So here’s a photo of me touching Chris Wraight’s balls:
I was in Canada for a while, with a bunch of the other Black Library authors. Here’s Dan, Nik, Jim, Chris, me, Gav and Graham. Gemma, who actually organised the event, isn’t here for some reason. But many thanks to her for playing hostess with aplomb. As I’ve said before, I don’t travel well, but this was a pretty magnificent week away.
I had my usual pre-event (and indeed, during-event) discomfort that nothing short of growing a backbone will ever stop, but no one died. I consider that a net gain for humanity. I also got to meet the Chestermere town mayor dressed as a Sister of Battle (no, really) and ate Vietnamese food for the first time ever, which was life-changingly good. (Thanks, Nathan and his Lilliputian bride, Theresa.)
As always, I took no decent photos. You may recall my trip to Chicago? Yeah, where this pic from the Lego store was the only photo that made it back with me:
My photos from Canada are similarly useless and/or meaningless to anyone who isn’t me.
Here’s one of the Rockies that’s actually real and not fake:
And here’s one at Banff, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life:
And as you can see, I used it to be mean to Houston, for beating the Suns in the 1993 playoffs. No, I won’t get over it. No, you shut up.
Also, Katie and Jim Swallow jazzed up my Chaps Raptors by introducing this… this Disco Madness or whatever:
And for some reason, I have this photo of me in a restaurant:
And (true story) that was taken by a Marines Errant player by the name of Jason, whose Chapter I killed off in Blood Reaver.
He was very forgiving.
There was also this guy:
…who looked crazy-similar to my friend Nik. So much so, that I made him stand there while I texted Nik this very photo. “STAY THERE, MAN. OH MY FUCK, YOU LOOK JUST LIKE MY FRIEND NIK. HE HAS TO SEE THIS SHIT.”
My friends Nik and Rob (who I have, on occasion, been known to call my brothers in the most exquisite moments of bromance) came over to see me, Katie and Alexander while we were at my mum’s place for one night, pre-Canada:
…and as you can see, I was totally justified in my claims of clonehood. That guy looked just like Nik, man. I kept staring at The Clone for the rest of the day, which I hope he didn’t notice, as in a strictly legal sense, I was probably stalking him.
Also, here’s one of Rob and Alexander:
I’m pretty shit at taking photos, but the two ones above really touched me. They were great moments – but then, I cry at the end of How to Train Your Dragon, so I’m not really an emotionally stable human being. My word simply cannot be trusted.
For some reason, totally out of order, there’s also one I took on my last jog:
…which I stopped, breathless and disgusted, to take. Rural Ireland is a very rainy place, and it pulls shit like this on the countryside lanes all the time. It’s like it has a gentle grudge against the people that live here. Sometimes there are trees in the road, because Ireland just thought that would jazz the place up a bit. Sometimes the diesel freezes in your car, putting you at very real risk of death unless your father-in-law has a pimpingly huge 4×4 to get groceries. It’s the sort of place that resents human intrusion, and isn’t shy to let it show.
I ran through that puddle a moment later, and it was almost Geneva Conventions-breakingly cold. As I did it, I thought of all the soldiers who read my work, and all the cross-country training they do. I’d like to say I had a moment of unselfish perspective and realised my problems weren’t all that great after all, but that would be a lie. My feet were wet, cold, and fuck you because that was bad enough.
But I have no idea why that photo is there, completely out of order.
While we were gone, Alexander was playing at my mum’s house for the week. Every day, she’d update her Facebook with pictures and a blog of what he’d been up to that day, and some absolutely beautiful shots came out of it.
Here’s a couple with his great-granddad:
I want to get the second one blown up and framed for the hallway wall.
And, perhaps most importantly, Mum was good enough to start grooming my replacement. She says he was updating his blog, but I’m intensely sucky at that, so this casts his entire lineage into question.
Also, it’s finally, finally done. Betrayer went to the wire, being just as late as The First Heretic, Blood Reaver, and The Emperor’s Gift. Let it never be said that I’m not consistent, even if it’s consistency in the very worst ways.
But since none of you care about any of that, here’s a new infrequent feature that I’m sure to forget about. Desktop Watch! What I’m working on right now:
The Underworld War is my Gal Vorbak story in the Mark of Calth anthology, detailing the ins and outs of daemonic possession, and the Word Bearers left to die on Calth, hoping for reinforcements that aren’t coming.
The Lord Inquisitor, quite obviously, is WIP document for The Lord Inquisitor. I’ll restate for the bajillionth time: me and Erasmus are redoing the whole story, and the voice actor in the proof of concept trailer is long, long gone.
The Talon of Horus is the synopsis for, uh, a novel with the working title of The Talon of Horus. It’s the first in my (hopefully long-running) Sons of Horus / Black Legion series. But we’ll see. It’s just in the first tentative stages right now, and I’m a changeable creature.
So now you’re up to date.
Leave me alone.
I was reliably informed that some of you might be interested in seeing the new teaser trailer for The Lord Inquisitor.
So, anyway, I’m back home.
On the banal side of life, that means sending half the internal components of my new desktop computer back to the lab, for a judicious application of Please Fix This Shit, Thanks. There’s baby furniture to build. There’s a new carpet to prepare for. There’s the knowledge I now have that – after visiting my friend John’s agonisingly middle-class suburban home (plus his wife, Liz; plus their baby, Henry) – that I’ve now actually become my parents, at the start of their parenting career. I’m starting to do the things they did, and have friends in similar situations to theirs back then. I have to do things like, f’rex, assemble nursery furniture, and hanging out with my friends no longer involves shivering in their shitty apartments on the stabby-stabby side of town.
Which, y’know, is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Visiting your friends should involve liking their wives, thinking their babies are beautiful, and central fucking heating. It shouldn’t involve prayers to a variety of pantheons that the shitheads on the corner will choose not to disembowel you with kitchen knives, or tazer you in the spine because they totally got a stun-gun on eBay.
A net gain, there.
I missed most of the last Horus Heresy meeting, which is fine as I didn’t have that many questions anyway, and out of all the team, I’m probably the one who least enjoys discussing his in-progress stuff. I see the value everyone gets out of the chats, and how it can change stuff from, say, a detail here or there, to the entire course of a book. I mean, we’ve surely spent 6 hours or more at meetings discussing Fear to Tread in the last couple of years. I’ve known the storyline of that novel, and been around for the chats and feedback about it, since before The First Heretic was released. But I prefer to work in a little more isolation.
That said, Graham changed the entire focus of Betrayer with a single sentence last time, so… y’know, whatever. My point is this: I hate talking about planned or in-progress stuff, and prefer to retreat into my isolation chamber until the book’s done. I did have a suggestion for Betrayer’s subheader, which went down pretty well. That was about it.
The Emperor’s Gift is finished, at 102,000 words. I picked up my proof copy of Void Stalker (which, to my surprise, was also on sale at the SFX Weekender). It’s cute how it’s 15% chunkier than Soul Hunter. Work-wise, fuck it, I’m taking a couple of weeks off to get ready for Fuchsia’s arrival.
I didn’t actually do much at the SFX Weekender itself. Graham (McNeill) is a master at interacting with fans, selling himself without being creepy, and just hanging out at the booth all day, chatting, laughing, etc. Me? Not so much. I am so, so, so very notoriously bad at that even at the very best times, especially when it’s busy, like it was at SFX. That was magnified by the fact I was in the chalet most of the weekend, finishing The Emperor’s Gift, so I was a bit of an invisible presence all ’round.
I surfaced long enough to be on a panel discussing space opera, alongside (among others) Dan Abnett, Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds. There was another guest added at the final minute, which meant I surrendered my chair to sit on the end, looking like a fucking idiot. My bad.
As a massive fan of Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton, that was a pretty amazing moment for me. Another step closer to being able to say “I’ve arrived” at some arbitrary point in the future.
I’m pretty terrible with photos, and didn’t take any of interesting stuff that people would actually want to see. I tend to forget other people read this thing, and end up taking photos just for, well, me.
Like this one:
I screwed this one up because I was laughing. One of my traditions when I’m over for a Heresy meeting or a Nottingham signing is to go through the Citadel Miniatures Hall of Old Stuff, and just see what’s been added. Anyway, just as I was taking this one, I heard someone over by the door say in that fake-quiet library voice: “That’s Aaron Dembski-Bowden…” which made me smile and glance away the same second I took the photo. It was supposed to be of the huge Khorne symbol ruin, but as you can see, I moved. So now it’s now a photo of… some guy’s wings, and some lens flare.
I visited Forge World, through their public office and into the secret bowels of Stuff You’re Really Not Allowed To Talk About. Stuff that’ll be about in the next 6-12 months, etc. While all of that was awesome (and probably my favourite abuse of GW clout) best of all, I found this motherfucking thing:
Which, as you can see, is rad.
“Dude,” I said to Ead, Forge World’s customer services manager. “Dude, get a photo of me with the storm bolter.”
Worth it. Totally worth it.
Anyway, I returned home to Katie who is now, if possible, even more swollen with the Dembski-Bowden heir. As a general rule, I tend to avoid any conventions or signings where she can’t make it as well, as her not being there only adds to my discomfort about the whole “surrounded by too many people” deal, and I feel shitty leaving her home while I go out and do cool stuff. Especially cool stuff like messing about with life-size storm bolters.
In another abuse of power, I also asked if Graham would send me the Word.doc of his novel Priests of Mars when he’s finished with it, because I didn’t want to wait until it hit the shelves. Better than that, he’s sending me it chapter by chapter, which is awesome to the power of killer. Out of Black Library’s entire 2012 line-up, that’s the one I’ve been keenest about for ages and ages, so getting hold of it is a bit of a personal coup. It’s also got the very best cover. No, really, just look at this fucking thing. To say I’m “jealous” implies a mortal, human limit to my envy. I assure you, no such limit exists. My jealousy is a seething, eternal thing – a matter of primal instinct usurping all sentience and drowning all higher function. Love it to bits.
Returning home after 5 days away also means I had an inbox rammed full of jazz in desperate need of some attention. A lot of it was asking Fuchsia’s due date, which is – depending which doctor or midwife you believe, Feb 20th, Feb 26th, or March 2nd. We tend to err on the side of 26th-2nd, but obviously she’ll come when she’s ready, so we’re not holding our breath. If she does hit her target date, she’ll actually arrive when our friend Barney is over for the week, which would be surreal and awesome.
And now, you may have heard of this:
And maybe seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7glPda2Lcc.
I’ve seen those things, too. Hey, we’ve got a lot in common, right? Let’s do lunch.
When I got back from the HH meeting and the SFX con, I had about eight million messages and forum comments that said “ARE YOU WRITING THE LORD INQUISITOR?!”
I’ve been following the project for a long time, and I’ve commented in various forums about how I was variously amazed at the detail, thought it was beautiful, and was mean enough to say I hated (I think I actually said “not a fan of”) the voice-acting and the script. But for a proof of concept trailer, that shit is far beyond killer.
A while ago, the Lordi (teehee) overseer Erasmus Brosdau (which is surely the most 40K name ever) got the green light from GW’s legal dept. and put out an open call for people to help out and make the thing happen as a 40-minute movie. That’s sort of when I came on board. I asked what they were looking for, and how the process had gone with GW. Nothing major. It quickly turned into something a bit majorer, which isn’t a word, but I’m going to pretend it is as I quite like it.
So, to answer your question(s): Yes, kind of. I’m not writing the movie all by myself. It’s a collaborative effort, and I’m just one little gear in the machine – I didn’t jump in and demand to run the show, or any shit like that. Obviously, everything’s in early development right now, so no spoilers. Suffice to say that I’m on the team, and absolutely freaking thrilled about that fact. I may make a billion suggestions and they all get ignored. I might write the whole script and we end up using a single scene. That’s just how this jazz works; I don’t want people thinking I just moved in to rule someone else’s show. This is still Erasmus’ brainchild, I’m just on the team.
ARE WE CLEAR?
Excuse me now, while I go try to remember what the fuck free time feels like.
I have a feeling it’ll feel like making furniture, tidying my office, and playing The Old Republic.
P.S. I’m not saying Craig Charles was high during his DJ set at the SFX Weekender, but I will say that guy needed to sniff a whole lot, and kept wiping his nose on his sleeve every three seconds.
I’m just saying.