Thursday, 30 October 2014

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Politically Correct Book Club Disbanded After First Meeting

ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA--A book club for parents interested in sharing politically correct reading material with their children has disbanded after one meeting as the members could not agree on which children's books were politically correct. "Obviously it's disappointing," a spokesperson for the group, who wished only to be known as Willow, told one of our reporters. "I started this group with the best of intentions."

The group was formed after Willow developed concerns that the stories that were being read to her five-year-old son at child care were inappropriate. "I found the whole concept of this ... Green Eggs and Ham to be quite disturbing. I don't think it's appropriate that children should be reading books where the main character is being offered food by a complete stranger. That's sending a bad message to children if you ask me. Also, in our family, we eat a vegan diet."

Initially, Willow intended to have Green Eggs and Ham banned, but her calls fell on deaf ears. She was also unable to find any childhood education experts, child psychologists or children's librarians who would support her cause. Instead, one of the librarians Willow consulted suggested that she form a book club with likeminded parents, where they could all read and discuss what books they did consider to be suitable. "I thought that this was a great idea," Willow said. "And so, along with a number of parents from my sons child care centre, we formed the Politically Correct Book Club." While forming the book club was easy, Willow discovered, agreeing on books to read was not. "For every member who put forward a suggestion, we had another person who was quick to point out how the book may be unsuitable for children. For example, one parent suggested Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but another aired concerns that the story sent out a message that it was okay to break inside another persons house. Another parent was worried that children may be frightened by the ending, where the three bears confront Goldilocks ..."

The meeting soon dissolved in an all out-competition of which family was the most politically correct. One parent was quick to slam another who allowed their eight-year-old daughter to read Garfield comics, when the star of the comic was "Greedy and often mean to his sidekick Odie." The parent responded by branding Willow a hypocrite and then opening Willow's leather handbag to reveal that she had a ham and egg sandwich inside.

The children of the group, meanwhile, spent the morning playing peacefully outside, where they re-enacted scenes from Green Eggs and Ham ...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Alan Baxter

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I'm chatting with British-Australian author Alan Baxter, whose brilliant series Bound was released back in August ...

Tell us a bit about yourself …

I’m a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. I also teach Kung Fu. I’m the author of the dark urban fantasy trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series) published by HarperVoyager Australia, and the dark urban fantasy duology, RealmShift and MageSign (The Balance 1 and 2) from Gryphonwood Press. I co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood. I also write short fiction with more than 50 stories published in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France. My short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction (forthcoming), Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Postscripts, and Midnight Echo, among many others, and more than twenty anthologies, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (2010 and 2012). I also write narrative arcs and dialogue for videogames and I wrote the popular writer’s resource, Write The Fight Right, a short ebook about writing convincing fight scenes.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My latest novel in print is Bound (Alex Caine #1) Published by HarperVoyager, 2014. The blurb goes like this:

Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents’ moves before they know their intentions themselves.

An enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, approaches Alex after a fight and reveals, ‘I know your secret.’ Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else.

A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards destruction and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him – the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it

Book 2, Obsidian, and Book 3, Abduction, are also out now in ebook, with print to follow soon.
While Bound is the first book in what is so far a trilogy, it’s a standalone novel in its own right. Each book in the Alex Caine series is a standalone novel, with overarching storylines that span the series. So you don’t need to wait for the others before you start reading. And if you’ve read Bound and are keen to get Obsidian and Abduction in print rather than ebook, hassle your local bookstore to put them on order for you.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

The first time was actually with short fiction. I was paid $5 for a short story by an online horror magazine called The Harrow and I was over the moon. An editor had read, enjoyed and bought something I’d written. The fact that it was only $5 was irrelevant – I was a published author. I’ve been building on that ever since!

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

Signing a three book deal with Harper Voyager is by far the high point so far – it’s a real dream come true to sign with one of the “Big 5” publishers, especially in a multi-book deal. I’ve also recently sold a short story to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction which is like the holy grail of short fiction markets for me. I’ve always wanted to sell there and I finally have!

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I’ve just sent a novelette to an editor who invited me to submit for anthology his press has coming out next year. I’ll hear at some point whether or not that gets accepted. I’ve also just finished a new standalone horror novel which is out with my highly valued beta readers right now, so I’m looking forward to hearing some feedback on that soon. Then I’ll polish it up, taking their advice, and send it off to my agent to see if we can sell that. And I’ve just broken ground on a new standalone novel, a serial killer horror story.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

Depends on the context. I read probably 50/50 print and electronic these days. I love my iPad Mini and it’s great for travelling and reading anywhere. But I’m a shocking bibliophile too and love my bookshelves. I’ll often buy a hard copy of an ebook I really enjoy because I’ll want to have it on my shelves. I do greatly enjoy ebooks, but print is still king.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Both. I’m a hybrid author. I’ve self-published (still have some self-published stuff out there), been published at short, novella and novel length with small press in various countries and I’m now published by Harper Collins. So I’ve run the gamut. Again, different choices for different reasons. There’s no one way, no right or wrong way, to publish these days. But I’ve always chased the big traditional deal, and I’m so pleased to have done it with The Alex Caine Series.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

So many! I always recommend anything by Clive Barker – he’s probably been a bigger influence on me than any other writer.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

Don’t go changing, Radelaide! And if you can, head over to Collins Booksellers in Edwardstown – they’re a great little shop with an absolute passion for books. And if you’re lucky, they’ll still have some signed copies of Bound left from when I visited. Dymocks in Rundle Mall might have some signed copies left too.


Bound is available from all bookstores – if they don’t have it in, they can order it for you in no time. Otherwise, check my website – - and click on any book cover you see there for excerpts, reviews, buy options, etc. And if anyone wants a signed copy of any of my books, drop me an email to and we’ll sort something out.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Review: Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais

Breaking Butterflies is an intelligent and thought provoking novel, written when the author was just eighteen. Although the premise may be a little far-fetched, the insight into abusive relationships and the way that people can become bound to those who frighten them is brilliant. Our heroine, Sphinx, believes that she and Cadence are bound to one another due to a childish promise that their mothers made many years ago at age seven that if they were to have a boy and a girl, the pair would grow up to marry one another. As a child, Sphinx simply accepts this as inevitable and perhaps just a little romantic. Cadence seems to want her around--but it must be on his terms. The relationship comes to a head when the psychologically disturbed Cadence discovers that he has a terminal illness and just a few months to live. He wants Sphinx to die with him, but will she?

As previously stated, the premise is a little far-fetched and the insight into abusive relationships is brilliant. Sphinx is an interesting heroine, she's a peacekeeper who feels things in abundance and believes in the promises that her mothers made. Cadence is adept at manipulating those around him, particularly Sphinx. The prose is intelligent and ending is a satisfying one. Recommended. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Year of the Horse ... this simple painting sits at the Grote Street entrance to China Town/Moonta Street and is there to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Horse.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

1990s Nostalgia: Shuz by Murray P. Heasley

Shuz was a story about a multicultural group of kids who lived in Adelaide who were a bit obsessed with sneakers. They won an overseas trip to the factory where their favourite brand of shoes were made and while there managed to outwit a group of criminals. I remember this one mostly because of the local setting and because it was used as a class text in my year eight English class, under the watchful eye of our teacher, Miss Fitt. (Yes, that really was her name.)

When I started researching this one, I was not surprised to discover that Shuz has been out of print for some time. It would seem very dated and perhaps a bit irrelevant to kids today. What surprised me more was that no one else seems to have even heard of it. From what little biographical information I can find, it was published in 1993 by Omnibus books and the ISBN is 9781862911611. There is no entry on goodreads (I do not have librarian status on goodreads, so I cannot add it.) Nor can I find a picture of the book anywhere or a description. A google search brings up nine matches. 

If anyone knows where I can find out more details about this one, feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Review: Devoured by Emily Snow

How far would you go to help your family? Would you be willing to make a deal with a longstanding enemy? That is the premise of Devoured, a sexy New Adult romance that is the first in a series by Emily Snow. 

Devoured is short and fairly light reading--I managed to read the book in one sitting. The heroine is Sienna, a young and outspoken redhead who had her heart broken by rock star Lucas Wolfe two years earlier. Now, the bank has foreclosed on the log cabin that belongs to Sienna's grandmother. Lucas has bought the home and promised Sienna that she and her grandmother can have it back--provided that Sienna is willing to work with him as his PA for ten days straight. From there, the novel flips back and forth between Fifty Shades style shenanigans where Lucas holds all the power and a sweet, Mills and Boon style romance. As previously stated, the novel is short and is over before it really starts. 

A good read for fans of new adult romance.