetraconteur

Google pods 

Apple pods 

My second translation in Japanese.

I’m stoked to have another story in Night Land Quarterly, a beautiful digest horror mag from Japan. This time they’ve translated “Crow Shine”, the title story from my award-winning first collection of short stories. In Japanese it’s called “Karasu Sake” which is Crow Sake. I love it.

From the publisher:

Night Land Vol. 21 – sky fantasy

Horror & Dark Fantasy Magazine for the mysterium

Vol. The 21 feature is,”the fantasy of the sky, the city of firmament”.
From old people were dreamer to fly in the sky.
It may have been the beginning of an illusion —
A lot of inspiration for the sky and flight!

The issue is also a special increase page! It’s full of novels, interviews, reviews, essays and more.

Edgar Allan Poe, Adam-Troy Castro, Marjorie Lawrence, m John Harrison, Ernest Hemingway, Karina Tavares, Alan Baxter, Phu, kusanagi, Masahiko Inoue, and more.

In addition, there is a lot of heavier, such as the essay, book guide, and more from the nakano shàn fū long interview, including wait, otojiro, yasuda, shirasawa, asao asao, Akira Wada, and more!

That’s pretty good company I’m keeping!

Horror readings at Nightworms

One of the greatest advocates of horror in the world is Sadie Hartmann. Known online as Mother Horror, she is a tireless reviewer and promoter. She runs Nightworms, which is an incredible subscription box service for horror fans, but it has also grown into something far bigger. It was Sadie’s birthday last weekend and she asked a bunch of us if we’d read something from our body of work on camera for her new Nightworms YouTube channel. Of course, we said yes. You always say yes to Mother Horror. She asked me to read from The Book Club, which I was more than happy to do. I’m super proud of that book and I feel like it didn’t get the attention it deserved at the time. PS Publishing produced an ebook and a gorgeous hardcover, with an amazing original cover by Ben Baldwin. There’s also a limited edition signed and numbered hardcover, with only 100 copies ever available. That one’s a bit expensive, but there will only ever be 100 of them. I think there are a few left. So anyway, here’s my reading for Sadie from The Book Club. I hope you enjoy it. And afterwards, click through to her channel and subscribe. There are loads of other awesome readings there now, and I bet Sadie will make that channel an absolute must-follow for horror fans.

I’m a DOUBLE finalist in the Australian Shadows Awards!

Wow! I’m a finalist in the Australian Shadows Awards. TWICE! Served Cold in Best Collected Works and “The Ocean Hushed the Stones” (from Served Cold) in Best Short Fiction. Amazing. Huge thanks to the judges. BIG congrats to all the finalists! Shortlists here:

COLLECTED WORKS

Finalists:

Collision: Stories by J.S. Breukelaar

Figments and Fragments by Deborah Sheldon

Served Cold by Alan Baxter

 

EDITED WORKS

Finalists:

Beside the Seaside: Tales from the Day-Tripper edited by Steve Dillon

Trickster’s Treats #3 – the Seven Deadly Sins Edition edited by Marie O’Regan and Lee Murray

Midnight Echo #14 edited by Deborah Sheldon

 

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Finalists:

The Eldritch Kid: The Bone War written by Christian D. Read

Matinee written by Emmett O’Cuana

Geebung Polo Club written by Shauna O’Meara (adapted from a Banjo Patterson poem)

DCeased written by Tom Taylor

 

THE ROCKY WOOD AWARD FOR NON-FICTION AND CRITICISM

Finalists:

Suffer the Little Children by Kris Ashton

Horror and the paranormal, chapter 8 of Writing Speculative Fiction by Eugen Bacon

The Danse Macabre by Kyla Lee Ward

Horror Movies That Mean Something and Childhood Trauma Manifested by Maria Lewis

 

PAUL HAINES AWARD FOR LONG FICTION

Finalists:

Supermassive Black Mass by Matthew R. Davis

The Neverwhere Line by Matthew J. Morrison

Out of Darkness by Chris Mason

Enemy of My Enemy by Rick Kennett

1862 by C.J. Halbard

 

POETRY

Finalists:

 Brine and Vanishings by Hester J. Rook

Taxonomy of Captured Roses by Hester J. Rook

Please Do Not Feed the Animals by Anne Casey

Separation by Jay Caselberg

Ode to a Black Hole by Charles Lovecraft

Boat of a Million Years by Kyla Lee Ward

 

SHORT FICTION

Finalists:

Steadfast Shadowsong by Matthew R. Davis

Vivienne & Agnes by Chris Mason

The Ocean Hushed the Stones by Alan Baxter

Ava Rune by J.S. Breukelaar

 

NOVEL

Finalists:

Fusion by Kate Richards

Shepherd by Catherine Jinks

The Flower and the Serpent by Madeleine D’Este