Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

INTERVIEW – The Imperial Truth

Me and my good pal John French were invited to do a double-interview on The Imperial Truth, which dealt with (among other things) what it’s like to write 40K, the brief controversies around PRAETORIAN OF DORN and THE MASTER OF MANKIND, and – of course! – Gav Thorpe.

Enjoy! Or don’t! I’m not your boss. You’re a free spirit, the architect of your own destiny. All that good stuff.

We start at about 20 mins in: CLICKY-CLICK. Please note this giant WARNING: Contains many spoilers for PoD and TMoM.

Amazingly, I didn’t swear once. Not even one time. Achievement fucking unlocked, right there.

May 16, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Just clicked and started listening to the interview. Admittedly, I really wish there was a transcript so I could read along with the audio.

    Either way, I am really glad you and John found the time to sit down and chat about the False Emper- I mean, uh, Master of Mankind who sits proudly upon the Golden Throne!

    Comment by Kyle Nguyen | May 16, 2017 | Reply

    • That’s a good point; I’ll think about collecting some of my thoughts from various forum posts and behind the scenes chats, and blog it. It’s not a transcript, but it’ll cover a fair chunk of stuff.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | May 16, 2017 | Reply

      • That would awesome ! I just realised I’m not that comfortable with spoken english :/

        Comment by Vivien Voillot | May 16, 2017 | Reply

      • That would be most appreciated. Also, on a slightly unrelated note, I really need to pay attention and login with my pre-existing social media account when I leave a comment on your site.

        I also took the liberties of posting a link to the podcast onto the 40k Lore subReddit. So far, mixed reactions.

        Comment by Kyle Nguyen | May 17, 2017 | Reply

      • I saw! “Mixed” implies a distribution of quality, though. People saying “ADB sure has to explain himself a lot” are talking nonsense, because a single podcast where I was directly asked the question, and a couple of threads on one forum are a bizarre claim for “explaining myself a lot”. Besides, it’s a novel about one of 40K’s greatest mysteries – the freaking Emperor, no less – and *not* discussing it ever would be weird. You can’t win with these people – if you discuss it at all, you’re “having to explain yourself a lot”. If you never discuss it, you’re “shutting yourself off from the community”.

        And, more tellingly, accusations of “Chaos fanboy” can be disregarded as fucking moronic.

        I’ll never argue any novel is perfect, but not all criticism is equally valid. Look at the quality of those replies. Look how well some of them are written out, and the nuances they discuss, compared to the blunter, stupider accusations. Sometimes people can just be wrong, or are clinging to shitty biases because they don’t want someone else to be right. It is what it is. Like I said in the podcast, I lose a lot of sleep over potential reactions, but not *those* kinds of reactions. They’re meaningless, tilting at windmills, fighting what they imagine the situation to be, not what it is. One guy there even literally says he has no time to listen to the podcast, but that I’m wrong.

        You know? Just noise.

        I also directly called those places out, by name, as being fairly useless in terms of their criticism *in the first weeks of a novel*, and cite how someone from GW IP quoted them as “They’re reacting to a version of 40K that has never existed”. It’s the internet, we’re all very tribal, and no one likes to be told their home court sucks and that their tribe is in the wrong. You can expect blowback from that, every time. Fastest way to guarantee people reacting badly to you. Doesn’t matter how true it is.

        And, perhaps most important of all, they assume their bitter takes on the material are The One True Way. As if many thousands of other people didn’t actually get it and like it. Never mistake a few loud and brash voices as some wider conspiracy or overwhelming sentiment.

        EDIT: Just to add to that, you can’t put yourself above criticism – and there are plenty of things about TMoM (and indeed every novel) that I’d do differently. But does GRR Martin or JRR Tolkien (or, well, anyone?) spend hours saying “I’d have changed this” and “I agree with criticism X” on forum after forum, in interview after interview? Of course they don’t. It’s not something authors really do. I write from a position of assuming the reader is fundamentally smarter than me, and I was already worried from various looks at the Emperor and the opening page that it was painfully obvious different characters perceive different things. And added with several IP people maintaining that it was dead correct with how the Emperor came across in the novel… You can probably see why I didn’t think a spoonfeeding scene of “WELL ACTUALLY…” was necessary.

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | May 17, 2017 | Reply

      • I’ve edited that reply like 800 times, to make it clearer.

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | May 17, 2017 | Reply

  2. I can’t seem to reply to your replies, or edit my own comments here, so here goes!

    I believe my use of the word “mixed” was an attempt to be generous.

    Also, your assessment of people as tribal underscores a problem I’ve been having for some time. Our tribal behaviors, and the inability for many people to admit their own faults, has lead me to be quite disappointed in humanity as a species. I find myself ashamed to be human, if you can believe that. As an American, I’ve born witness to so much stupid crap as a result of recent politics – our current President has exposed how deeply divided the people are, to put it mildly. Be thankful you’re not in the U.S.A. right now, and take refuge across the pond – hopefully Brexit doesn’t cause too much damage.

    Lastly, in demonstration of my flawed humanity, a confession: I have yet to read “Praetorian of Dorn”, but am aware of spoilers thanks to Reddit. Despite it being confirmed that *Redacted* was killed by Dorn, I have a hard time believing that *Redacted* just died and that as the end of it. I am probably spoiled by all the “Death is Cheap” moments in comic books, but I feel as if *Redacted* will make some kind of return. You may or may not have seen my support of a clone theory on Reddit – *Redacted* having an identical twin brother survive him, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the result of some genetic contingency plan bestowed by the Emperor. The Hydra has many heads, after all, and their Legion has a reputation for being sneaky, tricky buggers!

    Comment by Kyle Nguyen | May 17, 2017 | Reply

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