AHWA Interview with: Alan Baxter

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the major influences on your writing?
I’m a martial arts instructor and a writer of horror mostly, usually supernatural and liberally mixed with crime. My stuff certainly edges into dark fantasy sometimes. I’m hugely influenced by Clive Barker, he’s my favourite author. Also influenced by a lot of comic books, especially Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” and Jamie Delano’s “Hellblazer”. Honestly, I take inspiration from pretty much everywhere.

How would you describe your writing style?
Dark, criminal, weird, visual, action-packed a lot of the time. 

Please tell us about your most recent work, and how do you think this differs from your early works?
My new book just came out. It’s called THE GULP and it’s a collection of five interconnected novellas set in the fictional NSW harbour town of Gulpepper – people call it The Gulp as it has a habit of swallowing people. I really leaned into Australian horror here, and especially that weird, cosmic horror I enjoy so much. I’ve never done a mosaic novel before, which is essentially what this is, and I had a heap of fun with it. Early responses have been overwhelmingly positive so far, which is great.
Novel writing can be a challenging process. Are there tips you would provide new horror writers on how to move from an idea towards something more substantial they can flesh out into a story?
Just do it. It sounds trite but it’s really the only key to success. You have to write and you have to finish something, and then you can worry about making it any good. Just get the words down, play with it, use all your ideas and have fun. Once you have something, figure out how to make it sing. Then do it again. And again.
Horror writing covers an incredibly broad range of styles and topics. Is there anything you feel crosses a line that you won’t write about as an author?
No. Anything goes. BUT! You absolutely have to be aware that there will be consequences for the things you write and you need to be prepared for that. And you need to be respectful and get things right. 
Which of your works are you most proud of, and why? What would you recommend a reader new to your work start with? 
This is such a hard question because I have love for everything I’ve written for different reasons. It’s easiest to say the best thing is the most recent, and THE GULP is a pretty good way to start reading my stuff. 

Are there any pieces of your work you would like to hide, pull back, or rewrite? 
Hide or pull back? No. Rewrite? Probably everything! I do my best not to reread stuff once it’s published, because I can’t do anything about it. It’s as good as it could be at the time it was published, I’m proud of it and I want to keep moving forward. Thankfully nothing in my back catalogue (that I’m aware of!) is so bad or cringeworthy that I’d wish it gone.
Could you name three other horror authors that you think we should search out?
Kaaron Warren
Laird Barron
Nathan Ballingrud
Have you got any new projects in the works that we should keep our eyes open for?
I’m currently working on the third Sam Aston book with David Wood and I love those monster thrillers. We’re having a lot of fun with this one. That should be out around mid-year. Then I’m back to redrafting a new standalone folk horror novel, set in the Australian bush.
Finally, please share your links for your website, social media, books, etc.  
The best place to find everything is my website at www.alanbaxter.com.au and otherwise I’m most active on Twitter https://twitter.com/AlanBaxter 

[This interview first appeared in the January issue of the AHWA’s newsletter. For more information on the AHWA, including how to join, go to www.australasianhorror.com]

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