Drive-by: The Realm Shifting Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter is that rare creature, a horror writer with a touch of subtley :-). As a writer he knows it’s not enough to hack and slash at his protagonists and disposable secondary characters with a chainsaw. He understands that to truly scare someone you need to plumb the depths of the psyche and pick at the losses humans are truly afraid of – which is why we have RealmShift and its sequel MageShift. And, for the Royal Sampler, have a look at the Dark Shorts on his webpage.

1. There’s a fine line between carefully crafted horror and lazy slasheriness? How do you walk this line?
I always concentrate on the people not the actions. It’s too easy to write slasheriness and have psychos wielding their favourite slashing tool (knife, chainsaw, glove with bladey fingers, etc.) More difficult to write is why they do it. In my opinion, good horror looks at the strange motivation with the resultant splatter as a by-product, rather than the splatter as the prime mover.

And to be honest, I think great horror doesn’t need the arterial spray. The malevolent spirit, the slavering monster, the psycho serial killer and so on – you can write about them all without needing to include the gore. Of course, I do tend to put in some gore too, but I always double check that it’s not too much to make the story seem cheap. I guess it’s a bit like gratuitous boob shots compared to a bit of carefully placed, titillating side-boob. Yeah, I’m also an Analogy Master.

2. Name three things a good horror novel cannot do without.
Plot, atmosphere and character. The greatest of which is character. (I think that’s from the Gospel Of King.)

3. The first person I scared (or scarred) with my writing was …
… probably my wife. She’s a sensitive little flower sometimes. Just the other day she read one of my recent stories and said, “You really are a warped little monkey, aren’t you.” I was so touched.

4. Who would win: Dracula or Batman?
I can’t believe you’d even have to ask. Batman. Every time. Batman is my all time favourite character in the whole of forever, so I’m a bit biased, but The Dark Knight would beat the Transylvanian Impaler every time because he has the skills, the gadgets and chutzpah. Batman is the greatest martial artist of all time (with the possible exception of Talia al Ghul, but that’s another question altogether) so, regardless of any other skills, Batman would totally kick Dracula’s arse. In fact, and excuse my nerdery here, he’s already done it, in the imaginatively titled animated Batman movie The Batman Vs Dracula. After a convoluted story Bats ends up leading Drac to his solar energy storing machine and he burns the vampire up with stored sunlight.

So yeah. Batman.

5. Donuts or danishes?
Danishes every time. Donuts are sickening sugar bombs of Satan. Danishes are buttery goodness with added stuff.

His website is here.- go visit, take it choclits, maybe a beer.

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8 Responses to Drive-by: The Realm Shifting Alan Baxter

  1. Alan says:

    You’re too kind!

  2. Having just finished reading MageSign it is so good to come and have a sneak peak in behind the workings of your mind Alan (and thanks Angela for daring to go there!)

    Perhaps there is a delination between literary horror and cinematic horror? Or maybe not. The arterial spray moment packs the greatest impact when we have real empathy with the character – when the author has made a proper investment in building the character into three dimensions, with human strengths and frailities. Also, when the arterial spray comes as a twist you hoped or didn’t see coming it takes you places a simple slash and dash couldn’t. And I think rarely is that done on the screen – it just about body count.

    And what is it with all you guys and Batman?

  3. Alan says:

    You peaked behind the workings of my mind? What did you see!?

    (Batman is teh r0x0rs!)

  4. Enough to not make me scared of you (should I be?)

    As I tweeted – I have had little exposure to the horror genre – I’m too much of a scaredy puss to want to go there (unlike ever other teenage reader I knew when I was younger!) Your books, along with a few shorts I’ve beta read for Benjamin Solah have been my introduction… and what I see behind it all… the same as every other genre… attention to detail, plot, character and perhaps the most important in horror (in my mind, compared to other genres) – atmosphere.

    There is some blood and guts in your books Alan, but I’ve never had need to close the book and take a big deep breath, or feel as if its too gratutious to continue on. It seemed to fit the narrative arc perfectly.

    Now I’m collecting up a bunch of questions I’d love to ask you!

  5. Alan says:

    Ah, you’re as kind as Angela. Always happy to answer questions.

  6. angelaslatter says:

    My boyfriend is a dyed in the wool, awesome, awesome geek … when he’s quiet I know he’s not thinking about sport … we established it was Batman … so, it’s kind of embedded itself in my brain and I too think about Batman a lot.