Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 29: AMONG THE STACKS: Ross Baxter


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Ross.  Welcome to The Gal.  Thanks for being a part of my 62 Days of Horror.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ross Baxter:
I've just hit my fifties, and so far have not had a mid-life crisis.  That is a little disappointing in some ways, although I am very lucky in that I am where I always wanted to be.  I have a day job doing logistics projects for a large pharmaceutical company in the English midlands, and an evening, night and weekend job being a Dad and Husband.  Somewhere in that mix I write horror, sci-fi... and erotica.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Ross Baxter:
  • In 1999 I was awarded a medal as part of my naval service which was presented by Princess Anne.
  • I am completely unable to grow a beard, although the hair on my back resembles that of a Mountain Gorilla.
  • I used to own an old Triumph Spitfire that literally exploded whilst I was driving it.  Despite losing all the hair on my arms, I managed to walk away completely unscathed, even though virtually nothing remained of the car afterwards.
  • I can break wind in seven different languages.
  • I never manage to get past four in anything.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Ross Baxter:
March Battalion by Sven Hassel.  I was probably about twelve and it blew my mind - suddenly I was seeing something not through the eyes of an English lad, and that gave me the realization that there was another world beyond the city of Sheffield where I grew up.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Ross Baxter:
The Passage by Justin Cronin.  Its good, but at nearly a thousand pages takes some reading!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Ross Baxter:
I love gritty Westerns, one of my favorites being Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Ross Baxter:
I used to read a lot, especially when I was away with the Navy.  I suppose I became a bit of a reading snob, and if by page 20 I was not enjoying the book, I'd end my relationship with it there and then.  I often got frustrated that there was not much out there that I wanted to read, and started to think that I could write better than some of the books that I ditched by page 20.  So, somewhere in the Persian Gulf in 1998, I started my first naive attempts at writing.  I'm really glad that I did.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Ross Baxter:
It is usually in my car, waiting to collect one or both of the kids.  This started back in 2005, when my son Lars was five and started swimming lessons, and I've been doing it ever since.  The car is actually a great place to write - a virtual bubble sealed off from the outside world and from any distractions, and that's why I'm always happy to be "Dads Taxi."

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Ross Baxter:
Not really, although I always like to be alone and have plenty of tea or coffee.  And chocolate.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Ross Baxter:
Editing my own work.  To me that is the boring bit about writing, although unfortunately venting I finish always needs a major edit.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Ross Baxter:
That's a difficult question.  I actually like most things I've written and always get the same sense of satisfaction.  However, when I write something which stretches me, for example an erotica story where the protagonists are not the same sex or sexual orientation as myself, and which gets well received- then that is doubly satisfying.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Ross Baxter:
I like Pete Dexter and Larry McMurtry.  They are similar in some ways, and both share the same gritty view of the world.  It is these two authors who have influenced me the most.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Ross Baxter:
The old tag line of good plot, good characters and a sense of realism.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Ross Baxter:
I had to think hard about this question.  I am not really sure that I have ever loved a character, irrespective of whether they are my own or the creation of other authors.  Liked, hated, despised, but never loved.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Ross Baxter:
Maybe the main character of my sci-fi novel, Corporate Alien.  The novel is 115,000 words long, so it helps writing something of that length for the main character to be based on someone I know well.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Ross Baxter:
Yes, definitely.  Unless you are looking for a specific title or author, the cover is the thing to draw you in.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Ross Baxter:
Like any job, to become simply competent takes many years of practice.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Ross Baxter:
Not sure, probably the erotic fiction as that was always very hard (pun intended).

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Ross Baxter:
I suppose each other has their own voice.  As a reader I want to read something I can relate to, something that is at least in a voice similar to my own.  That is probably the difference.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Ross Baxter:
Choosing the right title is very hard indeed.  It has to be snappy, enticing, related to the story and memorable.  I'm just finishing off my second novel, and so far it hasn't got a title.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Ross Baxter:
Short story - I love the challenge of a short story and it is something that usually takes less than a month to do.  Writing a novel is totally different, it takes so long and it is so easy for enthusiasm to flag - my first took ten years to write and my second is still not complete, although I started it in 2008.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Ross Baxter:
My stories are varied, and I hope I have a broad appeal.  That said, my target audience are those who like their drama gritty, realistic, and not always having a happy ending (...except my erotica, which always has a happy ending!).

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Ross Baxter:
Too much to mention.  Editing is a harsh process and usually ends up with hours of rewrites and rehashing of scenes.  I hate editing...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Ross Baxter:
I've lots and lots of ideas, but limited time to get them on paper.  I'm married to a Norwegian and both the kids are bilingual - unfortunately I'm not, but I would still love to write a story in Norwegian.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Ross Baxter:
The second novel is almost complete - after over eight years in and out of the trunk.  It's a modern day thriller set in the South China Sea about a maritime investigation into the sinking of a survey ship which leads to a deadly escalation between naval forces as the world holds its breath.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Ross Baxter:
I've an author page on Amazon.  I'm also on Twitter and Facebook.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks again, Ross, for stopping by.  It was a pleasure meeting you during this process... and getting to know you better during this interview.
            One more thing before you go: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Ross Baxter:
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to spout off, and a massive thanks to anyone who has read this far!



About the author:
After thirty years at sea, Ross Baxter now concentrates on writing sci-fi and horror fiction.  His varied work has been published in print by numerous publishing houses in the US and UK short-story anthologies.  In December 2014, he won the HorrorNovelReview.com best creation short fiction prize.
            Married to a Norwegian and with two Anglo-Viking kids, he now lives in Derby, England.

About the book:
Set against a background of spiralling recession and harsh corporate capitalism in the early twenty-second century, Corporate Alien brings together the extremes of an embattled society to collide in a climax of violence and conspiracy.  The space opera takes the characters on a roller-coaster adventure where the stakes are high and no quarter is given or expected.

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