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.

You still looking at us?

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).


From Medusa to Nottingham. And back.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I managed to get a fair bit of writing done after getting back from Adepticon, but last week saw me heading up to Nottingham for a top-secret meeting of Heresy-types, followed by a series of meetings and other stuff in the murky bowels of HQ. I’d love to blog about what was discussed, but that would sadly bring my short career with BL to an untimely end. It was exciting, though. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe, etc. etc.

Aside from that it was nice to spend a couple of hours at the Warhammer Doubles tournament on Saturday, where we had copies of Wrath of Iron on sale for the first time in the UK – thanks to all who came up to buy a copy, get a signature, or just say hi. The book is only just up for preorder, but that hasn’t stopped the reviewers from getting hold of copies. Take a look here to see what the Independent Characters made of it, and here for the review on the Founding Fields. There’s also a great review from the Lost on Fenris blog, a site which is new to me. I’ve updated the 40K page with some of these reviews.

Look – it has pretty maps!

All reviewers mentioned how dark this one is. I guess that’s likely to be one of the key responses, both from those that like the book and those that don’t. The bleak tone was deliberate, made in order to be true to the Iron Hands’ background (as I see it). Hopefully those that enjoy their grimdark will appreciate the story, and, as ever, I’ll be very interested to hear what Iron Hands players/readers make of their favourite faction’s depiction. There’s a short blog entry over on the BL site with some more thoughts on this. And of course there’s also Flesh available, which gives a pretty clear flavour of how the Sons of Manus get depicted.

What else is new? I’m keeping busy with a few concurrent projects right now. One of them is an audio drama for the Horus Heresy line, another is a brand new 40K novel, and the third is a limited edition novella. Once Nick Kyme has recovered from his recent jaw implosion (get well soon, Nick!) I’m sure I’ll also be turning my thoughts to the War of Vengeance series too. So, plenty to keep me occupied. In the meantime, it’s been nice to see my short story Kraken get some attention: the super-busy Independent Characters have posted their review here.

My kind of town

Pretty city

So that was Adepticon 2012. My first experience of a major gaming convention, as well as first time in Chicago. Now back in rainy England and with several hours of sleep under my belt, I can start to make some sense of it all.

First off, Chicago is amazing. It’s got all the architectural interest of New York but with a bit less dirt. We were lucky with the weather, and everything sparkled. Millennium Park, the Field Museum, the Art Institute – they were all superb (and huge). I can’t really see myself ever upping sticks and living anywhere but the lovely West Country, but if I did then Chicago might be a contender. Some bits look like Gotham, others like Necromunda, and others like Coruscant. The whole place is very sci-fi, which makes it a splendid location for Adepticon.

Lombard, the suburb where we were based, is slightly less awe-inspiring (unless you like car parks), but the hotel was very swanky. We needed somewhere to recover after a hellish wait at O’Hare’s passport control and an amusingly suicidal taxi ride along the freeway. I’m sure it’s not entirely safe to drive while reading a hotel directory and talking on the phone, and I think it’s generally agreed that staying in lane at least some of the time is sensible. Still, we made it.

The Emperor of Mankind. And statue.

We were pretty busy the whole time. Thanks to all who came to the round table seminars and who visited the Black Library stand in the main hall. Good to chat, as ever. Adepticon was a little different to events I’d previously attended, in that it was primarily a tournament gaming event rather than a mix of hobby and book stuff. I don’t think that really changed the atmosphere much: perhaps people were a bit more earnest than I’m used to, with fewer casual fans hanging around, but there was plenty for the non-gamer to enjoy.

The armies, to my eye at least, were painted to a fantastic standard. I was particularly chuffed to see the winning entry in the Black Library competition, which was a Heresy-era Thousand Sons force. This included two named characters – Temekh and Aphael – who both appeared in Battle of the Fang. Great to see them immortalised in plastic, and congrats to the Capital Imperialis team from Springfield, Illinois for such a splendid job (they were very nice guys, too).

We were kept busy with signings on all three days, and it was especially pleasing to see copies of Wrath of Iron making their way into the hands of readers. After all those long nights hammering away at the keyboard, it was a good feeling to see the finished article released into the wild.

I was accompanied in the stand by fellow authors Clint (C.L.) Werner and Andy Smillie. The latter is a relative newcomer to the fellowship of BL scribes whose debut stories can be found in the Gotrek and Felix anthology and as part of the 15th Anniversary celebration collection – well worth checking out. I’ve long been familiar with Herr Werner’s fantasy books as a reader, but it was my first chance to meet the man himself, and it was an absolute pleasure. As well as being a fan-favourite author, Clint is a real gent, and I hope our paths cross again in the future. In the meantime, as well as the Skaven-tastic Dead Winter, you should definitely look out for his upcoming Siege of Castellax Space Marine Battles book at the end of the year – it’ll be stellar.

So long, Chicago. We barely knew ye.

Thanks must also go to Eddie and Mike from BL, who looked after us marvellously and worked furiously hard to keep up with demand on the stand. I hope they’ve both managed to catch up with some sleep and recover in time for planning the next one. Thanks to the guys from the GW Chicago Bunker who helped out and were cool to chat to. Honourable mentions also to the various podcast people and bloggers we met, all of whom were reassuringly enthusiastic and full of questions.

It was a memorable, surprising, friendly, exhausting trip away, which is, of course, just as it should be. Roll on Canada.

All change

That’s two Ds in Abaddon, Miss Jones

Writing isn’t the business it used to be. Time was that an author had a relationship with his or her editor and agent, and that was it. In the internet age, that’s all been swept away: reviews pop up almost instantly, and discussions of books that were once private are now conducted in chatrooms and forums. With the advent of the ebook, material can be published in multiple formats at the same time, allowing readers to download individual stories that would once have only been available in limited print-run anthologies.

The changing landscape has both pros and cons. It certainly makes for a much more immediate relationship between writer and reader, which can often be a good thing. On the other hand, the ubiquitous presence of commentary is occasionally claustrophobic – from an author’s point of view, being aware of every bad or indifferent review floating around in cyberspace can be demoralising experience. Part of me certainly hankers after elegant weapons for a more civilised age, where writers could work in isolation for most of the time, their ascetic concentration broken only by biannual royalty cheques landing on the doormat.

But there’s no turning the clock back: technology is there to be engaged with. So, in a belated attempt to catch up with last year’s news, I’ve made some changes around here.

The first is a slight reorganisation of the blog pages. With the plethora of digital releases, it can be quite hard keeping up with what stories are available in which formats. To try to make some sense of this, I’ve trawled through my back catalogue and listed every book or short story I’ve written either in the Warhammer Fantasy or Warhammer 40K pages (see the tabs in the bar above for links to these pages). I’ve added links to each different version of each title, allowing you to find (say) the Audio recording of ‘Rebirth’ or the ebook anthology containing ‘Flesh’. I’ll try to keep this updated as new things come out, with the usual proviso that I’m rubbish at updating the blog, etc.

Second, I’ve finally bowed to the inevitable and joined Twitter. I’ll try to remember to use this more than once every year or so, and to say things that people might conceivably find interesting. There’s a widget on the sidebar of the blog that list my latest pearls of wisdom; if you think you’d like to read more of them, then please do follow me.

Finally, a quick reminder about Adepticon later this month. I’ll be in Chicago with my illustrious colleague Aaron Dembski-Bowden and new BL author Andy Smillie. I’ll look nowhere near as cool and assured as them, so do come over if you’d like to say nice things about Battle of the Fang, or similar. I may even have new books to sign (though no promises).

Together at last

You looking at us?

That’s Schwarzhelm and Helborg, looking suitably grim and purposeful. What a wonderful cover – very different from the original Warhammer Heroes line, but equally impressive. Swords of the Emperor is out in October, and will be my first Omnibus from BL. I’m excited about this – it’ll be a very big book when it’s back from the printers.

Some other stuff to report: the Wrath of Iron edits are all but done, and BL have put up an extract from the book on their blog to whet your appetite. Look out for this in July.

Luthor Huss continues to pick up reviews. Here’s one from the Lincolnshire Echo which was short but sweet, and a longer one from the I Will Read Books blog. Thanks to both!

Finally, a quick plug for the BL Weekender event in November. This is shaping up to be a huge event, with a whole swathe of authors and artists already confirmed. I’ll be there, and will look forward to chatting about all things Iron Hands, Space Wolves, Warrior Priests, and perhaps other stuff too.

Wrath edits, Huss reviews

Warrior Priest

Hmm. It’s been so long since I blogged that WordPress has changed its editor while I’ve been away. This is slightly disconcerting. There’s now a live preview, which shows a post as it’s being composed – typos, malapropisms and all. It’s very clever, but it does expose how haphazardly my mind works.

Anyway. Despite being snowed under with edits to Wrath of Iron, it’s been nice to see Luthor Huss get some attention in various corners of the internet. Kodanshi has made a wonderful recording of one of the opening sections – you can listen to it here. This was interesting for me, since I haven’t (yet) done an audio drama for BL. I wouldn’t have the first idea of how to create one either, so I’m very impressed with Kodanshi’s effort, and it was very nice to hear my words being performed.

A few reviews of the book have popped up, too. Graeme Flory over at Graeme’s Fantasy Book Reviews has given it a write-up, which you can read for yourself here. He always has interesting things to say about the BL books he covers, so it was good to see that he liked it. I was also very pleasantly surprised to see that he’d included Sword of Vengeance and Dragonmage in his favourite books of 2011.

Prolific reviewer for The Founding Fields, Bane of Kings, has also penned a review, which is here. All very much appreciated. In other news, there’s an interview with the Bloghole here – thanks to Shadowhawk for setting it up.

What else is new? Well, expect to see a new Space Wolf story from BL soon. It’ll be called Kraken, and will be available from the website only. I’ll be blogging about that in more detail soon. I’m currently very busy on a novella, which I’m really enjoying – more on that soon.

In between all that, I’m finding time to read extracts of Nick Kyme’s marvellous upcoming tale, The Great Betrayal. Let me tell you, Dwarf (and Fantasy) fans: you’re not going to want to miss this one. I’ve been working with Nick for a while on some of the ideas for this series – I’m only halfway through the current draft, but already the book is bursting with cool revelations and epic battles. All good stuff!

Sadly, I wasn’t able to make the SFX Weekender this year as I’d hoped to. However, I am hoping to be at Adepticon in the Spring and the BL Weekender in November, so it’ll be good to catch up with folks then.

Finally, a quick shout-out to exceptional writer and expert editor Nicola Vincent-Abnett, who has been chronicling her remorseless rise to literary fame and fortune in her new(ish) blog over here. Proof, if it were ever needed, that success and general all-round niceness need not be strangers.

It’s oh so quiet…

It’s quiet. Too quiet

Well, yes. There’s not been a lot of content around here for some time. While that might give the impression that nothing much is happening, pretty much the opposite is actually the case. The lack of posts here is a symptom of being very busy with my current projects, some of which are complete, some running behind schedule, and some barely out of the blocks. This is all very exciting for me, of course, but it does leave very little time for anything else.

So, what’s been happening? Well, I’m now over half-way through Wrath of Iron, my Iron Hands book. This is part of the Space Marine Battles series, so expect lots of things being blown-up, thrown around and generally getting broken. In between all that planet-sized carnage I’ve tried to delve a little deeper into the Iron Hands psyche too, and I’ll post at greater length about that once the novel’s written. Space Marines are tricky things to write about, and the Iron Hands are about as tricky as they come. I hope long-time fans will like my take on them, although you’ll have to wait until July next year to find out what’s in the book. A couple of little factoids in the meantime: the protagonists are from Clan Raukaan, and the story features two characters who first emerged in my short story ‘Flesh’ (which can be found here).

Life on Medusa was rubbish

Otherwise, it’s been nice to see my novella Dragonmage get some positive press. Graham’s Fantasy Book Review covered it a while back, and you can read the review here. More surprisingly perhaps, the august British Fantasy Society seems to be reviewing Black Library books at the moment, and they’ve posted a write-up for Sword of Justice on their website. Always good to see mainstream Fantasy sites taking a look at some licensed fiction.

Anyway, right now I’m trying to get Wrath of Iron in the bag before the Christmas break, which would be very nice, sanity-wise. After that, who knows? I have a suspicion I’ll be writing some High Elves in 2012, as well as some Space Marines, both from a Chapter I’ve written about before and possibly from one I haven’t. All very vague, but I’ll post more here once stuff is confirmed.

In the meantime, I should mention that I’ll be at the marvellous SFX Weekender on the 2-4 February along with some other BL authors, so come along to that if you fancy getting your hands on Luthor Huss before anyone else.