- Guest Author -
Welcome to an interview with another emerging Australian author. Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi.
Welcome, Alan ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I’m a British-Australian author, I write mostly dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi (but I dabble in other genres too), I ride a motorcycle and love my dog. I also teach Kung Fu and run the Illawarra Kung Fu Academy. I live among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with my wife, son, dog and cat. My writing journey began with telling lies as a child, then writing them down as I got older. It continues to this day.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I think everyone who is a writer is born one – it’s just whether or not we indulge that calling or not. I decided to actively pursue writing as a profession in my mid-20s after dabbling as a hobbyist all my life until then.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I plan loosely, make lots of notes, set up a rough timeline, then just start running with it. If the story starts going somewhere different to my notes and original ideas, I stick with the story, not the notes.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Creation. I get to invent these characters and creatures and worlds and make stuff up about them, and the best bit is that then other people seem to really enjoy that. Nothing tops that feeling when someone tells you they love what you’re doing.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Making a living!
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I’ve been many things – van driver, accounts clerk, fishmonger, aquarium salesman, bartender. And more.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
In long fiction, selling a trilogy – The Alex Caine Series – to HarperVoyager was an absolute high point. In short fiction, selling a short story – The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner – to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which was my short fiction goal ever since I seriously started looking for publication.
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m currently working on a new collaborative action/adventure/monster novel with David Wood and I’m laying the groundwork for my next standalone novel, which will be a kind of supernatural/horror/crime/police procedural thing.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
All of them.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Read, read, read, write, write, write. Repeat.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Not really. I get stuck sometimes, but I go out for a ride on the motorbike, or mow the lawn, or walk the dog – something where my hindbrain can be active – and I usually think my way around it.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
No. I write whenever I can.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I like to be in my study at home. My wife calls it my cave. I call it the BaxCave. But I can work anywhere if I have to. But I like the peace and quiet and isolation of the BaxCave with the door shut.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Telling stories that people enjoy!
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
Clive Barker. He’s an unrivalled fantasist, an incredible wordsmith, and has probably had a larger influence on me than any other writer.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
“I couldn’t put it down!”
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Honestly, I can’t really think of any. There have been some, of course, and some less than glowing reviews and stuff like that, but I don’t dwell on it. Nothing particular comes to mind as the worst.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
All the time. Everything we write is coloured by our experience and we all draw on our own lives and the lives of those around us. More often than not it’s subconscious, I think, but I do it consciously sometimes too.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
My family, Kung Fu, reading, dogs, motorcycling, comics books, movies, being out in nature… There’s so much in life to love.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Absolutely, that’s a big part of the publisher’s job!
22. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
23. WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
Surely, if there was such a thing as heaven, every book would already be there. It hardly deserves to bear the name of heaven if they weren’t.
24. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Lots of characters have autobiographical elements. Perhaps the most for me would be in Alex Caine, with my latest trilogy from Voyager. He’s a career martial artist like I am and has a very similar set of guiding philosophies. But beyond that he’s a very different person to me.
25. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
26. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
27. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I love all my babies!
28. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Finishing a story. Everything else is gravy. After that, there are levels of success – publication, good payment, awards, bestseller status. Writers are always striving for the next thing, no matter how successful they are.
29. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I hope they’ll feel like they had a rollicking good time and were thoroughly entertained. If they’ve been given pause to think about some stuff too, even better.
30. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Hopefully, a great deal. The covers I’ve had involvement on have been very carefully considered. People absolutely judge a book by it’s cover, so it’s important.
31. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
A continued career with an ever-growing readership and earnings to live comfortably.
32. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
It’s essential. You have to be out there to some degree, at least have a website where people can learn about you and your books. Otherwise, the level of involvement is up to the individual. But the harder you work, the more successful you’ll be.
33. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
In general, no. I have self-published a sci-fi novella called “Ghost of the Black” and a writer’s guide to help people create better fight scenes called “Write the Fight Right”. My debut novel, RealmShift, started out self-published, but got picked up by Gryphonwood Press. All the details of my other books, including sample chapters, are on my website at www.warriorscribe.com
34. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Just a guy telling stories.
35. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Willful ignorance and bigotry.
36. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
I recently reread Clive Barker’s collections, The Books of Blood. Absolutely brilliant.
37. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
38. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
More sales, more readers. More health and happiness. Less ignorance in the world.
39. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Check out my website at www.warriorscribe.com and find me on Twitter @AlanBaxter
If you read my books, thank you, and I hope you enjoy them. If you’re looking for a good place to start, try Bound: Alex Caine #1.
Clancy's comment: Well done, Alan. Agree with you about the creative process. It's great to get carried away with characters you've invented.
Keep going, and good luck.