Excalibur Author Interview: Ross Baxter – “The Width of the Canvas”

Today we have an interview with another author from “The Phantom Games” anthology – ROSS BAXTER, who write the story “The Arakawa Meat Wagon”.

MINAMI-SENJU … the area of Tokyo where the events of “The Arakawa Meat Wagon” take place. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Amoroso. 

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background, including your thirty years at sea?

Hi, I’m Ross Baxter, and I’m really pleased to have a story included in the Olympics Anthology from Excalibur Book.

“Thirty years at sea” has a bit of poetic license in it, although I did serve in the Royal Naval Reserve for thirty years. I joined at a Junior Radio Operator aged 17, and retired thirty years later as a Lieutenant Commander, and Executive Officer of HMS Sherwood. It was a great time, I visited some great places (such as Chile, the US, and Scandinavia), and some not so great places. I learnt a lot about people and life in the military, much of which has found itself into many of my stories.

What inspired your story “The Arakawa Meat Wagon”?

Two things inspired my story. Firstly, I visited Tokyo twice in the early 2000’s with work. We were based in Kita, and I have to say it was a bit of a culture shock to me. For some reason the hotel was a long way from the workplace, and the lengthy commute gave me plenty of time to take in an urban environment which could spawn so many stories.

The second inspiration came in 2012, when I was heavily involved in planning pharmaceutical deliveries to pharmacies during the London Olympics. Putting the two inspirations together, along with a desire to be included in an Excalibur Books anthology, resulted in The Arakawa Meat Wagon.

Tell us a little about “Corporate Alien.” What inspired the novel?

Definitely my time in the navy. I actually started it whilst on exercise in the Middle East in the mid-90’s, as a way of passing the time. I wanted to write a space opera, centered around a small group of people caught up in something bigger than they could understand.

I enjoyed writing it, but it was my first real effort at writing seriously. As a result, I’m not as happy with it now as I was when it was finished. Like any trade or profession, people improve with time and experience, and I feel I would make a much better job if I rewrote it now. But, I’ve too many other writing projects, so version 2 may have to wait.

What draws you to the genre of Space Opera?

The width of the canvas, and the fact that you can take it in any direction you want. The scope is huge, and the story can so easily evolve as it gets told. You can throw in lots of topics, and have lots of fun.

 Could you tell us more about the short stories you’ve had published in anthologies? Are they going to be released in a collection one day?

They fall into four main categories: Horror, Sci-Fi, Erotica, and Westerns. Hopefully, the common thread is a gritty realism, as I try to write with as much “real life” as possible. My aim is to write what I want to read, and what I would want to buy.

In terms of putting all the stories into one collection – I’d love to do that. I’ve had fifty-three short stories published since 2011, and I’ve at least thirty-five which never made it. Because I write specifically for individual submission calls, if a story gets rejected by a publisher I usually abandon it rather than resubmit to another anthology. This is because I enjoy writing new stories, rather than change existing ones. So, there are plenty to choose from if anyone is interested!

 What story are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing for a specific anthology, a Halloween erotic horror (…and the deadline is looming!)

The Buddha statue of the Kozukappara Execution Grounds, Minami-Senju.

Which writers inspire you?

I’m inspired by the stories and styles of Pete Dexter, Larry McMurtry, and Joe R Lansdale. These are my gods!

What literary background does the city of Derby have?

None much really, there are a few minor historical authors from Derby, but I’m afraid I can’t name any. It’s a small city in the English midlands, famous for train building and aero engines (the home of Rolls Royce). There is a great arts centre in the city which hosts writing groups, although I’ve never been to any.

Do you have a special time to write?

It used to be when I was “Dad’s Taxi” to my two kids. I’d sit and write for hours in various car parks whilst they did ballet, scouts, kayaking, and a host of other activities. That’s all changed now; my lad is away at university and my daughter has discovered boys, so I’ve had to adjust and now try and get up earlier at the weekends to write.

What book/s are you reading at present?

Paradise Sky by Joe R Lansdale, and loving each page. A western set in East Texas, it is a masterpiece of storytelling.

How do you relax?

Writing mainly. I’d do it if nothing got published, although I am honored when something does make it and someone reads it.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

I have a website that I’m rubbish at updating (https://rossbaxter.wordpress.com/). I’m also more often on Twitter (@rossbaxter1) Happy to talk with anyone who messages me, I’m always honored when someone does.




About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
This entry was posted in Horror, Japan, Literature, Mystery, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

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