Author Interview – Josh Reynolds

Mondays, mondays, mondays. Always the same, yet so exciting, at least over here on the Bloghole. Just like all the mondays before, we have a new author interview for you folks, this week’s guest of honour being Josh Reynolds. Josh is one of Black Library’s most recent authors, having joined just last year and already moving on to some truly great things as you will find out in the interview below.

Josh is quite the prolific writer and works on both fiction and non-fiction, within any genre or style that he fancies. He started off for Black Library through the monthly Hammer & Bolter eZine and has a full-length novel set in the Warhammer Fantasy setting coming out in March, with another just-as-exciting-if-not-more novel coming out next year in January. In the meantime, I’m sure he will be delighting us with more great fantasy tales in the Old World.

Shadowhawk: You are one of the recent additions to the line-up of authors writing for Black Library. How did it come about?

Josh: Luck and happenstance. I was scrounging around for submission opportunities and ran across BL’s guidelines. I figured it was worth a shot, so I knocked out a novel pitch that day and submitted it. The editors liked it and the rest you know.

I sound like I’m making light of it, but to me at the time it was just one more pitch in a weekly volley.  I was surprised as anything when they got back to me.

Shadowhawk: What is the Warhammer Fantasy setting like compared to some of the other settings you have worked in? What would you say is the charm of the Old World?

Josh: That it has none? Charm, I mean. It’s a nasty, brutish place where the doomsday clock is always five seconds to midnight and the wolf is at the door of the world. That’s a pretty far cry from most other modern fantasy settings out there, which is why I like it, I suppose. Too, I’m a big fan of Karl Edward Wagner, Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock and their respective settings, which are all similar sort of places.

Also, it was an easier setting to set a book in for someone who has a limited and out of date knowledge of the established lore. The meta-story of Warhammer Fantasy hasn’t changed much when you compare it to how the 40k universe has evolved in the past few years. There’s less to catch up on, and frankly, I’m lazy.

Shadowhawk: You have had three short stories published through the Hammer & Bolter eZine, one of which is also in the Age of Legend anthology. What can you tell us about them?

Josh: Well, lessee…The First Duty (from H&B issue 6) is a prequel to Knight of the Blazing Sun. It features the protagonist, Hector Goetz, in his first outing as fully-fledged knight of the Order of the Blazing Sun – the repercussions of which reverberate through the novel. I was asked to write it as a lead-in to the book, and a section of it appears in the book, albeit altered a bit. Really, I was just trying to hit the beats and tropes of a good Warhammer story with it. I was testing my muscles, so to speak.

The Gods Demand (H&B issue 11 and Age of Legend) was a funny one, because it was actually completely different initially. The basic plot was the same, but the story was much less bleak. Unfortunately, about a week after I’d written it and sent it in, I ran across the Beastman army book and saw that there was a three or four page bit of text that described the fall of Hergig in detail. Not having read this previously, I, of course, wrote something completely different. So, I had to re-write The Gods Demand and in a hurry.  Other than that, I will say that I’d love to write Gorthor again…I picture him as a sort of beastman equivalent to Robert E. Howard’s Bran Mak Morn – the last true king of a degenerate and devolving people.

And finally, Dead Calm, which has a vampire pirate (vam-pirate) in it, as well as a cod-Italian necromancer and a variety of sea-beasties. Because I didn’t realize that anyone remembered Fell Cargo. Anyway, this story is tangentially tied in to Knight of the Blazing Sun. The protagonist, Erkhart Dubnitz, Knight of Manann, boisterous bruiser and Brian Blessed impersonator, is a secondary character in the book, and editor Christian Dunn liked him so much, he suggested that I write a story or two about him. So I did.

Shadowhawk: Knight of the Blazing Sun comes out in next month and is your first full novel for Black Library. What attracted you to the Knightly Orders?

Josh: Honestly, it was the fact that they hadn’t really been written about, barring the Reiksguard and the Knights of the White Wolf. I figured going for a group that (a) hadn’t been touched and (b) had miniatures available was a good bet as far as attracting an editor’s interest. Also, (c) is (or was) a playable class in the Warhammer MMORPG meaning there might be a good many folks who’d impulse buy the book, should it be published. That sounds a bit mercenary, but I like to play the strong odds when I submit a pitch.

As far as what attracted me to the Order of the Blazing Sun itself, well, mainly that they weren’t Sigmar-worshippers, oddly enough. I wanted to explore how a group acting under a more-Moderate? Pragmatic?-doctrine might approach the Long War with Chaos. Too, there’s been almost nothing written about them save the basic ‘went to the Crusades, found a goddess, brought her home’ bit, so I figured I’d be free to get creative with the Order’s quirks and ethos.

Also, I’m a fan of big ol’ crazy-ass helmets.

Shadowhawk: It was announced recently that you are working on a Time of Legends trilogy featuring Neferata, queen of the Lahmian Vampires and also the progenitor of the lords of the other bloodlines as well. How did that come about?

Josh: I was offered the gig and I took it. Beyond that, I have no idea why they decided I was the dude to tackle it. But I’m glad they did…I got student loans to pay off.

Shadowhawk: Any more Warhammer short stories planned for Hammer & Bolter this year?

Josh: One at the moment…Stromfels’ Teeth is a follow-up to “Dead Calm”, featuring Erkhart Dubnitz fighting shark-monsters and shark-cultists during a shark-holiday. Also, there are sharks.

Shadowhawk: Given the chance, which faction, character or event would you like to write about for Warhammer 40,000?

Josh: Offhand, I’d love to write something with the Celestial Lions space marine chapter…heroic, if naive, idealists who cross the wrong Inquisitor and pay for it with the very legacy of their chapter. That’s pathos that is. Box office gold.

Shadowhawk: Your body of work outside of Black Library is immense: nearly a hundred short stories, six novels and a score of non-fiction titles. How do you manage it all?

Josh: I’m a workaholic and I have excellent time-management skills. Also, I’m a relatively quick writer, which comes in handy, what with deadlines and such.

Shadowhawk: How would you introduce readers of Black Library fiction to your other work?

Josh: Well, I write a lot of different stuff so there’s bound to be something the hypothetical reader would enjoy…if you like steampunk and/or Robocop, there’s the Mr. Brass stories. If you like steampunk, but NOT Robocop, but you do like Aztecs and/or alternate histories and detectives, there’s the “Strange Affairs…” stories. If you’re a fan of occult detectives, I’ve got a slew of stories featuring Charles St. Cyprian, Royal Occultist and his snarky sidekick Ebe Gallowglass. Like Sherlock Holmes pastiches? I’ve written a few of those. Public domain pulp characters? I got you covered. Lovecraftian fiction? Done a fair bit of that too. Really, if you like genre fiction of any stripe, I’ve got something you’ll like.

In fact, if anyone reading this has their interest perked by any of the things mentioned above, they can send me a request via the Bolthole and I’ll shoot them a PDF sampler of some of those stories, free of charge.

How’s that for an introduction?

Shadowhawk: What is the writing process like for you?

Josh: It’s a bit like building a piece of machinery, honestly. It’s not a very creative process…I tend to write out an outline and then I write chunks of that outline (usually whatever bit interests me the day in question), occasionally stopping to see how it all fits together and whether I need to trim or extend anything. I work eight hours a day at the computer and then another three to four with a notepad. I also tend to work on two or three things at once, so on any given day I’ll work on a book for four hours or two thousand words, whichever comes first, and then I’ll switch over to a short story or a book review or even another book for the next four hours.

In the evenings, I’ll sit with a notepad and scratch out notes on edits I need to make or draft out scenes to write the next day or I’ll plot out the next few chapters, just to double-check that the outline is still holding its shape.

After I’m finished with a given bit of work, I’ll let it sit for a day or three, and then I’ll go back and tear it apart over the course of a day, making any changes that I think need to be made at the time. And then off it goes to wherever it’s going and I move on to the next thing.

It’s all a bit mechanical and boring, really.

Shadowhawk: Any particular music you listen to while you write or is it a case of no distractions at all?

Josh: I mostly just hit ‘play all’ and ‘shuffle’. My musical tastes are eclectic, so I get a nice random selection. I often listen to podcasts as well, or pop in a DVD. I like noise when I work. Occasionally I’ll make up a soundtrack of sorts that I listen to regularly while I’m working on a particular project…Neferata, for instance, is being written mainly to Brownbird’s new album, Salt for Salt and Murder-by-Death’s Red of Tooth and Claw.

Shadowhawk: You write both Fantasy and Science-Fiction alike. Any particular preference for either?

Josh: Nope! I writes what I wants, when I wants. I will say that, more often than not, I tend to blend the two, usually inadvertently. I use whatever tropes, clichés or genre signifiers I need to tell the particular story I’ve got in mind.

Shadowhawk: What are you looking forwards to the most for 2012 in terms of your own work?

Josh: Well, there’s the usual flock of short stories – around seven or eight at the moment – that are due to appear in print sometime this year. Then there’s the Mack Bolan novel I wrote for Gold Eagle that should be appearing later this year. What I really look forward to, I suppose, is getting more work! I’ve got a number of submissions-in-progress that I’m quite excited about, short stories and novels both.

Did I mention I’m a workaholic?

Shadowhawk: Anything else happening this year you are absolutely stoked for?

Josh: Stoked? No. Enthused? Possibly.

Shadowhawk: Any plans to attend either Black Library Live 2012 or the Black Library Weekender in November?

Josh: I plan to attend both of them, actually. I mean, I wasn’t invited or anything, but I’ll be there.

In the back.

Watching you.

Seriously though, yeah, I’ll be at both of them.

Shadowhawk: Anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Josh: Did you know that crows are great mimics? You can teach them to cuss. Just…all inadvertent, like.

Also, don’t cuss near an open window.

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Hope you enjoyed that interview. You can find more on Joshua Reynolds through his blog, Hunting Monsters, where you can also find a complete list of all his work. It is a rather long list so beware!

His short story Stromfel’s Teeth, in Hammer & Bolter #17 will be out next month in January, with Knight of the Blazing Sun coming out the month after in March. The latter is also currently available for preorders through the Black Library site here.

Next we will have another new entrant to the ranks of Black Library authors, Paul S. Kemp. You may recognise his name from his numerous Forgotten Realms and Star Wars novels among other things.

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