Annie On Writing

June 15, 2016

Alan Baxter – Author in the Spotlight

Filed under: Book Lanch,Interview with Author,Writing Tools — Annie Evett @ 9:30 am

Following the successful launch of his third book in his amazing trilogy, Alan has kindly offered some insights into his writing life and motivations in an exclusive interview. I’m a little star struck to be honest, and it is an absolute honour to be hosting this interview today.

So Alan , tell us a little about your latest publication.

Its a trilogy, called The Alex Caine Series. The three books are Bound, Obsidian and Abduction.

What was your initial motivation or prompt to write this story?

After writing lots of stories with martial arts in them, I wanted to write a story with a central character who was first and foremost a career martial artist. And Alex Caine was born.

Is the character in your story a reoccurring character in your  writing?

Well, he’s the star of three books so far. Who knows whether there may or may not be more. You’ll have to read to find out!

A quick blurb ( 50 words or so) to sum up the theme or general idea of the story.

Alex Caine, a fighter by trade, is drawn into a world he never knew existed – a world he wishes he’d never found. Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents’ moves before they know their intentions themselves.

After a fight one night, an enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, claims to know Alex’s secret. Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him along a mind-bending trajectory beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else.

What sort of message of feeling are you hoping you leave your audience with?

There are a lot of themes explored in the books, but it’s not for me to say what people may be left with. Whatever I may have intended is irrelevant to what readers will actually find there. That’s the beauty of fiction.

What sorts of challenges or insights ( either into the character, a certain social situation, social norm – or a personal revelation) you may have had while writing or editing this?

Nothing particular that immediately springs to mind, but every new book opens me up to new ideas about character development, motivations, plot progression and so on. The act of writing is a constantly revelatory process.

What sort of research did you do before you began writing it?

More than thirty years training as a martial artist! I also did a lot of global research, as the books are thrillers with a globe-spanning plot. I used a lot of places I’d been before and researched others.

Do you believe that a writer needs to have experienced or physically visited a certain event of place in order to write about that event or place in a deep experiential manner?

Yes and no. With modern technology, we can virtually walk the streets of cities on the other side of the world, so research has never been easier. But equally, only when you are in a place can you truly feel it, smell the unique aromas, see the quality of the light and so on.

How did you ‘start out’ as a writer? (ie. have you ‘always written – ever since you could grasp a crayon – or has it come later in life?)

I’ve always told stories. I just slowly took it more and more seriously.

In your opinion, is writing art or craft? Why?

Both. It’s a craft you can learn, but it’s an artform you have to feel. While there’s a certain amount of natural talent to both those things, they’re also both things you can learn and constantly improve upon.

What sort of stories do you normally write? (Is this story a break from your norm?) What sorts of lengths ( short story, flash, micro, novellas, novels?)

I play in all the sandpits. I’ve written several novels, several novellas, something like seventy short stories. And I go across all genres – horror, SF, fantasy, thriller, noir, crime, mystery, etc. – and often mash several of those genres together like I have with Alex Caine. I’m a genre writer, but no one particular niche. Most of my stuff does appear to be contemporary dark weird fantasy stuff though.

Why is that?

Because it’s all such wonderful fun!

What might be your favourite length of story to write?

Whatever length any particular story requires. Sounds trite, but it’s true.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a “planner”? Any comment on your style and why it works for you?

Both. Everyone is a bit of both, it’s like a sliding scale. It just depends where along the scale you sit. For me, it’s somewhere near the middle, but leaning towards pantser.

What projects or new story lines do you have coming up in the near future?

I’ve got a new monster novel co-written with David Wood due out early next year, a handful of short stories due for publication, and a couple of things I’m not allowed to talk about yet. Keeping busy!

Do you enter any writing competitions? Why?

No, mainly because I don’t have time. I have in the past, the last time being the AHWA Short Story Contest a few years ago that I was fortunate enough to win.

Are you a member of a writing group – either online or a physical one?

I have a close collective of professional friends and we beta read for each other. Plus I have a broader group of Sydney-area dark fiction writers and we meet socially for beers and lunch every month or two and talk about all kinds of stuff, but that includes industry chat as well, of course.

Do you think these groups help or hinder a writers journey? Why?

Help. Massively. You must have people you trust around you – in person or online – or you’ll never grow. It’s too easy to be insular and lose focus of what you’re producing otherwise.

What encouragement or advice do you have for emerging writers?

Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can. That’s it. Any other writing “rules” are bullshit. And if you really want it, you’ll make it happen. Never stop learning, never stop striving to improve.

What advice or tips do you have for writers who feel they are stuck or have “writers block”?

Go out, get fresh air, do something physically demanding but not mentally stimulating and let the story sit. Then get back to it. If it’s still not working, just write anyway. Write anything. You can delete it all later, but you have to get the wheels turning.


How can others follow your journey?

All details of my work can be found on my site: [4] or search my name or the books titles on





That’s about all I use these days!


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 –

or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.



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