Newsletter 22nd May 2024 – Blood Covenant is imminent!

May 22, 2024

Hello fiends

How are you? I hope you’re navigating your way with something close to control. I feel like I’ve been mildly out of control for months, but now we’re slowly coming good again. In case you’re new here and not up to speed, I’ve recently moved house. Not only moving house, but moving state and moving overseas. Australia is big, y’all. Like, really fucking big. Not big like space, but compared to most other nations, it’s pretty massive. We recently moved from New South Wales to Tasmania, a journey of about 1,600 kilometres, 450 of which are across the Bass Strait, either in a plane (for my wife, kid and the cats) or on a ferry (for me and the dogs in my car). So factor in the packing up of the old house where we’d been for 16 years, the costs and traumas of shipping containers, and all the associated other problems with a massive relocation, suffice to say it’s taken up approximately 96% of my brain capacity since February. They say the five most stressful things in life are the death of a loved one, divorce, moving, major illness or injury, and job loss. Moving is number three on the list? I believe them. Whoever “they” are.

But we’re here now, in the valleys of southern Tasmania, and it’s bloody lovely. This is genuinely one of the most amazing places on Earth and I’m thrilled and privileged to live here. It’ll take a while to settle in properly, find some work to supplement the writing and so on, but we’re getting there. On that front, don’t forget I have a Patreon that gives you loads of extras for not much a month, and that really helps me out. Right now, we’re so in the hole it’s going to take a while to climb out. Moving, especially when crossing a body of water is involved, is just heinously expensive.

But it’s not all stress. Only a few weeks after we got here, there was one of the biggest solar storms in decades. Tasmania is quite far south and we get to see the Aurora Australis from time to time. What I didn’t realise is that it’s often not really visible to the naked eye and you catch it with long exposure photographs. Not the case this time. We went out with the intention of walking up the hill near our place, away from the streetlights, in the hope we’d see it, and my kid immediately yelled, “I can see it!” And sure enough, right from our back yard, the sky was lit with waves of red and green. That photo above is one I took pretty much from our house. Absolutely mind-blowing. Awe-inspiring. You see shit like this and understand exactly why people with far less knowledge of science had to invent gods to explain rare phenomena. Honestly, it’s fucking bonkers. What a welcome to our new home.

Okay, what else is happening? Let’s start with new book news. The release of Blood Covenant is imminent – it’s officially out this Friday! – and I’m as terrified and excited as ever. This feeling, it seems, never goes away. The official release is May 24th, but you can pre-order the paperback from Cemetery Dance right now, and you can pre-order the Kindle from Amazon. And for the moment, that’s only 99c. Which is wild. No idea how long that will last, so get on board quick if that’s your flavour. I had a couple of amazing pre-release blurbs from people I admire. It blew me away to receive these:

“Baxter effortlessly jukes and feints between crime fiction and supernatural horror, taking this story to darker, stranger places. I am foolishly late to the party on Alan Baxter, but BLOOD COVENANT makes it clear I need to catch the hell up.” – Chuck Wendig, NYT bestselling author of Aftermath and Black River Orchard

“Blood Covenant blends horror and crime into a monstrous, perfect hybrid. A fast, sharp, tense, violent, bloody novel that starts with the pedal to the metal and never slows down. This is a hell of a good time, and it’s Baxter’s best work yet.” – Gabino Iglesias, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil Takes You Home

I mean, WHAT?! Chuck and Gabino are two of the best in the business, so for them to say such nice things about Blood Covenant is amazing. Thanks, guys!

On the subject of Blood Covenant, I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Neil McRobert on the Talking Scared podcast again. Neil is a real big brain in horror and asks deep and searching questions. Honestly, he had me wrong-footed several times during this chat where I really had to think hard about the stuff he was asking, which is always wonderful. We talk about the book, of course, but also about all kinds of other stuff including Aussie horror in general, blending crime and weird fiction, and more. Have a listen to that here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1322413/15100512

And on the subject of listening to me, if you’re not sick of me by now, I was recently a guest speaker for the Dungeons & Toast group where they got me to do a presentation on Worldbuilding in Horror. That talk is available on my YouTube channel right here: https://youtu.be/6K_AEzHZCpU?si=I4aU4o9ZhJ0z19iz. And please do subscribe to my YouTube, as I plan to use it a lot more in the future.

It’s not all wins though. Last weekend I lost two more Aurealis Awards. The Leaves Forget was a finalist for both Best Horror Novella and Best Fantasy Novella. However, while it would have been awesome to take home the shiny, it genuinely is an absolute thrill to be nominated and I’m extremely proud of that book and the attention it’s garnered. For anyone keeping count, I’ve been a finalist in the Aurealis Awards 15 times now and have so far won exactly once, for The Gulp in Best Collection. Someone asked me recently how many times I’ve been an awards finalist, so I counted it up. I’ve been shortlisted 15 times in the Aurealis Awards, 14 times in the Ditmar Awards, and 9 times in the Australian Shadows Awards. 38 award shortlistings. That’s amazing. I’ve also made the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award 3 times, but have yet to reach an actual shortlist there. One day. And those Ditmar nominations are a win in themselves, as I’ve never actually won that award, but no one else has more nominations without a win than me. I’ll take it!

And talking of the Ditmar Awards (nice segue, Al) they’re currently open for nominations. The Ditmar Awards are similar to the Hugo Awards but on a national rather than international scale. Anyone active in Aus fandom can nominate (and yes, that means you if you’re an Aussie fan of Aussie writing). You can nominate via an online form right here: https://ditmars.sf.org.au/nominations/nominations.html and if you’re not sure if you’re eligible to nominate there’s a bit where you can name a reference, so feel free to name me there. If you did think my stuff from 2023 was worthy of nominating (thank you!), here’s my eligible work from last year:

THE LEAVES FORGET (Absinthe Books, September 2023) is eligible in Best Novella or Novelette

And these are eligible in Best Short Story:

“All the Eyes That See” – Cosmic Horror Monthly issue #42, ed. Charles Tyra (December 2023)

“Clean-up Crew” – SNAFU: Punk’d, ed. A J Spedding (Cohesion Press, October 2023)

“Old High Hills” – a horror short story published exclusively on Patreon

There’s a fairly comprehensive list here of stuff published in 2023, so do please nominate everything you think worthy. The more people who get involved with nominating, the more the awards represent the views of the wider reading community.

And again, you can do your nominating here: https://ditmars.sf.org.au/nominations/nominations.html

Maybe this year I’ll get one and lose my never-winner record!

What I’ve Been Enjoying

Okay, I feel like I’m going to be outstaying my welcome if I crap on for too much longer, so let’s talk about other people’s stuff for a minute. It’s been a long time since I read an entire novel in a day, but I’ve been on the lookout for Whalefall by Daniel Kraus for a while. I was travelling recently (had to fly to Canberra to give a presentation) and I saw it at the airport, so I grabbed it. And I fucking inhaled it. It’s an outstanding book. I won’t spoil it in any way, but suffice to say it’s a book about a guy who gets swallowed by a whale. And it shouldn’t work. But it’s amazing. Kraus is a hell of a writer and this book is compelling. Read it, you won’t be sorry.

In terms of TV and movies, I’ve been continuing my catch-up of American Horror Story. Since the last newsletter I’ve watched Season 8, Apocalypse and Season 9, 1984Apocalypse started off a bit shaky for me, but then it tied in with a previous season, Coven, and had so much callback and stuff that I ended up really enjoying it. They did a pretty bang up job with that one. 1984 is an amazing homage to all things 80s, including serial killers and the slasher genre. It’s a wild mash-up of classic slasher tropes and is pretty over the top, really, but there’s a cool new twist on the idea and they managed it really well. I’ve now just started in on Season 10, which is known overall as Double Feature. It starts with Red Tide, which is a 6 episode Massachusetts vampire story. I’m two episodes in and it’s quite good so far. I like the tone and the twist on the vampire origin. Then apparently the second half of the season is four episodes called Death Valley. I guess I’ll be talking about both of these next time.

So, until next time, adios my fiends. Be good to yourself and each other. Keep in touch and if you do give Blood Covenant a go, I really hope you enjoy it. Either way, let me know, but more importantly, please let other people know. Books live and die by word of mouth, so if you can see your way clear to giving the book a shout out on your social media, at school or work, even just yell about it from a dark alley in the middle of the night, it all really, really helps.

Big love to all and I’ll write again soon.

Al

https://alanbaxter.com.au/

https://linktr.ee/alanbaxter

(c) Alan Baxter

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