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.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Your new collection of short stories Served Cold is coming on September 17, 2019. What can readers expect?
Horror and weirdness! My first collection, Crow Shine, was a variety of stories that ran the gamut from weird dark fantasy to horror. With Served Cold it’s more of the same, but I think this one leans more into horror than Crow Shine did. There’s definitely still a lot of that fantasy and weird fiction vibe going on too, though. There are stories of varying length, from the very short to the almost novella length. A lot of them are set in Australia, with only a handful set elsewhere. And hopefully people can expect, beyond anything else, to be entertained!
Sci-Fi & Scary: Your stories tend to fall on the darker side of fantasy and horror. There’s a notion floating around the writing world that true artistry comes from personal pain. Do you believe pain is necessary to successfully write about darkness?
I really take issue with the idea that only pain can create great art. We really don’t need to suffer in order to write great stories. Having said that, when we do have pain in our lives, we certainly draw on it heavily. I’ve experienced a lot of untimely deaths and terminal illness and natural injustice in my time, and I definitely explore those things with my fiction. But a writer draws on the world around them, and the world is a dark and fucked up place, so we certainly don’t need personal pain to be able to write about darkness.
Sci-Fi & Scary: You’ve had international success with your short stories and novels. What tips would you give to an Australian author looking to break into the US / foreign market?
Submit to foreign publishers! I’ve always taken a global approach to writing and sought out the best market for any given work, so that often means looking beyond Australia. But we have fantastic publishers here too. The beauty of the modern world is that wherever you are and wherever you’re published, your work should be available everywhere. Getting noticed (at home or overseas) is another question entirely! But the general rules apply – always submit to the best pro markets first, and then work your way down your own personal list of potential publishers as the rejections come in. Ideally, you’ll slowly work your way back up that list as you go along.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Manifest Recall is one of my favorite books and it was the first 5 star review I awarded for Scifi&Scary. I especially loved the second half, which is filled with non-stop action. What tips would you give when writing a fight scene? Does your martial arts background help in terms of realistic body movements?
Your first 5-star review? Wow, thanks! My martial arts background definitely helps – I’ve run a lot of workshops on the subject and it’s one of those things that’s a big subject with a lot of possible mistakes. But in short, a fight scene needs to be short and punchy, not bogged down with lots of technical detail. Go for the emotion and the vibe more than the visuals and the specific techniques. I’ve written a short ebook on the subject, which you can learn about here: https://www.alanbaxteronline.com/books/write-fight/
Sci-Fi & Scary: Do you think it’s important for authors to have a “brand”? If so, what tips would you give to develop one?
I think it’s important for authors to be authentic. People see through artifice in no time. I’m not keen on the idea of a “brand”. Every author is different – we all have different interests and styles and so on. Our work should hopefully have a voice that establishes us as a writer. When we’re not writing fiction, but just being ourselves, we should also have a voice if we don’t strive to be something we’re not. So my advice is to be yourself, be available, be authentic. And don’t be a dick. That’s brand enough.
Sci-Fi & Scary: By looking over your website, I discovered that you were a side quest dialogue writer for the open world RPG, Frontiers and head narrative writer on Leornian. How did you get involved in game writing and would you be interested in doing more in the future?
I would definitely be into doing more, it’s really good fun. And it can be lucrative! In my case I came to it obliquely, making the most of opportunities that I happened across. If I had more time, I’d certainly go out and seek more, but time is the real killer. If people are interested in doing it, start by following the people online who are already doing it and learn from them, look at where they’re working, and look out for opportunities. But it is incredibly competitive and hard to crack into.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Many writers have sketchy search histories. If the FBI raided your computer, what oddities would they find on your search engine that are, um, “work related”?
So many. I was researching the best way to butcher a human corpse the other day, which surely triggered a few red flags somewhere. I’m regularly researching weapons as well. When I was researching for my novel Hidden City I looked up loads about parasites and pathogens. That’s the thing about writing fiction though – you have to get the real stuff right so people go along with all the fiction. And I love that about it, I really enjoy the research. Sometimes a little too much…
Sci-Fi & Scary: If you could pick only one of your books to make into a movie, which one and who would be the leads?
Argh! This is impossible to answer. I love film, and would be massively pleased to see any of my work made into movies. If I had to pick one, maybe the Alex Caine Series, as that’s a trilogy so it would be three movies! For the leads, I’d want really good actors who are otherwise unknowns – hopefully we could make some new stars. And they’d need to be excellent martial artists, as both Alex Caine and Silhouette can both kick serious ass.
Sci-Fi & Scary: October is right around the corner! Do you have any Halloween traditions? Any scary movies you watch or books you reread this time of year?
I never did have much in the way of Halloween traditions. We really don’t get into Halloween here like you do in the US. Even trick or treating is a bit half-hearted in Australia. But a while ago I read how Willie Miekle (a great horror author, originally Scottish now living in Canada) sat down every Halloween and wrote a ghost story longhand. I thought that was a tremendous idea, so the last couple of years I’ve been doing that. The one I wrote a couple of years ago is actually one of the stories in Served Cold!
Sci-Fi & Scary: Is there anything you want to add that wasn’t asked?
I don’t think so! Other than the obvious – please check out my books, and I really hope you enjoy them. And if you do, reviews on Goodreads and Amazon really help us out, as that leads to more opportunities for promos and discoverability, which leads to more readers, which leads to us getting to write more books!
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 Alan Baxter’s unique voice that effortlessly blends horror, fantasy and the weird with elements of the dark fantastique, resulting in an unforgettable volume of fiction.
Buy Served Cold here.
Nico Bell is a horror and science fiction writer. Her work has appeared in The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories, Drabbledark Anthology and Horror Tree’s Trembling with Fear. She joined the Coolthulhu Crew in May 2018.