Kendall Reviews Vs Alan Baxter
- Paperback: 312 pages
- Publisher: Grey Matter Press (17 Sept. 2019)
In what I hope will be an entertaining twist on the standard Kendall Reviews Interview format I bring you the first in a new feature ‘Kendall Reviews Vs’. Here members of Kendall Reviews pose a couple of questions each to pick the brains of a talented so & so from the horror genre.
To kick things off, Kendall Reviews fires the question cannon at the brilliant Alan Baxter.
Are there any plans to return to the RealmShift universe?
I’ve been asked this a lot, so there seems to be interest in it, and I do really like those characters and the stuff I got to play with in RealmShift and MageSign, but I only ever had that duology in mind when I wrote the books. That’s not to say I’ll never go back to the series – there’s some temptation to make it a trilogy, at least – but I’ll only do that if really good ideas come to me. I don’t want to write something just for the sake of it. So the short answer is maybe one day, but there are no plans currently.
What’s your favourite word to say
Where do you think modern horror as a genre fits into society today, and what do you think — if anything — it can teach us?
Horror fits everywhere. I don’t see horror as a genre, I see it more as a spice that you can add to anything. When I try to write something light, it always ends up at least a bit dark, because I find horror as a flavour adds honesty to any narrative. I think it teaches us to face the darkness, it gives us practice, and therefore tools, to deal with any darkness when we inevitably encounter it.
Are there any stories you’ve written that you’ve purposely hidden from those close to you and why?
There are a couple of things I’ve told my wife not read because they’ve come from places deep in my insecurities or personal fears that I’m not worried about her knowing, but that I know will upset her. One book I told her not to read for a couple of years, and then when she did read it, it still messed her up a bit. Otherwise, I tend to give caveats if I think there’s stuff in a story that’s confronting, but I write dark fiction because I think it’s healthy for us to be confronted. And if anything is too upsetting, people can simply put the book down, and that’s perfectly okay, of course.
Which one of your books would you most like to see made into a movie? If it was, what actor/actress would you want to cast as the main character?
Probably Bound, but that’s mainly because it’s the first of a trilogy, so then I’d get three films. It is also pretty epic in scale and has some spectacular visual moments. As for the cast, I’d want really cool and talented unknowns. They’d need to be damn good martial artists too, because Alex Caine and Silhouette both kick serious ass.
What’s one book you’ve read that you wish you had written?
I don’t. People write the books only they can write, so I want to write the books only I can write. But if I can write a book that makes other people feel the way Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show made me feel, I’ll be pretty happy with that.
Do you have a designated writing area, or do you write wherever is convenient for you?
I recently converted from a laptop back to a desktop PC, so I always tend to write in my study these days. My wife calls it The Cave. But I also have a Bluetooth keyboard that syncs to my phone, so I can write anywhere if I want to. But I have a pretty good week to week routine, and I’m happiest hiding away in The Cave, making shit up.
If you inherited a large sum of money, what are the first three things you would do?
Buy a big house with lots of land, as my wife would love to keep horses.
Take my family on a huge around the world trip.
Establish a trust fund for underprivileged writers, because we need more diversity of voices.
What was your a-ha! moment that made you realize you wanted to write?
No idea! I’ve always done it. When I was about 7 I wrote a story about a guy who goes back in time and encounters dinosaurs, and my teacher got me to read it to the class. It blew my mind how they all sat and listened and really enjoyed it, and I saw then for the first time the power of storytelling. So maybe that was the moment?
What advice would you give a young Alan Baxter?
Start sooner. I’ve always written, but I never took it seriously and went after publication until I was around 30. I wish I’d started that process a decade earlier.
How did your childhood affect your reading/writing habits?
I was a nerd and a bit of a loner, and I read all the time. I found fantasy and horror at a young age, from the travelling library that used to park at the end of my street every second Tuesday afternoon – I lived in a pretty rural area of southern England growing up. So reading has always been my passion. And the things I read certainly influenced my writing.
Do you think there is an appropriate age for horror and can you qualify that? ie types of horror
I think kids are great at self-censorship, and they vary wildly in what they can and can’t handle. I was terrified of horror movies, right into my mid-teens, but I was reading Clive Barker and Stephen King and James Herbert from 11 or 12 up and it was no problem for me. I mean, look at me – I’m perfectly normal…
What has been the most challenging part of marketing your work outside of your home country, and do you feel you could do it on your own or does it require professional assistance?
Everything about it is challenging! There’s so much stuff out there, including so much good stuff, that it’s really hard to get noticed and carve out an audience. Persistence is key, and making good work as frequently as possible. Anyone can do it on their own, but the more help they have the better. I’ve had wonderful assistance from publishers – both mainstream and small press – but I’ve really benefitted from fellow authors. The writing community, especially the horror community, is incredibly supportive of each other and I love that. But beyond all of that, it’s the readers, bloggers, bookstagrammers and so on who really matter. No matter how much we do, it’s reader enthusiasm that makes the most difference, and that’s something that hopefully grows the longer we stay in the game and stay engaged. So massive thanks to all the readers out there and the people like you guys, sharing your passion for the fiction you enjoy. You are genuinely the lifeblood of an author.
When considering between a novel, novella, or short story, what is your criteria that makes you choose one over the other?
Sometimes I don’t know! I thought Manifest Recall was going to be a short story, but it just grew and grew into a pretty big novella. But it’s usually idea-driven. A short story is a more singular idea and a tightly focussed lens, while a novel tends to be a few ideas that crash together in just the right way.
What do you fear most, and have you explored it in your writing?
Not being able to protect my son, and oh yes, I’ve explored it a lot! You’ll see themes of justice and consequence in a lot of my work, and a lot of that comes from a desire to see the most vulnerable in the world protected.
Which of your characters would you least like to meet in a dark alley?
Tough call, I’ve written a lot of evil, dangerous bastards over the years! Maybe the Subcontractor from the Alex Caine Series. He’s fucking terrifying!
Can you tell me about your latest release please?
Served Cold is my second collection of short fiction. My first was Crow Shine and that had a wide variety of horror and dark fantasy stories in it. I think the new collection leans a little more into horror territory, but it’s packed with weird, dark fantasy and cosmic horror stuff too. It has 16 stories, several of them from obscure publications that didn’t get a really wide distribution, and three entirely new stories written for Served Cold, including a novelette that closes out the book.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got a new standalone horror novel underway, about 2/3 finished in the first draft. It’s a bit like a violent home invasion meets cosmic horror mashup, set in an isolated lodge in rural America. It’s a son of a bitch to write, though, and currently kicking my arse. Some books are harder to nail down than others. But I’ll get there, because I’m stubborn like that.
Collected together for the first time ever, these sixteen provocative and intensely chilling tales by multi-award-winning-author Alan Baxter venture into the depths of the darkest and most shadowy places where unspeakable horrors are the predators and we the willing prey.
Prepare for an always terrifying, frequently heartbreaking journey in multiple stages, each piece echoing Baxter’s unique voice that effortlessly blends horror, fantasy and the weird, cementing his place as a modern master of the dark fantastique, and resulting in an unforgettable volume of fiction.
Alan Baxter is a multi-award-winning author of horror, supernatural thrillers, and dark fantasy. He’s also a martial arts expert, a whisky-soaked swear monkey, and dog lover. He creates dark, weird stories among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia where he lives with his wife, son and hound. Find him online at www.warriorscribe.com or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook.