Thanks for stopping by once again. The first two weeks of BTB Storytellers has had a horror slant with guest posts by Andrew David Barker and Stephen Kozeniewski. This week, and the next two weeks, we will be exploring different genres. Today we have Alan Baxter joining us to talk about his book ‘Bound’ which features cage fighter and all round bad-ass Alex Caine. ‘Bound’ is a cracking read. The Alex Caine trilogy (of which ‘Bound’ is the first book) has recently been reissued with some kick-ass artwork by those folks at Harper Voyager. I read ‘Bound’ a couple of months back and you can read my verdict here.
‘Bound’ is what you’d call a dark fantasy thriller, I guess?! It’s a book that features an engaging protagonist, magic and martial arts! What’s not to like?!
Alan, like myself is an Englishman living in Australia and I was well pleased when he decided to write a piece on this fine book. He is an award-winning writer and has received praise from many authors including Laird Barron, Angela Slatter and Greig Beck. He is also a master of Kung Fu!
Alan has a collection of short stories coming soon from Ticonderoga Publications called ‘Crow Shine’ – more information of which you can find at the bottom of this article along with links to Alan’s website and social media links.
Thanks to Alan for this great piece that takes a look behind ‘Bound’.
Episode 3: Alan Baxter – BOUND
Adrian at Beavis The Bookhead asked me to write about the story behind the story of one of my books. As the Alex Caine Series is out now across Australia and New Zealand, and starting in the US in December, I thought I’d write about book 1 of the trilogy, Bound.
It’s a complicated collection of things that took a long time to come around. My first novel was RealmShift, originally self-published in 2006, then acquired by Gryphonwood Press in 2010. The main character in that book and its sequel, MageSign, is a guy called Isiah. He’s a powerful immortal with an unenviable burden, and he’s also an accomplished martial artist. After all, you can get pretty good at something when you’re immortal. Because of those books, among other things, I got a reputation for writing good fight scenes. Given that I’ve been a martial artist for over 35 years now, and my day job is as a martial arts instructor, it’s no real surprise that I was writing what I knew there. And apparently doing an okay job of it. For a long while I’ve been running workshops on the subject of writing better fights, helping other writers to put together more realistic and compelling scenes.
And then I got to thinking. I’ve written lots of characters who happen to be capable martial artists, but I’ve never written a character who was a career martial artist first and foremost. A practitioner and competitor, happily living his martial arts life, who then becomes embroiled in a story. And that was the spark for the character of Alex Caine. Caine starts Bound as a successful underground cage fighter, making good money in illegal MMA matches, happy to avoid the glitz and politics of the big mainstream events. Until he runs afoul of mobsters and magic. Now the thing about good stories, for me at least, is that they’re rarely one story. The best stuff for me usually comes around when two or more interesting ideas kinda crash into each other and the whole becomes far greater than the sum of its parts. So I needed a plot for this martial artist in trouble with the mob. I needed something else for him to get tangled up in.
For a long time, I’d been noodling around with this idea of an evil book. I had also for a long time wanted to write a subverted fantasy quest. The idea of the long quest, with the protagonist travelling the land in search of something, up against evildoers and all that. But I wanted to do that set in our time, our world, with thriller pacing instead of big fat fantasy pacing. And I wanted dark and horrible occurrences involved, because I’m a dark fiction writer at heart. But I’m also a genre masher.
So eventually all these ideas and characters slammed together and Bound, the first book in the Alex Caine trilogy, was born. Alex Caine, the career martial artist, falls afoul of the mob, and finds a possible escape in the form of a strange Englishman who wants Alex to read a mysterious book. When Alex takes the opportunity to slip away to London to look at this book, thereby avoiding the mobsters for a while, he ends up trading mobsters for monsters and all kinds of mayhem. He finds himself on a quest to find a few items that might save him, but not if the new bad guys he’s picked up along the way get there first.
So then I had to start researching the places and history of what he was up against, and Bound slowly took shape. I wanted it to be a standalone novel originally, and it is that, but I also realised that the history of the stuff I was creating meant there was a lot more story to tell, so books 2 and 3, Obsidian and Abduction, were quick to follow. Each of those is a standalone dark fantasy thriller too, but there’s an overarching thread that links all three books into one trilogy. And hopefully they’ll sell well and the publisher will ask me for more, as I’ve got lots of ideas for more in the series if I get the chance.
By the end of Abduction Alex Caine’s life as a fighter at the top of his game must seem like such a distant memory to the poor bugger. But he’s certainly had the opportunity to put an awful lot of his martial arts training to the test.
The Alex Caine Series – Bound, Obsidian and Abduction – is available in paperback and ebook across Australia and New Zealand now. The trilogy starts in the US and UK in December, with Obsidian and Abduction following in July 2017.
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 seventy 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.