Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

The Big Weekend

First, let me just point out that I may be changing the look of the blog a little bit soon.  My old school chum David morphed into a grown up, and is a web designer now. He sneeringly acquiesced to doing something as basic and plebian as a WordPress theme, when I begged him to make this pukestain look slightly more presentable. In fact, I guarantee you he’s sat there waiting for details from me right now, a) under the laughable belief that I have any ideas, and b) wondering why I’m writing this instead of replying to his last letter about the crushing social pressure of first wedding dances.

And on that note, there’s something me and Katie haven’t managed to agree on yet, either. The song for the first dance. But we’ll come to that later; time is short, and there’s packing to be done.

This weekend is a 4-day travelfest of social unease and eye-twitching radness. For now – at last – it’s time for Black Library Live 2010. My weekend will consist of the following aspects:


I intend to rise almost inhumanly early, while the skies are still greyed by the threatening dawn. Then we’ll drive to Belfast, I’ll freak out at driving in a busy city while trying not to take human life, and we’ll park at the airport only to enjoy the wondrous pleasure of £15 a day long-stay carparks. Then we fly.

We’ll touch down in the land of the Delta Blues, in the middle of the pouring rain. Once in Nottingham, I think we’re heading to GW HQ, to annoy Christian in Bugman’s Bar. Christian is my publisher’s short story commissioning editor, and practically the only member of staff I actually agree with most of the time. And yet, it will be an ugly encounter. He’ll make outrageous statements about me missing short story deadlines, and I’ll drag his dubious – potentially even apish – parentage into the equation. We’ll end the exchange as we always end our exchanges: in a fistfight so ball-punchingly intense that several of the Geneva Conventions are inevitably broken, and we both spend the night in jail, calling each other names and word-forging new curse words to deploy through the cell bars.

Katie will look on in disappointment, and go on a date with my cover artist, Jon Sullivan. He looks sort of Italian, I think. Whatever.


Friday is the day of the Horus Heresy meeting and the Black Library staff dinner thing. This week, me and Dan swapped drafts of Prospero Burns and The First Heretic, and have much to discuss in that vein. If we manage to do it, it’ll be on Friday. But that’s not foremost in my thoughts, because I’ll still be in jail by that point.

I’ll wake up in the arms of my cellmate, Skull-eating Pete, who will have kept me warm through the long night with some totally platonic hugs. After lying to Pete and saying I really will stay in touch, I’ll leave jail in the company of Jim Swallow and Dan Abnett, who have bailed me out using a combination of charisma and pocket change. We’ll pass Christian’s cell, and I’ll stop right there. At that point, I’ll turn, and moonwalk past while giving him the middle finger.

“Let me out,” he’ll say to me. “You need me at the Horus Heresy meeting.”

But this is a lie. We don’t need him there. With Nick Kyme already pencilled in, our Irritating Northern Guy quota is maxed.

“If you let me out,” Christian will say, “I’ll let your story have the cover if we do another Horus Heresy anthology.”

This is the kind of filthy promise that appeals to my mercenary heart, and such sleazy negotiation buys Christian his freedom. Dan is too Kentish to intimidate this rugged member of our editorial corps, but Jim’s packing a sawn-off under his jacket (with a modified pistol grip) and that guarantees Christian’s good behaviour. We escort him to GW HQ, in time for the Horus Heresy meeting.

At the Horus Heresy meeting, we argue over screwed-up timelines, and I listen to everyone’s ideas for their next books. I start to tremble when I realise I’m at risk of losing control of my bladder due to fanboyish delight. I gush at Graham for A Thousand Sons. I annoy Jim by begging for info on Nemesis. I repel Dan by constantly asking to read more of his Prospero Burns draft. Irritated by this, they ask what my next pitch will be.

I stand. I take a breath. They can all see the stain on my jeans from where I wet myself, but I don’t care. “It’s like… Romeo and Juliet, in space.”

Heads will shake. Shoulders will slump. I won’t be invited to another Horus Heresy Meeting in the future, and security guards escort me from the room.

“Do you need the toilet?” they’ll ask.

But no. It’s too late for that now.


Saturday is Black Library Live 2010. I’m still too new for anyone to have read my stuff, but at least I have books coming out for them to read soon. Helsreach is on pre-release at the event. Legends of the Space Marines has my best short story ever. Best of all, Soul Hunter is fiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally about to be released.

  • At 10am, which is practically the night before, me and Nick are doing a reading/talk about the Salamanders and Night Lords stuff we’re working on. Given the insane hour, I expect 4 people to show up.
  • At 12pm, I’m signing for a while.
  • At 3:30, there’s this weird Seer Council thing, where 15 people can talk to an author in a room somewhere. Given that no one knows who I am, only 2 people show up. But we pass the time with some classic, nail-biting Tetris action on someone’s iPhone, and all is well. They ask questions about The First Heretic that I’m not allowed to answer. I answer them anyway, because there’s no one important there to watch me. Then I lose at Tetris again, and steal the iPhone.

Between and after these events, I suspect I’ll be found with Katie, trailing along with Jim or Dan, still looking very much like the uncomfortable new guy. I may complain a little about not getting to eat Subway. It seems likely, but I’ll play that by ear.


We fly back. This… this day’s sort of less exciting, really. I’m not sure it even deserved its own section, let alone a bolded title.

February 10, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. Have tons of fun and be safe while traveling. Good luck with your date with Dan Abnett! 😉

    Comment by John the Great | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. I wish my weekend would work out to be that entertaining. Mine will probably only consist of my Tau army lighting up some unlucky Tyaranid swarm out for a Saturday stroll.

    Comment by VigRoco | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  3. Haha terrific. I always look forward to checking for new updates on your blog, a great read and great humour. Sort of like Cracked.com on WH40K.
    Also, I think it’s great to get the “New Guy” angle into the Free Mason Society that is Black Library Horus meetings, even if you are exaggerating a liiittle for effect now and then. Gives a bit of an idea about what’s going on behind the ropes and how you guys are building your stories.
    I actually had a discussion with one of my co-workers yesterday, whom I have gotten hopelessly hooked on WH40K novels (there are about 10 on the shelf above my workstation right now, stuffed in between books on biochemistry and protein engineering, waiting for him) about how you manage to stay within the lore and setting of the 40K universe. After ranting a bit about Horus meetings and The Loremasters ™ I just provided him with a link to this excellent source of information.

    Keep it up. As much as I love reading Dan’s blog, I think it’s great to get a bit of insight into the daily struggle of being an up-and-coming writer, specifically being a 40K writer, when sprinkled with college humour and expletives… And the whole New Guy / Fanboy angle… Awesome! I mean, wouldn’t we all be wetting ourselves in sheer pants-shittingly terringfying awe when pitching ideas in the same forum as the likes of Abnett and McNeil? 😀

    Comment by Lars | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  4. Looking forward to hearing you read, might even turn up toy our seer thingy, though if an I phone is needed for entry I don’t have one so might not get in…

    have a good weekend I know I’m looking forward to it…. your blog always makes me smile…..I actually think everyone in the office thinks I’m looking at porn ….


    Comment by Robin | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  5. Get him to keep the smilie face at the bottom for I gave decided it has become my Nemesis.

    And if I cab manage it, I might try and be one of those 2 people at 3:30. But I promise nothing.

    See you on Saturday Mr D-B (that almost made me feel like a Little Sister)

    Comment by Xhalax | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  6. 4 people? Like hell, the place will be packed. Not everyone shares your relationship to time 🙂

    By the way, based on the response to the review I wrote of Cadian Blood I suspect that there might be a few people there who know who you are. You have been warned.

    Sounds like a wild party, have fun.

    Comment by Phillip | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  7. Having read soulhunter i’m sure that the next year your singing events and q&a rounds will not only be packed, but people will also be left disapointed ;-). And you will have somebody sitting in with your Q&A rounds to stop you from telling to much about your part of ‘the battle for terra’.

    Providing that your not doing Community service for robbing somebody and stealing his I-phone.

    Comment by Jerry | February 11, 2010 | Reply

    • I can’t help myself from leaping on the typo of ‘your singing events’.

      Because now all I can picture is ADB warbling ‘My Way’ during his Seer Council sesh.

      It fills me with the Fear.

      Comment by Pyroriffic | February 11, 2010 | Reply

      • *smiles* i’m sure that would make a rather interesting and unique experience that you would not want to miss, despite the supernatural fears it calls forward from the depths of your soul 😉

        Comment by Jerry | February 15, 2010

  8. I don’t think you’ll be getting off that easy. 4 people? They’ll be queuing up to see your pee-stained self …wait, that sounded a bit wrong!

    “Romeo and Juliet, in space” – that would certainly take the Horus and Fulgrim dynamic in an unexpected direction!

    Comment by Ilmarinen | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  9. Cool, wish I where in England this weekend… and had an iPhone (I’m quite good at tetris).

    Finally had time to finish Cadian Blood, and it was a killer! Right up there with my all time favourites from mr Abnett!

    Can’t wait for Soul Hunter!

    “Never Fall, Never Surrender, Never Outnumbered, Never Outgunned!”

    Peace man!

    Comment by James | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  10. See you at 10 Aaron, oh I’ll be there to listen 😉

    Comment by Smee | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  11. And you’re still gonna make Rob’s do?

    If you can make it, that’ll be awesome. Even if you do smell of pee and prison.

    Also, “Romeo and Juliet, in space, in the Navis Nobilite” would be awesome. “I do but charge my prow lances at thee!”

    Comment by G | February 11, 2010 | Reply

  12. Wedding dance wise might I suggest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf79oyWWtkQ

    Comment by schaferlord | February 12, 2010 | Reply

  13. Aaron great seeing you and Katie there today at BL live – was a bloody good day.Even if Katie is getting maried to you..grrr.I think I did say congrats to you both then or maybe not, so I just want to say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to you both on your engagement.Special times aye – nice one. You are far too modest a guy.Next time I wanna see you ( when your on a Q AND A)do a Nigel Tuffnel style(from Spinal Tap) playing heavy electric guitar blasting out of speakers on your back onstage with a real determined uncompromising look on your face and answering questions from the floor..Trust me as your manager it will look good.Sorry couldnt make your talk ..clash of talks going on.Managed to get some good insights from you about your creative processes ..fascinating to know how similar the process is to creating a cover art as far as getting your mindset right.I have to mention it though because it was a classic moment in green room.I was rambling on about soemthing to do with ponsy arty ways to design a picture and I mentioned getting- the wait for it ….”Equilibrium ” right 1st before you can start a picture. Aaron you didnt flinch my friend but you did smile inside and I saw it.George Mann wasnt good at stiffling a smile either.It was a lovely moment.:o) The power I weild..(holds hands up to sky)..sod it I couldnt come up with any other word.(no wordsmith here).Looking forward to the Night Lords audio cover.hurry up and send me as much info as is humanly possible.Your the man.
    cheers matey

    Comment by Jon Sullivan | February 14, 2010 | Reply

  14. Hah. Lindsey has officially absolved me from having to shave my head and grow a beard. Ner ner de ner ner!

    Comment by pyroriffic | February 14, 2010 | Reply

  15. I totally would have been in your Seer council ‘thing’ but I turned up 5 mins late (due to signing area problems) to Graham’s session and he bashed my kneecaps in with an up turned mug…
    He loomed over me and cooly remarked,
    “One o’clock laddy…” before allowing me to take a pew right next to him, I was in agony but made a rapid recovery because of being in such close proximity to a master wordsmith.
    I did however request that spitting in my twins book would suffice, to save your already throbbing hand from more pen pushing.
    “You’re soooo decadent” you remarked, in your best Truman Capote voice.
    My knees still tremble.
    Cheers dude, nice to meet ya.

    Comment by RobAshLionWhite | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  16. regarding first dance song, I can imagine you going for something like Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters. I bet you’ve at least considered it.

    Comment by Natalie | February 15, 2010 | Reply

    • He has indeed suggested a LOT of Metallica. And Rob Zombie. >.>

      Comment by Katie | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  17. Perhaps an S&M version of a Metallica great. I think Four Leaf Clover could be a good one.

    Comment by timkenyon | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  18. Must say, the news coming out of the Black Library Live stuff was awesome.

    Soul Hunters as a trilogy(or a six part series? Oh Gods yes.) is awesome…but what about Thade and the Gang, Mr. Bowden?!

    Comment by Nick Risley | February 15, 2010 | Reply

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