To celebrate the release of the Alex Caine trilogy in paperback, author extraordinaire Alan Baxter is stopping by to speak about Dark Fiction, or more specifically, why he writes dark fiction. But first, a little about the first book, Bound.Bound (Alex Caine #1) by Alan Baxter
Published: July 1st 2014 by HarperVoyager
Format: ARC, 352 pages
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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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.
An enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, approaches Alex after a fight and reveals, ‘I know your secret.’ Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else…
A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards chaos and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him - the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it.
The Alex Caine novels are bloody and brutal and crass and utterly amazing, and I’m really excited to have been given the opportunity to support them again.
Why Write Dark Fiction?
Firstly, many thanks to Shaheen for hosting this guest post on her awesome site! She told me to write about whatever I wanted, so I started a thing about just how brilliant a good single malt scotch is, then realised she probably meant something about writing and reading.
So I was having a think about it when a conversation with my mother-in-law came back to me. It was a long and (to me) quite amusing conversation that can really be boiled down to her saying: “Why do you write such horrible stuff?” and me trying to explain it. And it’s not the first time she’s asked that.
It’s interesting to me that she’s asked the same question or a variant thereof numerous times. It’s like every time she reads something of mine, she gets upset all over again, like I’ll have suddenly started writing “happy ever after” fantasy or something, yet I’ve disappointed her once again. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that kind of thing, and of course there are numerous people who want that from their fiction. And there are numerous authors writing it. It’s all good. But I’m not that kind of author.
And I don’t always write “such horrible stuff”. Sure, some of my stuff is really grim – monsters sucking out eyeballs and whatever. But generally, it’s a lot more subtle. I’m no fan of torture porn and splattergore (that little eye comment above notwithstanding). Horror and dark fiction, to me, are usually more nuanced and layered beasts. Even the eye sucker story had many other layers! And why do I write dark stuff? Well, in a nutshell, because I think it’s more honest.
We don’t live in a world with happy endings. Everyone dies, everything breaks, everything ends. Entropy is the only certainty. Now that’s not to say I’m a nihilist. I love life, I think the world and nature and at least a few people are wonderful and beautiful and awe-inspiring. But like I said, there’s already a lot of people writing about that stuff. I explore things darker, because things darker hold my interest more. If I come to a fork in the road and one way is a well-lighted street and the other a dark alley, I’ll take the alley. If there’s a rabbit hole leading underground, I won’t turn back when the light fails. I’ll follow it all the way down as it gets darker and darker, and I’ll see it through to the end, because I want the honesty of its totality.
I apply the same principles to my fiction. But it’s also many-layered, as I mentioned before. It’s not unrelenting darkness, but multi-faceted light and shade. The Alex Caine Series, for example, the release of which is the purpose of this blog tour, has many shades, I think. Certainly it’s a dark urban fantasy. It’s also a trilogy of thrillers. There are moments of horror, there are bad people making nasty choices and good people making bad decisions. But there’s a fight for good too, and hope for the light, a desire to never give up which gives Alex Caine his driving force. And when things get too much for him, he’s gathered some allies who will hold him up and push him onwards, which in itself is a metaphor for all of us, just getting through life every day. So my novels explore all the shades of light and dark, but when it gets dark, I don’t stop early, because life isn’t like that.
G K Chesterton said, “Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.” This is something I think is absolutely true and incredibly necessary in our stories. But you know what? It’s not entirely true. Because sometimes the dragons win. Sometimes they’re not beaten. And any survivors need to live with that truth too. And that’s the purpose of dark fiction. Follow the rabbit hole all the way down.
Alan’s award-nominated dark fantasy thriller trilogy, The Alex Caine Series – Bound, Obsidian and Abduction – lands on bookstore shelves in Australia and New Zealand on June 20th. All three books will be released together on that day. Ask your local store and library to get copies in if they don’t have them.
I’ll be honest with you, I’d have loved 800 words on single malt scotch too! Thanks Alan, for this fascinating piece. I’m the absolute opposite: I’ll pick the well-lit street and panic at the mere suggestion of darkness, which is why I find Alex so fascinating. Every time I think “he’s surely going to bail now, look at the the horrible things he’s seen and endured”, Alex just gets up and keeps going deeper and deeper. He’s a brave dude.
A huge thanks as well to HarperVoyagerAU for organising this awesome blog tour and asking me to take part 🙂 And congratulations, to both Alan and HarperVoyagerAU, for the publication of the Alex Caine trilogy in paperback.
HarperCollinsAU has kindly offered up the entire trilogy for my wonderful readers 😀 Enter below for a chance to win the new paperbacks of Bound, Obsidian and Abduction.
Some pertinent information about the giveaway:
- You do NOT need to follow Speculating on SpecFic to enter.
- Open to all Australian residents, 13 years and over.
- Entry is via the Rafflecopter form below.
- You can tweet about the giveaway once for ONE extra entry.
- Suspicious entries will be deleted without notice.
The competition runs from the 20th to the 26th of June 2016, ending at 2359 Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT +10). Good luck!!