This month sees the relaunch of Games Workshop’s Age of Sigmar miniatures game. After offering sacrifices to the relevant deities I was given the chance to write a tie-in novel for the new edition, showing a ground-level view of the events described in the game. Dominion is the story of desperate crusaders, gargantuan predators and cruel, swamp-dwelling monsters. It’s exactly the kind of super-sized tale I’ve wanted to write since spending too much time watching Ray Harryhausen movies as a kid.
The book is being published in these limited edition hardbacks and they’re so bloody handsome I’ll be in a GW store on launch day, glaring at people and trying to hog them all for myself. The standard edition is also a thing of beauty, featuring the artwork from the game.
I can’t reveal too much regarding the plot, but I’m really excited to hear what people think when it goes on sale later this month. I’ve been writing Warhammer novels for years but this is bigger, bolder and bloodier than anything I’ve worked on before. After extensive tests I can confirm that it’s impossible to read without making growling noises. (Something to keep in mind if you’re using public transport or sitting near a dog.)
Despite 2020 playing silly buggers, I’ve managed to keep chipping away at the wordface this year. So, barring any major, global catastrophes (they never happen, do they?) I’ll have three new books published in 2021. One’s still under wraps but a couple have just been announced over on the GW site. It’s always exciting working on Warhammer fiction but these two are particularly special.And aren’t those covers amazing?
Liber Xenologis is a super-plush, fully illustrated coffee table book detailing the various horrific aliens that plague mankind in the 41st millennium. I was amazed by some of the content GW allowed me to cover in this book. I’ve always loved the more obscure corners of 40k lore and this book gave me chance to write about creatures and events that have only been hinted at before. It’s also crammed full of new art that is simply jaw dropping. Seriously, I think people will buy extra copies so they can cut pages out and frame them. The Black Library team have done an incredible job with this one. It’s written in-character, from the perspective of Rogue Trader, Janus Draik. He’s a character I know well from the Blackstone Fortress novels and he’s perfectly suited to this kind of work (if a little biased). The book also gave me a chance to revisit lots of the characters from the BSF novels and games, as Draik interviews the various inhabitants of Precipice. I see this as a combination of a 40k background lore book and a continuation of the Blackstone Fortress novels.
Gitslayer is my second chance to hang out with the irascible relic, Gotrek Gurnisson but it’s the first time I’ve ever written a book set in a fungal asylum(!?). It picks up where Ghoulslayer left off and it gives me a chance to explore the Slayer in more detail as he attempts to find a purpose in the Mortal Realms (beyond knocking heads with people). I think Gotrek’s one of the coolest characters to emerge from the Warhammer universes (credit due to William King for dreaming him up) so I’ll keep jumping at chances to write about him.
I’ve been stalled on my writing and feeling pretty demotivated this week. I spent a couple of days bashing my head against the same word wall, getting nowhere and stressing about it. Then, last night, rather than soldiering on with the writing, I borrowed some of my wife’s acrylic paints and had a great time producing this splodgy painting (it’s a tree I photographed at the weekend in all this lovely autumnal light we’ve got at the moment). I’m so pleased with how it turned out that I’ve started to today feeling much more positive about my writing. I suppose, what I’m trying to say is, sometimes it’s useful to prevaricate, skive off and jump onto a completely different project if it gives your brain a break from something you’re battling with. Also, autumn is pretty. Also, messy paint is fun. Also, gold.
With the end of the year approaching fast, I thought I’d better do my annual blog post. I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a wonderful year in which everything has gone swimmingly and there were definitely no problems. It’s also the year in which I decided to try and get back into drawing. I loved it at school, got put off by an annoying careers advisor and am only now getting back into it seventy or so years later. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process, chiefly that I see the world as entirely brown. I’m trying to draw every day and I thought I’d group some of this year’s sketches together here then, next year, if I do the same, I hope to see some improvement. Or at least different shades of brown. Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts.
I’ve been knee-deep in work since that last post so I thought I’d write a quick update in case anyone stops by here and thinks I’ve been slacking or gone to the great word processor in the sky. The Ingenious came out earlier this year and had some lovely reviews (see the reviews page) but was mysteriously overlooked for the Booker Prize. I can only assume this was a vendetta-fueled act of sabotage by Salman Rushdie. He’s had it in for me ever since that unfortunate dance-off incident.
So far this year I’ve written two more novels, a whole swathe of short stories and audio dramas and I’m halfway through a third novel. Only two of these releases have been publicly announced. The first is Ghoulslayer, which is my first chance to grapple with one of Warhammer’s loudest heroes, Gotrek Gurnisson (famously narrated by a full-volume Brian Blessed in the audio dramas). It was a really fun, rollicking, gore-fest of a book to write and I’m excited to see what people think of it. It’s released in September.
After that I wrote a book called City of Light, which is my third Mephiston novel set in Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe. A lot has happened in the setting since I first started writing about Mephiston and this was my chance to show him getting to grips with the apocalyptic events that have torn his galaxy in half. 40k fans should be able to tell from the title which (wonderfully deranged) location the story takes place in. It works as a standalone novel, but also concludes a lot of the plot threads and character arcs I established in the previous two novels. It’s out later this year.
As I say, I’m also halfway through another Warhammer novel (I’m planning to write five this year) and Games Workshop offered me some really enticing projects that should keep me busy up to Christmas. Then, in 2020, alongside lots more Warhammer fiction I’m going to try and find time to write another ‘original’ fantasy novel in the vein of The Ingenious (although possibly not in the same setting).
On top of that, some of my favourite old Warhammer novels have been collected into a beefy omnibus. The Orion books were planned as one big, fantasy epic, so I’m chuffed that they’ll now be sold as a single book. It goes on sale next month.
All my writing this year has been fueled by one of the best albums I have ever heard. Seriously, I have not been this excited about music since I was a teenager. It’s an album called Fugues by Kogumaza. If you buy it you are guaranteed to write gud.
That’s it for now. More news when I have it. Stay safe, squirrels.