Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

An Argument between me and Dan Abnett


They found the file and have posted it online.

My legal department is mobilising as I type these words. The term “savage, savage lawsuit, dude” has been used in the presence of the correct hand gestures – and blood sacrifices to gods both old and new.


P.S. Can you call me later today, after about 1pm? Ta.

May 25, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. Okay.

    Should I use the non-traceable disposable cell?


    Comment by Dan Abnett | May 25, 2010 | Reply

  2. I like that you asked about the ‘ownership’ of certain chapters and stories.

    I’m currently trying to write a piece of fluff to send in during the short story submission gap, and it took me ages to try and find a chapter that hasn’t already been done (more importantly, done well)

    Also, I hope they let you do that Abaddon thing. That would be epically badass, and might make him seem like less of a brat.

    Comment by RayeRaye | May 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. That thing about Abbaddon uniting his warband would be cool to read about. And frankly I would love to read more IG novels, especially a continuation on Cadian Blood. But you must sick and tired of hearing that over and over again.

    Comment by Forkmaster | May 25, 2010 | Reply

  4. When do we get part two? Did you guys pause your argument? Does more beer need to be delivered? What gives? I want more.

    Also, did they make you shave your head before you could write for BL? I always wondered if that had anything to do with the dataports that are likely installed….

    Comment by Suicyd | May 25, 2010 | Reply

  5. Aaron, an interesting read, I look forward to part 2. What you have to realize, and I think you already do, is that you are just at the beginning of what we all hope is a long career with Black Library. Dan, who I have following as long as you have, has been with Black Library since the begin and along with Graham, William King, and some others really shaped the style and feel of Black Library’s tie in fiction (to use Dan’s term).

    It is cool that you are struggling a bit to fit in with that style and to find your niche, just take your time and you will get there. Personally I think you have already defined your approach to the Black Library style which is pretty amazing as you only have 3 books and a few short stories published so far. (Oh I finally finished Cadian Blood & Soul Hunter by the way, I really enjoyed Soul Hunter though I am a bit disappointed at how the Exalted behaved in the last few chapters of the book, but I will hit you up on that later). The important thing is not to lose the unique prospective and writing style you bring to your Black Library books. The transition in writing style and confidence between Cadian Blood & Soul Hunter is obvious, and I think you make an even further transition in Helsreach based on the few chapters I have read so far.

    Just keep doing what you are doing and the clout and acclaim will follow. Also keep looking for and inventing new characters as really it is the iconic, unforgettable heroes and villains that make an author’s series legendary.

    Comment by Jay Powell | May 25, 2010 | Reply

    • The Exalted’s actions make sense, but only with braingrind, I think. Allow me to wax lyrical on the subject, copied and pasted from a forum:


      “That was supposed to come as something of a surprise, not just to the reader, but also to 10th Company. But ultimately, while it’s not immediately obvious, there are pretty solid reasons with a little reflection.

      The Exalted changes his mind with a resigned, defeated mindset. He doesn’t want to; there’s just no other choice. He does it because the rest of the Legion (his brothers, after all) are making a break for it (led by Malcharion and Halasker). He can either completely lose control over 10th Company in one moment, or he can comply with what they all want to do. A choice that, for a leader, is no choice at all.

      Added to that, simply put, he’ll die if he stays, with the Blood Angels inbound. The Chaos fleet isn’t going to come out of that fight with a smile, with so many of their forces committed to the surface.

      But also, note who is ordering him to stay and fight. It’s not Abaddon. It’s not even a member of the Black Legion that he respects. It’s a traitorous ex-Night Lord, Ruven, who joined the Black Legion (abandoning his brothers to do so), and who insults the Night Lords for their current state, considering them failures. The Astartes of 10th Company know Ruven very well, that much is obvious, which implies that he may even have been their sorcerer/Librarian at one point. The Exalted has no desire to take an order from a traitor to the Legion – especially one that is so sneering and disrespectful to his former brothers.

      Was a case of showing and not telling, and though it could’ve been showed more clearly, I think it’s still fairly obvious with a little musing.

      And look what happens when he does it. For the first time in countless years, the crew cheer for him, cheering for his tactics and their escape. That stunned him, and will naturally play across his mind in the future.”

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | May 26, 2010 | Reply


        Oh I got at least some of that. The issue I had was with how the Exalted seemed to defer to Talos after the Captain of the Night Lords Battle Barge decided to call his men back and leave the battle, even after the Battle Barge had already escaped into the warp. I would have thought at least the Daemonic part of the Exalted would have tried to re-exert control after the more powerful Night Lord captain had left the system. But that is my only complaint and it is a small one. I am really looking forward to the next book, for a variety of reasons.

        Comment by Jay Powell | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  6. “a two-book series: The Talon of Horus, and The Black Legion.” Sounds like An Epic win already. I can already imagine the Cover art though a Short story named Drach’nyen would be cool as well.

    Comment by Lord Slaanesh | May 25, 2010 | Reply

  7. Awww…I always wanted a fleshtearers book…My dreams they are crushed.

    Comment by John Clodfelter | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  8. “You need to share the sandpit… and they might already have the cool toys. Or worse (and tying into all of us seeing things different ways) you might … think their sandcastles suck.”

    “I’d sell my cat… for the chance to do a Flesh Tearers trilogy, but they’re dangerously close in theme and function to the Blood Angels, who’re already done by Jim… Graham has the Ultramarines…”

    I think for these reasons, Black Library should do away with the concept of specific authors “owning” a specific chapter, group, or piece of background. The longer one author is the single voice for say a space marine chapter, the more that author’s vision becomes dominant. He begins to bend the fluff to how he sees it, for good or ill.

    Multiple authors contributing to the diverse range of 40k fluff would have a more averaging affect. Plus, you would cross-pollinate. E.g., you might have an awesome idea for Blood Angels/Flesh Tearers that James Swallow hadn’t thought of, who in turn might have an awesome idea for an Ultramarines character, etc.

    And of course, there’s the added bonus of getting to read a broader range of stuff by that Dembski-Bowden guy 😉

    Comment by Chinh Tran | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  9. Very interesting conversation, and I’m very much looking forward to ADB v Abnett 2: The Black Librarining when it gets released.

    As yet another in the neverending cycle of people looking to submit some pitches to BL (and thus lose my professional fiction writing virginity), I find all these little tidbits about the inner workings of the whole process to be very interesting.

    I’ve said it before, but thanks again for speaking so openly and honestly about things that would make most authors disappear in a puff of PR-flavoured smoke.

    oh yeah, I’d love to see an Abaddon series, as I felt as though his character morphed from awesome badarse to dumb, whiny bitch in the space of three HH novels; the guy must be doing something right (wrong?) do last this long in his position, and the brief appearance he had in SH makes me certain you are the man to show that properly.


    Tim Sweeney

    Comment by Tim the Corsair | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  10. Dear peoples of this blog, hello. I know little about Warhammer, please do not judge me. I can however say that Aaron thought I was dead for 2 years. I then came back from the dead. This makes me cool and scifi boyee.

    I would like to ask the author a question please. Exactly when did you drop Az? Maybe it could be your online alter-ego? Or a character in a book. Az the Great and terrible, you know like the book.

    Comment by Edmundo Fantastico | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  11. Just noticed something, I thought you didn’t have a phone?

    Comment by Edmundo Fantastico | May 26, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t have a mobile. In fact, in the past 10 years, I’ve only had a mobile for about 3 of them.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | May 26, 2010 | Reply

      • Do space marines have mobiles? I bet they do, to like contact the Emperor and that. Getting a decent signal might be a bit of a problem I guess out in space. But in the hundreds of years they’ve been out there I bet they have invented some decent tech to overcome thunder storms and stuff of that nature. What other domestic pursuits still exist in the far future? Do space marines go to the toilet? If so, it must be a pain in the ass taking all that shit off. Or are they somehow linked to their suits biologically? In which case, their poo and wee must go somewhere. Do they get colds or the flu? Do they suffer from angst? Do they get the raging horn on Sunday mornings only to be scourned by the girl space marines? In fact ARE THERE GIRL SPACE MARINES?? Surely equality exists in the future doesn’t it?

        Ah, so many questions…

        Comment by Edmundo Fantastico | May 27, 2010 | Reply

      • Yes, yes Space Marines do have mobiles.

        I once dreamt that the village where I live (yes, I live in a village, we have a post office but no town hall), was getting invaded by Chaos. The village up the road had already fallen to the enemy, and the village in the opposite direction had signed up for the Greater Good…..we were sat in the middle being very Imperial. But it meant we were the battlefield between the two forces, which clashed while I was out walking the dog.

        I got accosted by a squad of Space Wolves and some Storm Troopers. One of the Space Wolves told me it would be safer if I went home, but before I left he gave me his mobile number and told me to call him if I got into trouble.

        Needless to say, I did get into trouble and ended up having to steal a mobile phone to call him for help. I rang the number and they came to save us on Jump Packs…..I was very happy.

        Comment by Xhalax | May 28, 2010 | Reply

  12. Abbaddon novel, not a bad idea. I’ll tell you what chapter needs a novel, the Exorcists or the Relictors.

    Comment by Nick Sharps | May 26, 2010 | Reply

  13. grab something and make it yours then they can’t do much about it…. well they may not print it, but that’s their problem.

    great reading by the way, looking forward to more.

    Comment by Chris | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  14. *Swoon*

    My two favorite BL authors doing something together. Shame about the Flesh Tearers, but it does make a bit of sense. Whoever you write about become yours in a way. It’d feel weird to have a Swollow book of Night Lords or a Counter book of Ghosts.

    In either case, keep up the fantastic work and ideas flowing. I’d love to see that Abaddon duology one day. The subtle change from sorrow to all consuming rage at Horus’ downfall would make for some very good grimdark.

    Comment by Inache | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  15. Three things:

    I’m sure you had a mobile, because you used to complain about being first in everyone’s phonebook and getting all the “in pocket” calls.

    What about the Imperial Navy? Huge feudal city ships with world destroying power! Internecine politics! Mutants! Boarding actions! Just don’t let your storm troopers bang their heads on the way in.

    Less elves who have been dead two editions; more Gnolls for the weekend.

    See you tomorrow!


    Now I have images of a Gnoll dressed as Randy Rhoads.

    Comment by G | May 27, 2010 | Reply

    • One of the many reasons I no longer have a mobile, and didn’t for much of the last decade.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  16. I wonder whose going to do an Iron Hands series. They could do with an update, as not much is known about them currently.

    Comment by Lord Slaanesh | May 28, 2010 | Reply

    • Iron Hands…

      Comment by Sarah | May 28, 2010 | Reply

      • Iron Hands get no love at all from GW. This makes me sad 😦

        Comment by Phillip | May 31, 2010 | Reply

  17. Read Part 2.

    Navigator themed Romeo and Juliet?

    Damn you, A-D-B. Damn you and your ideas hitting my hopeless romantic side!

    Comment by Lord of Insanity | June 4, 2010 | Reply

  18. I think the Raven Guard need some lovin’ too, and maybe a Horus Heresy World Eaters novel.

    I just picked up Emperor’s Mercy by Henry Zou and I’m pleasantly surprised. So far it hasn’t really matched up with the bad reviews I’ve read. Zou is pretty good with his description and there’s a good bit of humour. I guess we’ll see how the rest of the book goes.

    Comment by Nick Sharps | June 7, 2010 | Reply

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