Archive for the ‘The Black Library’ Category

I had my very first Horus Heresy meeting yesterday. No, I’m not going to tell you what it was about, or what project it concerns or any of that stuff. Sorry, I just can’t. I can say that it was the coolest meeting I have ever not been to.

I had to attend via Skype. I’ve always been dubious about teleconferencing, most of the times I’ve been involved it’s worked very badly. This time it went like a dream. Not quite as good as being there, but not far off, with the added bonus that I could take my lad Benny to the park at halftime. Yes, despite being a parent for five and a half years, I still managed to agree to a meeting bang in the middle of the Easter holidays. To be fair to me, ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem. Emma’d take some time off and take care of Benny, but she was away up in Yorkshire ahead of our move there (I booked the meeting before the Great Migration North was on the cards, really I did, really!). Credit due to junior Haley that he behaved so well. Good boy.

Although not a week goes by without me reading of how work, powered by the internet, is creeping deeper into personal time, my work/life balance is playing out nicely thanks to digital technology. In my case, it’s a powerful tool to allow me to do things I otherwise couldn’t, like being able to parent and yet still be involved. I suppose I’m one of them there digital artisans cutting edge types write about. Long live the third industrial revolution. Hopefully it’ll benefit everyone eventually, then we can all spend more time mucking about on the swings.

Usually, I would attend a meeting like this, primarily because it’s just nice to get out of the house. Human contact’s low in this line of work, and I need it.  And to sit with giants, in whose mighty company I no longer feel ashamed! Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Gav Thorpe, Nick Kyme, David Annandale, Laurie Goulding, Lindsey Priestley… most of whom I’ve known for years. Even so, I’ve not had very many meetings on shared creative work beyond magazines, especially ones like this where we all have an equal stake (by which I mean I was not in charge). I was a little cautious, partly because I’m still not convinced I’m wholly up to speed on the Horus Heresy, partly because I didn’t really know what to expect, especially from myself. I can suddenly become irritable and defensive, you see, because I’m a terrible misanthrope half the time (and an awful attention tart the rest) who likes to get his own way.

But it was remarkable. The others were very supportive despite my first-timer gaucheness. Ideas were  flying, and not simply good ideas, but ideas that built on each others’ to create something greater than we’d manage on our own. Like a night in the pub full of whimsical storytelling, or a great RPG session, only this time, we’re weaving the universe. Weaving it! Like cosmic Norns man! Far out!

Another aspect of my 50/50 personality is the split between vile cynic and irritating optimist. Mr Cynic lost out, this really was quite something. I can’t wait for the next one, or for you to read what’s going to come out of what happened yesterday. I can honestly say I want to do more work like this. Lots more. Thanks chaps for such a positive experience.

A very quick post here to say that I will be at the Horus Heresy Weekender on 17-18 May in Nottingham. This is my first attendance at such, but I was at the last Black Library Weekender and that was pretty damn cool, so I expect much of the same this time around. These really are great events, sort of a traditional SF convention vibe but focussed with laser-like intensity on our favourite universe of warring post-human nutcases (and aliens, et al, but this being the HH period, mostly post-human nutcases). You get to meet some of the authors you admire, and we get out of the house. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. I love speaking to people who actually read the words I write, so I’m darn excited.

Also present will be my fellow keyboard bashers (although I suspect ADB might use a quill): Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Chris Wraight, Nick Kyme, David Annandale, Gav Thorpe, John French and Rob Sanders.

Ha! I just see, French and Sanders! Get it? Get it? Bah, suit yourselves.

If you want to go, you best be quick. I am reliably informed by a man on the inside that there are only a few tickets left. Go to the Black Library website for more information. There’s a great new cover up there too by modern-day Leonardo, Neil Roberts. He’ll be at the Weekender also, but even if you can’t go do check out his battlin’ Nightlords picture. It’s breathtaking, as usual.

I’ve got a bunch of stuff I’d like to write about, if I get the time. But I’m making time to write this quick report on the Black Library Weekender, 2013. If you can’t be bothered to read the rest of this post, here’s the short version: It was a lot of fun.

Although I think the format was new to a good number of attendees, the event was very much in the mould of a traditional science fiction convention – panels, seminars, and late nights in the bar. It ran from Saturday to Sunday, but I was also present for the “Golden Ticket” day on Friday, where a limited number of would-be authors brought along a 1000 word short story, and spent the day working on it, listening to the likes of me burble on incoherently about being a writer (sorry about that, one of the drawbacks of being a writer is that you spend so much time on your own you forget how to speak properly), and attending writing seminars. A full day of work, for both authors and attendees.

I failed to realise that those who bought a Golden Ticket were getting a fully-fledged, full-day writing workshop about precisely the kind of writing they were interested in, from the publisher who publishes it. That kind of friendly, critical environment is absolutely invaluable to developing yourself as a writer. My expectations were confounded by the quality of the writing on show. I honestly didn’t expect it to be that good. Quite a lot of amateur writing is very horrible, and a lot of it is committed to paper by people who are utterly convinced of its (utterly absent) merits. They may become aggressive if you are not in agreement. The Golden Ticket holders were good writers, and all receptive to criticism. Many of them will be published. If I’d thought about this, I would have figured out that people who pay to go on writing workshops are generally those who are serious about writing, and can cope with a workshop environment. I saw some impressive talent there.

If you read this blog often, you’ll know I never fail to bring up the money side of things (come on, we’re all on a quest for financial security). As much as I enjoy them, it’s a knotty decision whether or not to go to an event. BL pay my expenses. Most others won’t cover the cost for the likes of me, and so I cannot afford to go at all. Nevertheless, although I don’t spend much, I don’t get any actual money to go there. You have to take this in your stride these days, as it is broadly expected. But, as my wife is now a freelance lawyer and works a lot at the weekend, when I go away neither of us can work (the kid, you see). Much fretting ensues when an invite arrives.

Why do I go then? Simple: events, but especially conventions, remain the single best way to build your profile as a science fiction author. I advise any writer to attend them. One hundred people might read this blog, at BL Live I met 200 people, all of whom had at least a passing interest in my books, and I had an extended period to convince them of my merits as a human being. Blog writing cannot compare, at least at this point in time. I suppose it’s the contrast between potential audience and an actual audience. You can’t better meeting face to face the people who read your books. As a plus, a bit of praise is the best tonic for sensitive writerly egos, and praise there was in abundance for all those scribblers in attendance.

There’s a second reason: Paying it forward. Many famous SF authors have proselytised this creed, not least among them Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein. It works like this: When I was younger, I met a lot of writers at conventions (and interviews, but I was very lucky there). They gave me advice for nothing, and with a smile. Many of them were in exactly the same position I am in now. Now I’m a writer, it is my turn to do the same for the next generation of writers. Those who advised me received nothing but thanks, I will receive the same for helping you, but we are all enriched for it. If a writer tells you something useful, and you get published, pay it forward. Because of this wealth of easily accessible and gladly shared knowledge, I also can’t recommend conventions enough to those of you who want to write.

I’m sure others will write about the feverish excitement of Pitch Factor, or the Kafka-esque Warhammer panel quiz Christian Dunn concocted and in which I took part, or about the beautiful new book editions available for sale, and all the announcements and insights given. I’ll leave it at these personal thoughts, and end on this: Unlike earlier trips to suchlike, I went to bed at a respectable hour, and relatively sober. In a drinking culture, wisdom can be defined thusly: saying no to that last drink. Life runs smoother without a hangover.

I am once again at a period where the amount of work I have isn’t quite enough  to induce some sort of brain infarcation, so I’ve been topping up my load by posting more frequently, especially as I’m still trying to get the majority of my journalism onto the web. But here’s a new post I’ve been meaning to write, like oh so many others, for some amount of time.

The below are answers to some of the most common questions I’ve had this year about writing. (more…)

Here’s some further burbling verbiage from the mouth of yours truly: Episode 87 of The Independent Characters. In this thrilling installment of Carl and Geoff’s excellent podcast, I join them for their Forbidden Lore segment, wherein I talk very much about The Death of Integrity. They liked it, so it was plain sailing for me, and I got to speak about some of the themes and ideas I tried to address in the novel. If you’re interested in what goes on in an author’s head (well, I can only vouch for my own head) while they’re writing, check it out.

And, seeing as it’s pertinent to the matter in hand, here’s a reminder that there’s another recent interview with me, conducted by Kenny Lull at Combat Phase, where I talk about creating a world full of goblins in Skarsnik.

Black Library Weekender 2

Posted: October 15, 2013 in The Black Library

I’m set to attend the Black Library Weekender 2 on 2nd-3rd November. That’s… wow, like a fortnight or so away. I mention it because I don’t think I have before, and as the timetable is now available here I figured it’d be a good time to do so. I’m really looking forward to this event, by all accounts they’re a bundle of fun. I hope to see you there!