Interviews, Updates, Shamans (Shamen?)
I just got asked the coolest interview question: “What line was the most difficult or most emotional to write in any of your novels?”
Now, to answer that, I need to do a Blood Reaver spoiler, so stop reading here if you’re worried about that sort of thing. Go make some tea, or something. Join the army. It’s all the same to me, just go away. This entry isn’t for your kind.
In real life news, this weekend and the coming week sees me close my Lorgar novella, (still hesitantly working-titled Crusade’s End) and submit it to the editorial Powers That Be. It’s bloody weird, and I have no idea if it’ll go down well, or require a full rewrite, but I’m happy with it. I’m also achingly close to the halfway point of my Grey Knights novel, which is looking to be the closest I’ve come to a deadline in several years. It feels good to be back on track, in a way that mere words can’t quite encapsulate. I’ve got more time now, I don’t automatically work for 10 hours on weekend days as well, and things are looking on the up and up in regards to future careerness.
The wedding creeps closer, but we’re pretty much on top of everything now; it’s all booked and ready.
In stupider news, I’ve embarked on the process of levelling an Orc Shaman in WoW, which is an alt that’ll last all of three minutes, just like everything I do when I’m not playing my Rogue. My Rogue changes his race depending on my mood, of course. He’s a Blood Elf right now. Most of his life has been spent as an Undead. Before that, he was a Troll.
My Shaman looks like a right goober in the heirloom gear I’ve given him, though.
I call him The Barbarous Clown, which strikes me as a pretty pimp name for a novel. Maybe it could be about finding the humour in really mean activities. I’d totally read that.
I have no idea just why I’m showing you that orc, of course. In recent months, I’ve barely logged into WoW. “Having more time” doesn’t always equate to “having lots of time”, if you get me. And I’ll probably delete him as soon as I start whining that all his spells are useless compared to my Rogue’s abilities. That’s what I do. That’s how I roll. Just ask my guild.
— — —
Black Library Live has come and gone, and it brought an ever-increasing slice of unreality into my existence. I still can’t quite get a hold on the notion of being sat at a desk, with pens, and people standing in a line to talk to me. I… I mean… I don’t know what I mean. But distill it down to its core points – the absolute fundamental deal – and it makes no sense to me. It’s too bizarre to even be flattering. It’s just frightening, if anything.
I mean, what should I say? What if they ask me a clever question? What if they see me picking my nose? I’m contractually bound not to run away.
Also, I don’t let my closest friends and family members take photos of me. I hate being on camera. So “Aaron! Can I get a photo with you?” is literally one of the most knife-in-the-eye painful sentences anyone can say to me. And loads of people were saying it. They kept saying it all the time. I wanted to tell them to get lost and go find someone famous instead. After all, I’m trying to eat dinner, here. Get a photo of Katie. She’s hotter than me.
I completely forgot to take home my NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AARON DEMBSKI-BOWDEN poster.
Mea culpa. I wanted that. I’m almost, almost upset enough to do a frowny face. That’s how ghastly I feel about the loss.
My instinct is to say the highlights of the weekend were the Secret Meeting in HQ, and the slow-motion diving hug between me and Handsome Ben. While they both rated highly – and were both certainly easier than sitting in a room full of people for a terrifying Q&A seminar (they… they kept looking at me…) – I think the best parts were probably kicking back with John at the end of it all, doing that “Annnnnnnd relax” sighing after a mental weekend, and the breakfast with Andy and Jade on the following morning.
Uh, for clarity: John is John French, one of GW’s loremasters. We always hook up for beer each time I fly over to my publisher, and in a twist that I found pretty amusing, despite several conversations lasting many hours, I only found out his actual job this time ’round. Previously, I’d assumed he was an accountant or something. Andy is Andy Smillie, a gigantic beefy Scotsman and my seminar enforcer. Not sure if he wants his actual job mentioned online, so we’ll just say he “works at my publisher”. Jade is his fiancee. We all went out for pancakes at breakfast, in an event that I sincerely hope becomes a ritual.
More importantly (oh, so much more importantly), Andy is the unwilling victim of image crimes on 4chan, where they post his photo on /tg/:
I didn’t get to see Mark Newton. I did get to see Trevor Larkin.
At one point, I ate a cow’s cheeks. Or maybe it was just one cheek? I’m not really sure. It was the first time I’d ever eaten some of a livestock animal’s face.
Man, this is getting long, and I have work to do. I also have more interviews to do, because I was foolish and saved them all up to do at once.
This was not wise.
Anyway, about the cool interview question I mentioned before. Here it is, snipped for spoilers:
“What line was the most difficult or most emotional to write in any of your novels?”
It’s one of the questions you don’t really consider until someone asks it, and I’m sure my answers for what’s emotional won’t always match readers’ perceptions.
My gut instinct was to say the moment in Helsreach when the little girl asks Grimaldus if he’s a hero. The knight is so distant from humanity, so completely unable to relate to normal people, that my heart sort of breaks by-proxy on his behalf in that moment. I really love that scene; it’s probably my favourite of any I’ve written so far.
Cyrene has her moments towards the end of The First Heretic, which were also pretty emotional for me, when I was writing them. I also like the moment when Octavia first says “Thank you” to Talos, in Soul Hunter. I enjoy reading scenes like that, highlighting the crucial differences between 40K characters, and I enjoy writing them. When they’re done right, they feel very real, and show one of the starkest differences between 40K and other sci-fi. Similarly, a lot of Octavia and Hound in Blood Reaver resonated with me, as did her talk with Talos about his past.
However, in all honesty, the most difficult and emotional line for me to write was the moment when a certain character faces up to what’s happening around him, and speaks two words he never thought he’d have to say. A real ‘end of an era’ moment that I was completely swept up in when I was writing it. It’s probably not difficult to guess, given that ‘The Core’ is set after Blood Reaver; it’s something I’ve been openly alluding to for a long while now, and was fairly obviously going to happen.
But those two words are: “Abandon ship.”