Every time I finish writing a novel I have a day or two of clarity. I become aware of real things, like other people, the news, the world etc. It makes me feel a bit like a hedgehog, gummy eyed and confused, emerging from a pile of leaves. I always find it a bit disorientating, to be honest. I’m just wrapping up my eighteenth novel. My editor is checking through the second draft to see if there are any final tweaks we can make. I’m sure it’s been said before but editors really are the unsung heroes of novels (mine, at least). My editor this time round was Kate Hamer at the Black Library and she’s made so many great suggestions. Despite being a massive introvert, I think the collaborative part of novel writing is the part I enjoy most.
Since Soulslayer was released (to some really lovely reviews) I’ve written two more novels, both for Games Workshop, but neither are scheduled for release until 2023 so it will be a long wait until I can see what people think of them. I’ve also had covid (natch) and turned fifty. I celebrated my half century in the same way I spend most of my birthdays – looking confused near a bookshop.
This weekend sees the release of a Warhammer Crime anthology called The Vorbis Conspiracy. I contributed a story featuring my assassin character, Orthoptera (he’s appeared in some of the previous crime anthologies) and this was an unusual project for me. Rather than writing in isolation, the authors based their stories around a central event that threads through the whole book. As a result, it’s somewhere between an anthology and a novel, with characters from different stories interacting and the plots all working to form a central narrative. It was great fun to do and Orthoptera’s a really interesting character to write so I’m hoping to come back to him in the future.
This year has also seen the rerelease of the first book I ever wrote. The Witch Hunter’s Handbook was written nearly twenty years ago and I had no idea it was going to be republished in this fancy new format. It was a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it print on demand product, but hopefully a few more people now know what to do if they discover a plague daemon in their garden shed. (We’ve all been there.)
Ok, that’s all for now. I’m just going to crawl back under these leaves and get back to work. See you on the other side.
Yep, the secret’s out: I’ve managed to hang onto Gotrek’s coat tails for a third novel. Soulslayer has just been announced over on the Warhammer Community site and it was the first time I’ve seen the glorious cover art. It’s by the ridiculously talented Anna Lakisova who also painted the Gitslayer art (see below).
This is by far my favourite of the three Gotrek novels I’ve written. They’ve all been great fun to work on but in this book I really feel like I’ve honed in on the key aspect of these stories: the fractious relationship between Gotrek and his companion, Maleneth. They’re the ultimate odd couple, opposed in so many ways but also bound together by the adventures they’ve shared. They’re both so clear in my head now that I can put them in almost any situation and they take the lead, sparking off each other and dragging me through the story, often in ways I never expected. In this book we see Gotrek fully embrace his purpose in the Mortal Realms, moving on from his past but also finding a way to live up to his ancestry. But the fire in his soul draws the attention of one of the strangest, most interesting races in the Warhammer universe. The Idoneth are, on the surface at least, nightmares summoned from the deep, like a hallucinogenic, half-remembered fable, but in this novel I’ve had a chance to shine a light on what drives them. There’s a damaged but defiant nobility to them that I admire. They’ve been shunned and rejected but, like Gotrek, they’ve never accepted defeat. Pitting them against the Slayer made for some great scenes and allowed me to explore the tragic story of this ancient race.
Soulslayer picks up where Gitslayer left off, with Gotrek and Maleneth travelling through Chamon. I’ve written all three novels to work as standalone books though, so it’s fine to start with the new novel. If you’re new to Gotrek, you actually have various places to jump on. You could go right back to his beginnings in the Old World, with the classic Bill King book, Trollslayer. Or you could listen to David Guymer’s excellent audio drama, Realmslayer, which introduces Gotrek to the Age of Sigmar setting and features the gloriously bombastic tones of Brian Blessed. Or you could just pick up any one of the three novels I’ve written.
Soulslayer is due to be released in 2022 so, if you’re keen to get your flippers on a hardback edition keep your eyes peeled – Gitslayer sold out fast when it was released earlier this year. If you’re interested in knowing more about Gotrek, the brilliant Track of Words site has more info here .
This is the sixteenth full length novel I’ve written over the last decade but no one seems able to stop me so I’m already halfway through number seventeen. For a full list of everything I’ve written, take a look at the ‘my books’ page. More news on the next book soon.
With winter closing in I’ve been spending my evenings in the warm, working on lots more paintings. I’ve been trying some more watercolour hares. I think their inherent scruffiness suites my messy painting style. I’m going to try and do more of these looser, scratchier sketches.
Hey kids. The start of this month marked the beginning of my fifth year as a full-time writer and I’m still not sure if I’m meant to hyphenate ‘full time’ or not. Answers on a postcard, please. Since the release of my last novel, Dominion, I’ve written another Age of Sigmar novel (due for release some time in the new year) another batch of short stories and I’m now halfway through another novel. I’m in pretty steady routine now, which is usually a sign there’s a big change headed my way! I’m still trying to teach myself to paint but I’m starting to think I’ll only ever really get the hang of it if I actually studied with someone who knows what they’re doing. I’ve heard a rumour that paints come in colours other than brown but I’m sceptical. I’m still enjoying chipping away with these, though, and I think I improve a little with each one. I try and do one a night. Here are a few recent efforts:
I’ll be back with more news once the next novel has been announced. It’s a doozy.
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.)