Why Are You Writing This Story?

Guest Blog by Christian Baines

Yes, you! Not random writer X. Why are you writing this? It’s one of the most important questions a writer has to answer, at least for themselves, all the more so if it’s their first book.

What perspective makes the book uniquely yours?

I started writing The Beast Without, the first in my Arcadia Trust series of paranormal mysteries in my mid 20s. My main character, Reylan lives on the fringes of Sydney’s gay nightlife strip, and The Beast Without sees him forced to track down a young, potentially unhinged werewolf for a series of murders. If the beast can’t be tamed, he’ll have to be put down. It’s not the kind of problem that fits with Reylan’s freewheeling ‘blood and boys’ lifestyle. But when his friends are in danger, he has little choice. Bigger battles for the people he cares about force him to grow beyond the self-centred man he’s been up to that point.

Did I mention I wrote this in my 20s?

Reylan can also be asshole in The Beast Without. He’s often funny (if you’re going to be bitchy, you must at least entertain), but also a little mean. As the story goes on, and in the two sequels that follow, he’s forced to shed that defensive layer, becoming more sympathetic character. If times of stress show our true selves, I like to think this is the real Reylan, who knows what he values and what he has to offer.

None of this is to shame our shallow, horny, party-loving, and bitchy quip-ready young selves. For many queer men, this is a vital process of self discovery that creates lasting friendships, romantic and sexual partners, and more. But eventually, the bigger fights do come, whether it’s for our individual relationships, our stories, our legal equality, or our very lives. We don’t have the privilege to ignore them. Sooner or later, queer life demands the real you step up.

I’m not saying only a 20-something could write a book like The Beast Without but maybe that’s why, coming up on 30 with such battles in mind, my take on the paranormal tropes we know and love came out the way it did.

Decide for yourself when I read from The Beast Without at IQARUS’ reading session The Queer Character Doesn’t Die at the End: Queer Horror. There’ll even be a few bitchy quips.


Christian Baines is an awkward nerd turned slightly less awkward author of weird and dark queer fiction. His work includes the gay paranormal series The Arcadia Trust, the novella Skin, and Puppet Boy, a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on the occasions he can’t find his passport, or has to isolate due to a global pandemic.

Join him as one of the authors reading during ‘The Queer Character Doesn’t Die in the End: Queer Horror’ (Reading B1)

Check out the full schedule HERE.