Here are some words you’re not reading.
Here are some more.
I’ll post the prologue soon, but I want to finish The Prince of Crows first (for the Shadows of Treachery anthology later this year). Posting the cover and prologue to Betrayer was supposed to be my reward for finishing it, but there was a cosmic combination of me writing too slow, and you all clicking Like on my Facebook page too fast.
So here you go. Click to zoom in, obviously, for all the little details Neil is so famous for.
I’m sure you’ll really, really struggle to guess what it’s about – or who is fighting who (and who, uh, looks like they’re losing).
So my Facebook page is at 1,998 Likes, and I said once it hit 2,000 I’d post the artwork and prologue for Betrayer – as well as some cool other stuff going on.
Unfortunately, none of that stuff is ready, as rather than “This will hit 2,000 Likes in a few weeks”, it became “Let’s all click Like now”.
Yes. I understand this is my fault for trusting you assholes.
But I figure I can at least give you this.
So very beautiful.
My God… it’s full of stars.
With Void Stalker behind me, and getting achingly close to wrapping up The Prince of Crows (for The Primarchs next year), it’s time to bring The Emperor’s Gift home into its second draft.
Well, there that is.
Any questions? If there are any, I’ll answer them in a follow-up blog post tonight or tomorrow.
It looks like the artwork for The Butcher’s Nails, my Horus Heresy audio drama, is splashing out everywhere now to glorious acclaim.
If you’ve not seen it, here it is:
It’s loosely based on John Blanche’s original Angron sketch, which is right here:
And the art for The Primarchs, next year’s anthology, was also shown at Games Day and is now doing the rounds…
And here we see Neil’s gone back to a more Blanchey-ish (less ‘most-muscled primarch’) Angron. Sometimes I love the Blanche depiction, sometimes it just makes me think of Dhalsim.
But back to The Butcher’s Nails for a minute. I didn’t have much say in that artwork, which is always frustrating for an author, but it’s occasionally a mundane evil of the trade. I did manage to have the Butcher’s Nails implanted on his head, which is why he’s got those stylish cyber-dreadlocks. In my writing, I base the Nails on the later artwork of Angron (and/or his bodyguard – whomever that might be) in the Heresy, and the man himself as a Daemon Prince, when he’s got that sci-fi mane of awesome cabling going on.
It’s a weird moment to realise you’re writing a character one way, and the art gang are depicting him another. With nothing but love for John Blanche, I wasn’t really writing an Angron based on his sketch, and I still don’t really see him that way. My imagination was more fueled by the other style of artwork, admittedly, as well as by my own reading of the text. But Trust Your Art Director. He knows what sells. And d’you know what? Public reaction to the Butcher’s Nails cover has been immense, and hugely positive. This strongly indicates that I don’t know shit.
I plan to have a lot more say in my next HH cover, since The First Heretic was me and Neil coordinating all the way, and it rocks on toast. It’s not about forcing an artist to depict your vision, it’s about giving an artist enough info that he or she can interpret it their own way. And as for TBN, I have no complaints. It kicks maximum booty.
May I also add that I love the Lorgar shot in The Primarchs? That’s fucking rad.
May I just add, furthermore, that I may just be squeezing into that anthology? And would it be with a novella about Konrad Curze? Yes, yes it might be.
On the topic of The Butcher’s Nails, I added some voiceover direction suggestions to the end of the document. I have no idea if the guys making it will stick to them, but it’s an interesting (ish…) slice into life behind the scenes of a Horus Heresy audio drama.
ANGRON – Ron Pearlman / Hellboy.
LORGAR – Dr. Manhattan.
KHARN – vox-altered almost all the time, similar to Throne of Lies.
CAPTAIN LOTARA SARRIN – Mid-30s, energetic English female. A moronic tabloid would describe her as “posh but saucy”, when they really mean “she speaks like Nigella Lawson”.
IVAR TOBEN – British WWII officer.
VOXMASTER KEJIC (and any other officers) – British WWII officer.
SERVITORS – Just like in Throne of Lies, as they rocked.
ELDAR REAVER CAPTAIN – a rasping whisper, disgusted to even be talking to humans, and with abrasive background noise, like the transmissions in Event Horizon. Also, when he says “mon-keigh”, can it be “mon-kee” and not “monk-eye” like in the DoW games? Otherwise it no longer makes sense and misses the point of why it’s funny.
ARGEL TAL – He speaks in two voices at the same time: one like a normal Space Marine, one lower, daemonic, and eerily resonant.
Finally. Been waiting months to show this.
This went out in the BL newsletter today, and has already spread across the various 40K forums. While my favourite Heresy cover is still Legion, this one slides neatly into the #2 spot.
I… I don’t think that Avatar is going to make it home to his kids.
There were several deleted streams of dialogue, where Lorgar talks smack to this guy. Ultimately, I went with this totally true and honest extract:
Lorgar did a little dance. ”Where you going in such a hurry, Chuckles? I broke your legs with my megahammer. You’re going nowhere.”
The Avatar didn’t answer. It started crawling, bleeding this stuff like souls and fire and magic shit like that.
Lorgar laughed. He laughed like a winner. “This is why I don’t have tabletop rules, man. Because I’m H to the Ardcore.”
The Avatar still didn’t answer. It was in pain, and its life totally sucked, and everything else was on fire, too. The Avatar was sad about that, because all that stuff on fire was his house or his base or whatever.
Lorgar caught up with the crawling fellow, and pressed a boot into the creature’s spine.
“Where’s my money, man? Why you gotta make me do this? Why you gotta make it into a thing?”
“Dude…” said the incarnated essence of an alien god of war. “I just need a few more days.”
“You’ve had plenty of days. You’ve had all kinds of days. Now I’m totally going to kill you, guy.”
Lorgar raised his megahammer, and totally killed the guy.
“Screw this place,” he said afterwards. “I’m going to go kill half of the Imperium for a laugh.”
He looked at the Avatar’s corpse as it dissolved into ash, like in Dawn of War.
This is Neil Roberts.
He’s one of my cover artists. Look at him. Look at his dorky cooler-than-thou sunglasses, which I’m clearly only mocking because I sort of want a pair. But whatever, man. You’re an artist, not an extra in Top Gun.
Get a hold of yourself.
Anyway, where was I?
I’m not blind to how a cover can make or break a novel. It’s Marketing 101, and although I’m a pretty dense guy at the very best of times, I’ve seen good and bad covers have serious impacts so often that even my limited perspective backs up all the talk much smarter industry vets have always told me.
Sorry for taking so long to say thanks, Neil. Things’ve been pretty mental, and I’m (as usual) miles behind my current deadline.
But that’s no excuse. Actually, it is (in fact, it’s two excuses)… but they’re pretty lame. I was also stalling as I tried to think of something profound to say, but nothing magic or majestic has come to mind. You’ll have to settle for this.
I just wanted to say thanks for The First Heretic’s cover. I was floored when I first saw it, and not for a single second do I underestimate the role it played in how well the novel sold. As a sidenote, I still feel a bit guilty for how detailed and demanding I was with the artwork, so I completely understand if this wasn’t one of the more fun-tastic pieces of the Horus Heresy to work on.
Me and Katie don’t really have any effective way of saying thanks right now, but we’d love it if you’d show up at our wedding in the summer. Expect an invite in the post soon.
Tomorrow will see me actually type something here, rather than just link stuff. For now, I give you this:
Jon Sullivan – now there’s an ass that I’ve kissed a lot in the last 18 months, and with very good reason – recently assured his continued survival by doing this as the Blood Reaver cover. Pleasing me has earned him the right not to be kicked in the balls at a signing, and honestly, I’m pretty damn pleased right here. Talos and Lucoryphus (you can just about see him in the background) doing what they do best: intense, thoughtful character development, while betraying other Chaos Astartes.
Hm. Now I just need to finish the novel. I’m at the part where Uzas goes [Deleted] and Talos is like [Deleted], and the Red Corsairs are there, so it’s pretty [Deleted], really.
As you can see, any lingering doubts on the title are now banished to the aether. It’s not called Birthright (which is what I wanted to call it), but nor is it called Soul Hunter II: When Navigators Suck, which is what the Word.doc for Blood Reaver is actually called on my desktop.
Also, thanks to Yogi at the B&C, for making me giggle with this bad boy:
Although, dude, that’s totally not how you spell my name. If only it was, like, on the cover of a book somewhere, so you could easily check it…
It is how you say it, though. It’s a silent “B” in Dembski.
It occurs to me, as I look at every cover I’ve got, that I’d quite like one where the protagonist isn’t actually, y’know, killing someone.
Expect sales to skydive the moment I pitch that idea.