A Whole Heap of Stuff

This weekend just past was Black Library Live! 2011, and I had a great time. BL Live! is a very rewarding day for me. Most importantly, it is always nice to spend time chatting with fans and signing books. This year I was in three seminars and had two signing sessions, so it was a busy event, but that’s the way I like it.

Dark Angels Fun

First order of the day was the Space Marines Battles seminar, alongside fellow authors Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Chris Wraight, Nick Kyme, Andy Hoare and Rob Sanders, talking about the series. It was cool to hear how the other guys had approached the series, and I think it showed that even under the umbrella of Space Marine Battles, there are lots of different ways to present humanity’s finest defenders.

Not only did the questions and discussion show that there are an awful lot of battles that could be covered, but there are also many ways that those stories could be told. In particular, one question was, “Which historical battle would you not want to write about?”. This prompted some interesting debate amongst the authors, and the consensus emerged that perhaps some of the events from Warhammer 40,000 were just too big to fit into one novel. I highlighted the famous Battle for Macragge against the Tyranids as one that I would be wary of tackling, due not only to the amount of stuff already written about it in various places, but also the massive expectation that the readers would have.

As is the way of things, after the seminar I started thinking about all the different ways I would actually go about writing that battle… One of the best things about the series is the challenge of taking established events and portraying them in a new and exciting way for readers – something I have been learning a lot about with Time of Legends, Purging of Kadillus and now the Horus Heresy.

Caledor was available on the day.

After a bit of a break for a coffee, I was whisked back to the main seminar area for the Time of Legends discussion, with New-York-Times-Bestselling-Author-and-David-Gemmell-Legend-Award-Winner Graham McNeill, and series editor (and soon-to-be series author) Nick Kyme. The main upshot of the seminar was that the opening three arcs of the series – Sigmar, The Sundering and Nagash – were coming to an end, and we would be starting out on the next set of stories. As a transition, the Age of Legends anthology will include stories that tie in to the opening arcs as well as tales that pre-empt the next three trilogies. It was a little later on that I found out that editor Christian Dunn wanted me to write a story for this. It wasn’t the only commission I found out about on the day, as I will explain later…

In summary, the next sagas to be covered will be The War of Vengeance, the Black Plague and the Wars of the Vampire Counts. The War of Vengeance, between the Elves and Dwarfs (also known as the War of the Beard), had been something I had raised with Nick in previous meetings, but he had already nabbed this one for himself, along with Chris Wraight. I’m sure the two of them will do a fine job. The machinations of the Skaven during the Black Plague will be splendidly handled by CL Werner. For those of you who can’t work it out, that means I will be tackling the Vampires and all things associated. To say I was pleased by the very positive response prompted by this news would be an understatement. Since the subject was covered previously by Steve Saville in the Von Carsteins trilogy, I know I will have my work cut out making sure this lives up to expectation, but it’s a challenge I am really looking forward to.

The latest HH anthology.

 

Lunch and a signing session then whisked me away, until the Horus Heresy seminar. Unsurprisingly, the seminar area was standing room only, and it was with a little trepidation that I took my place on the sofas next to Dan Abnett, Jim Swallow, with re-appearances by Rob, Graham and Aaron. Along with many other pre-releases, Age of Darkness was available on the day, which contains my short story Face of Treachery. It was a bit tricky talking about the novel on which I am currently working – Deliverance Lost – without giving away some of the surprise of the story, since it is in effect a prologue for the novel. Cover artist Neil Roberts also had the Deliverance Lost artwork with him, which I hope BL will be showing off in the not-too-distant future, as it is fantastic.

In some respects we all had to be a little bit vague when discussing what we were up to and what stories were coming next. This phase of the heresy is called the Age of Darkness for a reason, and covers all sorts of exciting events that haven’t before been revealed – as well as a couple of the major engagements already described in the background. The series is at a very interesting stage. The majority of the existing history has been covered and we are now moving into uncharted territory. Up to this point, much of the appeal for readers has been finding out the whos and whys behind events they already know, but now that we will be introducing totally new battles, plots and encounters, the emphasis will be shifting, and there are a lot of shocks and surprises in store. This makes it very difficult to discuss an individual volume without spoiling those yet to come.

Also announced was The Primarchs, another anthology, this time of four novella-length pieces. Commissioning by the seat of his pants as ever, Christian again informed me shortly before the seminar that he would like me to contribute. I said yes. The subject is one that a lot of folks have been asking me about, and so I am happy to say that I will be writing a novella based on the Primarch of the Dark Angels, the Lion. I have no idea yet what he’ll be up to, but I will endeavour to get at least a handful of revelations in there, and perhaps even an appearance from Astelan…

As has become common at this sort of event, I had as much fun with the editors and authors as I did with the fans; talking about past, current and future projects. I met lots of folks who deserve a shout-out, some of them who I have met before and others I have not. Hello to all of the Boltholers with their lovely T-shirts, it was great to meet you chaps and chapesses. I was very happy to have a chat with RedS8n, Black Library aficionado on many a forum, as well as lots of other folks who I am sure deserve to be mentioned by name.

Jokes about Christian’s ambush commissioning aside, it was also good to talk to the BL editors and sales guys about stuff, and though I have a proper scheduling meeting to arrange, I can summarise a big list o’ stuff what I will be working on in the coming months and years…

Currently writing: Deliverance Lost for the Horus Heresy.

Coming soon (to my schedule if not the shelves) in no particular order: A Dark Angels novel (possibly the first of a new series); Path of the Outcast; an Eldar-themed short story for the Games Day chapbook; a Vampire Wars trilogy; a Dark Angels audiobook (again, probably the first of several); a story about a space marine tea party; a novella on Lion El’Johnson; a trilogy on the Wars of the Vampire Counts and a Vampire-related short story for the Age of Legends book. I think that covers everything so far…

And of course, I will have to find time to fit in Crown of the Conqueror for Angry Robot too! As a freelance writer, there is no such thing as too busy.

 

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm  Comments (20)  

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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Twas as always neat to talk to you, sorry if I was a bit over defensive of Johannes Schaffer (I think that’s the name, it’s some derivitive of my name to make it slightly more archaic and olde worldy) with regards the Vampire Counts, I am still psyched to see what you will do with them. Have fun fitting all that stuff in, hope the deadlines don’t bite.

    Goodluck and Godspeed.

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  2. The pleasure was all mine.
    Really enjoyed the short in “Age of Darkness”, definately didn’t see *that* one coming. It’ll be a long wait for “Deliverance Lost” now. Just as well I’ve got Caledor then eh ? 😉

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  3. Salutations, Gav!

    It’s exciting to start hearing the bits that people in other seminars forgot to mention! I also forgot to mention it was myself bearing ‘Grudgelore’ and ‘The Inquisition’ unsubtly urging you to do some battle-for-the-Emperor’s-soul during the Heresy! I’d repeat the request, but that does look like a rather full (and interesting) schedule!

    Glad to hear it was a good (and productive; hooray for commissions!) day for yourself, a right pleasure to natter, even if only for a short time. Toodle-oo for now.

    Xisor

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  4. I finished reading The Purging of Kadillus and enjoyed it even though I am not a DA fan.

    But I am a Raven Guard fan, and after reading the The Purging of Kadillus, I am sure Deliverance Lost is in good hands.

    NR

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    • Thank you, I shall endeavour to deliver(ance).

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  5. I thought Path of the Outcast was the title for the 3rd book in the Eldar novel trilogy? Or have things changed?

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    • Path of the Outcast is the 3rd book in my trilogy. Path of the is the title of the forthcoming Dark Eldar novel written by someone who is not me (but who I used to work very closely with…)

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      • Path of the…?

        And do y’think he’ll be able to do them proper justice? Honestly?

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      • Think it is Path of the Renegade. And yes, the author definitely does the Dark Kin justice.

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  6. Interesting news. So many Dark Angel-related things in the future.

    There have been quite a bit of Dark Angel litterature over the past decade or two – ranging heavily in quality. Right from Barrington’s “Eye of Terror” novel with a hibernating Dark Angel from the Scouring Era (I think), to Lightner’s horrific “Sons of Fenris” novel which portrayed the 1st Legion in a particularly unflattering light, to King’s excellent “Deathwing” short story and the fascinating short stories of “Unforgiven” and “The Black Pearl”.

    Then there are the two Horus Heresy books – “Descent of Angels” and “Fallen Angels” – which were of varying quality.

    The first half of the first book being – IMHO – excellently written, if slightly odd compared to the HH story arch, and the latter half feeling rushed. The second book, by Mike Lee, was an altogether better read, though the ending of it, with the Lion and the other Primarch, seemed to me a let down, and could have been far better written.

    Which brings me to your take on the Dark Angels. I have – so far – only read “Angels of Darkness” and “Call of the Lion” (“The Purging of Kadillus” should arrive any day now). The jury is still, so to speak, out deliberating.

    Personally, the best take I have seen on the Dark Angels was one written – probably off the top of his head – by your fellow author, Aaron Dempski-Bowden on the Bolter and Chainsword forum in the Dark Angels sub-forum.

    Whilst moral ambiguity and continually being in the grey zone is part of the Dark Angels feel, there is – according to GW canon – no doubt that the Angels of the 41st Millennium are loyal servants of the Emperor. Not exactly the view presented in “Angels of Darkness”, which is still used as “undeniable evidence that the current DA are traitors and should be purged by flame…etc”.

    I assume that it is a “done deal”, that you are now the Dark Angel writer of the Black Library, much as McNeill is responsible for the Ultramarines, Hoare for the White Scars, etc.

    Seeing that there is bundle of Dark Angel litterature (and audio) forthcoming, how will your take on them be? Will you continue the line of “Angels of Darkness” and “Call of the Lion”? Will it be more in the vein of “Sons of Fenris” (which I really, really, hope not), or will you try and present a fresh and new view on them – one that does the First Legion justice (despite them having the without question worst Marine Codex, being over-costed and continual underachievers of the W40k gaming world)?

    The are, really, such a pathos-filled Chapter, introvert, reflective, penintent, that it takes a sublime writer not to muck it up 🙂

    Just…don’t drop the ball 🙂

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    • Purging of Kadillus deals with the Dark Angels as they are the majority of the time – honour-bound space marines defending the Emperor’s subjects. You can trust that any loyalty ambiguity in my work will definitely leave it up to the minds of readers and players rather than be definitive. Other than that, I don’t know what I’m going to write yet! Hope you enjoy PoK.

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      • Hello again – and thank you for putting my comment up for general review. I was not entirely sure that it would pass muster.

        As soon as I am done with Ben Counter’s “Grey Knights Omnibus”, I will dive into “The Purging of Kadillus”. If you accept private messages, somewhere, I will be happy to submit you my review of it. In any case, a review will be posted on my own 40k blog 🙂

        Regards,
        JBP

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      • Hello hello

        Well – The Purging of Kadillus is now read and done with.

        Overall – a mixed feeling, alas. Naaman you did really well, and the chapters concerning him were clearly the best. If you want to write something about the Dark Angels, stick to him and do something about his earlier career. Not only because you wrote him well, but because there to date – IIRC – there has been nothing about a scout sergeant as the protagonist.

        The Tauno chapters were also alright, while Boreas was just plain silly. Belial came across as rather irrelevant, though I can see that his chapters moved the plot forward.

        Something that was done really well in both Helsreach and Rynn’s World, was the civilian aspect of running the war – something that was sadly missing in this book – and all the poorer for it. An opportuniy missed.

        In addition, the fact that autocannon-wielding Devastators were written in, coupled with the dissappearing scouts in Naaman’s squad, and Avenger/Gate of Infinity empowered Dark Angel Librarians detracted quite a bit.

        Still – far better than the dismal “Hunt for Voldorious”.

        Anyways, I am a “fanboy” when it comes to the Dark Angels – they brought me into the hobby in 1992, and I am still hooked.

        It strikes me as odd, though, that the quality is so varying – for example the audiobook “Flight of the Raven” was wicked (in a good way), and I expect that “Deliverance Lost” will be stunning as well.

        Ah, well. Points for effort – even if the quality did not match the expectations of this particular human 🙂

        And if the above seems harsh – then I am sorry – you are still a far better creative writer than I.

        Kind regards,
        JBP

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      • In what way did Boreas come across as ‘silly’? I would also, you won’t be surprised, disagree with your assessment of Belial. The narrative is driven by his slow conversion from thinking he is in the right and underestimating the orks to the realisation that he must do something extreme to redress his earlier mistakes. On the face of it, I can understand why people think that Naaman is the star of the show, he does get most of the coolest scenes, but it is easy to forget Belial is in command and must vindicate himself (mainly in his own eyes) through the later actions of the Dark Angels.

        I must also confess that I have no idea what the Avenger/ Gate of Infinity issue is? It seems you are attaching very specific game mechanics to something that I did not.

        I apologise for the autocannon reference, it was not intended, though it is not beyond the bounds of believability that a space marine force can’t get its hands on some autocannons if it wanted them, especially fighting alongside the Piscina defence militia during an extended and attritional campaign. I think you are being too literal about the options presented in the army list, but I take the point.

        Glad you liked some of it though 😉

        Cheers,

        Gav

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      • Hey Gav

        First up – thank you for the reply.

        Starting with Belial, and my comment about him being “silly”. Perhaps it was a poor word I chose for describing him. In retrospect, the word “disappointing” is more apt and fitting.

        Belial, in my view, is a master strategist, a bold leader of Astartes and the heir apparent in the Dark Angels Chapter, once Grand Master Azrael succumbs to the inevitable fate awaiting every Astartes – death.

        That “his” story arch is one about acceptance, perhaps even vindication for his initial failure to properly appreciate the threat posed by the Orks, is fine – and completely OK.

        Your portrayal of him though, presents him as indecisive, second guessing himself at every twist and turn in the story, and turning to a Lexicanum for tactical and strategic advice. A Lexicanum? The lowest ranking psyker there is? For tactical advice? That just sits wrong with me. A far more elegant solution would have been for Belial to formulate the plan for taking the mining compound himself and then discuss that with the Lexicanum, rather than have Charon give him the solution.

        Towards the end of the book, you have Belial pondering whether or not he will remain in command of the 3rd Company, or be returned to the ranks of the Deathwing. The way he acts in his chapters, I am surprised as well, that he is not knocked back to being a Terminator Marine. Was I Azrael, I would have pulled his stripes…

        In Naaman’s tale, though, he is quite cool.

        With the Avenger / Gate powers – perhaps I am being too literal with a game mechanic – it might be that I have a “particular” grievance with the current Dark Angel Codex, with, rightfully, is not the fault of your novel, but rather an extraordinarily poor and illconceived game design. For that I apologize.

        The autocannon – well – true. It is not beyond plausible that the Dark Angels had appropriated a few autocannons for use with the Devastators – but then I think that it should have been written in. It could easily have been something like: “Techmarine Hephaestus turned to Belial “Master Belial” he said, his voice grave. “The Orks manning the defence laser have just shot down our transport. It carried, among munitions and rations, the heavy weapons of the 9th Devastator Squad currently manning Koth Ridge”. Belial looked the Techmarine straight in the eyes “Lion’s Wrath take their cursed hides. What now? Without those weapons the Ridge might never stand the onslaught?” The Piscina Free Militia Colonel standing in the back of the room politely cleared his throat “Excuse, me, gentlemen…I might have a suggestion…””

        Really – not that difficult – and I am not even particular good at writing – unlike you 😉

        Probably, what I liked best – even above the presentation of Naaman, was that for the first time (IIRC) Astartes have been presented as working in a “realistic” military command hierarchy, using something approximating “proper” tactics. And when they do, they are nigh unstoppable.

        Regards,
        JBP

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  7. A space marine tea party? You mean, like an *actual* tea party, the Tea Party Movement, or the Boston Tea Party?

    Or was that just thrown in there as a joke?

    In other news, I’m reading Crown of the Blood, among two other books, and enjoying it. Out of curiosity, why did you go for a bronze age setting with a culture that reminds me of the Romans? Something that interests you, or just wanting to be different from the zillions of medieval fantasies out there?

    Thanks!

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    • A genuine tea party, like Alice in Wonderland…

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    • As for the Crown of the Blood setting, there were two reasons. Firstly, it puts obvious distance between that series and my Warhammer stuff, and secondly, because I am really interested in that perios of history – Rome, Greece, Macedonia and Persia in particular.

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  8. Quite excited by the prospect of the vampire trilogy Gav – any teasers? So many questions and possibilities! Finally putting the Vlad/Vashanesh rumour/myth to bed? Linking back to Nagash? 2012 suddenly seems too far away – luckily Caledor isn’t too far away!

    All the best

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