The Wulfen are a fascinating element of the 40K mythos, and a large chunk of what makes the Space Wolves so interesting for me. I’d written about an individual Blood Claw succumbing to the curse (or is it?) in Battle of the Fang, but I’d always wanted to write more about them, preferably in their own tale. To my mind, the Wulfen are more of a ‘horror’ concept than a straight SF or fantasy trope, and I think anything featuring them should have that vibe in it.
I had the pleasure of discussing this a bit with Dan Abnett at the recent BL Live seminar on the Wolves of Fenris. Dan made the point that the Wulfen, like so much about the Space Wolves and their origins, need to retain an air of mystery, of ambiguity and speculation. We should never have a definitive account of where they come from, what causes the change, and indeed what exactly it does to them. Like the werewolves of legend, the Wulfen should be forever just on the edge of the camp-fire, their eyes shining in the dark, never fully coming into the light.
Hopefully Wulfen captures this side to them, as well as also fleshing out one of the coolest stories from the Codex. It was originally penned for one of the event-only chapbooks, but with the release of its big brother it’s now emerged as a standalone e-story. I’ve added it to the 40K page – to anyone who gives it a try, hope you enjoy the read!
Had a great time at BL Live at the weekend. This one seemed much bigger than the previous year’s, and the day certainly flew by. Thanks to everyone who came over to say hello or get a book signed – was good to see some familiar faces. Apologies to anyone who I didn’t manage to speak to: the seminar programme was pretty full this time around and there wasn’t much time to hang around. I hope what I said made some sort of sense; if it didn’t, I blame lack of sleep, and possibly over-excitement.Now then. Since getting back I’ve had a very pleasurable task of sifting through all the entries to the Blood of Asaheim competition. Thanks to everyone who entered – it was great to get so many mini-bios. Despite Twitter’s best efforts to be difficult, I managed to extract them all and create a long list, which has been gradually whittled away at during the day.
In some ways, thinking about it, it was an impossibly difficult task to set. There’s an unavoidable element of subjectivity in my favourites, not least because I had half an eye on what I could conceivably use in an upcoming book. Since the winning entry will be a cameo, I couldn’t make use of some of the more intriguing suggestions that required a bit of screentime to make work – they had to be the kind of thing that would make sense in a short scene. There were also some lovely ideas based on factions that, despite thinking around the issue, I couldn’t find a good reason to include.
The Space Wolves were a popular choice, not surprisingly, and I ended up with a whole gang of wonderful names: @husker04’s Thorgerd Bloodeye, @MattRose611’s Egil Drakesbane, @Mauthos’ Amarog Folkvardr and @Stygian_Mole’s Venerable Dreadnought K’rul Waymaker, the “Glacier that Howls”, were particularly good. I also liked the inventive ideas supplied for the Nurgly horrors. My favourite of these was probably:
Jon Danger Schafer @schafecast
@wraightc #BoAcomp Marcous D’Envis Emissary of Grandfather. Honeyed words through blistered lips. Sentient tumours have schemes of their own
In truth, that was mostly because of ‘Sentient Tumours’, which I also think would be a great novel title. It was also good to see a few entries from outside the Adeptus Astartes. One that made me chuckle was the cleverly post-modern:
Greg Dann @ChildofFang
@wraightc #BoAComp Rochim Louger – an Imperial Grunt, dour in nature and convinced he is nothing but a bit part in another person’s story
I also liked:
Adam Heterick @theheterick
@wraightc #BoAcomp Konrad Jurgurthine, unsanctioned psyker, inquisitors bastard son, on the run, acrobatic, impetuous, intelligent, suave.
It’s great to write these kind of characters, but in the end I just couldn’t see a way of getting him into the story. This was easier with the numerous Battle Sister submissions, many of which were superb. This one caught my eye as a great example of squeezing a lot of info into a tiny mini-bio:
Xhalax McLoftuson @morbius_sire
@wraightc #BoAComp Felicity Krastov: Sister Famulous to Planetary Governors. Circumspect. Quietly dangerous. Not well liked.
Unfortunately, as anyone who’s read Blood of Asaheim already will know, this is a bit close to an existing Sister Famulous, and I couldn’t really see room for two. Which leads us, however, to the winner, which is (drum roll…):
Chris Quinn @irlchrusty
@wraightc #BoAComp Sister Nuriyah. More bionic than flesh, overly zealous. Pyromaniac, replaced arm with flamer. Foul tempered but faithful
I liked this for a few reasons. First is the name, which is appropriately Sister-y and nicely meaningful (given her nature). Second is the fact that she’s usable in a short scene without a lot of info-dumping: everything about her is exemplified by the attributes listed in the bio. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a gloriously 40K concept. Is there anything more impractical and absurd than replacing a perfectly useful arm with a bolted-on flame-thrower? How do you tie your shoelaces? There’s no doubt, though, that it would be handy in barbecuing the odd heretic, which is what Sisters are there for.
So, congratulations to Chris Quinn, who wins a signed copy of the book. Commiserations to those who missed out, but thanks very much for all the entries – I had a great time reading through them.
I seem to be all over the BL Facebook page at the moment, which is both exciting and oddly terrifying. The period just before new books comes out is a mix of, well, excitement and terror. You want them to do well, to hit the right notes, but by this point there’s nothing more you can do to help them – they’re on their own, out in the wild.
Anyway, enough of my insecurities. The interesting thing, regarding this poll, is that my audio drama The Sigillite seems to be making some waves. This caught me on the hop a bit: I’ve been so consumed with the Space Wolves books and caught up in the razzmatazz of the Blood of Asaheim launch that I’d almost forgotten about it. That’s the thing about writing schedules – they fool you.
So, to make amends, here are some thoughts on what was going through my head when I wrote it. Obviously Malcador is the main interest here, but he’s a tricky character to handle. He’s one of those elements of the Heresy that really needs to retain some mystery, so I was keen not to give an exhaustive account of him that blew all the secrets and speculations. In addition, though he’s a psyker of incredible power, he’s not really a warrior (the primarchs were created for that), so I didn’t want to have him feature in lots of combat action.The story of the Sigillite revolves around other things. We get glimpses, rather than extended reveals, into the world he inhabits. We learn a little more about what he’s doing on Terra while Dorn is rebuilding the Palace walls (he hasn’t been just kicking his heels waiting for Horus to turn-up). Some bad things have been happening under the Palace foundations which are only going to get worse, and Malcador has a major role to play in resisting them.
One other objective I had was to shed just a little light on what the Loyalist command is thinking at this stage in the Heresy. Quite understandably, we’ve had a lot of material in the novels expanding on the Traitor motivations, to the extent that the ‘bad guys’ come across pretty well. We’ve had slightly less coverage of what Terra was thinking, which has the unfortunate effect of making their intentions rather hard to fathom. Don’t expect masses of information in The Sigillite, but there are some pointers there, and I’d expect more to made of this kind of thing as the series progresses.
As ever, I hope people like it. Malcador is one of the really intriguing elements of the Heresy drama, and I’m sure there will be plenty more outings for him as the action gets ever closer to the Throneworld.
You’ll have to be concise – that leaves you only around 120 characters to play with. It’s worth making it good, though, as I’m currently planning the second book in the series and thinking about what’s going in it. If I like your idea enough, I’ll add the winning character as a brief cameo, thus immortalising your creation in print. Here’s an example (that is neither original nor very good) to give you the idea:
@wraightc #BoAComp Ragnar Blackmane: youngest ever Wolf Lord, heir to Berek Thunderfist; rash, brash and impetuous; called the Young King.
If that sounds good to you, start thinking, and then start tweeting. I’ll keep the competition open until just before BL Live – midnight GMT on Thursday 28 Feb – and any tweets received before then will be considered. You can send as many in as you like, but bear in mind that if you spam me with dozens then you’re unlikely to win – try to limit entries to two or three ideas at most. I’ll contact the winner the following week, and I’ll publish the results, and the best runners-up, here.
You can suggest names from any part of the 40K mythos, but it’s worth pointing out that the factions represented in Book II are likely to be Space Wolves (naturally), various bits of the Ecclesiarchy including Battle Sisters, and Imperial civilians, governors, etc. There’s also a fair chance that servants of the Dark Gods will turn up, who may suffer from a fair degree of plague, pox, rheumatism, etc. If the winning character name isn’t from one of these factions but is amazing enough, then it’ll have achieved the mighty feat of actually influencing the plot.
So, that’s it. Good luck!
Rules and Stuff
1. Character name and bio must be original and created by you: neither an existing part of the 40K background nor any other fictional background.
2. Inclusion of the character into upcoming books is subject to editorial consent. If it gets used in a Black Library publication, then it’ll be copyright Black Library.
It’s finally landed, and it’s a big beast indeed. Forgive the repeat posting about Blood of Asaheim – it’s my first hardback release, and I’m still quite excited about it. There is something special about hardbacks, after all – the size, the weight, the solidity. It feels like you’ve created something that might last for a while, and that’s a nice thought to have. I’m biased of course, but I think it looks fantastic, especially Raymond Swanland‘s gorgeous cover art. Fancy picking up a copy? There’ll be plenty for sale at BL Live, which is now less than a month away. Last time I looked there were only 30 tickets left, so might be worth hurrying if you want to come along.
Incidentally, there’s also a teaser right at the back of the book advertising a short story called ‘Wulfen’. Wonder what that’s about?
Other than that, I’ve done a little housekeeping around here, adding links to some recent stuff that’s come out recently or will do soon. Apart from the mighty Blood of Asaheim, the 40K page now has an entry for the Advent short Failure’s Reward. I’ve also added The Sigillite to the Heresy page.
Sadly, as many of you will know, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review stopped publishing new pieces a while back. I’ll miss the site: I enjoyed Graeme’s reviews and thought he always had interesting stuff to say. I’ll leave the link up, as there’s loads of material still up. I don’t read nearly as many reviews as I used to, but I did notice that the British Fantasy Society is publishing reviews of a lot of BL books recently, so I’ve added a link to their site.
Not before time, I’ve also added three new BL authors’ websites: David Annandale, who penned the recent Chains of Golgotha and Lord of Death, real-life Boba Fett Josh Reynolds, author of the new Gotrek and Felix novel Road of Skulls, and fellow south-wester Guy Haley, whose Baneblade and Skarsnik are out soon. Nice to see such new blood writing for BL (though it does remind me, rather depressingly, of when I could claim to be a newbie too).
The second projects is something of a departure for me in both subject matter and format. Can’t talk about that in detail yet, but I hope the clouds will lift a little soon…
In the meantime, March is a fairly big month for me, as I have two (two!) titles hitting the shelves. The first is Blood of Asaheim, my Very First hardback release for BL. Copies of this have, I’m informed, been spotted in the wild at a few events in Nottingham, but it’ll be a while before it becomes available elsewhere. I hope people like it once it reaches the shelves; I had a great time writing it. Fenris is beginning to feel (worryingly) a little like home.The other release is my Very First purpose-written audio drama, The Sigillite, which I’m yet to get hold of myself but am assured does exist. This is now my third Heresy title, following Rebirth in Age of Darkness and last year’s novella Brotherhood of the Storm. Grappling with the sprawling Heresy timeline has always been something of a challenge, but with each release I feel like I’m getting slightly more of a handle on it. The Sigillite has the advantage of being a standalone tale, set in the mainstream Heresy storyline but not dependant on any particular part of it. It was a chance to (partly) flesh out the character of one of the most enigmatic figures in the saga. I hope it makes him a bit more interesting, but there’s still plenty of mystery left – above all, Malcador needs to remain mysterious.
If you fancy getting your hands on either of these releases ahead of time, you have at least two chances: the first is BL Live on 2 March up in Warhammer World. This promises to be a really fun event – I’ll be sharing the author stage with Dan Abnett, Jim Swallow, Nik Vincent, John French and many others, including some exciting new BL names. If this year’s Live is anything like past events, it’ll be an unrivalled opportunity to chat to authors and editors in a relaxed and informal setting. It’s a bit less frantic than the massive Games Day and Weekender shindigs, but all the more charming for it, I think. I’m really looking forward to this – hope to see it as bustling as last year’s event. Tickets are available from the BL website here.
Second, if you’re based in the south-west of England, you could also come along to GW Cribb’s Causeway on 23 March, where I’ll be signing books and generally hanging around to chat about all things BL. The details should be going up on the store’s Facebook page shortly. I met the guys last year and was lucky enough to see their unbelievable model of Averheim, taken from Swords of the Emperor. I’m told it’s even bigger now, so that’ll be worth coming to see on its own.
Any other signings, etc., and I’ll post the details here. In the meantime, thanks for all the tweets and messages about recent books – it’s always nice when people get in touch to say they’ve enjoyed something.
Right, enough bloggage; I have two (two!) books to write.
The last few weeks, it’s fair to say, have gone by in something of a mad rush. Following the wonderful BL Expo at the start of October we had the equally wonderful BL Weekender at the start of November. Both were superb events and a privilege to be part of. The Weekender was particularly good on Saturday when there seemed to be plenty of time to chat to people about all things 40K, Heresy and Warhammer. As ever, good to catch up with old friends and excellent to meet new ones. Roll on BL Live.
All of that took a bit of a toll on the writing schedule, so it’s nice to be back at the keyboard again. It’s been especially pleasing to get such lovely feedback for Brotherhood of the Storm, which was on sale for the slender window of a single week back in October and has now (I hope) reached everyone who ordered a copy. The nice messages on Twitter were much appreciated – if I didn’t reply to all of them, apologies (I blame the Weekender, and being rubbish).
Brotherhood was an interesting project. It’s something of a challenge writing a limited-edition story within an ongoing series. Since some people won’t have a chance to read it (at least until it’s reissued in a couple of years or so), I was keen not to have any revelations in it that would impinge on the main novel line. Equally, I didn’t want to write something that had no interest other than a few combat scenes. The approach I went for in the end was to show three different characters on a quest to ‘find’ the Khan, who is as elusive in the fictional world as he has been in the real one. It’s as much about introducing the White Scars as a distinctive Legion as anything else. As a result it’s perhaps more introverted than most of the stories I’ve written, and purposefully leaves a good deal hanging at the end to be taken up in other stories, but it’s been great to see so many readers appreciate what I was trying to do with the mysterious Sons of Chogoris. Rest assured, there will be more of the Khan to come.
Otherwise, October also saw the release of Swords of the Emperor, the hefty omnibus containing my books on Schwarzhelm and Helborg. I have to say, I love the way this one looks. Fantasy books ought to be massive on the shelf, and this one is a proper bloater (although not as obese, I discovered, as the Sundering and Sigmar omnibuses, which are monstrous!). As it happens, Swords got a really nice review in SciFiNow recently, which you can read here. And if that’s not enough, there’s another one here. And one here, too. Thanks to all.So what’s next? Well, I’m currently writing the second book in the War of Vengeance (or Beard, if you’re after my way of thinking) series. Nick Kyme’s epic The Great Betrayal concentrated mostly on the malodorous, short-sighted and unreasonable dwarfs, whereas my instalment, Master of Dragons, focusses on the fragrant, level-headed and magnanimous elves. The title, as will be obvious to anyone who’s read the first part, refers to Imladrik, whom Nick portrayed marvellously in his story and who goes on to form the centrepiece of mine. It’s early days at the moment, but I’m enjoying this one enormously (High Elves, dragonriders, laying waste to large chunks of the Old World — what’s not to like?).
Away from Fantasy, I do have a few other things in the pipeline, one of which is the Space Wolves. Expect to see some more bits and pieces from them in 2013, alongside the full-length novel Blood of Asaheim in March. Incidentally, I was asked a lot whether Aj Kvara, the character from my e-short Kraken, will be making a return appearance at some point. For a long time my answer to that was ‘no’, but after getting so many enquiries it’s gradually turning into ‘why not?’. I don’t yet know whether we’ll see more of the sullen Lone Wolf, but it’s certainly something I’m thinking about. Moral of the story: it is worth collaring authors at conventions with requests (as long as you’re nice to them).