Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

As 2012 Draws to a Close…

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.

My bad.

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.



December 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

I’m Still Alive, Post-Canada (Mega Photo Update)

So here’s a photo of me touching Chris Wraight’s balls:

No, really. My knuckles bumped his balls. We had a Moment.

I was in Canada for a while, with a bunch of the other Black Library authors. Here’s Dan, Nik, Jim, Chris, me, Gav and Graham. Gemma, who actually organised the event, isn’t here for some reason. But many thanks to her for playing hostess with aplomb. As I’ve said before, I don’t travel well, but this was a pretty magnificent week away.

I had my usual pre-event (and indeed, during-event) discomfort that nothing short of growing a backbone will ever stop, but no one died. I consider that a net gain for humanity. I also got to meet the Chestermere town mayor dressed as a Sister of Battle (no, really) and ate Vietnamese food for the first time ever, which was life-changingly good. (Thanks, Nathan and his Lilliputian bride, Theresa.)

As always, I took no decent photos. You may recall my trip to Chicago? Yeah, where this pic from the Lego store was the only photo that made it back with me:

My photos from Canada are similarly useless and/or meaningless to anyone who isn’t me.

Here’s one of the Rockies that’s actually real and not fake:

This is a real place. I was actually there, and actually took this photo.

And here’s one at Banff, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life:

And as you can see, I used it to be mean to Houston, for beating the Suns in the 1993 playoffs. No, I won’t get over it. No, you shut up.

Also, Katie and Jim Swallow jazzed up my Chaos Raptors by introducing this… this Disco Madness or whatever:

And for some reason, I have this photo of me in a restaurant:

And (true story) that was taken by a Marines Errant player by the name of Jason, whose Chapter I killed off in Blood Reaver. 

He was very forgiving.

There was also this guy:

…who looked crazy-similar to my friend Nik. So much so, that I made him stand there while I texted Nik this very photo. “STAY THERE, MAN. OH MY FUCK, YOU LOOK JUST LIKE MY FRIEND NIK. HE HAS TO SEE THIS SHIT.”

My friends Nik and Rob (who I have, on occasion, been known to call my brothers in the most exquisite moments of bromance) came over to see me, Katie and Alexander while we were at my mum’s place for one night, pre-Canada:

…and as you can see, I was totally justified in my claims of clonehood. That guy looked just like Nik, man. I kept staring at The Clone for the rest of the day, which I hope he didn’t notice, as in a strictly legal sense, I was probably stalking him.

Also, here’s one of Rob and Alexander:

I’m pretty shit at taking photos, but the two ones above really touched me. They were great moments – but then, I cry at the end of How to Train Your Dragon, so I’m not really an emotionally stable human being. My word simply cannot be trusted.

For some reason, totally out of order, there’s also one I took on my last jog:

…which I stopped, breathless and disgusted, to take. Rural Ireland is a very rainy place, and it pulls shit like this on the countryside lanes all the time. It’s like it has a gentle grudge against the people that live here. Sometimes there are trees in the road, because Ireland just thought that would jazz the place up a bit. Sometimes the diesel freezes in your car, putting you at very real risk of death unless your father-in-law has a pimpingly huge 4×4 to get groceries. It’s the sort of place that resents human intrusion, and isn’t shy to let it show.

I ran through that puddle a moment later, and it was almost Geneva Conventions-breakingly cold. As I did it, I thought of all the soldiers who read my work, and all the cross-country training they do. I’d like to say I had a moment of unselfish perspective and realised my problems weren’t all that great after all, but that would be a lie. My feet were wet, cold, and fuck you because that was bad enough.

But I have no idea why that photo is there, completely out of order.

While we were gone, Alexander was playing at my mum’s house for the week. Every day, she’d update her Facebook with pictures and a blog of what he’d been up to that day, and some absolutely beautiful shots came out of it.

Here’s a couple with his great-granddad:

I want to get the second one blown up and framed for the hallway wall.

And, perhaps most importantly, Mum was good enough to start grooming my replacement. She says he was updating his blog, but I’m intensely sucky at that, so this casts his entire lineage into question.

Also, it’s finally, finally done. Betrayer went to the wire, being just as late as The First Heretic, Blood Reaver, and The Emperor’s Gift. Let it never be said that I’m not consistent, even if it’s consistency in the very worst ways.

But since none of you care about any of that, here’s a new infrequent feature that I’m sure to forget about. Desktop Watch! What I’m working on right now:

The Underworld War is my Gal Vorbak story in the Mark of Calth anthology, detailing the ins and outs of daemonic possession, and the Word Bearers left to die on Calth, hoping for reinforcements that aren’t coming.

The Lord Inquisitor, quite obviously, is WIP document for The Lord Inquisitor. I’ll restate for the bajillionth time: me and Erasmus are redoing the whole story, and the voice actor in the proof of concept trailer is long, long gone.

The Talon of Horus is the synopsis for, uh, a novel with the working title of The Talon of Horus. It’s the first in my (hopefully long-running) Sons of Horus / Black Legion series. But we’ll see. It’s just in the first tentative stages right now, and I’m a changeable creature.

So now you’re up to date.

Leave me alone.

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Art Attack! Bow Chicka Bow Wow

As you may have heard from the most reputable news sources, it was my birthday yesterday. Out of the blue, someone sent me this beautiful son of a… ahem, the sunless world:

I think we can all guess who that is.

As presents from nowhere come, that’s a hell of a lovely thing to wake up to. I get sent quite a lot of art – often with “Please don’t post this as it’s not finished” warnings, as well as First Claw conversion images, but I think this might be my fave. The selfish reason of it being a birthday present may indeed be making me biased, but my answer to that is Bite Me, followed by Please Eat My Balls.

On a similar note, I was recently watching a bunch of Traitor Legion tribute videos on YouTube, and although it should’ve been obvious, I was still surprised to see my influence painted all over the Night Lords ones. It made me miss First Claw, not only because if I’d kept them in the game they’d have been a license to print money (teehee!), but because I loved those guys, heart and soul, and I think I’ll always miss them.  Sometimes I muse over adding them as a Chosen Squad to my Chaos Marine army, but even by my standards, that’s a whole spire of self-indulgent bullshit.

But I digress. Let’s discuss art, as I’m in the mood to do so.

A lot of WoW players get their characters artworked up at some point. I’m usually too embarrassed, as despite most of my WoW, uh, “career” spent playing undead, I’ve played a lot of trolls (their faux Rastafarian-ness makes me cringe with some pale shade of residual white guilt) and blood elves (who are the victims of endless “gay” / “girl” / “losers play elves to feel cool” jokes because they’re less muscled, hunched and hideous than the other Horde races). But getting your character inked – or at least, inked well – is usually a cause for “Oh, hell yes!” moments in an RP guild.

Also, often a cause for “These aren’t tears of jealousy, there’s just some hatred in my eye” moments.

Katie recently commissioned some artwork of her paladin, along with another guildie’s paladin, as the two characters are very close – with a sisterhood kinda deal going on. As a late Christmas present, I actually begged Neil Roberts (of Eldar Path and Horus Heresy Series cover fame) to do both of Katie’s main characters, as well as Ron Spencer (of Werewolf: the Apocalypse and WoW: TGC fame). Those are all in mid-scribble, so either me or Katie will show them when they roll in. Patience, grasshopper. Professional artists are busy people; they also suffer from the ire of Deadline Gods.

But I thought some of you might this interesting in the meantime. I’m sort of in love with it – not only does it look lush, it also captures them both to perfection.

Here’s the final piece of the two girls, with the usual “click to make it bigger” addendum:




August 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Dear Fuchsia – Part IIIa: 21/2/12

Dear Fuchsia,

As I write these words to you, it’s 1:34am on Tuesday 21st of February. Depending on which due date you prefer to believe, you’re either due yesterday, in 6 days, or in a week and a half.

I’m listening to ‘The Humbling River’ by Puscifer – which, incidentally, is fucking awesome.

Right now, I look like this:

…only less blurry in real life.

Katie (your mum; calling her that is still very weird to me) just texted me saying she was trying to sleep, but not doing too well with it. The last time I saw her was just before 1am, and she was in behind these very doors:

I just went downstairs to get some stuff ready, before I inevitably forget to do it later. Katie wanted me to bring 5 things to the hospital tomorrow – five things in addition to the three bags of Whatever that I’m already toting around.

It’s now 1:59.

I’ve remembered 4 of them: The book she was reading; The camcorder (which was a wedding present, by the way, and came with us on our honeymoon); some (more?) socks (for some reason?); and her phone charger. Whatever the fifth element in this continuum was supposed to be, I suspect it’s banished from my mind forevermore. I could text Katie and ask, but I don’t want to risk waking her up.

‘Shake It Out’, by Florence and the Machine just came on my random playlist. That’s a cool song.

Last night, literally minutes after I’d arranged to go see Bruce Springsteen in Dublin with Katie (and our friends who’re almost definitely going to be Uncle Rob and Auntie Erika to you), Katie informed me that her pee was a funny dark colour. This was rare. Dare I say it, this was exciting. I thought, for the first time in 9 months, this pregnancy was going to do something interesting. Frankly, it’s been pretty tedious past the major milestones, so you owed us some jazz hands.

Like all adults in this exciting age of reason and rhyme, we Googled symptoms. As with all Google diagnoses, it turned out to be something between Nothing At All and Total Womb Destruction – the latter of which, now that I type it out, is sort of a rad band name.

Panic wasn’t exactly setting in. As I said, you’ve been such a boring pregnancy event-wise that if I’m being completely honest with you, I’ve often forgot you existed, and stopped marvelling at the process months ago. For a long-ass time, you’ve been nothing more than a parasite that makes my beloved new bride into a swollen, waddling Sigh Factory. Weekly checkups always showed a very strong heart. You’ve been extremely active in the tummy (I call it the Fuchsia Pod) to the point where every single midwife making a note of it has become boring, too. Yes, it’s hard to find the heartbeat because she always moves so much. Yes, we’re aware she’s an active baby. Yes, we’re aware the heartbeat’s very strong once you find it. These are the things I endure for you. It’s like a shitty repeat loop of the most banal small talk. One of the most active babies you’ve seen? Wow. Woo. Yay. All that means to me is that when she’s born, she probably won’t sleep much. That’s not good. Sleep is awesome. If you don’t think that, Fuchsia, I’m not even sure you’re the blood of my blood.

So even now, when something unusual happened, I have to admit I thought it was probably going to turn out to be nothing.

“But she never does anything interesting,” I said. “It’s a boring pregnancy. We know that already.” There may have been a hint of whining in my tone, there. I won’t deny it.

We tried calling the maternity ward, six times, without getting an answer. I wanted to make a crack about the NHS being shit, but that would be the kind of thing a Tory would do. Instead, I blamed the lack of an answer on the Tories, which made me feel much better and infinitely more indignant about the whole situation.

When we eventually got through, Katie explained the situation. They said we should come in, just in case, as it might be any number of things.

We reached the hospital just before 8pm. There were several more incidents with staff that made me think things like: “Hey, shut your mouth for three seconds so my wife can explain what’s happening,” and: “You, madam, are a cunt.” But overall, it went pretty smoothly. Enter 800 tests, stage right, most of which involved me holding things to Katie’s stomach to find your heartbeat. The phrases “The baby’s fine” and “See, that’s a happy baby” joined the rest of the pregnancy’s tedious phrases that – because of their overall niceness – I can’t bring myself to say were exactly unwelcome, but were still a bit, y’know, vague and boring.


Katie’s water had broken, but it was one of the slower, subtler ones rather than a brilliant piss-yourself-downpour, which she’d been dreading and I was totally looking forward to finding hilarious, like an insensitive jackass. And the reason her pee was a funny colour was because it wasn’t just pee. It was, in fact, mostly amniotic fluid.

In what may be the most grotesque thing ever to be amusingly common in pregnancy, you’d triggered one of the signs of foetal distress by, uh, making meconium in the amniotic fluid. While I appreciate that means I don’t need to clean it up (seriously, the horror stories of that stuff have been my Number 1 Terror), and while I know it’s not exactly rare, it does tick a few danger boxes. I’ll be 100% honest: Katie wasn’t scared, she was disgusted. Being told by the nurse that it happens a lot didn’t help her get over it. I wasn’t scared, either. I thought it was gross and high-larious. “Good, strong heart,” they kept saying. “She’s a happy baby.” And all I could think was “Why is she happy? There might still be some poo on her skin. I wouldn’t be happy if I was her. Goddamn, babies are gross.”

So Katie’s staying tonight for observation. After about 5 hours, they kicked me out and told me to phone at 9am tomorrow morning to see if there was (in their words) “anything happening”. Nice. Nice and blase’. Not even “Come back in visiting hours.” It’s “Call first, about mid-morning, or whatever.”

This probably sounds scarier than it is. To explain it better, I’ve just spent those 6 hours listening to your heartbeat and movements, and – perhaps more reassuringly – listening to nurses bang on about how good your heart sounds and how your movements are fine. Katie’s being induced, with proceedings aiming to kick off tomorrow morning. If everything goes wrong at the last minute, she goes in for a C-section. Right now, with her water broken, she’s in the teeny-tiny contractions (and less tiny cramps) of early labour. I was fine to crash in a chair by her bedside, but no dice.

So now I’m here, home, at almost 3am and listening to ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’ by P!ink on my playlist melting into ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ by Amon Amarth. I can’t sleep. I should probably try. The nurses kept telling me to. Katie kept telling me to. I can tell it’s not going to happen.

So. Thanks for finally doing something interesting. Something not exactly unique, but gross enough to be notable. We’ll call that phenomenon “grotable”.

See you tomorrow.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 30 Comments

(Why I Made) The Face

Some of you may remember when I made The Face, at about 6pm on July 16th.

Hello, ladies.

At that moment, I’d just sat down, and my new wife Katie (so new I still called her my “wuh… wuh… ex-fiancee”) had just left the house to go watch Harry Potter with her family. I was staying in to do some work, and to avoid Harry Potter like the plague. Shut up, plebs. Don’t judge me.

Anyway. I’d had The Face on for just over a minute. A curious thing was happening to the skin over my skull. It was locked in place, forming The Face, and it stayed with the tenacity of rigor mortis as the seconds kept ticking on by. Intrigued by what The Face felt like, I took a photo of it to see what it looked like.

Turns out it looked like me pulling a stupid face, somewhere between fear and confusion. Who’d have thought?

The reason for The Face was was a simple (but frightening) one.

One Minute Before The Face: About a minute before the photo was taken, just as The Face started to settle onto my rugged and chubby-cheeked hamsterish features, I was standing alone in my kitchen, in silence, preparing to walk upstairs. I was also thinking “I wonder if I have her piss on my hands now”, which was exceedingly unromantic, but there we go.

Two Minutes Before The Face: About a minute before that urine-based thought, I was in the same room with Katie. She was smiling and trying not to laugh, while unnameable emotions danced in the hazel and green swirls of her Irish eyes. I, on the hand, was hopping from foot to foot, clutching two pregnancy tests that she’d recently peed on, and saying “Oh shit oh fuck oh Jesus where’s your mum let’s talk to your mum oh fucking hell.”

She didn’t want to talk to her mum. Not yet. She was about to go see Harry Potter with her family, and her parents were going on holiday for two weeks mere hours after the cinema trip. Now, she reasoned, was not the time to inform them we were accidentally pregnant many, many months earlier than even our vaguest plans.

I dealt with this in a manner becoming of all thirty-year-old adult males. I was cool, calm, and collected. “But but but but shit oh Jesus what if it likes football and wants to join the army?” I said, uttering what history will surely recall as my most excellent and rational sentence. A crazier thought manifested, but I never said it aloud. ‘Maybe if I’m gay this won’t be real’, I thought. But that made such little sense that even my stalling hind-brain refused to give it voice. It was too late for gayness. Much too late.

Three Minutes Before The Face: And about a minute before my wondrously eloquent outburst (and secret failure of a homosexuality escape plan), I was alone in the bathroom, having cheated and crept in to look at the tests before Katie checked them. They were wrapped in tissue paper. I was still thinking ‘Gross, she peed on those,’ as I used a shower gel bottle to roll the tests over so I could see properly. I said, very clearly, “Fuck.”

There followed a moment of silent, raw smugness. I actually cupped my balls and nodded to myself. ‘This must be what men feel like’, I thought. Did I feel a brief spark of awareness in that moment? Did I suddenly want to play football, or perhaps even more drastically, watch other men play it?

The answer was no.

The moment of powerful manliness faded. I began to hop from foot to foot. Clutching the pee-sticks in my hand, I went to tell the girl I’d been married to for two weeks that I was both masculine and virile, and she was about to spend the next year getting fat. As has been explained, what actually happened was that I mumbled swear words at her, and she went to see Harry Potter while silently panicking, and I went to take a photo of my face. The Face, in fact.

The next generation Dembski-Bowden. Week 12-13.

We call her Fuchsia. For you foreign folks, that’s pronounced Fyoosha. I mean, we’re not actually calling her Fuchsia (after Fuchsia Groan from Gormenghast, because Katie won’t let me), but that’s how we refer to her now, as her “Oh Jesus, there’s a baby inside you” name. It might be a boy, for all we know. We have names picked out, but it’s early days. We’ll save all that for later.

I’m immensely looking forward to one thing about parenthood more than any other: inflicting my bitch of a surname on yet another human being. It’s so, so, so much fun to hear Katie saying “Dembski-Bowden… D… E… M… No, there’s a B… S… K… I… Hyphen… B…” to other people, after so many years of suffering alone. My brother has the same name, but I’ve never heard him have to spell it for people, so my joy was diminished in that regard. But Katie spells it all the time, and it’s hilarious. I had no idea I looked that annoyed for so many years. I look forward to Fuchsia knowing the same delightful torture at a mental surname.

In another moment of absolute intelligence, in the name of being thorough, I asked the doctor doing the scan this morning: “Uh, so, like, it doesn’t have two heads or anything?”

Evidently not.

Look at her little feet.




Oh, Jesus.

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 38 Comments

The Face

On July 16th, the day after returning from my honeymoon in Bruges, I made this face:

I also apparently forgot how to shave my head.

I’ll tell you why I made this face, at some point in the future. No answer will be forthcoming for a while yet. It could be personal-life-related, it could be something about my career, it could simply be that I sat on something sharp, or conversely, something alive.

Also, my eyebrow piercing scar looks cool, there. Go me.

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 30 Comments

Artwork, Weddings, Honeymoons

Her dress went on and on and on and on. I tripped over it about 800 times in a single day.

We haven’t got the official photos back yet (it was only yesterday…) from the 2 (3?) professional photographers in attendance, but Facebook is already flooded with soul-stealing imagery of “Wait, what?” photos, taken by our friends. I’ll put some of the proffessional ones up when they come in, but here’s one of the good ones for now.

So, yeah, I’m married now. Katie Dembski-Bowden has become the third Dembski-Bowden in the world, and I’m reliably informed she has some kind of internal bio-machinery that allows her to breed and incubate successors to that hallowed bloodline. While that’s not exactly something I’m in a blind rush to arrange (largely because I just got married and am now very poor), it’s an amusing thought that I have the power to curse future human beings with the world’s most annoying surname.

I eagerly await the first time Katie has to spell it over the phone, or say it slowly to some slack-jawed goober behind a desk.

My gift, my curse.

I have a titanium ring on my finger. I was charmed by the idea of titanium because it looks silver (I hate gold), and because apparently it gets scratched and marked very easily, but never breaks. I’m peachy keen on the idea that it’ll be marked up and unshiny in a few years, showing that I’ve been wearing it every day (writing, driving, drumming while I think…), but still in perfect shape. I’m a guy who likes to wear his scars on his sleeve, so to speak, and a similar ring-thing appealed to me.

I have no time for a wedding update, really. That can come later, as I’ve got to pack for my honeymoon in a few hours. We’re heading to Bruges in the crisp, early light of the Irish dawn.

Suffice to say, my friend John French was right – it was over in a flash, and it was the best day of my life so far. I was most scared of the first dance, but that was actually the best part of the day for me. It’s insane, once you’re up there, you don’t see anyone else, you don’t even remember you’re being watched by 100 other people. It’s just the two of you.

But none of that matters to you scum, does it? My happiness is immaterial to you. You just come here to learn about bolters.

If you’ve not seen this yet, here’s the artwork for the cover of Void Stalker.

"Hey, you. I see you down there, asshole."

Oh my freaking God, look at Malcharion’s (combi) storm bolter in his hand. That’s… that’s perfect. No other words can sum it up. The gun, the Blade of Angels, his armour, the rain on the Gothic city… It’s just perfect.

I’ll show you the full cover soon enough, but let’s be honest, it’s impossible not to love this. My only criticism of Jon’s work has been that I’m not massive on his helms: I think one of the main characteristics of an Astartes helmet is that it’s bulkier towards the back (like on the miniatures, etc.) and Jon paints it so it looks like Talos is just wearing a mask. But I can say that without compromising how much I love this piece, and still back up how much I love his work. I can’t even imagine how much I owe him for his beautiful efforts selling the words within. Soul Hunter blew me away; Throne of Lies almost floored me, and Blood Reaver was an absolute stunner. His cover for Void Stalker is by far my favourite in the series, and my only worry is that he’ll now – somehow – need to beat this if there’s ever an omnibus in X years. I mean, I’m not sure it’s possible to top this. It’s divine. As the world’s most arrogant guy, I’m actually a little intimidated trying to make a novel worthy of that image.

I even know the very moment this represents in the novel, which brings me to my next slice of info about the book.

A lot of people are asking me what Void Stalker is about, considering it closes the trilogy, and the only information we really have is that First Claw, the warband, and the Echo of Damnation are going to encounter the eldar – and Talos doesn’t think they’re going to win.

Yeah, well, sorta. I’m not saying that won’t happen, but it’s not exactly what Void Stalker is about. The novel’s essentially about Talos and First Claw coming full circle. In ‘Shadow Knight’ and Soul Hunter, we saw Talos’s perspective on the Legion, and how he truly believes they deserve vengeance against an empire that failed to live up to the dreams of its founders. In Blood Reaver, we saw snippets of conflicting views (which, notably, are closer to the actual canon – canonically, the Night Lords were never “betrayed” as such; they (apparently) went off the rails with their slaughtering and the Imperium got annoyed about it).

Void Stalker is about Talos finally being caught in the one place he never wanted to be, and the one place he suspects he’s not ready to be: in command. He now has to lead warriors who may not agree with his, uh, ‘romanticised’ view of the Eighth Legion’s bitter past, and more importantly, he has to decide for himself just what was true and what was a deception to justify the things he’s done.

This is how the trilogy ends, and there needs to be closure. Trust me, there will be. In Void Stalker, Talos and First Claw will cut right to the heart of the Legion’s past, dredge up ancient truths, and choose how they should live their lives now.

If there’s one question that runs through the novel, it’s simply this: “Why are we still fighting?” 

The way different characters answer that, and how they react to it, may surprise a few of you.

Ultimately, First Claw are flawed, incomplete humans: they’re the Lost Boys, given immortality but stripped of moral consequences in a galaxy that has no power to judge them. They’re each a piece of a whole soul, now needing each other in the way the closest brothers and friends come to depend on each other in times of struggle and strife.

I want that to come across in Void Stalker, when Talos finally has to face up to what the Eighth Legion was, what it is, and what it might become.

I really, really, really want that sword.

July 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 31 Comments

Adepticon 2010

Chicago – and the Adepticon experience within it – doesn’t translate well into a retelling. That’s why I’ve struggled so much to write this update.

People ask me if we went to see the bright lights of the big city, and the answer is no.

People ask me if we took loads of photos, and the answer is no.

People ask me if we brought back loads of souvenirs from the States, and again, the answer is no.

With disbelief straining their faces, people ask if  we even left the hotel, and the answer to that is “Yeah, of course, but not that much.”

For me, Adepticon in Chicago was something of a landmark moment, and one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. The con itself eclipsed my preconceptions by a huge degree, with some serious crowds taking up the entire mass of the huge-ass hotel. I can see why so many gamers in the States flock there; it’s a nexus of tabletop carnage over 3 official days (and 1.5 unofficial ones), and the atmosphere was absolutely unrivaled. You’ve got conference room after conference room reserved for different games, packed with tables, and the aura is a clashing mix of laughter, clattering dice and cheap beer. I admit, before I went, I was expecting a humble little boredom storm in the ass end of nowhere, but it was absolutely fucking killer.

If I’m lucky enough to get invited again, I’m taking an army with me, so I can get some late night games in. Gaming at 2am in a decent hotel, beer in hand and sneer in place, is the only stylish way to destroy one’s enemies.

I’d planned to try and hang out with Hank and Bill, the Adepticon overseers, but that didn’t pan out – I spent my time either signing things, drinking things, or talking to people about things. I did get a cracking story from Hank about Graham McNeill getting wasted with them when he came over last time. I could tell it was the truth, because he mentioned the words Graham and Drinking in the same sentence. Only people that know him would make such an intuitive connection, cutting right to the core of his highlandish character.

Let’s break the weekend down into quantifiable parts:

  • Uncle Vince

Black Library’s American uberlord is Vince Rospond – a man I was greatly afeared of meeting. Is “afeared” actually a word? I thought it was, and I just used it there to be funny, but the auto spellcheck thing is red-lining it and calling me a retard. No matter. Let’s press on.

Vince wasn’t the slick, pony-tailed badass biker that I was expecting. (Which is good, because I already have Jim Swallow in my life for that. The quota is filled, the threshold is reached.)

In fact, I think in one of the interviews I did, I called him The World’s Nicest Maths Teacher, which sounds like an insult in the glories of hindsight, but wasn’t meant to be. Something that always defies the stereotype in the States is that once you’re past Immigration, everyone is always really, really nice, rather than the impolite Jesus-junkies you expect them to be from watching the news.

Vince exemplified this Transatlantic benevolence. Three minutes into meeting him, I wanted him to adopt me as some kind of hopeless, wayward nephew. In this family-morphing scenario, I’d know him as Uncle Vince, and whenever I was in trouble, I’d go to my Uncle Vince and he’d be nice and American at me, making it all better. I recall vaguely imagining this, while he talked professional for a while.

Over the course of the weekend, he variously put up with me a) needing naps; b) calling people cunts as I signed their books; c) drinking my bodyweight in coffee every hour; and d) asking about my American sales figures every sixteen seconds. (Very good, by the way. Go team.)

He was also one of those guys who has a story for every occasion, and as I’m the avataric embodiment of a socially-stunted hermit loathing everyone else in the world, I found that quite endearing.

Suffice to say, me and Katie left the States actually missing Vince, which was a good sign that his international niceness worked. I remain unadopted on the nephew scale, though. This displeases me immensely.

  • Interview Stuff

I did two podcast interviews, one for The Gamer’s Lounge, and one for 40K Radio. Usually, I hate doing these things without any prep time, but I think they went okay. I’ll do linkies to them soon.

The thing I recall most was realising this was the very best time to pimp myself to the masses, and instead focusing on how great I think Dan Abnett is. I don’t regret that; it was time well spent.

The first  was with Gamer’s Lounge, and although I only knew Bill and Jay from email, I was fairly confident they were decent enough human beings not to make me look like a tool. It went well, though during my “Jesus, I didn’t get any sleep and I’m totally hungover” nap, the two infidels pounced on Katie in my absence. She did an interview herself, which I’m sure she’ll link to at some point soon. If she doesn’t, I will.

It was around this time that someone (Nathan, I think) managed to get Katie into Blood Bowl. Oh, hell yes.

  • Soul Hunter

Although we sold out of Helsreach in the first few hours (Fuck yes), the thing I ended up signing by a ratio of about 5-to-1 was Soul Hunter. And not new copies, either. For the first time, I was confronted by people who’d already read my work, and were bringing me the book to sign. I’ve said before that the reception for the book has bordered on the “unbelievably, insanely positive” and that bore true in real life, rather than simply remaining on the aetheric waves of the internet. It would’ve been more awesome had it not been so surreal.

The sheer number of people saying they’re converting armies based on the novel is humbling and hamster-crushingly rad, too. That’ll be easier with a few more distinct groups, which’ll show up in Blood Reaver.

I even got to cross paths with a few guys I’d talked to on various forums (mostly Bolter & Chainsword – hi Dan’s friend Josh), but the first and foremost has to be David, from Heresy Online. David is 7 feet tall, and has stories about being bayonetted by a friend; shot in the chest at an ATM; and throwing people out of windows into ponds. I was surprised he turned out to be my kind of person, because from that description, he sounds like a right twat.

We discussed the week’s important matters, such as the possibility of making a fitness video for the new century’s lazier breed of man: “For maximum ease with minimum results”. This, I knew, was time invested in the right way. To hell with acting as an ambassador for the Black Library. I had Vince and Katie for that. My focus was on higher, more spiritual matters, like how gay the Rainbow Warrior Space Marines are.

  • 40K Radio

We spent a significant portion of the weekend drunk (or hungover) with the guys from 40K Radio. Vince had pre-warned me that I’d be doing an interview with them, and it was probably the thing I was most worried about before we touched down in the States. I’ve been listening to the show for months, so I felt like I kinda knew how it was going to unfold, but I also knew how many thousands of people listened to it… so…

Funnily enough, the one guy from the show I was most confident about meeting, Scott, didn’t make it, because he’s just had a son. But I knew from hearing him talk on the show that he liked Soul Hunter, so I figured I was on pretty solid ground there. I was also dying to take the piss out of his “Tau-riffic” catchphrase. My God, man. Stop saying that, I beg you.

So when he didn’t show up, the word “…fuck” slid around behind my eyes more than a few times.

Spencer and Chipley showed, though. One of the things I knew from the show was that these two are doing the job I wanted to do: they’re paramedics. So that was neat. I stole some ideas off them (and Nathan too, who’s a nurse), regarding resuscitation. If we’re being absolutely honest, Spencer spent all of Saturday in bed, annihilated from Friday night’s 5:30am drink-fest. But he did drink more than most of us, so I went light on the pisstaking the next day.

I enjoyed doing the interview, though it was surreal as hell to be sat in front of them, rather than listening at my desk. Though, a side benefit to actually being a fan of the show meant I recognised Spencer’s voice in the hotel lobby, despite not knowing what he looked like.

I didn’t get to say bye to them – Katie and I spent most of Monday in a state of post-con collapse – which was a shame. But they mentioned maybe heading over to Games Day UK, which would be fucking awesome. Uncle Vince threatened to do it, too.

Which reminds me: I’ll pace myself at the Games Day after-party next time, rather than drink everything in 3 hours and try to keep up with that barbarian McNeill. Some wars cannot be won.

tl;dr — Thanks for letting us come over, Hank. Adepticon was fucking amazing.

April 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 19 Comments

The Wedding Song

Katie is posting about the wedding already. This… this unnerves me.

She posted a bunch of details (http://katieadb.wordpress.com/), but I’m still stuck on the first dance.

I keep telling myself we’ve got time before a decision has to be made, and that’s true enough. But I also need to go to dance lessons, so… the first dance at our wedding needs to be to a cool song. Katie is rolling out name after name of bullshit country music, and part of the problem is that our music tastes only overlap in one place: The Boss. A consistent classic.

So while we both love Bruce Springsteen, our tastes fall either side of him. I like metal, melodeath, darkwave, industrial… She likes country music and a bunch of stuff that I can’t even identify, let alone quantify. All I know is that when she’s playing music, I can’t hear any keyboards; the drummers seem to fear going fast; and most confusing of all, the guitars aren’t even plugged in.

You have guys singing slowly about losing girls in the war, and American weirdos going on about Jesus. I think they might even be Republicans.

So, y’know, fuck that.

Of course, the obvious choice would be to choose a Springsteen song, but most of those are monumentally depressing. I mean, have you heard The RiverGlory Days? Hell, even Dancing in the Dark? This is a summer wedding in the Irish countryside, not a funeral for the American Dream. Of course, it being in Ireland, you can guarantee it’ll be absolutely pissing down with rain. But I digress.

We agreed to make a list of 5, and move on from there.

Here’s mine, and whatever happens, all of these better get played on the big day or I’m calling it off, for real. That’s the compromise for me not having any Metallica, In Flames or Monster Magnet on the list. Leaving them off was a true trial.

Pete Townshend – Let My Love Open the Door.

  • One of my favourite songs, and definitely one for the reception. Maybe not first dance material, though.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight

  • One of the bestest and emotionalest songs ever written ever, by anyone, ever, in all of history, ever.

The Wedding Present – (Come Up and See Me) Make Me Smile

  • It’s just wicked-cool. Shut up.

Mumford & Sons – The Cave

  • We both heard this for the first time when we were in the car driving back from the airport after Black Library Live. Not only is it a great song, but it has fiddly-violinny stuff in the background of the later choruses that may appease the Irish natives.

Take That – Rule the World

  • Now Take That are in their 30s and free of the irritating one, they do some really killer songs. And this was the theme to a great fillum, Stardust. (The book was better. Ahem.)

See? Not a single Metallica, Monster Magnet or In Flames song on there. This is me behaving. This is progress.

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 21 Comments