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Ellen Datlow and I embarked on a project we call “The Tool Series”, where she sends me a photo of one of her amazing old tools and I write a story about it.

 

Here’s an interview we did with Smokelong Quarterly, an online publisher of flash fiction.

 

You can see the tools and read the stories here, on Ellen’s Facebook page.

 

You know what would be interesting? If an artist continued the chain; drew a picture having read my story but not seen the original picture! Then someone writes a story based only on that new piece of art. I wonder what we’d end up with?

To celebrate the release of Alan Baxter’s Alex Caine Series in print edition, I resurrected my Sparks  series and asked Alan to tell me about where the idea for the books came from. Alan brings all the knowledge and experience of his two careers together in the books, creating something quite unique.

 

Alan: Kaaron asked me to write about the spark that led to the sprawling bushfire that is The Alex Caine Series. It’s actually a very simple thing but it took a long time to come around. My first novel was RealmShift, originally self-published in 2006, then acquired by Gryphonwood Press in 2010. The main character in that book and its sequel, MageSign, is a guy called Isiah. He’s a powerful immortal with an unenviable burden, and he’s also an accomplished martial artist. After all, you can get pretty good at something when you’re immortal.

Because of those books, among other things, I got a reputation for writing good fight scenes. Given that I’ve been a martial artist for over 35 years now, and my day job is as a martial arts instructor, it’s no real surprise that I was writing what I knew there, and apparently doing an okay job of it. For a long while I’ve been running workshops on the subject, helping other writers to put together more realistic and compelling fight scenes.

And then I got to thinking. I’ve written lots of characters who happen to be capable martial artists. But I’ve never written a character who was a career martial artist. A practitioner and competitor, happily living his martial arts life, who then becomes embroiled in a story. And that was the spark for the character of Alex Caine. Caine starts the story as a successful underground cage fighter, making good money in illegal MMA matches, until he runs afoul of mobsters and magic. I’d also been noodling around with this evil book idea, a subverted fantasy quest idea (set in our time, our world, with dark and horrible occurrences involved) and it all slammed together and Bound, the first book in the Alex Caine trilogy, was born.

Books 2 and 3, Obsidian and Abduction, were quick to follow. And Alex Caine’s life as a fighter at the top of his game must seem like such a distant memory to the poor bugger by now. But he’s certainly had  the opportunity to put an awful lot of his martial arts training to the test.

The Alex Caine Series – Bound, Obsidian and Abduction – is available in paperback and ebook now.

 

Here’s Alan’s bio: Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the award-winning author of several novels and over sixty short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

 

 

Here’s Alan getting excited about his books. I love that such a well-published, award-winning writer still gets excited by it all!

For those of you in Sydney or nearby, you should definitely got to the launch of these books. Alan in conversation with the amazing Garth Nix, who is both wise and funny and knows how to pour a glass of wine.

 

 

In the Wild

Some recent anthologies my stories appear in. In my Backyard rather than the Wild, but still!

In Your Face

“All Roll Over” is a very vicious story, inspired by an old mattress I saw on the side of the road. In Your Face is edited by Tehani Wessely and published by Fablecroft Press.

Tomorrow's Cthulu

“68 Days” was inspired by a news article I read that said life expectancy in long distance space travel was 68 days. True of not, it got me thinking about how you’d ensure knowledge could be passed quickly from one person to the next.

Tomorrow’s Cthulu is edited by Scott Gable and C. Dombrowski, published by Broken Eye Books.

Street Magicks

“Working for the God of the Love of Money” is a reprint story. I wrote it in response to watching a kid asking for coins in Sydney years ago, and the way people acted towards him.

Street Magicks is edited by Paula Guran and published by Prime Books.

 

Humanity of Monsters

“Dead Sea Fruit” is the story reprinted here. The story of the Ash-Mouth Man and the skinny girls who love him.

The Humanity of Monsters is edited by Michael Matheson and published by Chizine.

 

Nightmare Magazine

My story “Death’s Door Cafe”, which first appeared in Shadows and Tall Trees, is now up at Nightmare Magazine. You can read it here, and read the interview I did with Sandra Odell about the story here.

The Grief Hole

I have big news. Very big news that I’ve been sitting on for a while.

I’ve signed a contract with IFWG Publishing Australia to publish my next novel!

This will be the second in their Dark Phases series, the first being the brilliant Peripheral Visions, by Robert Hood.

The Grief Hole is dark exploration of grief, manipulation, malevolent ghosts, a monstrous, charismatic man and the woman who needs to venture deep into a place called The Grief Hole in order to stop him.

I’m thrilled beyond belief. This book is dark and nasty and explores elements of humanity that were hard to venture into. It hurt to write, and I’m looking forward to inflicting that pain on others.

Gerry Huntman and I will make launch announcements soon!

 

News, news, news.

Lots of news to catch up on!

 

The Aurealis Award shortlists are announced, and I’m thrilled to see that my story “Witnessing”, which appeared in The Canary Press Issue 6, is shortlisted for Best SF Short Story.

My copy of Star Quake 3: SQ Mag’s Best of 2014 arrived. Very proud to be in this book alongside Sean Williams, Ken Liu and others.

star quake 3 front cover bright

Paula Guran and Prime Books have favoured me with two amazing selections! Paula has chosen “The Body Finder”, which first appeared in Cohesion Press’ Blurring the Line, for her Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror anthology!

She has also chosen “Working for the God of the Love of Money” for her anthology Street Magicks , which looks amazing.

In frankly mind-blowing news, Ellen Datlow has selected my story “Dead Sea Fruit” for Nightmares: a New Decade of Modern Horror . I know!

 

All Roll Over

When Tehani Wessely, of FableCroft Publishing, announced a new anthology called In Your Face , to contain extreme, message-driven stories, I was very interested. I love a good story that doesn’t pull any punches. She wanted stories we might not be able to publish elsewhere, or that we’d been too afraid to write before.

I knew straight away what story I wanted to send her, a story that came to me fully formed one day and that I simply had to transcribe.

I was waiting for a bus in Annandale, Sydney. I spent a lot of time at this bus stop; I have notebooks full of story ideas and observations. I was knocked over on the pedestrian crossing there once (driver gave me a false name but I took the rego number!). But I’ve never used any of it, apart from the old mattress I saw leaning against a wall.

It was thick, and covered with dark stains. I remember staring at that mattress and wondering where it had been. Who’d slept on it. Who’d died on it.

Once I started writing, I somehow channelled all the fury I felt at th roles of women in the world. I was working on a story called Coral in Five Parts, a far gentler story about Coral as daughter, wife, best friend, employee, self. The mattress story, “All Roll Over”, captured what I wanted to say about how sometimes we become lost in our roles, and sometimes we are so defined by those roles we are seen as little else.

FableCroft are running a crowdfunding campaign for the anthology. Details, and full table of contents here.

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