What a superb way to spend a weekend. This was my second year at Black Library Live! and if anything, 2012 was even better than 2011.
Arriving in Nottingham at 3PM on Friday, the sun was out so I took a leisurely stroll along the canal to Warhammer World.
The first person I saw was Sarah Cawkwell. Greetings were exchanged, and she showed me her Silver Skulls dreadnought – nicknamed “The Ramminator”. The weekend had officially begun!
I got lazy this year and didn’t bring any figures with me for the Friday gaming session and so after catching up with Jon, Frank, George and Ross (Schafer, Xisor, Maugan_Ra and Narrativium) I headed into the bar to grab a drink. And Mr William King came in and sat down next to me. Turns out he is a truly lovely man.
I lose track somewhat from there, but before too much time had passed we were all – and there were a lot of us – crammed into Bugman’s around the always-too-small tables chatting furiously about everything and everything.
Setting up on Friday
Special note at this point to Simon from the Bolthole – who arrived with his better half and a copy of the Horus Heresy card based boardgame from days of yore. Unfortunately we didn’t get time to finish playing it, mainly due to a collective failure to remember the rules, but it still took me straight back to days long forgotten.
All too soon Bugman’s was shutting up for the night and so it was back to the tatty splendour of the Riverside Travelodge – well actually the bar next door for a swift couple of beers – and bed.
Saturday dawned all too soon, and in a flash of inspiration madness we decided to walk to Warhammer World, via the beautiful Kings Lodge nature reserve. It was… soon forgotten as we queued up in the car park waiting for the doors to open. We got there about 8.25 and well, we weren’t the first people there. Nuff said.
Xisor and Schafer in queuing hilarity
At this point, Schafer owned up to being a lamb, and much fun was had at his expense. Then the doors swung opened on greased hinges and we swept into the Warhammer World in much the manner of an invading army. With less discipline.
The Massive Art that was later given away - it was sooo pretty!
However arriving super early did mean that we got the choice of the seminars to attend and got confronted with an amazing selection of books. I was fairly well disciplined, and only bought twice as many as I had intended to! The Black Library folks had gone looking under the sofa, and dug out some original copies of magazines like the Citadel Journal, and also there were a few copies of Inferno knocking around… I could have spent ALOT of money! They also had a massive selection of gorgeous art prints and posters which I was sorely tempted by.
Once I’d finished drooling and given over the hard cash, we got into Bugman’s for breakfast and tea. Mainly tea. And then it was time for the first seminar of the day “Writing for Black Library”
BIG News – the submissions system is being revamped – after last year saw Laurie Goulding literally drowning beneath 1800 submissions (of which only about 12 got accepted). This year will be the last year they accept novel submissions from “new” authors. Mainly because even authors who do get accepted via this route still are required to write short stories first, so they are simply going to cut to the chase and test people’s ability in that arena first.
The short story submissions are now going to be slimmed down to just a writing sample of between 500 and 1000 words. Again this seems to be based on their recent experiences – Laurie admits to always reading the writing sample first – and if that is of the required standard and style, he then looks at the synopsis. Ultimately, it appears they are looking for talent as they can help out with planning but they can’t teach people to write.
Anyway, if my rambling doesn’t help, all that information is going to be up on the Black Library website very soon. The submissions window opens on April 1st and closes on the 31st July, so you have plenty time to polish those ideas!
It was a really good seminar to start the day, and as ever, I felt a few ideas creeping in to the back of my brain.
Next was the Warhammer seminar – which I went to almost entirely on the basis that the four authors sitting on it – Bill King, Josh Reynolds, Sarah Cawkwell and Gav Thorpe are all entertaining and knowledgeable. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Bill, Josh, Sarah and Gav talk all things fantasy
After that, I got into the main hall, spied Ray Doherty on the art stand and caught up with what she was up to, and then got abit of signing done with Sarah Cawkwell and Rob Sanders – another genuinely lovely chap.
Rob Sanders - Ace!
The seminar on Xenos was next, but before that Schafer and I grabbed lunch. And by lunch I mean a piece of chocolate cake and a pint of Guinness – we know how to live!
The Xenos seminar was very interesting – I didn’t really know what to expect from it but we figured that would probably make it worthwhile. And it was. Andy Chambers and Rob Sanders had some pretty interesting things to say about the pros and cons of writing from the xenos perspective, which reminds me to get around to reading Path of the Renegade which sounds very, very cool.
From there we went back to the big hall to the Heresy Seminar – there was no big reveal like previous years, but as ever it was good to get the chance to fire off some questions at the authors and Christian Dunn, who did a surprisingly good job of not giving the game away. I did a bit of live tweeting during this seminar – mention of the Heresy cake, and the Heresy baton… you can tell it is an Olympic year! It was a good seminar though – I am only just about to start reading Mechanicum so I am a little bit behind, but it is reassuring to know that they are trying just as hard to keep the Heresy series as special as it was when it started.
After that, the new stuff/Q+A session with Christian, Laurie and Nick Kyme where they showed off some pretty cover art, and told us what was coming along – there are now going to be plenty of audio dramas – with one a month for the next few months at least. There is also a cool sounding novel in the works about a group of Imperial snipers trapped behind Tau lines, which I am pretty keen to read.
Christian and Laurie in the big reveal!
And to start a point I’ll get too later, someone asked how the editors enjoyed doing what they do for the Black Library – although it was slightly nauseating [sic] it was pretty cool to see just how much genuine enthusiasm they have for their job and for the products they are selling.
After that it was just time to have a look at the raffle-winners – BL gave away the massive pieces of gorgeous artwork that they had used to decorate the arena during the day. I didn’t enter, after I realised I had nowhere in my house to fit a seven foot poster of a Space Marine, but it was a nice gesture nevertheless.
I then collapsed into the welcoming softness of a Bugman’s bench, armed myself with a pint and spent the evening in arm-waving discourse with anyone who didn’t get out of the way in time, before propping up the bar in the pub next to the hotel, and then sometime later, collapsing into almost immediate sleep.
As with last year, I came away with a nice selection of books and a reignited enthusiasm for writing, and indeed all things Black Library. A lot of people say a lot of things about the Black Library, often on Facebook, but I’d advise anyone who is a fan to get hold of a ticket for next year’s Black Library Live! A nicer group of more enthusiastic people I have seldom met, and it was really nice to see a good percentage of the authors and editors hanging out in Bugman’s after the event, and really taking the time to just sit and have a beer with the fans and talk about whatever they wanted to talk about.
I had a blast, as you can tell, and whilst others may be able to give you a more thorough run down of the release schedule, and exactly what was said, I’m too busy figuring out how to fit Black Library Live! 2013 into my schedule!
Massive thanks at this point to everyone who came along from the Bolthole, and everyone from the Black Library who made the day so entertaining.
In no particular order, extra special thanks to Rob Sanders, Frank (Xisor), Christian Dunn, Sarah Cawkwell, Jeff and Kay Preston, Simon (Bod) and Serenita (sorry, probly spelt your name wrong), Gav Thorpe, Josh Reynolds, Jon Schafer, Ross O’Brien, Bill King, Raye Doherty, Ragnar Karlson, George (Maugan Ra), Ryan (MajorRawne), George Stirling, Marc Collins, Ben Cawkwell, Andy Chambers and loads more people who my tired brain is failing to remember!
Until next year!!