Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of The Gulp! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the collection’s premise, and what inspired you to tell these stories?
Alan Baxter: Thank you! The Gulp is the local nickname for the isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper, so named because the place has a habit of swallowing people. This book is a collection of five novellas. Each is a standalone story, but together they make a kind of mosaic novel, with repeating characters and a bigger story arc across all five.
I’ve always loved small-town horror, and I frequently write weird and cosmic horror. I wanted to combine those things and, especially after the success last year of my novella, The Roo, I wanted to embrace the full Australian experience. I’ve long wanted to create a fictional place where I can set a number of stories, so that’s what I’ve done here. I hope to revisit The Gulp often.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing the stories and characters to life, and what have been some of your creative influences?
AB: I’ve been close to a full-time writer for a while now (I say close because I also run a martial arts academy, so I have two sort of full-time jobs!), so my process is largely business-like. Writing is like any other job, I sit at my desk and go to work, whether I feel like it or not. But having said that, I love writing, so it’s rarely a chore.
My influences are legion. Probably uppermost is Clive Barker – his style and the type of stories he tells have been a huge influence on me. I’ve also been inspired by Stephen King, Lovecraft, Poe, and others. I’m a big fan of comic books, so people like Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano, and Alan Moore have had a big impact on me, and I love movies, too. I often get told I write in a very cinematic style, and I think that’s a result of such a wide base of influence.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that The Gulp’s stories will connect with and impact readers?
AB: Hard to tell with this one! I always write first and foremost to entertain. I want to tell a good yarn and have people enjoy the process. Of course, it’s horror, so a lot of that enjoyment comes from firing up the emotions in more visceral ways. But I do find themes throughout my work. With The Gulp, it seems that I’ve homed in a lot on family, be it blood family or found family, and the impact that can have on us and those around us.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the collection’s stories into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
AB: Most definitely. I promoted this book as “Tales from The Gulp #1” in the hope people would like it and want more. And the ending certainly leaves open that option. Already that’s proven to be true, which is very satisfying. So, I’ll be writing another set of tales as volume 2. And I’d also like to write one or two (or more!) novel-length works in the area as well. I’d love to see it cross media. It would go great as a graphic novel or TV series, or even a series of movies. So, any producers out there, call me!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AB: I’m always busy with something! I write monster thrillers with David Wood, and we’re currently working on the third Sam Aston book. I have a new novel out on submission right now, and when I’ve finished the new Sam Aston I have another novel in first draft that I need to get back to. And somewhere this year, I need to write the second set of Tales from The Gulp.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Gulp?
AB: You can learn all about me and all my books at www.alanbaxter.com.au and you’ll also find a bunch of social media links there. I’m most active on Twitter (@AlanBaxter) so feel free to hit me up any time. Always a pleasure to hear from people.