Mashing Genres by Alan Baxter
I’ve always loved genre mashing. It’s not something I ever did consciously. I didn’t even really realise until other people started pointing it out to me. Just like I didn’t know I was a horror writer until other people started referring to me that way. Or to my work as horror, at least. But I don’t think I am a horror writer, especially. I just include a lot of horror in my work. Same as I’m not a fantasy writer or a mystery writer, but include loads of those tropes in my stories. I’m most definitely a genre writer. I love all the genres – horror, fantasy, thriller, mystery, crime, and so on – and the more of them I can get into a story, the better I like it.
My novels, especially the most recent ALEX CAINE trilogy, are decidedly cross-genre. They’re fundamentally thrillers in pacing and style. They’re heavy on the supernatural. They’re incredibly dark in places, definitely delving into the realms of horror, they have extreme fantastical elements. I tend to usually say that I write supernatural thrillers, dark fantasy and horror, as that description is relatively short and seems to encompass most of what I do.
With THE BOOK CLUB, my new novella coming from PS Publishing, I wanted to combine the weird with a straight up mystery. I’ve played a lot in the cosmic horror sandpit over the years. I’ve never written actual Lovecraftian mythos, but I love the concepts involved: the examination of humanity as a speck in the greater universe, the possibility of eldritch entities more massive or complicated than we can possibly imagine. Many of my novels and short stories explore those ideas to one degree or another in a variety of ways. When it comes to THE BOOK CLUB, I’d recently read GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn and loved it. It became a bit of an inspiration. I’ve long been a fan of crime and mystery, those elements appear regularly in my stories as well, and I wanted to address a disappearance. It’s truly one of the greatest existential horrors, I think, certainly for me, that someone might go missing. When a loved one dies, it’s traumatic, but there’s a certain closure. We know they’re dead. But I often read about missing persons and think that must be so much harder. There’s no proof they’re dead, so the spark of hope can never really die. It remains to gently burn, to torture those left behind forever. GONE GIRL played brilliantly with those themes in one way. I wanted to play with them in another. I considered what might happen when the missing person, or aspects of their life, are found? Of when details of the disappearance are uncovered but the person is still missing? What secrets and truths might float to the surface, what light may shine on things best left in shadow? And THE BOOK CLUB slowly took shape.
When I started the book, I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be a novel or not. It had that potential, but I knew it was one of those stories drawing on so many pulp tropes – horror, crime, mystery – that it was potentially a perfect candidate for the novella length. That turned out to be true and it comes in at around one third the length of an average-sized novel. And I think it works best that way. Now I can’t wait to see it out in the world, to see if people find it as engaging and exciting to read as I found it to write. And with that awesome Ben Baldwin cover, I can’t wait to hold it my hands.