4 Stars for many years of reading stories in this universe and recommended for all who have been on the Feist journey with me...
I've never said I wasn't slightly crazy!
I’d like to thank Book Frivolity for hosting a guest post from me today. Kristy said I had free reign to write about whatever I liked that was writing or reading related, so I thought maybe I’d write about how I’m totally not a psychopath. Bear with me, it really is related to writing.
It might seem like a strange thing to write about, but when you’re an author of dark fantasy and horror, you’d be surprised how often people expect you to be Hannibal Lecter, or worse. So many times I’ve had people say to me, “Wow, you’re so normal!” which is actually rather offensive, but I know they don’t mean it as an insult. Normal? How very dare you!
Or people say some variant of “You’re so much nicer than I thought you’d be.” It’s weird, because I bet people don’t go up to science-fiction writers and say, “Oh, you’re not an astronaut?” Or approach romance writers with a nervous, “Sorry, are you having sex right now?”
Yet people seem to regularly expect writers of horror and dark fiction to be nasty, grim, nihilistic people. We’re not! We’re lovely, I promise. (Well, most of us.) My pal, Kaaron Warren, one of Australia’s most amazing horror authors has a theory. (Incidentally, you’ve read Kaaron’s work right? If not, go and read it now. No seriously, right now. This post will still be here when you get back.) But yes, Kaaron’s theory. She says that the nicest people in the world are plumbers, butchers and horror writers. They all spend so much time elbow deep in shit, blood and… well, horror, that they get it all out of their system. It’s not festering away in there. When you spend large parts of your life in those conditions, any time you’re not buried therein, you’re tip top. Happy to be out in the sunlight, among people who aren’t trying to eat your face.
I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but I think Kaaron is onto something. And it’s also why so many people like to read dark fiction. We go on a rollercoaster to experience the thrill of almost certain death – how can this train possibly stay on the rails, we’re all going to die! HAHAHA! Then it’s over and we’re all shaky and grinning at each other like loons, saying, “We survived!” Then we look shiftily left and right until someone says, “Let’s go again!” In the same way that a rollercoaster reminds you you’re alive by artificially putting you so close to death, so does dark fiction help people process the genuine shit in life by putting them so close to fictitious monsters in the safety of their armchair, reading a book.
And for those of us who write the dark stuff, while we may put ourselves into the shoes of villains and monsters, killers and demons, we only wear those shoes for a little while and, when we take them off again, we’ve benefited from the catharsis of the experience. It makes us even nicer people than we were before. So honestly, I’m not a psychopath. I just pretend to be one for a while here and there in the privacy of my own study. Hopefully the results are entertaining for anyone who subsequently reads my books.
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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.
Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the award-winning author of several novels and over sixty short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.
Another audio review! To listen either go to SoundCloud through this link here, or check out the player at the bottom of the post!
Thanks to Harper Voyager Australia for supplying a copy of The Vagrant for review.
The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby.
His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.
But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
I find the connection between how mental images are created in a readers mind, through the use of mere words on a page, extremely intriguing. I really have no idea how it's done, and there's been raging debates throughout the centuries about the concept; philosophers, psychologists, and neuro-scientists have all had a stab. There's new theories coming out of the woodwork all of the time, as technology allows us to track the brains workings.
In any case, I've been reading The Vagrant. And throughout, my mind has been conjuring Hieronymus Bosch type imagery. Usually, my minds eye flings up movie type scenes, quite realistic in nature. However, The Vagrant is throwing out a flowing, almost animated, Bosch-type apocalyptica. I don't know why this is, and I find it a curiosity. Is it Peter Newman's style of writing? It's certainly unique, it has a harsh, yet poetic nature about it. Is the connection between his style, and how I view Bosch's art? Maybe!
Many people know I have a neurological disease, and sometimes I wonder if as it progresses, there something changing in the way I process words and images. Are the connections between my memory, occipital lobe, and parietal lobe starting to get just a tad screwy? I don't know that either! Maybe someday, somebody will figure out how to map all those connections directly..
So, I decided to experiment, challenge my brain a little: what happens to the mind's eye's creation, when actually trying to re-create that image, on paper (or screen in this case)? So, I tried it out. I let my brain figure it out, I decided not to force Bosch's stylistic approach on to the image, but still recreate the images that are in my minds eye. It turns out, in my case, my minds eye buggers off. If you compare the two images (One is Bosch, one is mine) you'll see absolutely no comparison, even though my intention was to re-create how my mind was processing Newman's words, into imagery. I couldn't even get close! There was a total disconnect between what my mind's eye saw, and what the more rational part of my brain wanted me to see/create.
I think there's a kind of lesson in that.. Not sure what it is yet! Just felt the need to share!