The latest from GeyserCon 2019

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Selling Your Book at GeyserCon

posted Mar 20, 2019, 7:46 PM by Grace Bridges

We're pleased to announce the opening of registration for authors and makers wishing to sell books and other items at GeyserCon!

The Book Expo will run daily at the Con: Noon to 8pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and 10am-4pm on Monday (Queen's Birthday).

Atlantis Books of Rotorua will be handling all sales for us, and will receive a cut of the sale price.

For more information and to register your book or item for sale, 

Items for sale can be registered until NOON on Friday 17th May.
We look forward to seeing your items in the Book Expo! 

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SpecFicNZ Podcast Features GeyserCon

posted Mar 13, 2019, 2:26 AM by Grace Bridges

In their inaugural show, the SpecFicNZ Podcast team interviews GeyserCon programme director Lee Murray and Young NZ Writers convenor Piper Mejia about what you can expect at the Con. Have a listen!

The Pre-Breakfast Redwoods Ramble

posted Mar 11, 2019, 3:42 PM by Grace Bridges

Hi Everyone! It’s Lee here. 
I just wanted to let you know that I popped over to Rotorua in the weekend to check out a potential route for our pre-breakfast Redwoods Ramble which will be the first event of the first full day of the convention. If you’re new to Rotorua and have never visited the Redwoods, please consider joining me on this early-morning moderate one-hour walk from the Holiday Inn to Whakarewarewa Forest. The 5600 hectares of forest parkland, colloquially named ‘the Redwoods’, includes bike trails, walking tracks, lakes and panoramic look-outs, as well as providing an important cultural history hub. There is also an awesome Redwoods Treewalk, which won’t be open at that hour, but which attendees might like to do one evening. In short, the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest is an essential part of the Rotorua experience.

Depending on the weather and the numbers attending, we’ll be completing the Redwoods Memorial Grove Track, where we will be among the first visitors of the day to stroll beneath the stunning Californian Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). Planted in 1901, and later dedicated to New Zealand Forest Service workers who died in the two World Wars, these majestic trees measure approximately 67 metres and provide a stunning canopy for a number of native and exotic plant species. The walk includes a board walk across a thermal pond. If time permits, we might extend our walk to include the Waitawa Track, which is slightly steeper and meanders through native bush. Hopefully, it will be light enough to read the labels on the plants!

We’ll head back to the hotel as the sun comes up, walking past the thermal river at the edge of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, where I took this photograph. We should arrive back with plenty of time for breakfast before conference sessions begin.

Remember, GeyserCon will be held over the first weekend in June, which makes it early winter in New Zealand. This means it will be cold and dark when we set out, so warm gear and sturdy footwear are essential. I’ll be bringing a headlamp and torches, but if you’d like to bring a torch to help us see where we are going on the dimly-lit trails, that would be helpful. I don’t want to be carrying anyone back to the hotel with a twisted ankle!

For the runners, Lewis and Darcy are offering a similar experience but at a slightly faster pace. Again, headlamps are advisable.

We look forward to starting the full day of the conference with a good dose of Redwood oxygen. We hope you’ll consider joining us.


Redwoods Ramble


Weather permitting, Lee Murray hosts a pre-breakfast walk through the Redwoods. Four kilometre walk approximately. Moderate fitness required. Please meet in the lobby ahead of time as we will be leaving at 6.30am sharp. Sensible shoes, warm gear, and a torch recommended. Our sincere apologies, but this off-site excursion is not accessible for wheelchairs. Runners ‒ your running guides are Lewis Morgan and Darcy Perry.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh: Books, Travel, & Animals

posted Feb 25, 2019, 5:19 PM by Grace Bridges   [ updated Feb 25, 2019, 5:20 PM ]

Laura, you’re an award-winning author who writes in multiple genres. Can you give us the run-down on how many books you’ve published and what genres they are?
Oh, this is a more complicated question than it might first seem, because some of my stuff is stories or novellas rather than novels, and some are stories in anthologies, etc. But, I have two non-fiction books (my day job is in animal behavior and training), some magazine appearances, a half dozen short stories or novelettes sold alone, and somewhere between 14 and 16 anthology appearances and four and six novels, depending on when this piece posts. /grin/ Most of my fiction is fantasy (epic, historical, and urban), but I’ve done a few other genres as well. I always come back to speculative, though.

You travel a lot. What are some recent places you’ve been?
I love travel! It’s great fun, it’s a great way to learn, it’s fantastic to get out of routine and see something new and do something in a new way.
I’ve been very, very fortunate to take some dream-of-a-lifetime trips in the last couple of years, from a guided cruise in the Galapagos and backpacking through the Andes to my recent trip from Argentina to Antarctica. So astounding, I’m so fortunate and happy to have done that.

What have your travels inspired in your writing?
So much world-building has already been done for us writers, in that we have all of human history to pull from. Travel (which should, in my opinion, always include some history and at least a bit of language) is really good for inspiring twisty story bits and syntax for subtle dialect. 
But the biggest inspiration for me is probably setting and mood. I didn’t know where Thor’s battle in The Songweaver’s Vow would take place until I started writing the scene and realized I was picturing the western Irish coast, and then obviously he was visiting the Wyrmhole, because where else would you find a supernaturally large serpent? And then having that setting made it much easier to write that scene, because I knew what it should feel like. In the same way, visiting all those museums and Viking village reenactments made writing that Asgard setting much more successful. I even had a reader in a book club comment, “Oh, no wonder it felt like a real place, then!”
It’s not always that direct, of course. I’ve pictured a Portuguese coastline while writing a story about medieval Spain, and I’ve used Renaissance Italian neighborhoods in my second-world cities. It’s less about copying something as it was and more about getting the mood and tone of it.

How does your work in animal behaviour influence your fiction?
That’s a great question! Very occasionally, when I need to work a character through something that is terrifying or emotionally difficult, I think about how we might do it with a fearful or aggressive animal, and then I translate that. But far more often, I think it shows up in body language. We actually share a lot of the same little emotional tells—a tongue flick in a nervous dog is the same as a nervous human licking a lip, and we avert our eyes the same way (it’s about avoiding unwanted confrontation, not submission, sorry pop culture egotism), and so on. So it’s natural to incorporate some of those in my writing.

What have been your most successful books so far, and what do you put that down to?
By sales figures, the most successful books have absolutely been my non-fiction, and that’s due to my professional work and the platform I built there. But in fiction, The Songweaver’s Vow has gotten the most critical attention, and I put that down to a variety of factors: I’d built a readership by then, I got some very good reviews from Kirkus and book blogs, and I had a brilliant cover which helped grab attention. I also think timing helped; I saw the Viking/Norse trend coming and hurried the book (the idea for which I’d been sitting on for a few years) to catch it. 

Do you incorporate feedback from your fans into your writing?
I have to answer this one with a qualified yes, I think. I tend to be a more conservative writer, not sharing a lot of the story before it’s finished. I have author friends who are always sharing excerpts and snippets and I feel I should do more of that, but I’m always thinking, What if I change this before it’s final? Does this make any sense out of context or will it just confuse people? So I don’t tend to get a lot of fan feedback while a work is in progress.
But I absolutely incorporate feedback from my critique partners and beta readers, oh yes!  And now that I am planning some series, I will of course watch for what readers most enjoy in early books as I work on later books. 

Who is your favourite character from your latest fiction? Tell us a little bit about them and the book.
Oh, this is hard, because my latest project is an epic fantasy with so many great characters. Shianan and Tamaryl both make incredible sacrifices for what matters to them, even as they oppose each other. Luca rises above a horrific past to defy victimhood. Ariana is relentlessly idealistic. Elysia is the quietly ferocious woman many of us would love to grow up to be.
But I might have to talk about Soren, who uses his position of power to be brave in a way I’m not sure I could match. He just opens up to his half-brother mid-crisis and says, “Hey, I know we hate each other, and there’s good reason for that, but do we have to?” And that really impresses me, even as his author. He tries so hard to do the right thing, even when it’s hard or when it hurts.
The story is Shard & Shield, first in a trilogy, and it’s about… a lot of things. Heroism and sacrifice and family, and who your family is when it isn’t your blood relatives. /clears throat/ “King's bastard Shianan finds his whole purpose in protecting his homeland from magical raiders—but to save the life of his only friend, he must steal the artifact that shields his world..”

You’re a member of the face-blindness club (more info in a recent interview with GeyserCon's Jean Gilbert). 
How does this affect your writing, your characters?
Oh, that’s easy. I don’t describe anyone. /laugh/ That has long been the number-one complaint about my writing, that I don’t spend time describing characters’ appearances. I’ll toss something out about hair color or height and that’s enough for me, but not for a lot of readers who want to know about chin clefts or nose shape! 
On the other hand, people have said that I have a lot of body language in my books, as I mentioned, and one author I really respect told me she could tell I worked with body language and animals because that’s how all my characters express themselves—and that’s how I tend to recognize people, too.

What’s the funniest stranger-than-fiction thing that’s happened to you as a result of being an author?
How bizarre—I can’t think of any! I have plenty of stranger-than-fiction moments, but right now I can’t remember any specifically related to being an author.
I do clearly remember the first writers conference I ever attended. I arrived early, while a small pre-conference workshop was happening but before the rush of general attendees. I crossed the parking lot alone and was just reaching for the facility doors when they burst open and a woman ran out, sobbing.
I fumbled, asked if I could help, the usual caught-off-guard responses, but she didn’t speak a word, just ran off into the parking lot crying.
I looked back at the doors. So, writers conference. Good idea, right? We’re sure? Really sure?
I did go in, and I had a fantastic time, and that’s where my critique group started and we’re still going strong over nearly seven years later, which is like a hundred in critique group years.

Name a place you haven’t yet been that you want to go, and why.
Iceland, because the landscape looks amazing. I just want to soak up the scenery and go hiking there.
I have a friend writing a setting based on a town in northern Norway, and I keep telling her that I will make that research trip with her. No matter how I’ve tried, northern or southern hemispheres, I have never seen the Aurora, and I really want to do that.
I haven’t yet been to the African continent, but it’s so big with such varied options! Perhaps Morocco to start? Or all the way down to South Africa? So many different choices.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog! I really appreciate it, and I’m so looking forward to GeyserCon!

Alena Van Arendonk: A Queen of Cosplay

posted Feb 25, 2019, 4:32 PM by Grace Bridges   [ updated Feb 25, 2019, 5:20 PM ]

Alena, you’re massively involved in cosplay. Tell us how it all began for you!
Back around the turn of the millennium, I was fairly active in the burgeoning anime fandom. I had attended fan events before, but at that time casual or “hall” cosplay was much more common at anime conventions than at comic or sci-fi cons, so I hadn’t been exposed to much fan costuming until joining that community.

In 2002, I learned about a small anime convention happening in my home town and decided to put together my first cosplay costume. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know the first thing about sewing; I used duct tape and safety pins to hold together a recognizable (if not particularly good) costume. I had fun, and when we decided to attend another convention a few months later, I assembled another costume—this time tacking it together using a free motel button-repair kit, which was the only needle and thread I owned. Eventually I wanted to make more elaborate costumes, and that was motivation to learn new skills… including, well, how to sew.
Skip ahead a decade and a half, and now I own two sewing machines, a serger, an embroidery machine, a laser cutter, a collection of power tools, and over 100 wigs. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I don’t regret any of it. (Except perhaps the lack of closet space.)

What are some of your favourite characters and costumes, and what is it that makes them special for you?
As gratifying as it is to be stopped for photos while wearing an impressive costume, I find I really have the most fun interacting with other fans in character. Even though they’re relatively simple costumes, I cosplay Captain Jack Harkness (Doctor Who/Torchwood) and River Song (Doctor Who) quite frequently, because they are very sassy, playful characters who can always find something appropriate (or inappropriate, in Jack’s case!) to add to a conversation.
There are also some characters I just really like or feel a personal connection to: Peggy Carter (Agent Carter), Fay D. Fluorite (Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE), Kaitou Kid (Detective Conan/Magic Kaito), and Lucrezia Noin (Gundam Wing) are characters I love and keep coming back to, often making multiple costume variants. (I’ve made seven different costumes so far for Fay!)

What’s it like working with your sister in the group?
Laura and I have different skill sets when it comes to costume construction, so we actually make a pretty good team! The hardest part is just scheduling—both of us travel a lot and have very full schedules, so finding time to work on projects together can be difficult.

So about how many cosplays would you say you’ve done so far?
I have over a hundred costumes documented online. I also do a lot of one-off costumes for special events, movie premieres, parties, etc. that don’t make it onto that list, so I’d say… somewhere around 150? I’m not really sure!

What was the quickest time that you ever put together a costume, and how did that work out?
I’ve assembled complete costumes in less than five minutes, just putting together pieces from the closet! But as far as actually constructing something new, I once made a Starfleet maroon uniform from scratch, including drafting the patterns and making all the buckles and insignia, in about nine hours. It looked great from ten feet away; much closer, and the rush job started to show! But I was wearing it on stage (a local theatre was screening The Wrath of Khan and asked me to do a pre-show presentation), so fortunately it didn’t need to hold up to close scrutiny.

What new cosplays have you got in the works for yourself and your group, or what would you like to do one day?
Our current group project is a set of fantasy costumes from a Chinese TV series. The production designer for that series also designed for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, so as you can imagine, they’re quite elaborate. My costume has a ridiculous amount of embroidery and embellishment, and it’s a bit intimidating because I only really started doing embroidery last year, and don’t consider myself very skilled at it yet! But I learn best when I challenge myself, so hopefully this costume will help me improve.
I’m also slated to do a Clockwork Droid (Doctor Who) for a judges’ group at Chicago TARDIS later this year, and I have several perpetual WIPs that I’d like to finish at some point. There’s always a pile of half-completed costumes in the corner of the sewing room.

Storytime! What’s the funniest or strangest thing that ever happened to you while in costume?
I do a lot of crossplay (playing male characters) and I’ve gotten pretty good at making myself look masculine using body modification, makeup design, even glued-on stubble. I’ve occasionally been mistaken for a guy by other congoers (I always declare, “I’m a girl!” when entering a public restroom to avoid startling anyone), but one experience tops them all: I was dressed as Nathan Drake (Uncharted), and happened to be standing beside my sister. Our mother spotted us, came over and asked Laura, “Where’s your sister? I haven’t seen her all day.” I started laughing, and Mom just stared at me blankly. It took several seconds for the penny to drop, and when it did, it was a slow, “Oh… my… gosh. I thought you were a man.”
I guess if I can fool my own mother, I’m doing something right!

Photo Characters:
River Song from Doctor Who
Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who/Torchwood
Percy and Marguerite from The Scarlet Pimpernel (with Laura)
Shi Seiran from Saiunkoku Monogatari
Zelgadiss from SlayersChianti from Detective Conan
Paine from Final Fantasy X-2
Methos from Highlander: The Series

Jean Gilbert on Face Blindness

posted Feb 25, 2019, 4:06 PM by Grace Bridges

What is Face Blindness? 
The medical term is Prosopagnosia meaning ‘face’ ‘not knowing.’ 2% of the population have Face Blindness. However, not all are severe as I am. They may be on the low end of the spectrum. You’ve heard people say, “Oh, I’m bad at remembering names, too.” That may be someone with a mild case of Face Blindness.

How old were you when you discovered you had Face Blindness, and how did you find out?
I was in my late twenties when I discovered that I had Face Blindness. The first clue came from a television program dealing with the subject. Soon after, I read an article in a magazine that listed twenty-four symptoms of Face Blindness. I had all twenty-four. I went to the doctor soon after.

What challenges does Face Blindness present?
How much time do you have? LOL. Face Blindness affects every part of my life. For example, things that others take for granted like friendships and the memories that go with that, I don’t have. My brain cannot retrieve the faces and the memories attached to those faces. So, I can’t remember who my friends are, who my children are, who my husband is. That’s just one challenge. And it’s a BIG one! 

Have you ever created a fictional character with Face Blindness? How does this add depth to your fiction?
I haven’t delved yet into creating a character with Face Blindness. I have been encouraged by others to write a story around such a character, so I have added it to my  ‘to do’ list. 
As far as my writing is concerned, it takes a lot of effort for me to create believable characters with all the emotions that normal people experience and remember. I have to keep detailed ‘character bibles’ that not only break down the character’s physical appearance to the smallest of details, but also a psychological makeup and anything they had experienced and how they felt. You see, I can’t remember them as people either, and I need to constantly refer back to these bibles as I write to maintain consistency. It’s a lot of work.

What sort of compensatory strategies can people use to overcome Face Blindness? 
The brain is a fascinating organ and automatically sets up coping mechanisms without the person knowing that is what is happening. For example, instead of using a face to recognize someone, the brain uses the voice instead. And if the voice is unique, it will help. The brain also uses mannerisms, posture, and gait. I also will use how I am greeted, the length of the smile, the openness of the expression to gauge how well I know you.  I will rarely use someone’s name. (Because I won’t know it, not even those closest to me.) I will ask questions to draw out information to help me figure out who you are and where you fit in my life.  You don’t know that’s what I’m doing as we talk.  That’s just a few coping mechanisms. There are more. No one wants to be seen as weird or different, so it’s done covertly. Sometimes, even I don’t know that I’m doing it.


Four-time award-winning author Jean Gilbert moved from Virginia, U.S.A. to New Zealand in 2005, and has since called the Waikato Valley (the Shire) her home. Jean’s latest work, co-authored with William Dresden, is a modern YA fantasy called Light In My Dark, a tale of love, betrayal, and self-discovery. Jean’s science fiction novels Shifters, Ardus, and The Vault from The Vault Agency Series are published by Rogue House Publishing. You can find her short story “Blonde Obsession” in Baby Teeth: Bite Size Tales of Terror published by Paper Road Press, and SJV short story finalist “Pride” in Contact Light Anthology. Jean works in close association with Alessi Films, writing screenplays for promotional advertising and television. Jean is also involved in mentoring young writers through nationwide writing competitions in coordination with Young NZ Writers called Write Off Line and Beyond… for primary and secondary students.

Kaaron Warren's FOUND OBJECTS workshop

posted Feb 14, 2019, 11:56 PM by Grace Bridges   [ updated Feb 18, 2019, 12:12 PM ]


Every object tells a story. Some we know, such as the family heirlooms, or the items we’ve bought or received ourselves. Others we can imagine.

In this workshop we’ll take a road trip to the op shops of Rotorua to find items to work with, with the intention of developing character, plot and history for a short story or longer piece.

We will discuss techniques for building a story from a single moment of inspiration, and enjoy imagining the past and future of our objects and the people who possess them.
Photo of Kaaron Warren by Julian Stevenson

This workshop begins at 9am on Saturday 1st June at GeyserCon, then moves offsite.

What stories could YOU make out of random objects - maybe something you find in one of these pictures?

Interview with Kaaron Warren

posted Feb 14, 2019, 11:40 PM by Grace Bridges   [ updated ]

Kaaron Warren, a multi-award-winning Australian author of science fiction, fantasy and horror, is a Guest of Honour at GeyserCon in Rotorua.

With 5 novels to her name, over 100 short-fiction publications and 7 short story collections, Kaaron is an internationally-recognised name among readers of dark fiction. Her work has won a Shirley Jackson Award, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Aurealis Awards. Kaaron’s novel Tide of Stone has recently been listed for the Locus Awards. Kaaron has been a guest of honour at Conflux (Canberra’s Speculative Fiction Convention), Baltimore World Fantasy Convention 2018 and StokerCon 2019 .

During GeyserCon, Kaaron will take a small group offsite to discover ways into story through found objects. 
Kaaron will also be discussing feminism and crime and punishment in science fiction and fantasy. You’ll have the opportunity to get to know her better during a kaffeeklatch (an informal chat session) or by listening to her guest of honour talk. 

Today, we’ll talk to Kaaron about her writing process. 


What are you writing now? Where did your inspiration for this story come from?

I’m working on a short story inspired by the destruction of a series of government housing accommodation towers in my city. These were close to town, so people had easy access to transport, shopping and services; all the things that make such a space a big seller in the market. At the moment, there are massive piles of rubble. Every time I go past I’m struck by the fact that in those piles are people’s lives and memories. Tenants grew up in these apartments, and brought up their children, and made and lost and made friendships, made and lost and made careers. Now it’s all rubble, to be used in other buildings or in landfill.
Every time I go past, I wonder about the ghosts caught there.
That’s what I’m writing about.

What’s your favourite world or universe you’ve developed as a writer, and why do you enjoy it so much?

I’ve created so many worlds, this is a tricky question! The world of The Grinding House, set in a future time when a disease called Spurs melds the bones together, is one of my favourites and one I’d like to re-visit. I liked writing about the end of the world and the people who are the last survivors, but doing it from a simple, domestic angle. It’s a deeply creepy story and a terrifying world, one I’m glad doesn’t exist, but I really enjoyed exploring it.

Your literary career spans many years. How have you developed as a writer during this time?

We all change as people over time, regardless of what job we do. Sometimes I read my early stories and wonder about the person who wrote them, because they seem so distant from who I am now.
I still find writing difficult. I don’t think it’s got any easier over the years; in some ways it’s harder, because there are expectations of other people and of myself.
I’ve learned much over the years from reading, from critiquing, from being edited. Do I listen to any of it? Probably not. I still write from the gut and see where it leads me.


Would you like to share an excerpt of your work?

   Heading back to the bottle shop, he saw that someone had wheeled an old piano into the courtyard by the library, hoping to liven up the dull shopping precinct. They’d painted it with flowers, and the words play me. Wearing the borrowed suit, in this assumed identity, Shawn felt as if he would be able to play. That he could sit at the seat and make beautiful music. If he looked like himself no one would take him seriously for a second, but as he approached the piano people began to gather. An attractive woman bent over the keys, looking at him sidelong as if asking him for a song. He thought that if he could play she would stand close, put her hand on his shoulder and ask him to perform some kind of love song. Another, whose high ponytail made her look a bit like his late wife, stretched her fingers out at him.
   “Go on, mate,” the drunk from the supermarket who’d abused him said, “give us a tune,” and for a moment, Shawn thought he could. He sat down, contemplating the keys. There was a crackling, like someone opening a packet of chips at the theatre, and he shshshshshed loudly, making a joke, hoping for a laugh. A crowd gathered but they were odd, all of them, dank in smell and opaque, like looking through smoky glass. One appeared to have burns on one side; she was almost naked but seemed barely bothered. He didn’t look too hard at any of them, standing too close and pressing him, some of them with palms out prayerfully. He sat at the piano and the crowd closed in. He took a deep breath, as if waiting for something magical to happen. As if he would be able to play.
   He couldn’t. It didn’t. He plunked, as anyone who can’t play the piano will do. He was the same with the guitar, useless, although he’d buy them from the second hand shop all the time, every time someone pinched one.
   “Sorry, folks,” he said, but no one laughed or even responded. 

What’s your favourite feedback from a fan?
All feedback is lovely, but recently at the World Fantasy Convention, a writer told me that one of the stories that inspired him to be a writer was “The Grinding House”, the novella I mentioned above in the question about favourite worlds. I love that I’ve inspired another writer, because I was inspired myself by writers.


Interview with Alan Baxter

posted Jan 13, 2019, 8:17 PM by Grace Bridges


Alan Baxtera multi-award-winning British-Australian author of dark fiction, is a Guest of Honour at GeyserCon in Rotorua. Eileen Mueller interviewed him for GeyserCon...

GEYSERCON: With 7 novels, 2 novellas and a short story collection to his name (plus a further 5 novels co-written with David Wood), over 80 short fiction publications , a non-fiction book, and more than 20 years as a black belt in Kung Fu, Alan has vast experience to draw from.

You write supernatural thrillers, dark fantasy and urban horror. What is it that draws you to dark fiction and how do you maintain an upbeat attitude when working with dark material?

ALAN: I find dark stuff and horror to be the most honest in terms of fiction. It doesn’t shy away from the full experience. In stories we’re dealing with extreme circumstances and a lot of the time that seems sanitised to me when in fact it would be a lot darker in reality. I try to follow that darker path and stay true to the events in the story. Staying upbeat is easy because I get it all out on the page!

GEYSERCON: How did you meet David Wood and decide to team up for your two collaborative series The Jake Crowley Adventures and Sam Aston Investigations? What strengths do you each bring to the table? Do you have any fun anecdotes you’d like to share?

ALAN: We’ve known each other over a decade, since the early days of indie publishing. When Dave set up Gryphonwood Press and moved into publishing other writers, he took on my first duology, Realmshift and Magesign. We subsequently talked a lot about working together as he writes mainly action adventure thrillers and I write mainly dark fantasy and horror thrillers. We thought our two styles would combine well and it seems we were right! There aren’t really any anecdotes – we just talk a lot about the stories we want to tell and then get the work done! Dave is an excellent plotter, so we tend to talk in detail about the story, then Dave writes a very detailed outline. Following that, I write the first draft of the book from that outline (though we often revise it as we go along) and then we pass the book back and forth polishing it up until we’re happy with it. Finding someone to collaborate with is not easy, but Dave and I seem to work very well together.

GEYSERCON: It’s said that you write, you fight and you kick ass! How do you find a balance in life with a family, dogs, Kung Fu instruction and a motorbike that’s begging to be taken out for a ride?

ALAN: The bike tends to be the one that’s left out. I don’t get out for a ride nearly as often as I’d like. The kung fu school takes priority as that has classes at fixed times. Outside those hours my wife and I share parenting responsibilities and while one looks after our son, the other works. I write and she paints. It’s a good system, but it’s taken us a long time and a lot of hard work to build our lives this way.

GEYSERCON: You’re a black belt and Kung Fu instructor. How does your fighting experience inform your writing? What are the common mistakes writers make in fight scenes? Can you tell us a little about Write the Fight Right.

ALAN: The most common mistake is writing a fight scene like a transcribed movie fight. They never work well. Write The Fight Right is a response to exactly that. After running a workshop several times to help people pen better fight scenes, I put together the book to summarise all the main points. It’s a very short book, more like a long essay, but hopefully captures most of what someone needs to start getting realistic and visceral fights onto the page.

GEYSERCON: What’s your favourite world or universe you’ve developed as a writer, and why do you enjoy it so much?

ALAN: Most of my stuff is set in the real world, with secret worlds intertwined. I love to play in that sandbox and have magical or mystical environments hidden within the world we know. Or think we know!

GEYSERCON: If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring one of your characters with you, who would it be? Why?

ALAN: Maybe Silhouette from the Alex Caine Series as she’s a shape shifter. She could turn into a dolphin and take us home. Or Isiah, actually, from The Balance, as he can simply teleport.

GEYSERCON: How do you celebrate when you finish a novel?

ALAN: I enjoy a few drams of a good single malt scotch. I also celebrate that way whenever I sell a story or a book to a publisher. And again when said publication comes out. I just like to drink scotch, if I’m honest.


  1. Would you like to share an excerpt of your work?

ALAN: Sure. Here’s the opening section of my latest novel, Devouring Dark:

Matt McLeod knew the old adage, that light is supposed to push away the darkness. But he also knew it wasn’t true. Light sits on top, like a film of oil on water. The dark is still there underneath, deep, permanent, waiting. And usually it’s enough, that surface skein of brightness, to keep a soul from the yawning black abyss below. But once the cracks appear, the fall is inevitable. And the darkness devours.

Knowing this truth, Matt often wondered how long he had left. Though he was convinced time was largely irrelevant. He was already falling, had been for years. How much damage he could do on the way down, who he could take with him, those were better concerns.

He killed the engine of his battered old car and silence descended. The dashboard glow winked out leaving him in inky shadow, just the streetlights refracting through raindrops on the windscreen for company. Cold and wet, a classic London night. The alley across the quiet road glistened, like a throat ready to swallow. Sullivan would be along any time now.

Matt rolled a short, thin joint, just a sprinkling of weed to take the edge off. He didn’t particularly enjoy being stoned any more, but the process hurt a little less if he was buzzing. Not really high, that would dull his reactions too much. It was a balancing act, like everything in life. Just enough self-medication, but not so much as to cease being what they call a fully functioning adult. Whatever the fuck that really meant.

The bluish smoke drifted lazily around Matt’s head as he watched the alley, and then there Sullivan was, entering from the other end, parkland gloomy and dripping behind the silhouette of his bulk. Shit, but he was a big bastard. Not that size really mattered, muscles being no match for the dark.

Matt drew deeply of the spliff and it singed his fingers as it crackled away to almost nothing. Pressing the tiny roach into the car’s ashtray, he readied himself, then opened the door and stepped out. The cold and persistent drizzle bit instantly through his warm comfort and only on leaving did he realise how safe and embracing the car had been. Another metaphor for life right there. He headed across the street for the alley, aiming to meet his target halfway down.

John Sullivan, thirty-nine, single, worked by day as a used car salesman—which made him a scumbag already—but his extracurricular activity was of far more interest to Matt. And why Matt was here. Sullivan paid no attention to anything as he trudged through the rain, hiding under a flat cap, hunched in a trench coat. Large industrial bins lined one side of the alley, various detritus, rubbish bags, broken bottles, littered and glistened among the puddles on the rough asphalt underfoot. Sullivan tramped through it all. When Sullivan was in the shadows just over halfway along, Matt stepped from the eyes of the street into the privacy of this ignored corner of the city.

“Mr. John Sullivan.” Matt’s voice was strong, not showing the nerves that rippled through him.

The man paused, looked up quickly, a moment of shock passing over his face before he settled back to his default of belligerent bastard. “What? Who are you?”

“I’m your comeuppance, old son.”

GEYSERCON: What’s your favourite feedback from a fan?

ALAN: I heard once from a mother of a mostly non-verbal son. She said that he loves my books and whenever he’s read a new one he insists she reads it next, then they talk about it in depth. She wrote to me to say “thank you for the conversations”. That’s magic right there. I can’t imagine anything better than directly affecting lives like that.

GEYSERCON: What are you writing now? When will it be ready?

ALAN: Well, a completed new novel manuscript is out with my agent right now, so wish me luck with that! In the meantime, I’ve started on a new book which I hope I’ll have a solid first draft of by mid-year, and Dave and I will start the next Jake Crowley Adventure sometime soon and that should be finished by the second half of 2019 too. Always busy!


The Perfect New Year's Gift for Writers and Fans

posted Jan 13, 2019, 7:27 PM by Grace Bridges

Happy 2019! It's GEYSERCON Year!

Oh, wait - it's not 2019 yet? The time machine must be malfunctioning! But hey, why not get a sneak peek at the new year's news?

Are you thinking about a gift for a writer or fan you know (maybe yourself)? 

How about GeyserCon membership?

You'll be providing an opportunity to attend sessions on topics all around genre writing and fandom. Take yourself or a friend to a new level, meet people who love what you love, and perhaps get a book signed by one of our Guests of Honour! 

Your recipient will know that you put plenty of personal thought into selecting the gift of GeyserCon because this convention is coming together to be one of the best.

GeyserCon is the 40th National Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention, and unlike the massive commercial events, it's a place for grassroots fandoms and the writing community to enjoy each other's company while having meaningful discussions on the state of the art in New Zealand and around the world. We have an amazing line-up of guests and presenters, awesome panels, the chance to put your questions to professional writers, along with events like interactive role-playing games, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, arts and crafts sessions, the Young Writers' Day Out, the costume competition, and so much more.

Also, Rotorua offers the very best in off-site activities for you to enjoy around GeyserCon events.


Guests of Honour (L-R)
Laura Van Arendonk Baugh, Alan Baxter, Kaaron Warren, Alena Van Arendonk

Here are just a few of the programme items you can look forward to:

High Fantasy Futures

Eileen Mueller (moderator); joins panellists Laura VanArendonk Baugh, David Hair, Mark Johnson, and Dan Rabarts, to discuss the latest trends in high fantasy fiction. Are dragons still the thing? Why are elves so popular? And what’s the deal with the monarchy?

Found Objects - Kaaron Warren

This highly original workshop by Guest of Honour Kaaron Warren takes a small group offsite to discover ways into story through found objects. There is a small fee for this workshop.

GeyserCon Book Expo - LOBBY

The GeyserCon Book Expo will be open on all four days for purchasing books and merchandise. Atlantis Books is our official convention bookseller (consignment details coming soon). Eftpos will be available, although guests are encouraged to use cash for some items. Please support our Guests of Honour by buying and reading their work. If you haven’t already managed to get your book signed, bring it along to the Totara Room where Author Book Signings will be held in conjunction with the SpecFicNZ Meet-Up.

Radio-play STAR WRECK

STAR WRECK is a hilarious spoofy radio-play, written and directed by Paul Mannering. One of the best-loved items on our national convention programme. Join in the fun. No experience necessary! Be brave! Auditions on Friday 31 May, 9:30pm in the Lobby Niche, and also on Saturday (just check with Paul). Rehearsals will be held on Saturday 5:00-6:00pm and Sunday 1:00-2:00pm in Cascade. Final performance in the Pōhutu Lounge at the Closing Ceremony.

Check out the full programme at www.geysercon.nz/programme!

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