Fighting as metaphor
by Alan Baxter
I’m fortunate enough to be able to write a guest post for the fantastic Voyager blog today, as part of the release party for the Alex Caine Series. All three books in the trilogy will hit bookstore shelves on Monday, June 20th, so I thought I’d best write something about them. Or at least, something related to them.
The three books in the series, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction, follow the trials and tribulations of the titular Alex Caine. Alex is an underground cage fighter. He’s very successful, but he’s not into the glamour and bright lights of the big mainstream events. He prefers to fight in the underground scene, where there are even fewer rules, tougher opponents and, most importantly, less personal scrutiny. Alex Caine is a private individual and likes to remain in control. Lack of control is a thing he refuses to allow into his life. He’s incredibly successful at what he does. He’s trained diligently for years, ever since he was an angry child, and his training pays off in the ring. But he also has a strangely preternatural vision that allows him to almost predict what his opponents will do before they know it themselves. Alex puts this down to his extensive training, but a weird old man approaches him one night after a fight and tells Alex there’s much more to it than that. A run-in with local organised crime and this man’s interference start to take over Alex’s life, and that precious control he takes so seriously begins to slip. This is the genesis of the story that begins Bound.
As well as an author, I’m a martial artist. I’ve trained and taught for over thirty years and the Alex Caine Series was born from my desire to write a career martial artist main character and mix that guy up in dark fantasy, horror and thriller tropes. Because fighting in the ring is a metaphor for life. Alex’s fight against the dark forces that begin to hunt him is also a metaphor for life.
No matter what a person’s vocation and hobbies, they are always in a fight for their life. Every one of us. It sounds dramatic when put like that, but it’s true. Now we’re not likely to be beaten to a pulp by an actual monster, which is a regular threat for Alex Caine, but we are always up against the less tangible monsters of apathy, capitalism, family and responsibility, and so on, in the fight for what we want in our life. The harder we train, the better we will do in that fight. When you train for actual fisticuffs, you have to get to the gym and work your arse off every day. You have to push on whether you feel like it or not. You have to go after the things you want, the titles, the prizes, the challenges, because they’re sure as hell not going to come to you. Just so in life. You want that promotion, you better hone your skills and put in the hours. You want that boy or girl you like? You’d better make yourself into someone cool and desirable, and get out there to be with them, because they won’t come to you sitting alone at home. You want success in that thing you do, that hobby you love, whether it’s bushwalking, birdwatching, cliff diving, cosplaying, writing a novel? You have to go after it. You put in focus, effort, sweat, determination, desire and you never give up on it. Sounds like fighting to me.
And just like Alex Caine, we all desire, to some degree, control over the things that would interfere with whatever it is we’re fighting for. And just like Alex Caine, life has a way of throwing curveballs that threaten to strip that control away from us, so we have to fight to keep it. When we’re down, hopefully we’ve got some good allies around us to hold us up and push us along, just like Alex Caine does. Caine’s story is one of magic and monsters and mayhem and martial arts, but it’s also a metaphor for the struggles we all go through. That’s the beauty of fiction – it entertains us while reflecting life back at us. So remember, be like Alex Caine and never give up the fight for whatever it is you want.
Alan’s award-nominated dark fantasy thriller trilogy, The Alex Caine Series – Bound, Obsidian and Abduction – lands on bookstore shelves in Australia and New Zealand on June 20th. All three books will be released together on that day. Ask your local store and library to get copies in if they don’t have them.
Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the award-winning author of several novels and over sixty short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.