Ricky Baxter: An Author from London to Leeds

This week we talk to London-raised author, Ricky Baxter, let loose in Leeds and discuss how moving up North has influenced his literary career, and his novel Gideon and the Crimson Samurai.

What initially inspired you in the literary world?

ricky baxter photoAs long as I can remember, I’ve had an attraction to fictitious and imaginative worlds and people. Yes I know what you’re thinking… I was the child who always daydreamed, and found real world issues a bore. Originally from East London, I would often surround myself with anything to do with video games, manga and anime – along with friends who were into the same. I owe much of my inspiration to Japanese classics such as Dragon Ball Z, The Guyver and Akira, and  to classic Role Playing Games like Final Fantasy 7, Breath of Fire 3, and Tales of Destiny.

Of course, unknown to me at the time, other real world factors became an unconscious inspiration for me – something that I appreciate to this day.

How do you involve these “real world” factors within your writing?
I had the privilege of growing up in a cultural melting pot. Religion, colour and origin were rarely an issue of negative topic in the area I grew up in (although sexual discrimination was heavily prevalent, and unfortunately still is). The idea of youth from various backgrounds, growing up together as friends through to adulthood is something that naturally resonates through my novel, Gideon and the Crimson Samurai, from a fictional perspective. This is because growing up with neighbours and pupils who happened to be of a different culture was my reality. This specific message of people coming together is prevalent within my stories. Interestingly enough, Leeds has become the icing on the cake.

How has  moving to Leeds influenced your life as an author?
As an author, Leeds is a great city. The amount of support for me has been quite respectable. From Leeds Central Library, Leeds Museum, Trinity Shopping Centre, OK Comics, The Travelling Man and City Dweller magazine, one can clearly see that the locals here don’t mind helping where they can.

The way of living up here is also less stressful  which allows me to write with little distractions compared to the hustle and bustle of London. As a result I was able to complete my book much quicker than I ever did before.

As a self-published author, do you have any advice or experience to share with fellow independent writers?

Naturally, a writer should look to expand their horizons to widen their audience. This is an ongoing challenge as my journey through self-publishing leads me to contact many people from across the UK. A magazine in Leeds may show interest but a magazine in Manchester may not. Equally, with literary festivals. There isn’t a one-shoe-fits-all approach and as such I have found my experience quite fluid  yet enjoyable at the same time. I would say to any aspiring indie author always keep a main source of income (at least for now) while enquiring to every festival, magazine and radio station. If you think you’re going to earn over night, then you may as well stop now. In my experience so far, self-publishing has been a test of endurance and patience which gradually reaps the benefit.

The characters of Gideon and the Crimson Samurai live in a society where cultures and ethnic backgrounds are fully integrated. Has the diversity of Leeds inspired this, or is the cultural union in your novel more something to aspire to?

Gideon high-res EbookI would say that society within Gideon and the Crimson Samurai is a fictional mirror of many of our own societies around the world. Gideon’s home city is quite rigid and consists of only the wealthy, akin to what you’d expect from millionaires in Beverly Hills, while most of the other lands are a cultural melting pot, much like London. I wouldn’t quite say it’s something to aspire to, but rather a reflection of the places I have been to, including Leeds, which has played a massive part.

Would you consider your novel to be Young Adult fiction, and if so, does it have a message for this generation?

That’s a great question! Gideon and the Crimson Samurai does have many strong messages, especially for young adults of our generation so it will appeal to them but others readers also. One of the main messages is to do with the bonds we make, and how these bonds can be tested – told in a colourful and entertaining world.

Do you have any upcoming projects or events in the pipeline?

My book Mother Gaia was released on 1st March, a short Novella about the spirit of our planet who has decided to seek revenge on mankind for abusing much of the world’s resources and each other. What inspired me was the untold amount of bad environmental news in particular that we hear in the media. I wondered that if the planet had a mind of its own, what would it think about us? That’s when I decided to write Mother Gaia. So I am busy promoting this and Gideon.


ricky baxter photoRicky Baxter is an avid author and blogger, giving advice and thoughts to fellow creators from all walks of life. His past publication is Colours of Destiny, a Youtube visual novel with over 2,000 views.

Gideon and the Crimson Samurai is a self-published work, available online at Amazon.

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