nothing here but clandestine civics, feat. Alan Baxter

issue 022 - 20th April, 2019

Welcome to another issue of the nothing here newsletter. The last issue went out a little earlier than usual, and that seems to have been well received, so we’re trying the same again.

The last 2 weekends, Marlee and I have been at Supanova, talking books, our books, writing, sci-fi, and other nonsense to anyone who would listen. We had an absolutely fantastic group of fellow authors on tour with us this time around, Victoria/V.E. Schwab was the big international author, and she was delightful, smart, and incredibly hardworking, Jodi McAlister was (as we Aussies like to say) good value (and she’ll be the guest on an upcoming episode of Marlee’s podcast), Rachael Craw was a real sweetheart, Lynette Noni was kind, intelligent, and endlessly generous with her many fans, and last of all was the absolute bastard, Alan Baxter. I’M KIDDING. Alan is a great guy, and is also our special guest for this issue. Being the only 2 male authors of the Supanova bunch, and being the authors of some violent tales, Alan and I were scheduled together on panels, and I had the pleasure of spending a good deal of time chatting to him across both weekends.

So below you’ll find the usual collection of links, a big chunk of Process chatter about writing action, some book reviews (including a great one for Marlee’s latest book in the Sydney Morning Herald), and much much more.

Just a reminder: if you enjoy what we do, you can become a paid subscriber and receive fortnightly bonuses as well as our eternal appreciation.

Alan Baxter (AB) - Author of dark weird fiction (The Alex Caine Series, Devouring Dark, Hidden City, and more). Practitioner and teacher of Kung Fu. Dog lover.

Corey J. White (CJW) - The VoidWitch Saga. Newsletter facilitator. Naarm/Melbourne.

Marlee Jane Ward (MJW) - Writer, reader, weirdo. Author of ‘Welcome To Orphancorp’ and ‘Psynode’. Host of Catastropod. ADHD, spec fic, feminism, cats. On Wurundjeri land in Melbourne, Australia. @marleejaneward

Austin Armatys (AA) - Writer/Teacher/Wretched Creature // Oh Nothing Press // excerpts from the upcoming Creeper Magazine here //  @0hnothing //

m1k3y (MKY) - Wallfacer /  #salvagepunk / future ecopoet / @m1k3y

MKY: Filling a gap: the clandestine gang fixing Rome illegally

The seven clandestine pavement-fixers are part of a network of about 20 activists quietly doing the work that the city authorities have failed to do. Gap stands for Gruppi Artigiani Pronto Intervento, (“groups of artisan emergency services”) but is also a tribute to the partisans of Gruppi di Azione Patriottica, who fought the fascists during the second world war...

While the modern-day Gap aren’t risking their lives, their modus operandi is inspired by resistance saboteurs: they identify a target, strike and disappear unseen into the city streets...

They always leave their signature, a logo of a hammer and screwdriver, either painted with stencils on the ground or on a piece of paper. They also leave leaflets exhorting their fellow Romans to follow their example: “The Gap are a secret organisation – instead of carrying out sabotage actions the gappisti make repairs where bureaucracy fails. Find your goal, organise and repair: become a gappista yourself!”

“I hope someone will follow our example,” says Nadir. “I would love to learn one day that Gap groups have formed in other cities.”

I love everything about this except that it’s become necessary as so much of the West becomes increasingly indistinguishable from a failed state. Eg New York Declares Measles Emergency, Requiring Vaccinations in Parts of Brooklyn

CJW: Or Dominos fixing potholes (for a marketing stunt and) so their pizzas can be delivered safely.

MKY: Like Snow Crash, but infrastructure mafia pizza delivery driver chases?

AA: Maybe what Rome needs is a “Legion of Builders and Destroyers”! What’s that, you ask? Well, why don’t I let US Presidential hopeful Andrew “Yang Gang” Yang explain (this is from his official campaign website, btw):

Rechannel 10% of the military budget – approximately $60 billion per year – to a new domestic infrastructure force called the Legion of Builders and Destroyers. The Legion would be tasked with keeping our country strong by making sure our bridges, roads, power grid, levies, dams, and infrastructure are up-to-date, sound and secure.  It would also be able to clear derelict buildings and structures that cause urban blight in many of our communities and respond to natural disasters. The Legion would prioritize projects based on national security, economic impact, and regional equity. Its independent budget would ensure that our infrastructure would be constantly upgraded regardless of the political climate.  The Commander of the Legion would have the ability to overrule local regulations and ordinances to ensure that projects are started and completed promptly and effectively.

What could possibly go wrong?

AB: We’re fast approaching the time where social cohesion is a revolutionary act…

MJW: Amen, sibling.

MKY: YangGang’s Legion sounds very close to the idea of The Emergency that our previous guest, Andrew Dana Hudson was writing about in his short story, now up on Grist.

MJW: Is this austerity in action? Corruption? I hate that they have to do it, but I like the cut of these folxs’ gib. I imagine they’re a bunch of Mamas and Papas, Nonnas and Nonnos filling the potholes of their neighborhoods. I dig the fact that making things better/safer for everyone is an anarchist act.

CJW: Fuck taxes, make road patches?

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CJW: Climate Chaos Is Coming — and the Pinkertons Are Ready (via marcel at R.A)

[...] by adding data analytics, Pinkerton stands to compete more directly with traditional consulting firms like Deloitte, which offer pre- and postdisaster services (supply-chain monitoring, damage documentation, etc.), but which cannot, say, dispatch a helicopter full of armed guards to Guatemala in an afternoon. In theory, Pinkerton can do both — a fully militarized managerial class at corporate disposal.

[...]

Aware that he might end up sounding vampiric, Paz Larach hesitated, then eventually confessed what he’d wanted to say in the first place: The future looked pretty good for Pinkerton.

Interesting piece. Consider it alongside the Douglas Rushkoff story we (and everyone else) shared last year. Even politically conservative elites believe climate change is real, but instead of trying to stop it, they want to ensure they can become feudal lords of the altered Earth with private armies securing their domains.

Another quote that ties this to MKY's Rome link above (emphasis mine):

As Jack Zahran, the president of Pinkerton, put it to me, Pinkerton is a 150-year-old start-up, still pitching the same basic vision: You aren’t prepared enough, and the government is too clumsy to save you.

MKY: YUP! YUUUUUUUUUUP -no ur crying-

MJW: Shit. ‘You aren’t prepared enough, and the government is too clumsy to save you.’ This is now our lives, and it’s just going to get worse until it all falls down. And I hope, like in the Rome link above, that it’s the people who will come together when that happens to usher in something new, different, and maybe better?

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MKY: Gaza zoo animals evacuated to Jordan by Four Paws group

Some may recall Brian Wood’s comic The Massive - which is basically, what if a more militant Sea Shepherd, led by an ex-merc who got woke, was roaming a post-Collapse drowned world chasing their ghost sister ship. I was rereading it during the summer heatwaves, ‘cause it’s one of the few eco-radical near future stories I’m aware of (more suggestions very much welcome, dear readers).

If I was developing a similar project myself, it would def. be extrapolating from the amazing work of the Four Paws group, who transport/rescue animals across conflict zones. I’m in legit awe of them. And they’re a reminder that the collapse is already here, it’s just… (sorry Bill).

MJW: Have you seen Netflix’s DOGS? That has an ep about bringing a dog from Syria to Germany, and it’s fucking sad and beautiful, and there is this whole thing where it’s really about the people of Syria and their plight, etc. There is this one part where one of the Syrians says something along the lines of they can move a dog between countries, but not the refugees. It suddenly made me fucking sick that I was sobbing my eyes out about this sweet dog and not the fucking hideous humanitarian crisis that is still going on.

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CJW: Netflix’s Our Planet Says What Other Nature Series Have Omitted (by and via Ed Yong)

After seeing a pair of mating fossas—a giant, lemur-hunting, Madagascan mongoose—we’re told that the very forests we just saw have since been destroyed. After meeting the endearing orangutans Louie, Eden, and Pluto, we are told that 100 of these apes die every week through human activity. We see Borneo’s jungle transforming into oil-palm monocultures in a time-lapse shot that is almost painful to watch. We’re told that Louie and Eden’s generation could be the last for wild orangutans.

MKY: OMG YUS. Finally something on the level of Last Chance to See?

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MJW: I am not always very attached to being alive

CJW: This is a really great personal essay from Anna Borges. Marlee and I wrote a response to this piece, which you can read here. If you aren’t in a place where you can read a couple of thousand words about suicide ideation, then please skip it.

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CJW: In the Face of Danger, We’re Turning to Surveillance (via Damien Williams)

These two settings might seem pretty different—a vast concert venue in California and a small school district upstate don’t have a ton in common (aside from perhaps a handful of Taylor Swift fans). But they’re emblematic of something that’s happening more and more in the United States right now: people turning to surveillance, and specifically biometric surveillance like facial recognition technology, as a result of the US’s inability to take action to stop gun violence.

Related: AI researchers tell Amazon to stop selling ‘flawed’ facial recognition to the police  

The researchers say that if such technology is adopted by the police, it has the potential to amplify racial discrimination, create cases of mistaken identity, and encourage intrusive surveillance of marginalized groups.

AB: From the Verge article:

researchers say studies have repeatedly shown that Amazon’s algorithms are flawed, with higher error rates for darker-skinned and female faces. The researchers say that if such technology is adopted by the police, it has the potential to amplify racial discrimination, create cases of mistaken identity, and encourage intrusive surveillance of marginalized groups.

Call me crazy, but I imagine if the developers of this tech employed more dark-skinned people and women, this particular problem might not arise in the first place. Obviously, that’s no solution to the bigger issue, but it’s an interesting side-note to the whole thing…

CJW: And another related article: One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority (via Sentiers)

This one very much ties into the articles we shared on China’s internment and “re-education” of Uighur people. The whole thing reads kind of naive, with comments like:

The practice makes China a pioneer in applying next-generation technology to watch its people, potentially ushering in a new era of automated racism.

Yes, because other forms of ‘automated racism’ aren’t already in place in the American justice system.

AA: If you haven’t seen the short (30 minute) documentary “Leave No Dark Corner” about China’s implementation of mass surveillance and social credit, I highly recommend it. ABC News, who produced that documentary, also presented their investigation in a unique website that is worth checking out even if just for its novel design approach - it uses scrolling and embedded video in a really clever way that makes the whole experience thematically relevant and engaging.  

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CJW: Russia to disconnect from the internet as part of a planned test (via Antony Johnston)

Russia is building its own separate internet so that it can maintain internal communications in the event of a wide-scale internet outage, and also so they can keep their traffic off of foreign servers where it could be intercepted.

Related: Could We Blow Up the Internet? (via Sentiers)

MKY: curious when France will resurrect Minitel now… also love that Tim Maughn and I are totally on the same page. Like that manifesto he’s had up on pastebin for years, from INFINITE DETAIL, wasn’t enough to convince me of that fact.

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CJW: I Don't Wanna Grow Up (And Neither Can You)

The idea that by depicting an act an artist is endorsing that act seems baked into the minds of certain left-leaning sets of younger people, particularly teenagers and early twentysomethings. That they have such deep concern for the safety and social equality of their traumatized peers and the traumatized in their own ranks can only be admirable, but more often than not the form it takes is mass harassment and scapegoating targeting not institutions or major studios but independent creators, many of them marginalized themselves.

This is a fantastic piece by Gretchen Felker-Martin on the prudishness of certain Leftist moralists (and moral abusers [via Jen Bartel]), and the ways their attacks can stifle interesting and important art. Imagine if something as powerful as Mysterious Skin had never been made, simply because the subject matter is verboten? That’s just the first example that came to mind, but I think it perfectly illustrates the sort of art we could lose is we get too caught up in the cultural policing Felker-Martin is discussing here.

I have loose plans to do a comic miniseries on the militarisation of police and police brutality using ultraviolence and satire, and honestly, the reason I haven’t pursued the idea properly (yet) is because I can just imagine all the Leftists calling me a fascist bootlicker because of an unwillingness to understand subtext, irony, or authorial intent (I consider myself a Leftist, but goddamn do we love infighting).

But yes - there’s a huge difference between exploring an issue in a gratuitous, shallow, and/or problematic way, and exploring an issue with intelligence, irony, and/or great emotional insight. Rail against the former if you must, but be sure you’ve engaged with the art personally (as in, not second-hand via twitter) and intelligently before getting outraged over it, because maybe your comprehension skills are shit and you’re missing the subtext.

MJW: In addition to what CJW said above, one thing that really grabbed me at the end of the article is this short statement that rings utterly, utterly true:

...what's left but staring at each other in a creative wasteland and waiting for one of your own to show the tiniest sign of weakness so you can recapture the thrill of moral outrage by ripping them apart. It's a cannibalistic cultural dead end where corporations are our friends and other human beings are the enemy.

I’m terrified of doing something wrong professionally because I’m still learning, and shit, there are heaps of things I’d do differently from the past if I knew then what I know now. I’m terrified of not nailing the inclusivity I want so badly to see represented perfectly. It won’t stop me from trying to do my very best, but I’m petrified of making a mistake. Not really the point of the article, but something that stood out to me A Lot.

CJW: I don’t think it’s “not the point of the article”, but rather it’s another side of the same coin. Like, there are people who are insensitive, ignorant, or assholes, who will write/create something harmful and not care about who it might hurt, and then there are people who genuinely try and not be harmful but who still could stumble and make a mistake. I think the latter are more likely to be targeted precisely because they care. So even though they realise they’ve done wrong and want to make things right, the moral outragers might not want to let them.

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AA: PepsiCo partnered with a Russian start-up to test orbiting billboards aka Year of The PepsiCo Orbital Billboard

This Astronomy.com article details PepsiCo’s partnership with Russian startup StartRocket to test technology for an orbital energy drink billboard. Yes, you just read that.    

“We believe in StartRocket potential,” PepsiCo spokesperson Olga Mangova told Futurism in an email. “Orbital billboards are the revolution on the market of communications.” StartRocket also claimed they’ve now successfully tested their technology using a weather balloon.

To make matters even more HellWorld++, this endeavour was initially conceived to target that lucrative market known as “The Persecuted Gamer”:

...their campaign will address “stereotypes and unjustified prejudices against gamers.”

CJW: The most depressing part is that this reads as 100% true:

“I think it is inevitable that someone will do this,” Barentine said. “They will take the gamble that even a negative public reaction will still benefit the bottom line.”

Someone needs to ban advertisers and corporations from science-fiction, because they keep thinking our dystopian horrors are unironically great ideas.

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AA: Ghosting by Andrew O’Hagan

Andrew O’Hagan, who was once a ghost-writer for Julian Assange, evocatively illustrates the tension between Assange as a seriously flawed individual and Assange’s (important IMO) work as WikiLeaks’ chief shot-caller.  Putting all opinions about the politics of Assange’s plight aside, this article is a brilliant (often acerbically funny) takedown of his egotistical personality and narcissistic behaviour. I found it to be a compelling read.  

(Assange) was also losing touch with promises he had made and contracts he’d signed. His paranoia was losing him support and in a normal organisation, one where other people’s experience was respected and where their value was judged on more than ‘loyalty’, he would have been fired. I would have fired him myself if I hadn’t been there merely to help him straighten out his sentences. But his sentences too were infected with his habits of self-regard and truth-manipulation. The man who put himself in charge of disclosing the world’s secrets simply couldn’t bear his own.

This whole article was like 30k words long - way too long for me to read online - so I found this free Chrome extension called DotEpub to turn any webpage into an .epub file. This made it a lot easier to read, and I’ll definitely be using that extension again - there are quite a few blogs I’ve been meaning to read that will be much more readily consumed in ebook format.

CJW: Both the article and extension are great. This bit really grabbed me, on Assange's inability to work on or allow the autobiography:

He had signed up to a project that his basic psychology would not allow. In the smart and admirable way of emotional defence, he dressed his objections in rhetoric and principles, but the reality was much sadder, and much more alarming for him. He didn’t know who to be. His remarks, as always, were ostentatiously conceived and recklessly stated. He didn’t know what to believe.

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CJW: Toxic Males and Petrol Heads

So when Morrison—a man whose fondling of a lump of coal in Parliament now looks like a dress rehearsal for the stunt-driven stupidity of his dismal tenure as Prime Minister—claims electric cars will end the weekend by getting rid of 4WDs, or that Bill Shorten ‘doesn’t get how Australians like to live’, and that they like ‘vehicles with a bit of grunt and power’, he isn’t just revealing his assumptions about who ‘real’ Australians are (white, male, heterosexual), or who his party really represents. Instead he’s proving the researchers’ point about the ways in which traditional masculinity asserts itself by attacking environmental values, or, to borrow the formulation of one journalist last week, making it clear that toxic masculinity really is one of the causes of climate change.

Interesting piece from Meanjin on toxic masculinity and our current government’s suicidal attachment to petrol burning (and coal). Boonta Vista's recent episode (#94) goes into this issue in hilarious detail.

AB: As an aside, the LNP policy on EV development is almost identical to the Labor one anyway, so it really is a stupid angle for Morrison to take.

AB: The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp.

I read this recently and was surprised that it was both derivative of all the great horror novels in a homage kind of way, but also completely original in delivery. I picked the twists before they came, but they were no less satisfying for all that. It’s rare to find something both nostalgic and original, so I’ve been talking it up a lot lately.

MKY: BLACK SUMMER

I’m literally just pasting in and cleaning up my ravings from the backchannel. I have SO MUCH LOVE for what Asylum have done with what should’ve been the dumbest zombie satire. Z NATION FOREVER!

BLACK SUMMER is soooooo good. If you like zombie shows and survival horror. It’s like a multi-dimensional unpacking of the opening of the remake of Dawn of the Dead, which is worth watching the film alone for. Remember when Zack Snyder made good movies?

So far this show is way more of a survival horror than the usual ‘run around slaughtering zombies’. ‘Cause they're still adapting to the new reality, and mostly just freaking dafuq out. Black Summer is what they refer back to in Z Nation - set further into a full blown apc - as the events that forged them (the survivors). This is the crucible.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT JAMIE KING. -QUEEN EMOJI-

No more seasons plz, that was perfect. (Also me, I would watch dafuq outta more like this. And if there’s a team I’d trust to get it right, it’s John Hyams and co.) And whoever wrote this guy, my hat is off to you:

Bonus thoughts: this was also a really good lesson for me (as a first time novelist) in focusing on characterisation over setting. Some people have critiqued the show for its characters not being badass enough; or basically being total apoc n00bs [and honestly, that’s the best thing about it too - this IS NOT prepper pr0n, unlike The Walking Dead]. But at its core, it’s about the journey of Jamie King’s character: from freaked out mother at the beginning to drop dead killer by the end. And it very much pays off. The scene towards the end, with soldiers bent on looting at the end world was everything.

MJW: My body is ready for BLACK SUMMER, now that I am about to actually have my first day off in like, a zillion years, and now you’ve posted this, I’m even more ready. Yes, YES.

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MJW: THE ACT

Ya’ll know I love true crime, right? I think you’ve figured it out by now. And the more balls-out, bizarre, absurd, and wild the better. THE ACT is based on the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard, a mother who inflicted Munchausen syndrome by proxy on her daughter, Gypsy Rose. Patricia Arquette plays Deedee with such a convincing and creeping cast that she just radiates the kind of narcissistic behaviour that breeds MSBP. If this series is your jam, you can also check out the documentary MOMMY DEAD AND DEAREST, which, despite the terrible name, is a great doco about this story with actual interviews with Gypsy Rose.

AB: If you want to watch something that is jaw-droppingly unbelievable and where everyone involved should be jailed except the victim, I dare you to watch the true crime documentary, Abducted In Plain Sight. It’s infuriating and I was angry for days after watching it. How anyone, let alone so many people, could be SO stupid is astounding. It’s a case study in human idiocy.

MJW: Holy shit, AB, how fucked up was ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT? I’ve never seen anything like it. Folx: It’s on Netflix if you want to watch it, but prepare yourself, you need a strong stomach for this one.

AA: Philosophize This!

It can be daunting trying to understand philosophy when you haven’t had any formal education. And this is especially true if you’re dumb and lazy, like me. Which is why I love this podcast - short-ish episodes, informative and interesting summaries of key philosophical thinkers and theories. So far I’ve listened to episodes about Giles Deleueze (direct link to Mp3 of Part 1), Structuralism and The Frankfurt School. You can find the Philosophize This! Patreon here.

CJW: Solastalgia by Rafael Anton Irisarri

This link came from one of our readers via twitter (thanks Thom!) in response to the essay on solastalgia we shared last issue. I’m sharing the link here because this sort of ambient, building electronica is very much my jam. Only one track streaming currently, and a couple of months before the full thing drops, but I’ll be preordering this one.

CJW: I just wanted to share a couple of really great artists I found at Supanova in Melbourne:

zthecreative:

zthecreative’s work reminds me a little of brackmetal, though a lot of it leans more toward fantasy imagery than BM’s work. The thing that really grabbed me about her work though, was the narrative elements combined with the artwork - which is the same thing Austin and I are doing with Oh Nothing Press; narratively dense artifacts. The above figure is part of a series of 26 characters, each with a name and a backstory. I love the art, the style, and the entire presentation.

terhor:

“Cyberpunk surrealist slimelord” is how terhor defines himself. Make sure you click the link above - I picked this image because I love the strangeness of it, but the really striking thing about his work is the colour palette (which is obviously not on display here…).

AB: I re-learned something interesting recently while working on a new short fiction piece. I’ve been at this writing gig for a long time and you tend to get settled into a process-rut. I find it’s important to drop a bomb in that every once in a while and make sure there’s not a better way (or a different way) of doing something. That happened recently when I was trying to tie together two disparate but connected parts of this short story I’m working on. Each part relied on the other for the entire narrative to work, but there was a disconnect I couldn’t smooth over. And then I realised it was because I was focussing on the stuff that was happening right there in the story instead of what might have gone before. So I went back and further developed the back-stories of the two characters in question - literally three or four lines for each of them - and suddenly they had a connection beyond the superficial and the two narrative branches met. Now I just need to tidy it up a bit. So the thing I re-learned? It’s that the best stories are the ones where something else is happening too. That can be history, future, whatever, but things other than what’s being told right there and then. In short fiction, that has to be tightly focussed because there’s not much room to play, but it has to be there.

CJW: The other lesson there (that I picked up on, anyway) is that less is sometimes more. On more than one occasion I’ve had a “big” edit to do, only to discover that all I really need to do is add or edit a handful of sentences, and suddenly that thing that had been hiding in the background becomes readily apparent. (I also believe that less is more with world-building, but heck, I could do a whole blog post, talk, or workshop on that topic.)

MKY: Hi Alan! Long time reader, first time novelist here ;) I was wondering if you could tell us a bit about your process when writing action scenes? I’m reading your excellent ebook on the topic, WRITE THE FIGHT RIGHT, but I’m curious to know your personal method. Do you hold the fight in your head? Act it out? Mock it up with action figures? (Pay no attention to the things my Godzilla is doing to fend off an attack from my Predator/Aliens figurines…)

AB: Most of the time I can keep the fight in my head and play it out on the page. Although I have been known to get up and walk through a scene in my office, crashing into bookshelves and the like. My wife, who runs my martial arts academy with me and is a master in her own right, sometimes gets co-opted to help too. She’s used to it. And she’ll sometimes make suggestions, or I’ll ask her, “What would you do if I did this?” But those times are rare - I usually enjoy the process of visualising the fight and writing that way.

MKY: Fascinating. Thx man! One of the things I found super interesting when i was still using Instagram was watching artists show how they mapped out fight scenes before drawing them. There were usually lulz involved.

I have a follow-up question, cause I just listened to that podcast interview on the page for your book (above). The interviewer talked about taking some krav maga classes to better flesh out her heroine’s fight scenes. And you train people in kung fu… Which brings to mind style vs style battles. Do you have any pro-tips to render those, whilst maintaining that short, sharp, chaotic stye you advise? Cause I feel like to the novice - stop looking at me! - that could really slow the action down on the page…

AB: Yeah, if you try to get into those kind of details on the page things will get really bogged down. If you have a good working knowledge of different styles, you can convey that in the fight scenes given the kind of techniques people use. You can even be so blunt as to mention in other parts of the narrative that your character studied this or that art and let readers bring their knowledge to it. But without a good working knowledge of different arts, you’d be hard pressed to convey them on the page. But less is more - a few words here and there in the right place can convey a surprising amount.

MJW: My latest book, Prisoncorp is the last in the Orphancorp Trilogy (which seems to be the name people have adopted for it, even though two thirds of it are not set in an orphancorp…) and was released on the 1st of April. Prisoncorp is a brutal but still tender journey through the harshest facet of the world I’ve created for my main character, Mirii. This is the end to my very first book series, and saying goodbye to the characters I’ve dreamed up and then run through the wringer has been bittersweet. I wonder if I’ll ever stop thinking about Mirii and how she’d react in a given situation?

The Sydney Morning Herald had this to say about Prisoncorp:

CJW: I think the S.E. Hinton reference is fantastic considering that Hinton has tried to distance her book, The Outsiders, from the queer readings (which is arguably the thing that had kept it relevant today). Marlee’s books are queerer, and she will never disavow that part of herself or her books.

MJW: Queer as shit and proud of it, for fucking ever.

//

AB: My latest novel is DEVOURING DARK, which is currently a finalist in the Aurealis Awards for Best Fantasy Novel and the Ditmar Awards for Best Novel, which is really exciting. The official blurb goes like this:

Matt McLeod is a man plagued since childhood by a malevolent darkness that threatens to consume him. Following a lifetime spent wrestling for control over this lethal onslaught, he’s learned to wield his mysterious skill to achieve an odious goal: retribution as a supernatural vigilante.

When one such hit goes bad, McLeod finds himself ensnared in a multi-tentacled criminal enterprise caught between a corrupt cop and a brutal mobster. His only promise of salvation may be a bewitching young woman who shares his dark talent but has murderous designs of her own.

Devouring Dark is a genre-smashing supernatural thriller that masterfully blends elements of crime and horror in an adrenaline-fueled, life-or-death rollercoaster ride that’s emblematic of the fiction from award-winning author Alan Baxter.

Here’s what some folks have recently said about it:

“…a master storyteller… 5 out 5 stars” – Kendall Reviews

“DEVOURING DARK is a slick, modern, “Supernatural-Crime Noir-Urban Horror” story. Alan Baxter has joined the ranks of new favorite authors I discovered in 2018… 4.5 stars.” – Mother Horror

“Grab a shot of vodka and get ready to immerse yourself in darkness. Devouring Dark spins a sticky tale of redemption where the line between good and evil is rarely clear… There’s much to think about long after the final page. Join me and devour the dark.” – Sci-Fi & Scary

“Devouring Dark is a brilliant noir supernatural horror mash which will have you hooked from the start and all the way through. I loved it.” – Housewife of Horror

“I found it hard to put down Devouring Dark, it’s a gritty tale of inner darkness w ith characters that drag you in and keep you watching open-mouthed as they justify unspeakable acts to appease their own inner demons. I can’t wait to see what Baxter writes next. Five stars.” – Aussie Speculative Fiction

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CJW: And that’s it for another issue. I am still fighting off a cold/con-crud, and just got line edits on REPO VIRTUAL which should keep me busy for the next month… then immediately after that’s done I have to write the first chunk of the next novel for a workshop in Kansas I’m travelling to later in the year (because I’m well aware that 3 novellas and 1 novel in, I still have plenty more to learn).

So, take care of yourself and each other. Drop us a line if you have anything to share, and if you’ve got some metaphorical or literal potholes that need repairing, maybe your best bet is to form a group of guerilla handyfolk and go sort that shit out yourself. Be the anarchist DIY civic maintenance group you want to see in the world.