Down Under Showcase Author of the Day
Meet Christian Baines
Christian Baines is the author of The Beast Without, The Prince and the Practitioner, and, coming in 2015, Puppet Boy.
To get to know Christian Baines a little better, he agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.
Christian Baines was born in Toowoomba, Australia. He has since lived in Brisbane, Sydney, and Toronto, earning an MA in creative writing at University of Technology, Sydney along the way. His musings on travel, theater, and gay life have appeared in numerous publications in Australia and Canada. Dual passions for travel and mythology (both of which he attributes to growing up in Australia’s bible belt) have sent him chasing some of the world’s most feared monsters, including vampires in New Orleans, asuras in Bangkok, and theater critics in New York.
• Puppet Boy (TBR 2015, Bold Strokes Books)
• The Beast Without (2013, Interactive Publications)
• The Prince and the Practitioner (2014, Wilde City Press)
• Black comedy/satire
• Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Contests and Giveaways:
1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Christian Baines) is an eBook copy of The Beast Without. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
Rafflecopter Link: a Rafflecopter giveaway
2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find Christian Baines Hunt “Word“. Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 2nd, 2015. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 7 people selected, from 1st place to 7th! Happy Hunting.
Now Our Q & A which uses in part AUS spelling (don’t forget to search for Christian’s Scavenger Hunt Clue:
Q • When did you start writing?
Excluding Star Trek fan fic in my mid teens (don’t judge me), I started my first novel at 18. It’s still in the bottom of a virtual drawer somewhere.
Q• Were you a reader as a child?
Q• What books as a child has the most impact on you?
A lot of fantasy and sci-fi. My family were quite religious and so they were a little bit anti-horror. But they’d encourage me to read classic gothic fiction and such. That meant a lot of Sherlock Holmes, and things like Frankenstein, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera and so on. I started reading more contemporary, commercial horror eventually, but I don’t think anything had quite as strong an effect on me as those stories. I’d say Hound of the Baskervilles and Frankenstein fascinated me the most.
Q• Did that impression carry over into adulthood when you started writing?
The themes in those stories are timeless, so yes. I read a more even spread of genres as an adult, and of course I read more gay fiction. It all started to blend in and play its part.
Q• Where do you draw inspiration from?
It depends on the story. Interesting people I meet, places I visit, cities, buildings, clubs… I’m slightly travel obsessed so that helps a lot. Some places will spill a story, some won’t. Interestingly, it has very little to do with how much or how little I like the place.
Q• Favourite genres to write in and why?
I go through phases. If I’m excited enough about a story to finish a novel, then that was probably my favourite genre to write at the time.
Q• Title or characters or plot? Which comes first?
Usually character, if the story is going to work out. I have to be a little obsessed with a protagonist to finish their story.
Q• Do you have a favorite character that you have written?
There’s one in Puppet Boy who excites me a lot. Of the characters who are already published, probably Reylan. I’m also insanely jealous of the life and times he’s lived.
Q• Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)?
“Resentments are like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Q• Favorite book/story you have read as an adult?
Probably either Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas or Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis. Both underrated books. They’re tough to read in parts, but very original, exciting and subversively queer in an unselfconscious way.
Q• Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?
If there’s one that works, let me know. I try to sit down and focus on it at least once a day. Either it works that day or it doesn’t.
Q• What inspired you to write your first book?
The Beast Without started as an erotic short piece I wrote during an Anne Rice phase. It was something different for me to try while I was still trying to get my first, unpublished manuscript out there. I wasn’t really aware of how big urban fantasy or paranormal was at the time. I just really liked this character and voice, so I ended up expanding on it.
Q• Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know. Maybe if I’m lucky, others might recognise it as such. I try to keep a consistent voice that balances humour with cynicism. Maybe it’s a bit bleak, but I try to put a smile under it. I’m hesitant to publish anything that doesn’t make me laugh in some way. I’m one of those kids who grew up listening to alt rock and watching Daria. Now we’re writing in the age of Taylor Swift and Glee, so there’s always that sly sense of irony there. Some people get it and others don’t, but that would be the case no matter how or what I chose to write, so…
Q• What’s the hardest part of writing your books?
Keeping it simple! I’m a sucker for a complicated story I don’t necessarily understand or like the first time around. I think I handle large casts pretty well, but I’m always fighting to keep the story straightforward.
Q• If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
Q• What book are you reading now?
Drama Queens and Love Scenes by another Sydney author, Kevin Klehr.
Q• How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?
I think to a certain degree it’s inevitable that your background will inform your work. Sometimes it can be just the spark it needs. That was certainly the case with The Beast Without. Once it had the Sydney setting, it really had a unique voice, culture and history to explore. In general terms, I think there’s a down-to-Earth quality to Australian fiction, plus maybe an irreverence, which I think the New Zealanders take even further. I think the successful authors stay true to their own voices, rather than earnestly trying to represent. What frustrates me about this idea of a ‘Great Australian (insert Canadian, Kiwi, or even American as you will) Novel,’ like we’re supposed to hold our breath, waiting for somebody to distil the essence of the country into 90,000 words. How about we just get on with writing good books?
Q• My first impression of AUS/NZ was from stories and novels like Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds or Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice as well as from movies like The Man from Snowy River, The Dish, Rabbit Proof Fence, Strictly Ballroom, and yes, Crocodile Dundee! There are so many out there. What are your favorite AUS/NZ stories and favorite Australian/New Zealand movies?
Yikes! I think I’d rather spend a night at Wolf Creek than endure Crocodile Dundee II again! My favourites would be Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Muriel’s Wedding. I mentioned Dead Europe before. One of the reasons I love it is because it delves into everything Australian stories shy away from. The supernatural, grisly content, a promiscuous gay protagonist… and ties it into this insecurity we have about being such a young country and how we’ve always got one eye looking back to where we came from, without really understanding what that means. The film version cuts a lot, but it’s still worth a look. Australian movies just have a terrible time trying to find a local audience. It’s that insecurity again. Most Australians don’t have high expectations of their local industry, which is sad.
Q• If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see and what impression would you want them to take away with them when they leave?
There’s an amazing indoor/outdoor lifestyle balance in Sydney, so I try to make sure visitors get to experience that. It’s the kind of place where you can mix up your sightseeing with amazing beaches, museums, architecture, gardens, boutique bars, cruising on the harbour… okay, now I sound like a tour guide! A lot of the attractions are also cheap or free, which amazes me because it’s such an expensive city to live in.
Q• What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
It’s a cliché, but Melbourne. It’s not as pretty, but it’s a lot darker, bolder and more creative than Sydney in a lot of ways. It’s also less obsessed with money and property, which makes it more fun. Having said that, it’s yet to reveal a story I want to write.
Q• What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on the follow-up to The Beast Without. There’ll be some edits on Puppet Boy to come, but until then, I’m focused on Reylan’s world.
Q• What’s next up for you?
Midsumma, which is Melbourne’s big LGBTI festival. Adelaide author Margaret Merrilees, Kevin Klehr and I will be reading at the Hare Hole (Hares & Hyenas bookshop) in Fitzroy on January 20 as part of their Word is Out program. It’s a fantastic store and space, plus there should also be one or two other Aussie authors joining us, so it should be a fun evening. Maybe that Melbourne story will come to me!