Author Interview: Alan Baxter

This is the first author interview for 2009. I plan on doing one a month throughout the year and I hope you will return to the website each month to read them.

The first interview is with Alan Baxter, author of RealmShift and MageSign.

Alan, welcome to Scribe’s Writing Desk and thank you for allowing me to interview you. Was there a moment in your life that clearly sparked your desire to write?

I’ve always had the desire to write. As far back as I can remember I was making up stories and writing them down. I once got into trouble in primary school because my teacher was convinced that my parents must have written the English assignment that I handed in. Once my parents had convinced her that it was my own work she became concerned about the dark nature of it as there was murder and blood involved. So I guess I’ve always had the urge to write dark fiction!

Tell us about your latest publication?

My latest book is MageSign, which is the sequel to my debut novel, RealmShift. In RealmShift the protagonist is a very powerful immortal called Isiah with the unenviable task of trying to keep some kind of balance between all the world’s religions. In the sequel, MageSign, the protagonist is back again, but on a rather more personal quest this time. Both books are rollicking good thrillers on the one hand and dark speculative fiction on the other. They’ve been called dark fantasy and horror and urban fantasy and a number of other things, so they’re obviously a little hard to pin to any genre. They’ve both received great reviews and I’m very proud of them. Both available on Amazon, of course, and you can learn all about them and read the first three chapters of both for free at my website!

They sound, and look, intriguing! What project are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working on promoting MageSign primarily. I’m also usually working on a few short stories, as I love the short story medium and I’ve got a handful out here and there, trying to get them published. I’ve sold a few, which is always gratifying. I’m also starting to put together the bones of my next novel as a project for next year. It’s a new book, with new characters and a new idea, so I’m quite excited about it. I like to let the idea stew in my brain for a while and then I’ll slowly start to make notes and put together a rough story plan, then the serious writing begins. I’m at about the notes stage now with the next book. I’ve also set up an independent publisher called Blade Red Press, so I’m working on that as well.

It’s good to hear that you have numerous things to keep you busy. Where do you get inspiration for your stories and characters?

Anywhere and everywhere. For example, I recently wrote a short story about a guy that dies and leaves his daughter seven garages all over Sydney that she had no idea existed. It’s a bizarre idea, but it came about because I heard of someone that really did that. His family were mystified to discover, on his death, that he owned seven garages. I have no idea what he did with them – in my story it all becomes dark and ominous, of course! Real life provides fantastic fodder for speculative fiction. I just extrapolate people and events that I notice and paint them with my own particular brush. Other times a scene or a character will just pop into my head and I’ll build a story around that. That’s how RealmShift came about. I came up with the idea of the Isiah character and just let it percolate in my mind for a while and slowly built a story around the character. Inspiration can be found everywhere.

Do you know how the story will end when you first start writing it?

Not always! When I wrote RealmShift I had no idea until about halfway through how it was going to wrap up. With MageSign I knew exactly from start to finish all the major story details and just had to build it and flesh it out. With this next book, I know the beginning and middle, but again have no idea how to wrap it up at this stage. But I trust in my abililty as a storyteller and I also believe in the story itself – if you start to tell the story, it’ll lead you on to the end.

I look forward to reading more about that story in the future. Do you work on more than one story at a time? If so, how do you manage it?

I usually work on one novel at a time, but always have several short story ideas rolling around. If I’m finding the novel a bit tricky, I’ll put it aside and write a short. That helps to relubricate the story-telling machine and I’m usually able to get on with the novel with renewed inspiration and motivation. In between novels I tend to write shorts and blog posts and all sorts of things like that and I’m always trying to promote my current and previous work, so there’s always several writing related things happening. And with Blade Red Press up and running now as well there’s another thing to think about!

Best of luck with Blade Red Press. I hope all goes to plan. Who would you chose to play the star role if your book was made into a movie and why?

Well, given that my “day job” is as a martial arts instructor, there’s a lot that Isiah does in the books that I could probably do a lot better than a regular actor. But could I act as well? Who knows. I do love the idea of playing my own hero as I’ve always been a huge fan of movies, but I don’t think I really resemble Isiah all that much. A lot of people have commented about how both RealmShift and MageSign would make great films, so I’d love to see my books optioned one day. Being such a movie fan, seeing one of my novels on the big screen would be awesome. I think I’d probably get involved and insist on being the fight choreographer (as most movie fights are awful) and then have a cameo role as a minor character somewhere. Perhaps I’d body double for the star in the fight scenes!

Now that would be interesting. I hope the situation arises so that we can enjoy that cameo role! 🙂 My sincere thanks, Alan, for participating and please accept my best wishes for the future.

If you would like to find out more about Alan or his books, please visit his website – Alan Baxter Online.