Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

Righting Wrongs, Lefting Dongs, and Singing Songs

Come, friends. Sit with me, and listen to a tale of one man’s week. I won’t keep you long. That’s it, sit right there. No, don’t touch that. It’s expensive. You’ll make it dirty.

Don’t touch that, either. You know what? Just sit over there, instead. Christ.

Now let’s get down to business before you bastards get muddy pawprints all over my blog.

—   —   —

The First Heretic drags on.

At this stage, it’s so ludicrously close to the halfway point that I can sense Nick Kyme scowling every time someone mentions my name.  I won’t bore you with the details of exactly what went through the change-grinder this week, but they were some pretty mega alterations. Essentially, they had to happen. I’ve got a very strong outline – beloved by all who read it – but actually translating events into prose was the tricksy-trick. Entirely new characters have slid into proceedings, and a main character changed name and gender. (Dan? Laurie? Ishaq’s a chick now, and not called Ishaq.) All of this was with the excitingly late forethought (ooh, paradoxical) that the second half of the novel needed these changes in order to make… certain events… work well.

One of the main points of focus in The First Heretic is to make it feel like Horus Rising – and to a lesser extent False Gods and Galaxy in Flames. Thankfully, the only person to have read a solidly edited block is Laurie Goulding from BLTV, and he mentioned the feel of it without me even needing to bring it up. But you probably know what I mean: Those books had a distinct tone to them – a sense of dangerous wonder. I want to recapture that atmosphere, without making the storyline or characters remotely like what’s come before. Whether I succeed or not is down to the decisions of others, mind you. I think it’s going well, but it’s taken some serious braingear grinding.

In other news, Soul Hunter is doing insanely well. Like, there are no words for it. The reception to it has been way beyond killer: in reviews, in forum chatter, and – as far as I know from vague discussalizing – in sales, too. Anyone who has spent more than three seconds in a room with me knows that I think I’m fairly hot shit when my fingertips start clacking down on keys, but the novel’s going down a storm. I’m an avid spy when it comes to how BL books do in reviews and online opinion, and I can honestly say I’d not trade Soul Hunter’s reception for anything else. [That said, Graham just nailed bestselling sci-fi novel in the UK with A Thousand Sons, and rightly so – the book is a beast, and everything an HH novel should be. But I digress and fangasm.]

With Spring and Summer looming, this rural Irish wilderness is beginning to look less like Hoth. We don’t need to be out on the lane with pickaxes, thunking them into the ice because cars can’t get up a lane frozen like wet glass. The cat can be kicked out without me worrying he’ll die a frostbitten death within eighteen seconds. Best of all, I made it through an entire winter without my friend Jessica teasing me that the tauntauns in The Empire Strikes Back were called “ice donkeys”.

It also means friends will flock to us once more, like the beloved vultures that they are. Rob, Nik and Greg unite to form the D&D phalanx, for a long weekend every 6 weeks. Steve is moving up from the republic to our slice of Ireland, to live with us for a while. My parents are visiting soon, marking the first time I’ve seen my mum in almost a year – since I bounced into this deep countryside self-exile, in fact. Handsome Ben and Sarah are thinking of heading over, too – that’ll be monumentally rad.

Is all well? No. While Katie’s loving her job at the playgroup and the money situation draws closer to sanity, I’m tremblingly desperate to get back into 40K, Warhammer and Necromunda. Several of us have vague plans to raise armies, but getting solid dates for Warhammer Weekends every few months – and getting people to actually raise armies on budgets – is a nightmare. I’m not accusing anyone of being a slacker, here. My own slackerness eclipses theirs.

So there’s that.

I’ve been clean from WoW for two months now, and was barely playing it for several months before that. But I’m still not managing to use my spare time constructively. I’m reading even more, but I read a lot anyway. I go back to Word.docs and write more, picking at them and editing, but I do that all day, anyway. It’s not exactly like I can give myself a thumbs-up for delving even deeper into antisocial pastimes. But then, I hate people. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I do have a punchbag now, though. No other exercise could ever be so much fun.

Also, gonna do some book reviews soon. Since the New Year, I’ve read The Unblemished, Decay Inevitable (Conrad Williams); Iron Company (Chris Wraight); The Road (Cormac McCarthy); Blood Pact, Horus Rising (Dan Abnett); A Thousand Sons (Graham McNeil); Renegade’s Magic (Robin Hobb); The Inquisition War Trilogy (Ian Watson); Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad); Invisible Monsters (Chuck Palahniuk) and the new Blood Angel codex in secret, several months before release.


I’ll review, like, half of them this week, along with my much-delayed entry entitled “Leave me alone – Go ask these guys if you want to learn how to write.”

In ball-achingly rad news, I’ve got an article in Scifi Now next month, and it looks like the BLTV guys will be heading over in a few months to film a little something for a First Heretic trailer.

So this is what awesome tastes like. Skadoosh.

March 8, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. They’re not called ice donkeys…?

    Comment by Katie | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. Looking forward to your reviews Mr B, esp. of Inquisition War, was definitely a strange one.

    Also cannot wait for the glorious The First Heretic, but I will have to put up with your literary greatness in Soul Hunter til then…

    BTW, how goes the wedding plants?

    Comment by Smee | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  3. A busy busy time for all concerned Mr. D-B and so hopefully a well deserved and well deserved feeling of self-satisfaction the kind of which my cats seem to have after having crapped in my favourite shoes.

    Comment by Tim Kenyon | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  4. Glad to hear things are moving along. Really cant wait for The First Heretic to come out. should be a righteous novel. You’ve done a great job with Soul Hunter, my No. 2 book i’ve ever read. Really felt the VIII Legion come to life. The parts with Malcharion were just brilliant. Loved every page of it. Great job mate!


    Comment by Commissar Ploss | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  5. I’m miffed that he gets ‘Handsome Ben’ and I just get ‘Sarah’.

    Hah. HAH!

    Comment by pyroriffic | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  6. “…like the beloved vultures that they are… Rob, Nik and Greg…”

    I resent that vulture simile. I’m really more of an owl. Owls rock.

    RE: Warhammer / Necromunda, why not try Mordheim? I don’t want to sound cheap, but I am so it’ll come out that way, but you can use your Warhammer army with most Warbands; there’s also sorts of wacky warbands online so every major army is covered (apart from Daemons.) Plus, I finally bought a vampire (the winged one) so I can field a Mordheim band while saving up for a couple of batallion boxes (it works out as a free unit over buying them separate.)

    The Inquisition War? Oh dear. I remember reading one of them way back during the 2nd Ed of 40k and they were pretty wacky then. In light of Eisenhorn / Ravenor and Inquisitor / Dark Heresy, I can’t imagine they’ve aged well. What with all them folk surviving possession and the Emperor’s own kids knocking around.

    I’ve been meaning to read some Cormac McCarthy for awhile, but there’s been some recent film adaptation and that always makes me flinch for some reason. Also, if you’ve not read it already, I heartily recommend Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, it’s a lot better than Invisible Monsters but you may need a strong stomach.

    Does Heart of Darkness suggest more Night Lords? I hope so.

    Are the Blood Angel rules as nice as the miniatures? I got an email today about advance orders and Seth, Sanguinor and Astorath look awesome. A slight conversion of Astorath might even make it into the Vampire Counts…

    Comment by G | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  7. Why would Aaron know more about the rules than the rest of us? You can go down to your local shop and see the rules for yourself(provided they’ve gotten a Black Box).

    But, here’s a book suggestion for you Aaron:

    Ever read “The Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher? Excellent series, and a very unique genre(modern setting and magic in Chicago? Yes please!) to boot. SciFi Book Club has them in collections of 2-3 books for each genre. Let me know if you’re interested and I can figure out the book order.

    Comment by Nick Risley | March 9, 2010 | Reply

  8. Soul Hunter really IS magnificent, filled with great characters, wonderful descriptions, lots of humour, and made me want to start a Night Lords army!

    Comment by Kodanshi | March 9, 2010 | Reply

  9. @Nick – if you like the Dresden series… have you read Mike Carey’s Felix Castor books? Heartily fantabulous.

    Comment by pyroriffic | March 9, 2010 | Reply

    • I have not! I tried reading Simon Green’s “Nightside” series, and while good…it was a bit stale.

      Comment by Nick Risley | March 9, 2010 | Reply

      • I can definitely recommend the Felix Castor books – he’s an English Harry Dresden. Mike Carey, as a comic book writing guru has a fab, very visual writing style. IMHO. Of course.

        Comment by pyroriffic | March 9, 2010

  10. The Road is a fantasic novel, genuinely horrifying. Heart of Darkness is one i’ve always meant to read, we had to study A Handful of Dust in English Lit last semester, and it was apparently based pretty heavily on Heart of Darkness.

    Heh, living in the country is pretty bad for snow. I crashed my car into a telephone pole. Damn Scottish winters…

    Comment by TheLieutenant | March 11, 2010 | Reply

  11. I ❤ Heart of Darkness. Conrad at his best, in my opinion. And, of course, it was turned into an amazing film called Apocalypse Now.

    Comment by Kodanshi | March 14, 2010 | Reply

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