I mentioned this in my Facebook/Twitter splurging a few days back, but If I don’t get another chance to say it before the Big Day when 2012 becomes 2013, then Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and a Happy New Year to everyone whose eyes fall over these words.
The last 12 months have been tough, enlightening, and amazing. Alexander came along, and is already walking (as long as he has something nearby to grab onto). I wrote my second Horus Heresy novel over the course of 9 months, which was “the hardest one to write yet”, just like I say about everything I write. Every novel is the hardest while I’m writing it, and the one I hate the most once it’s released. I think that’s just a hazard of the job. When you spend ages making something and that many people are staring at it, it doesn’t matter what they say. All you see are the holes and imperfections.
In other news, I constructed my games room (not on my own, obviously), so now I can say “Gentlemen, to the Aaronorium” with a straight face. I might even start saying it to strangers in the street. I’ll do it without blinking, for maximum effect.
This is the first year I’ve ever been in a position not to be freaking out that I’ll end up in the gutter come tax month, and you might think that finding my feet financially (along with being married for a year, and having a baby boy) would encourage me to actually get some writing done much faster than usual. Nice theory.
However, if you thought that, you’d be wrong. I’m still as slow as ever.
I’m currently getting close to finishing Blood & Fire, which is a little (well, a quite long, actually) tale featuring the words Season of Fire, Armageddon, Celestial Lions, Grimaldus, as well as the name of a certain Chapter that dresses in a blackish templarish way, and – of course – the name of a certain stormtrooper has been mentioned more than once.
After Blood & Fire, I’m starting The Talon of Horus, and I couldn’t be more psyched about it. Not much to say at this stage, except that the main character will be at the right hand of Abaddon through the fall of the Sons of Horus and the rise of the Black Legion, over the course of 10,000 years. Yeah, unless I get killed or banned from touching the IP, this series threatens to be a long one. If you’ve read Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles (about “King” Arthur) or Steven Pressfield’s novels of Ancient Greece (Gates of Fire; Tides of War; The Afghan Campaign, etc.) then you’ll know the atmosphere.
The main character’s name is Inaros Khayon, though he has many, many, many titles by 999.M41, and hardly anyone knows his real name by then.
I’m dimly aware that I owe a few updates about my Heresy and 40K armies, so that’ll be inbound in January.
But thank you for enjoying what I do – evidently enough for me to have done it for another year. Thanks for all the feedback, and for taking time to review anything you’ve reviewed on blogs, on Amazon, on Goodreads, or wherever else. Best wishes (along with the blessing of your deity of choice, if appropriate) from the newly forged Dembski-Bowden family, on this Christmas morning.
I come to you, asking a favour. Guide me, if you will. Take pity on my poor (currently unshaven) head.
It’s about 6:50am and I really need to crash to catch a few hours’ sleep. Betrayer is going well – going great, in fact, which is lucky since I’ve only got a month to finish it. ‘The Underworld War’ for The Mark of Calth anthology is winding up to completion, too. It’s about the Gal Vorbak left on Calth after Kor Phaeron flees, and they’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that Lorgar isn’t coming to save them. They’re trapped there. They’re going to die there. Night after night, the Word Bearers lose more men to Ultramarine guns.
At this stage, I’m working about 12-14 hours a day, most of which involves going back over sentences I wrote earlier and deleting them before anyone realises I have no right to call myself an author. I don’t mention those hours to incite you to start secreting some kind of oil, ill-deserved sympathy juice from your empathy glands. No, no. I tell you purely so I’ve got an up-front excuse for blogging even less than usual.
I bought two copies of Dark Vengeance. I’m using over picking up a third, but I should probably calm the fuck down on that score, seeing as the Dark Angels in it will see absolutely no use. Some of the Cultists are earmarked for use as models for my Necromunda gang, the Dart Frogs. As you may recall, I play Necromunda. My gang rolled five (yes, five) ‘Slag’ territories, meaning my gang claims a slice of the Underhive the other gangs sniggeringly call Slaghaven. The whole turf is about as valuable and useful as a punch in the dick.
I’m crazy-tired. Excuse my rambling.
I come to you in need. With the new Citadel paints and the step by step guides in White Dwarf, I can actually risk painting rather than just basecoating and dipping. And, for once, I actually quite enjoy it, though I paint about as ‘quickly’ as I write, which is deeply unimpressive. But I’m having a load of trouble with black.
Black power armour, to be precise. I’ve got various reds down really well, but the black is kicking my teeth in.
What I’m after is that “so black that it’s blue” kinda blackness, as shown in these pics:
But, even more specifically, I’m looking for a guide (or advice) using the new Citadel paints, to keep things simple and achievable for my monkeyish paws.
If anyone can give me any advice, or a link, or something more useful than “You’re shit” and “Use different paints”, then you’ll live forever in the Hall of Valour, and when I inevitably ascend to Godhood over the world’s insomniacs, I guarantee* I’ll reward you by totally buying you a rollercoaster.
The kind of step-by-step guides I mean are the White Dwarf ones, like so, that tell you to Basecoat, Layer, Glaze, and so on:
* Not a legally binding guarantee
I just got sent this.
Hmm. What could this book possibly be about?
Most people got the reference to who Kargos is, in the Betrayer prologue yesterday.
Obviously, like most 40K reference characters, he’s basically… no one. Most characters are guys or girls from images and/or quotes from 5-25 years ago, and just to have a little slice of continuity, their names get used as cute nods to old material. But there’s never any real detail. (I think that’s also a key detail between the varying levels of “tie-in fiction” that get tossed about. Using an old name for continuity is a different beast from using characters with several seasons of TV behind them.)
But anyway, Kargos started out as one of my favourite pieces of artwork from way back in 2nd Edition, and a great quote that shows a little of Chaos’ depth and appeal. The artwork is a little dated now – especially in regards to physique – but it still rocks. It’s also pretty charming that he lives on a planet made entirely of fire and skulls. His 3G reception is probably shit, and no, I don’t think that’s an unfair assumption.
A lot of people are asking who Skane is, too. And who the Legio Audax are. And why is an ursus claw on a Titan? And what’s a Destroyer? And and and…
Well, you’ll have to wait for all that. Jeez.
The Dead and the Dying
SKANE WAS THE ONE to find the body. Skane, armoured in Destroyers’ black, his armour stained by the sin of the weapons he wielded. He stood knee-deep in the dead, next to the wrecked hull of a Land Raider battle tank.
“Kargos,” he voxed. His voice was tinny, laden with static. One of the of the enemy had caught him in the throat during the battle, and it had jarred his augmetic vocal chords. They needed tuning once he returned to the Conqueror.
“Kargos,” he said again, across the quiet vox channel.
“What?” His brother’s reply was also flawed by static, but from more traditional vox-corruption rather than a bionic oesophagus.
“Track my locator rune,” said Skane. “Get over here.”
“Look around you, sergeant. You think you’re the only one that needs my help at the moment?”
Skane didn’t bother looking around. He knew where he was and what he’d see – he was at the heart of it all, and the dead numbered in the thousands. Most wore armour the green of shallow oceans, cracked and shattered by the treachery of their former kindred. These were Horus’s former Sons, betrayed by their brethren and slain for their disloyalty. Among their number, armour of bloodstained white stood out like pearls among seaweed. Too many World Eaters had fallen here, though victory was undeniable. The city was dead in every direction, reduced to ash and rubble.
A shadow fell across Skane, blocking out the weak sun as a Legio Audax Warhound passed with its rattle-clank stride shaking the tortured ground. He lifted a hand to the passing war machine, receiving no acknowledgement beyond dull sunlight glinting on the Titan’s ursus claw spears. It stalked onward, splayed feet grinding ceramite and bone and twisted iron into the earth, its wolfish cockpit lowered as it hunted for life signs and scanner-scents among the dead and the dying.
Skane turned back to the ruined tank, kneeling by its front end where the minesweeper plow was decorated in scratches and a wealth of gore. A body impaled on the ‘dozer blade’s spikes twitched in uneasy repose, its fingers still scraping in futility across the metal. Skane wasn’t sure how the pinned warrior still lived, and doubted the trembling, bleeding figure would survive being pulled from the plow. Nevertheless, he spoke again.
“Kargos,” he said for the third time. It took the Apothecary several seconds to answer.
“I told you I’m busy. Fix your own damn throat, or shut up and wait until we’re back aboard the ship.”
Skane disengaged the seals at the dying warrior’s neck, lifting the helm free with a hiss of released air pressure. The revealed face was pale, bloodstained from the lips down, the eyes open and blind, while the mouth worked in silent, wordless rage, an emotion lost between fury and pain.
“I’ve found Kharn,” Skane voxed.
This time, there was no delay in Kargos’s reply. “I’m on my way.”
Here are some words you’re not reading.
Here are some more.
I’ll post the prologue soon, but I want to finish The Prince of Crows first (for the Shadows of Treachery anthology later this year). Posting the cover and prologue to Betrayer was supposed to be my reward for finishing it, but there was a cosmic combination of me writing too slow, and you all clicking Like on my Facebook page too fast.
So here you go. Click to zoom in, obviously, for all the little details Neil is so famous for.
I’m sure you’ll really, really struggle to guess what it’s about – or who is fighting who (and who, uh, looks like they’re losing).
So my Facebook page is at 1,998 Likes, and I said once it hit 2,000 I’d post the artwork and prologue for Betrayer – as well as some cool other stuff going on.
Unfortunately, none of that stuff is ready, as rather than “This will hit 2,000 Likes in a few weeks”, it became “Let’s all click Like now”.
Yes. I understand this is my fault for trusting you assholes.
But I figure I can at least give you this.
So very beautiful.
My God… it’s full of stars.