Category Archives: Interviews

Five questions for Steven Paulsen

Today, Steven Paulsen answers five questions about his new book:

Steven Paulsen

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

My latest book is a short story collection called Shadows on the Wall. I played around with a bunch of titles but none of them seemed fit right. Then one day I remembered a discarded novelette I wrote many years ago that was called “Shadows on the Wall”, and I realised it was a great title for my collection. There are numerous shadows lurking in these stories. Some are overt, such as in “The Black Diamond of the Elephant God” where the protagonist is pursued by a shadow, and in “In the Light of the Lamp” where an ancient brass oil burner casts shadows on the wall.

But for me the title also spoke to the theme of the book as a whole. When Isobelle Carmody read the collection, she wrote that the stories are “shadows, shifting on the wall, barely seen, slipping into our minds to lie, light and cold over our hearts…” So I think the title works well.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

That’s a tough question because my book is a collection of short stories. But if I were to pick one story, there is a new novelette in the book called “The Black Diamond of the Elephant God”. The man character of this story is a 19th Century English Orientalist and Sanskrit scholar named Giles Freeman. To play him, I would choose Laurence Olivier in his mid-late thirties. He would have no doubt done the character proud.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Dark, weird, heart-wrenching, spooky and humorous.

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple?

My favourite fictional duo are Fritz Leiber’s sword-and-sorcery rogues, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Unlike so many wooden sword and sorcery characters, they feel alive, albeit larger than life. Fafhrd is a tall sword-wielding northern barbarian, prone to the occasional song, while the Mouser is a short thief and swordsman, with a little skill in magic. Together, they carouse, brawl and gamble their way through some rollicking, chaotic adventures.

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

Hmmm… The stories in this collection vary a lot on tone and style, plus they were written over a few decades so it’s difficult to pick just one song that represents the book.

I probably listened to David Bowie a lot when I wrote some of these stories, so it’s reasonable to say his music was an influence. I’ve been listening to his 2013 compilation album, Nothing Has Changed, which was the first album to showcase his entire career.

As for a song that reflects the theme, let’s go with John Lennon’s ‘Watching the Wheels’ from his Double Fantasy album. It’s a tenuous link, but people do say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing, and I like that he said he was doing fine watching Shadows on the Wall.


About Shadows on the Wall

Shadows on the Wall is a short story collection that contains the very best of Paulsen’s dark and weird tales…plus stunning new fiction written expressly for this volume.

  • Glimpse a future where population controls force families into terrible choices.
  • Visit Colonial British India and experience the awakening of an eldritch horror.
  • Walk the steaming jungles of Vietnam alongside the spirits of the forest.
  • Light an ancient oil lamp but beware, the shadows on the wall…

About Steven Paulsen

Steven Paulsen’s bestselling dark fantasy children’s book, The Stray Cat, illustrated by Hugo and Oscar Award winning artist Shaun Tan, has seen publication in several English and foreign language editions. His short stories, which Isobelle Carmody describes as beautifully written and subtle, have appeared in magazines and in anthologies around the world.

His short story collection, Shadows on the Wall (IFWG Publishing Australia, 2018) contains the best of Paulsen’s dark and weird tales plus new fiction written expressly for the book.

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Buy Shadows on the Wall

Recommended Kickstarter: The Creature Court

It’s my week for writing about writers I love. Today it’s Tansy Rayner Roberts and her Creature Court series. Power and Majesty, The Shattered City and Reign of Beasts are a remarkable, richly realised, unpredictable and deeply satisfying dark fantasy trilogy about ancient battles, strange festivals, and shape shifters who can turn into one big beast or dozens of littler ones – with the bonus of really gorgeous frocks.

So imagine my delight to discover that the trilogy is being re-released, along with a brand new story! And imagine the delight doubled when I learned that the fabulously talented Kathleen Jennings would be providing art for the books!

If you’re already on board and can’t wait to support the project, go straight to Kickstarter and show your love.

If you want to know more about the books and the Kickstarter campaign, I asked Tansy Rayner Roberts a few questions.

Why have you decided to re-release the Creature Court series through a Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is still one of the best ways to crowdfund a substantial arts or publishing project if you have costs to be covered up front. After running the successful Mother of Invention campaign for Twelfth Planet Press last year I have confidence in my own ability to handle a more personal campaign. I knew I wanted to bring Creature Court back into print after I got the rights back last year, but doing it through Kickstarter means I can release them all at once, paying for fantastic new art and design.

You’ve mentioned the original three books and a fourth, new book, Cab aret of Monsters. Which books is the Kickstarter supporting?

The Kickstarter is for all four books. I decided to write a prequel novella set in the same world because I knew a lot of people who are close Tansy supporters (especially Australians) already have copies of the Creature Court trilogy on their shelves, and I haven’t revised the text substantially (though I have revised it). This way, there’s something new for people who have been buying my books all along!

You’re re-editing the books for the re-release. What does that entail? Why did you decide to do that?

It’s not so much a decision, to edit before a rerelease… I have been laying out the books myself and I am physically incapable of doing that without making a few changes here and there. Sometimes it’s word choice, or rephrasing. More commonly it’s basic proofing – I was particularly surprised how many errors had got through the final volume of the series as printed!

I haven’t made any huge changes though I did find an alarming inconsistency in the flashback/backstory timeline which took a little behind the scenes industrial engineering before I was happy with it. They’re still essentially the novels I wrote between 2004-2011.

How did Kathleen Jennings get involved with the project?

I asked her! Kathleen and I have known each other for a long time now, and I love her work so much. It’s been exciting seeing an Australian artist take on such big international projects. We have a similar attachment to historical aesthetics, so I knew I wanted her on board if I possibly could – and I’m so grateful she was able to make time in her schedule for me.

We’ve worked through a lot of ideas already, and I’m excited to see how the books turn out. One of Kathleen’s talents is extremely detailed silhouette art which she creates with cut paper. We also have a great cover designer, Cathy Larsen, who will be producing the typography with vintage fonts to get across the 1920’s feel that infuses the novels.

How is her art going to be used in the re-rereleases and the new, fourth book of the series?

Book covers primarily – four book covers in one year is a major commitment (it helps a lot when you can pay the artist, hence the Kickstarter) but it’s really exciting to have all of them designed at the same time, and allows us to have a real coherence across the covers.

The novella cover will be developed over the next month or so and then the trilogy later in the year. I also commissioned some pieces up front so I could show our backers the visual style that we were aiming for – hence the lovely flapper with sword banner on the main Kickstarter page, and the iconic Art Deco pin design which Kathleen produced.

Several of our rewards including postcards will be based on Kathleen’s art… and I’m really hoping we make our stretch goals so I can offer the beautiful enamel pin in a variety of colours.

If you could turn into an animal (or a whole lot of little ones) – what animal would it be?

My first instinct was to wonder what animal is most industrious. I’ll take ten of those! Though cats have a pretty great life. I could happily live out my years as a sleepy bed full of cats.

Get on board the Creature Court Kickstarter

(I’m supporting at the Come to the Cabaret level ‘cos I want all the Jennings art as well as the new book!)

Five Questions for Alan Baxter

Today, Alan Baxter answers five questions about his new book:

Alan Baxter

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

The new novel is called Hidden City. Generally, I hate choosing titles. Every once in a while, a title will drop into place, but that’s very rare. Usually I agonise over them for ages. Thankfully, this was one of those rare occasions when the title was there right from the start and it stuck.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

I don’t like to say. People often ask me that question about books, but how I see a character may not be anything like how a reader sees them, and I don’t want to tread on that. There’s some description there in the book, of course, but beyond that I want the reader to build their own mental cast and however they look, that’s fine with me.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Urban fantasy horror noir weird.

4. Who’s your favourite fictional team?

Batman and the Joker. I love everything about both characters and how they fuel each other, and how their pasts created them and continue to inform them. I think they’re the two greatest fictional characters ever invented. (Of course, I mean the 80s/90s DC Comics versions, not the Adam West version [though I do love that show] or the modern movies.)

5. What song reflects a theme, character or scene in your book?

Well, this is a dangerous question to ask someone with tastes like mine. There’s a band called Strapping Young Lad, who have disbanded now, but they produced some of the heaviest shit ever and I love them. The lead singer/guitarist, Devin Townsend, is a musical genius, and he still makes amazing music with The Devin Townsend Project. Check them out!

But to answer your question about this particular book, I’m going to say “All Hail The New Flesh” from the Strapping Young Lad album, City. Brace yourselves.

About Hidden City

When the city is sick, everyone suffers.

Steven Hines listened to the city and the city spoke. Cleveport told him she was sick. With his unnatural connection to her, that meant Hines was sick too. But when his friend, Detective Abby Jones, comes to him for help investigating a series of deaths with no discernible cause, Hines can’t say no. Then strange fungal growths begin to appear in the streets, affecting anyone who gets too close, turning them into violent lunatics.

As the mayhem escalates and officials start to seal Cleveport off from the rest of the world, Hines knows the trouble has only just begun.

About Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes supernatural thrillers and urban horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dogs. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dogs and cat. He’s the multi-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, on Twitter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

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Buy Hidden City

Quintette of Questions: MC Baker

This week’s new romance release interview is with MC Baker:

MC Baker

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

Romance Amongst the Roses:
The rebirth of Dennis Brownfield. The title sort of picked itself. The Rose festival in Tyler is a huge event and suited the story to a tea. The rebirth of Dennis Brownfield describes the main characters journey.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Hugh Jackman would make a great Dennis. Raquel Welch is the red head for Pam, although I would love to hear who others pick. Jackie Weaver for Gloria – a younger version than now though. Maybe even Noni Hazelhurst. (My playschool days may be clouding my thinking.)

3. What five words best describe your story?

Romantic, touching, sexy, funny, heartwarming.

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple or team?

Thelma and Louise always get a run in my mind, I wish I’d written that story. Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting hill too.

Can I sneak in Mork and Mindy?

5. What song always makes you cry?

What a Wonderful World. It’s so beautiful and descriptive. I hate seeing the video clip on tv though as it’s always with footage from good morning Vietnam.

I could have The Yellow Rose of Texas as the book’s theme song.

That’s a joke.

b. Or What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

Islands in the Stream. Dolly has a part in the story but the song is relevant to the story.


About Romance Amongst the Roses

Emerging from a dark period following the heartbreaking loss of his wife, Dennis Brownfield is coaxed into embarking on a trip to Texas to visit his son and new daughter-in-law. An errant luggage trolley pushed by Dolly Parton impersonator Gloria almost ends his journey early. She proves instead to be the ideal companion for the long flight to Dallas.

Arriving in the Rose Capital of America, Tyler Texas, right at the time of the annual Rose Festival, provides Dennis with the best chance to meet his son’s new family, and explore his new home.

Accompanying widowed family friend Pam on a simple day trip to Dallas, however, changes everything. Quick action by Dennis avoids a disaster and he is hailed a hero. This opens the door for a cast of characters both real and surreal to have a massive impact on this Aussie widower’s journey as they reveal to him that love hasn’t finished with him yet.

Like the people he touched in this story of his rebirth, you too will fall in love with Dennis, and laugh along with his quirky Australian humour.

About MC Baker

MC Baker lives peacefully in rural Victoria, indulging in his favourite past time of entertaining with his stories. Romance amongst the roses is his first published novel.

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Buy Romance Amongst the Roses