Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

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.

Those shoulderpads. I mean, really.

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.

I can't believe none of these people had anything better to do.

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 look so much wiser than I actually am.

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/:

What a handsome devil.

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.”

March 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. Having finished ‘Blood Reaver’ just this morning it has managed to push ‘Soul Hunter’ into 2nd place as my favourite Black Library book. The scene your referring to is done brilliantly by the way.

    Comment by gmort | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  2. Even after a couple of weeks…..I still can’t believe you did that!

    Comment by Xhalax | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  3. ‘abandon ship’. Reading that still makes me get a lump in my throat.

    Comment by Raye Raye | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  4. I personally feel that the extremely tiny portion of humanity that gets advance copies of novels at things like BLL while the rest of us are forced to wait ought to either spontaneously contract chlamydia, or each get copies with poisoned pages like in “The Name Of The Rose”. There should be some terrible risk or drawback involved here, to balance out the karma. 😉

    Comment by Khestra the Unbeheld | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  5. FFS Khestra!

    I was just about to start ‘The Name of the Rose!’ While we’re at it, Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze and Bruce Willis is a ghost. I haven’t been engaged by such a spoiler since I read ‘The Core!’

    That said, I agree whole heartedly with your point. I know for a fact I’ve had Blood Reaver pre-ordered on Amazon before it was finished.

    And it’s not like these are early by just a week or so. May 15th is my earliest delivery date for ‘Blood Reaver.’ Poor service from BL.

    But on a happier note; never mind Tim’s brownie, Aaron, it looks like you’ve got a beer in one hand and a reefer in the other. What is this, Fear and Loathing in Lenton?

    Comment by G | March 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Not my fault you’re behind on your Umberto Eco. You know Vader is Luke’s father, right?

      Comment by Khestra the Unbeheld | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  6. When can we hear more about this Grey Knights project? I’m excited to see your take on my favorite Chapter.

    Comment by criticaluniverse | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  7. I want blood reaver…


    I agree khestra..

    Comment by Yogi | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  8. Off topic question, but I’m curious as to how Codex fluff writing is treated within GW. Is there any chance you could be called upon to write fluff for codices ADB?

    Comment by Magos Lich | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  9. Uhm… About the cow and the cheeks. Are you sure it was “face-cheeks” – and not the kind of cheeks from, how shall I put it, the other side of the cow? 🙂

    Comment by Lars | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  10. I really, enjoyed meeting you when you came to Adepticon last year. I all so bear the Night lord name you graced me with, with Honor!
    Action Jackson on deck and ready to destroy!

    Comment by Thomas | March 22, 2011 | Reply

  11. Very much looking forward to Blood Reaver Aaron! Is it safe to assume there will be a simultaneous release of the ebook version?
    (Any chance we’ll see Soul Hunter available on ebook before then?)

    Comment by Chinh Tran | March 22, 2011 | Reply

  12. Sorry for offtoping, but… Sevatar looks too cool and gets too much attention, you’ll give him his own story or book eventually, will you?

    Comment by Helbrass | March 22, 2011 | Reply

  13. ‘Abandon ship,’….


    Sadness has past, I want Blood Reaver now!

    Comment by Lord of the Night | March 22, 2011 | Reply

  14. sorry to be a broken record: check out this for a little lolz! http://lucas-mildred.blogspot.com/ something to warm the cockles when u take a break from writin ur next bestseller!

    Comment by Shaven Wookiee | March 25, 2011 | Reply

  15. I have no really interesting comment to leave, I just felt I’d like to add that on my 22nd Birthday earlier this month, we went to a restaurant and I also ate a cow’s cheeks (admittedly it could have been two cheeks from two different animals but that’s far less interesting). It was very tasty, but my girlfriend – a vegetarian who only quit being vegan when told she may not be able to have children – looked at me with both disgust and admiration.

    I’d eat cheeks again.

    Comment by Stephen | February 26, 2012 | Reply

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