Busy and sick but getting shit done.

Nov 24, 2023

(My latest newsletter, reproduced here.)

Hello fiends

Well, damn, it’s been a long time between newsletters. Sorry about that. I do have a few excuses. Firstly, have I told you lot about our new dog yet? That’s him above. His name is Maximo and for some reason he likes to sit on my shoulders. He’s a delight and also a complete monster. He’s just turned 6 months old, so we let him get away with a lot right now while we’re also training him to be better. Thankfully he seems to have stopped eating books, so that’s a massive improvement on past behaviour.

But a lot of other stuff has also kept me busy. It’s funny how this gig works, where the more success you see, the less time you have for the thing you’re trying to be successful at. It’s a good problem to have, and I always recognise how fortunate I am to be invited to things like Supanova, Oz Comic-Con, to be asked to teach workshops at libraries and so on. I love doing those things, but it does take time away from the actual job of writing. I haven’t written any new words of fiction for weeks, unless you count today, when I wrote a new flash fiction for patrons.

I’ve started doing this thing on Patreon where I ask for three words or phrases as writing prompts and then I write a new short fiction piece using those prompts, and I promise to never take more than a week to post the result. The first one went up over there today and it all worked out pretty well. People liked it. Hooray! I plan to do a lot more stuff like that on Patreon in the future.

I also post a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff there and that’ll be happening some more too as I’m finally ready to get back into the novel I started earlier this year but which I had to put aside when I got really busy. I also got really fucking sick – perhaps as sick as I’ve ever been – and that set things back a bit. But other than a little fatigue still lingering around, I’m over that now and raring to go once again. (It wasn’t Covid, I think it was a bad hit of influenza.)

So here’s where things currently stand with work you can expect from me. The Leaves Forget is out now (and I think a few of the limited edition hardcovers are still available from PS Publishing). Next up is my new standalone novel, Blood Covenant. That comes out from the awesome folks at Cemetery Dance Publications on the 24th May next year. 24/5/24 is a pretty auspicious publication date. Unless you’re American, when you fuck it up and make it 5/24/24, which is just weird, but you do you, American pals.

Blood Covenant is the story of a bank robbery that goes horribly wrong, so the crims run off into the country to hide out. They find a hotel that’s closed for another month and decide that would be a great place to lie low until the heat’s off. Except the family who run the hotel have just arrived to get the place ready for opening and suddenly we have a hostage situation. Then something starts to wake up out in the bush, and it’s thirsty for blood…

Blood Covenant is set in the mountains west of Enden in the Gulpepper universe, so while it’s not an actual Tale From The Gulp, it is in that geography. More news on that release as things progress.

In the meantime, I’m very excited to have signed with a new agent. I’m now represented by Becky LeJeune at the Bond Literary Agency and I’m hopeful for lots of future success with her. The first thing under way is my new novel, The Past is a Dark Country, which she’s got out submission right now. I’m not nervous. You’re nervous. Shut up. I won’t say much about that book other than it’s a psychological horror thriller set in Australia (in the city of Wollongong, in fact) and it’s the first novel-length thing I’ve written without any actual supernatural elements. There are occult things, but… I’ll say no more. Please wish me luck on landing a good home for that. I’m really hoping to level up in terms of publisher and distribution with that book.

And that brings us full circle back to the novel I had to put aside earlier this year when I got so busy (and then sick).

I need to go back and re-read what I’ve done so far to get my head back into the book and the characters, but it’s a standalone coming-of-age horror novel set in Monkton, again in the Gulpepper universe. There are some solid Gulp easter eggs in this one – one character is an orphan after events in The Fall, for example – but it’s otherwise an entirely self-contained story. As of next week I’ll start my re-read and get back to work on it. I’m about 50,000 words in already, so I hope to have a first draft finished by early in the new year.

You know me, I like to stay busy.

On the short fiction front, other than the Patreon stuff mentioned earlier, I’ve had one new publication out this year and a couple more in the pipe. You can find “Clean-up Crew” in SNAFU: Punk’d, ed. A J Spedding (Cohesion Press) which is out now, and then “All the Eyes That See” is coming out in Cosmic Horror Monthly in December and “Sunlight On Clear Water” in Dread Volume 1, ed. Kevin Lucia and Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance Publications) which I believe is also due out in December. That last one is a new Tale From The Gulp, the first actual Gulpepper story since The Gulp and The Fall. Another brand new and recent story is “Old High Hills”, published exclusively on Patreon in September.

A relatively lean publishing year for me by my usual standards, but there are several things on the horizon. This business is nothing if not inconsistent.

What I’ve been Enjoying

So what stuff have I read and watched?

As a family we’ve been watching the new Lost In Space on Netflix. We’re about halfway through the third (and final, I think) season right now and we’re enjoying it. It takes a lot of different directions from the old 60s show, but it’s cleverly written for the most part and equally appealing to myself and my wife and our 10 year old, so that’s always a sign of good viewing.

I also watched the new Mike Flanagan series, The Fall of the House of Usher. It’s a really clever limited series, with each episode celebrating a different Edgar Allan Poe story. I enjoyed it a lot. Not his best series, I don’t think, but absolutely compelling viewing all the same. Apart from anything else, Mark Hamill is just amazing in it.

Reading wise, I’ve enjoyed a few great books lately. I mentioned before that I was reading the third of C S Humble’s weird western The Light Sublime trilogy and I enjoyed that a lot. The whole trilogy is superb. Lee Murray has a new novella out called Despatches which is brilliant – full of heart and horror. J. Ashley-Smith never disappoints and his new collection, The Measure of Sorrow, is outstanding. The title novella ripped me to pieces – I haven’t been that affected by a piece of fiction in a long time. Fuck you, Joseph, for being so good. What Moves The Dead by T. Kingfisher is a superb retelling (again!) of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and well worth a read. I’m quickly becoming a huge T. Kingfisher fan. Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark is an incredible novella, not quite like anything I’ve ever read before. And rising Australian star, Zachary Ashford, has a new heavy metal horror novel out called Polyphemus and I had a lot of fun reading that. You honestly can’t go wrong with any of those books above.

And right now I’m re-reading Peter Straub’s Ghost Story for a thing that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. I’ve long been a fan of Straub and this re-read once again confirms for me that he’s possibly the most under-rated author of his generation. He should be as big as King, he’s an absolute master.

Okay, that’s about all from me for now. Keep in touch, I always enjoy hearing from people. On that front, with social media in such flux, I keep a linktree now where all the most up to date links of where to find me can be found. That’s here: https://linktr.ee/alanbaxter

Big love to all, until next time.



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