Posts Tagged ‘The Art of Writing’


Hello!

Today I am very tired, having spent two fun-packed days at Warhammerfest in Coventry. As I repeatedly, endlessly moan on, I don’t get out much so it was brilliant to spend some time with my friends and colleagues for a couple of days.  Equally brilliant was meeting tons of enthusiastic gamers and readers and talking fluent war-geek! If you stopped by for a chat  or attended the seminars I was present at, thanks very much. Meeting people who actually read my books is always immensely rewarding. If I spoiled them for you with my scrappy signature, you have my apologies.

Remember, if you want to ask me about my fiction you don’t have to wait for an event, you are free to do so here or at Goodreads, my Facebook page, or on Twitter where I am, very originally, @guyhaley. I’m keen to chat. I really do not get out a lot. The walls of my basement press in. Hearing human voices restores my sanity a little.

I bought a few extra bits for my Black Templars army, enough to take my overall collection up to about 1200 points. So I will be pressing on with painting that. I’ve not played 40k for eight months, I think, but will play again as soon as I have 1000 points of Templars ready for the tabletop. A Crusader squad is next. I’ll be posting pictures.

Speaking of Space Marines…

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Here I am with Daniel Knox, who is dressed as a Crimson Fist in a most convincing manner. I only found his name out when he followed me on Twitter, but I did get him to shoot me with his plasma gun. What an awesome suit of armour! A brief dance on the net leads me to believe he’s part of a cosplay group. Check out their Facebook page here.

 


In September 2009, Death Ray closed and my career as a journalist/editor began to wind down. Fortunately, weeks before I had secured a book contract for Reality 36. Shortly thereafter came the one for Baneblade.  I had always wanted to be a “writer with a capital W”. Unemployment enabled (forced?) me to try. My current career as a full-time (more or less) writer of fiction started.

Since then, I have written:

10 novels (one still looking for a home, if you’re interested).

Four novellas.

31 short stories (I think).

I have also edited one factual book and six magazines, provided background text for two game worlds and done various other bits and pieces.

I estimate I’ve written about 1.3 million words in that time. Not bad. When I started out on this particular road, I figured I’d give it two years to see where it was going. Initially I worked a variety of roles in publishing, but these days I’m pretty much doing nothing but fiction. Things could go either way still, as  I personally don’t believe I’m established enough to relax yet. In particular, I could really do with a non-Black Library book that sells well. But I’m safe in my basement office for the time being. I have the freedom that I craved, and have been able to bring my son up. We’ve had some lean years, but although I don’t yet think I can say “success”, I’ve moved a long way from failure.

So if you’ve bought one of my books, I must say thank you very much. If you enjoyed it too, that’s even better.


As my writing of a Black Templars novel was announced on the Black Library website a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d talk about them a bit. Specifically, and of great importance to the way I write them, I’ve come to the following conclusion: Black Templars are fanatics.

Consider the following factettes from Codex: Space Marines:

  • They consider that they are still fighting the Great Crusade.
  • They alone of the oldest chapters see the Emperor as a god.
  • They venerate Imperial psykers, especially Astropaths, because these people have been directly touched by the Emperor himself.
  • Their hatred of alien and non-sanctioned psykers knows no bounds.
  • They have close ties to the Ecclesiarchy of Terra.

History tells us that people on “missions from god” are rarely nice. So this led me to the following on how they might think:

  • They believe they are the “chosen ones”  (in this case, of the Emperor).
  • Because they are the chosen sons of the Emperor, they believe they can do no wrong.

Both such opinions are commonplace among real-life keepers of the “one truth”, whether that’s religious or ideological, and Black Templars certainly think that they know that one truth. That, in conjunction with my research, then led me on to this:

  • They can be suspicious or dismissive of other Space Marines, who are misguided in not seeing the Emperor’s divinity.
  • They see the other couple of chapters that worship the Emperor as being lesser in quality than they, as they are younger.
  • They are honourable, staunch allies, but terrifying foes who can be utterly merciless, sometimes in ways that we would find shocking.
  • They are steeped in religious mysticism and harsh ritual.
  • They are hierarchically hidebound.
  • They are not beyond underhand actions to get their own way.
  • They take failure badly.
  • They are inclined to be secretive.
  • They are arrogant and impatient.
  • They respect martial prowess.
  • Their ties with the Ecclesiarchy are important to their character and to their actions.
  • Hubris could be a problem.

I don’t see them as shining-white “goodies”. These are not Ultramarines, Space Wolves, or Salamanders, concerned with the lives of lesser men, but highly religious warriors conducting a holy war, with all that entails. Their self-perceived rectitude makes them fantastic to write, as they’ve a brilliantly complex character.

So that’s the way I see them, anyway. How about you?


When in York the other day I popped into Games Workshop. I usually try to go to the local GW when I’m in a town. Sometimes, I buy stuff.

As always, the store dude approaches and asks if I’m looking for anything, what army I’m into, that sort of thing. Well done GW store training programme – your store managers never fail in this regard. Partly to short-circuit the whole process, and partly because I want some recognition, dammit, I say who I am, and point out some of my books. There’s a third, slightly mischievous desire here. I do it because I want to see how the store dude reacts. Nine times out of ten there is a flicker as their mind changes gear, and their faces become neutral. A slight disengagement enters the interaction. You can see them thinking. Is he really who he says he is? Is he a lunatic? Is this a test? Sometimes that’s it. They leave me alone. (As happened in this case). Either way, BL author or a lunatic, I don’t need their enthusiastic spiel. If the shop’s less busy, after I have established that I am not, in fact, a lunatic, then conversation is forthcoming. If I were more modest, I probably would not do this at all. It’s slightly egotistical, perhaps even a little bit mean. But I don’t get out much. And writing is lonely. And I crave validation.

Sometimes, after credentials have been established, they really don’t know how to act. This is the “magic author” effect, and it happens to me sometimes. This is where folks treat you like you’re somehow special, and they say things like “You’re really talented” or somesuch, and I think, “Er, am I? Are you sure? Have you got the right man?”

Provided I don’t become convinced that the magic is real, or rather, as long as I remember that the magic might be subjectively real for the reader, but that it does not actually make me in any way special, I should avoid becoming a total knob. I’ve seen it happen many times. It can happen to anyone with even a vaguely public profile. Sometimes people buy into the magic lens they are seen through and forget the shortcomings of the person living inside their skull. This especially tragic when the person is a writer with a humble following, and not, for example, Johnny Depp.

There is only one Johnny Depp.

So we must hold on to our secret feelings of fraudulence, we writers. And I must always keep in my mind that the only magical thing about me is that I am a goblin living in a man’s world.

Lunatic and BL author. That’s probably the right internal response for future contactees.


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…)


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Upcoming4me have collected together essays on writing from their archives to create Story Behind the Book : Volume 1. The essays are by a whole range of SF/fantasy authors, and contain a host of interesting insights into the writing process. All proceeds go to Epilepsy in Action, so if you buy the book you’ll get the satisfaction of supporting a worthy cause, as well as a variety of good advice.

Story Behind the Book: Volume 1 is currently available in ebook from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk