Mayan Schmayan – Hello 2012!

The world will not end, at least not in 2012.

As you can tell from the fact that I am posting my New Year entry 11 days into 2012, this year has started off as a busy one. Before I get into that though, let’s take a look at 2011, as is customary at this time. It was, in hindsight, a great year. It seemed very busy at the time, with a lot going on, but looking back as I compiled my notes for this post I was reminded of how enjoyable those projects were. Perhaps most significantly, and away from publishing, the summer of 2011 saw my girlfriend moving in with me… After surviving our first ‘proper’ Christmas together, I think it’s safe to say that the future is looking rosy on that front.

Real Books

Enough of that schmaltzy stuff though, let’s talk books. The year kicked off with my first Space Marines Battles novel, The Purging Of Kadillus. I’m big enough to admit that there was some mixed reaction to this one, with some folks appreciating the broad overview it gave of a Space Marine battle force in action, while others would have preferred to concentrate the story on one or two characters. I am always trying something different with my writing, and with Purging I set myself the task of adhering as closely to the previously published scenarios as possible. Was it the right choice? Actually, yes! Despite the criticisms, I still think that the story hangs together and the portrayal it gives of Space Marines in action is one of the most accurate in the BL catalogue.

2011 saw the culmination of one of my most popular Black Library series, the Time of Legends saga of The Sundering, which ended with Caledor in May. This was a really tricky project, with not only a trilogy to wrap up, but an important chunk of elven history to adhere to, some of which at first reading didn’t lend itself to a great narrative for a novel (12 years of battles without anything being gained or lost? That was difficult…) After three bumper books, it was actually a sad experience to say goodbye to Caledor, Alith Anar and Malekith for the time being.

To keep fans ticking along through the summer the Dwarfs omnibus tunneled up from the Black Library back catalogue to bring Grudgebearer to a new generation of readers. In conjunction with Nick Kyme’s novels, and our collaborative effort Grudgelore, which is also included in the collection, this really is a great introduction to Warhammer Dwarfs, as well as a nice, traditional tome of stories for the longbeards out there.

As one pointed-eared trilogy came to a close, another reached new heights. Path of the Seer hit the shelves in September, which turned out to be a busy month. To tie-in with the release, I had the short story The Curse of Shaa-dom in the UK Games Day anthology. On top of that, part two of the The Crown of the Blood released by Angry Robot – The Crown of the Conqueror – came out. Both novels were, I am happy to say, greeted with enthusiastic and generous reviews, and this bodes well for the final titles in the respective series (of which, more at the end of this post).

An actual copy, in my house.

Last, and by no stretch of the imagination least, came a title that had a printed release date of Jan 2012, but was available widely in December. This was a big one, in no uncertain terms, and perhaps one of my most anxious releases since I started this whole writing malarky. I am, of course, writing about Deliverance Lost, my first full-length Horus Heresy novel. As with all books, there are some folks who didn’t like it, either the story or the style of my writing, but for the vast majority of people it seems I have hit the proverbial nail on its heretical head, with a story focussing on Primarchs and the Legiones Astartes, with a bit of Emperor action thrown in, and no small amount of traitor vs loyalist shenanigans. When I set out to write this book, I wanted to make sure it balanced between the Raven Guard and the Alpha Legion – I didn’t want to write a solely ‘loyalist’ novel or a ‘traitor’ novel – and the overwhelming majority of feedback indicates that I succeeded on that score, so I am pleased.

And for those who want more Raven Guard action, there are now downloads for the two ‘prequel’ stories – the first an audio drama Raven’s Flight, and the second a short story from the Age of Darkness anthology also available a a separate e-story, The Face of Treachery (and an narrated MP3 if you want to listen instead).

Digickal

Dead-tree editions were good for 2011, but one of the factors that made it not a good year but a great year for me is the ongoing digital revolution at Black Library. Firstly, in both print anthologies and available separately as downloads, I had a bunch of short stories published. The first two tales in my ‘Avenging Sons’ arc – Renegades and Rewards of Tolerance are available on the BL store, as are two Warhammer tales from the Age of Legend collection being released this month – a story about a nobleman with a strange relationship with the dead in The Ninth Book and a prose version of my Time of Legends audio epic Aenarion.

Speaking of Aenarion, the fall-out tales of the Defender’s actions were digitised in February of last year, with the first two books of the Sundering being made available on the online store. With Malekith and Shadow King downloadable, fans of the elves can catch up with the story before picking up Caledor. I love it when a plan comes together. As if that was not enough to be getting on with, the continuing growth of Black Library’s French division saw the release of the first and second books of  The Sundering too. Now that more and more titles are getting a simultaneous release in French, I look forward to seeing more strange titles with my names under them.

Angels of Darkness, my bestselling novel so far (though I expect DL to scoot past its sales figures in short order) is now on digital, ready to offend and intrigue a whole new swathe of Dark Angels fans. It’s interesting that AoD still holds the attention of a lot of fans, even with more and more details about the Dark Angels coming out through the Horus Heresy series. If you’ve not read this book, check it out – revelations from the dark days of the Heresy before those johnny-come-latelies made it cool.

Written around about the same time as Angels of Darkness, my Slaves to Darkness trilogy (The Claws of Chaos. The Blades of Chaos and The Heart of Chaos) has also been digitized. I want to make a bit of a big thing about this, because I did not really blow the trumpet loudly enough when this happened back in October. These were my first Warhammer novels, and though some of the language and style is showing my inexperience in places, I still rate this as a top Warhammer story, dealing with the underlying themes of the Warhammer universe, with a cast of characters that I still rate highly. It’s about Chaos and man’s weakness, ambition and folly – all of the themes that my fans have come to enjoy in my later books. This series is where I cut my teeth on those ideas. Slaves To Darkness is set during the Time of the Three Emperors. In these days in a world of Time of Legends epics and Warhammer Heroes sagas that doesn’t seem so special, but an ‘historical’ Warhammer trilogy was revolutionary back then, you know.

And then the oldies but the goldies, in December the e-store became the new home of a bunch of thieving, murderous, dysfunctional misfits known as The Last Chancers. Bless him, Lieutenant Kage has done me proud over the years, which is surprising, what with him being a battle-traumatised psychopath who is just out for himself. Like Slave to Darkness there is a certain purity to the Last Chancers novels that I still love. It’s a 40K tale for the sake of it, with no extra continuity or bells and whistles, with all the gory action and screwed-up Imperium stuff you can hope for. Plus a bunch of Tau get killed, and that can never be a bad thing. With some encouragement from the fans, I hope that BL will find some time to start putting up back catalogue short stories too, which will mean the full Last Chancers collection will be available again (until I finally get around to writing some more). If you would like a brand new Last Chancers novella, show your support in the comments section…

The End of the Long Count

So, 2012 has a lot to live up to if it is going to come close to matching 2011 for sheer volume. That’s not likely to happen, but on the creative front it does promise to be a very interesting time. Just the other day, Catechism of Hate, the first Space Marine Battles limited edition novella went on sale, and sold out in 17 mins (despite server glitches for some). Apologies to those who did not get a copy, I know the LE status of these novellas is a contentious issue. Given the success of that title, more Chaplain Cassius may need to appear on my schedule.

Also out this month is the Age of Legend anthology I mentioned earlier. The Ninth Book was meant to be a prelude to my next Time of Legends series, which would deal with the rise of the Von Carsteins. As I have mentioned before, scheduling issues mean that I can’t do both the Vampire Wars and my forthcoming Dark Angels series, and so the Vamps have been put back. The Dark Angels series is now officially called Legacy of Caliban, the first title of which will be Ravenwing. Not sure on publication date yet, I am sure it will be announced soon. All I have to do now is come up with the actual story. Er…

The good news is that dropping the Time of Legends for three years gives me time – and release slots – to do something a bit different. Thinking about The Last Chancers and Slaves to Darkness, it will be nice to get away from the ‘big brand’ series for a little while and get back to some honest-to-goodness 40k and Warhammer stories. In the case of the latter, I am hoping to be able to bring you something concerning short, fat brewers with big beards, but it ain’t as true as gold yet, so don’t say nothing or get too excited.

Away from BL, I have just started penning the conclusion to The Crown of the Blood. The Crown of the Usurper is 3,000 words long so far, but it’s a start. Out in August, I am hoping that it provides a suitably epic and jaw-dropping, plus brain-twisting, finale to the series.

Aradryan as a ranger

The reason this New Year post is a bit delayed is because I’ve been finishing Path of the Outcast, which will be out in the summer. Rangers, Harlequins, corsairs, Dark Eldar and the survival of Alaitoc at stake. Need I say more? No, I didn’t think so.

And there is talk of other possible work, not for Black Library or Angry Robot. Some of this is games design fun I have been having lately, of which I hope to post more in the next few weeks. Some of it may be other novels… You will have to wait and see!

Thank you for helping make 2011 wonderful, I wish you all the best for 2012.

 

Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I would love a last chancers novella. Schaeffer is my all time favourite 40k character. There was so much mystery behind the granite exterior, inquisition experiments, covert ops, I love it. I hate that he was left out of the latest codex.

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  2. I think the world definitely needs a new Last Chancers story, presumably it’ll be a pre-annihilation squad story though unless you’ve got a Batman ‘tune in next week’ style escape lined up for Kage of course.

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    • It would be an Ichar IV ‘era’ story, I expect.

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  3. I really enjoyed Deliverance Lost and it’s audio prequels. Raven’s Flight has quickly shot up my iTunes top played list, it’s brilliant when building, modelling and any other task I can find to put off actually painting a model. 😉

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    • Here I am submitting before I finished typing, I read The Purging Of Kadillus, immediately followed by Angels of Darkness and I thought they worked quite nicely together as a duology. Having then read Tales of Heresy it was nice to see Astelan popping up again.

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  4. More Last Chancers stuff would be immense. They were the first Black Library books I can remember reading, and I may have had a small accident when BL put the eBooks online. Also massively looking forward to my copy of Catechism of Hate being delivered!

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  5. I have read three battle books in the last three months and really enjoyed “The Purging Of Kadillus”. It is particularly good for it’s insights into the different roles in a Space Marine chapter and it’s character development.

    I liked the scout sergeant Naaman bits best, especially the interactions with the Raven Wing and Imperial Guard. I liked Boreas and his suspicions of subversion in the ranks, and getting carried away body-slamming that Ork vehicle. The Ork characterisations were also excellent with Ghazghkull’s monkeying about.

    I could quite happily read another book like that and am looking forward to your Dark Angel trilogy. Hope the “Watchers in the Dark” get a little bit more fleshing out in there.

    Also, “The Ninth Book” in the Age Of Legend compilation was one of my favourite three along with Bloodraven (Sarah Cawkwell), and The Gods Demand (Josh Reynolds).

    Frustrating not to be able to get the limited edition Catechism of Hate, but realise this is out of your control – they should at least release it in softback in six months or so.

    Keep up the good work!

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  6. The world would definitely be a better place with more Last Chancers Material. And speaking as a digital consumer, The Black Library needs to get on the ball with their short stories, especially the stuff from the Last Chancers and Imperial Guard omnibi!

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