Interview with Josh Reynolds

Our final interview of the month is with an author who hold one of the longest bibliographies you will ever see. With 13 novels, over a hundred short stories and even some non-fiction under his belt, not many can claim to have accomplished what Josh Reynolds has done. And that list is only going to get longer. But first, he has a few words for us.

Josh Reynolds. It's still possible to read everything he's written in this life time. But you better get started...

Josh Reynolds. It’s still possible to read everything he’s written in this life time. But you better get started…

He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in one word, what would it be?

Josh: I treat it like a job. I set a word count goal for a particular project, I reach it, I move on to something different. Sometimes that’s research, sometimes it’s working on another project, sometimes its promotional stuff.

If I were to describe it in one word, it’d be ‘mechanical’. I get up, I write, I have some coffee, I write some more, I have some coffee, etcetera ad nauseum. It’s all very boring, unless you’re me, and then it’s awesome.

He2etic: How do you approach character development? Do you prefer to see how the character evolves as you go, or do you put more planning into it beforehand?

Josh: It depends on the character, and the type of story it is. Some characters have evolved, some I’ve had to plan. I generally err on the side of having a basic personality-type in mind, and then letting the character work out his or her own voice as the plot unspools. It’s easier than it sounds.

“When in doubt, have a man with a gun come through the door. If that doesn’t work, try a monkey with a switchblade.”

 

He2etic: You’ve written work primarily set in the Warhammer fantasy universe. In ideas as to what you’d do in the Warhammer 40,000 setting?

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds! Coming soon.

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds. Coming soon from Emby Press.

Josh: Lots. Mostly involving big dudes in power armour hitting each other or other, smaller dudes. At the moment, I’d really love to write a Space Marine Battles book, just for the experience.

Or something with a Necron as a protagonist, because why the heck not, right? I bet I could get a series out of Trazyn the Infinite just wandering around the galaxy, stealing stuff and leaving sarcastic notes. Eight, nine books easy.

He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?

Josh: Honestly? I’d pick the person(s) who could guarantee the biggest ratings/box office draw. I want that sh*t to do well opening weekend, you know?

He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing? For example, do you intend to someday spin your own franchise or complete a long novel series?

Josh: Oh several. I always have a number of long term projects on the go. Franchise-wise, I’ve already got the makings of a good one in the Royal Occultist series, I think.

“Don’t argue with the editor, unless you know you’re right, and not even then, unless you absolutely have to.”

 

The Royal Occultist is the man or woman who stands between the United Kingdom and dangers of an occult, otherworldly, infernal or divine nature. Whether it’s werewolves in Wolverhampton or satyrs in Somerset, the Royal Occultist will be there to confront, cajole or conquer the menace in question.

There have been many Royal Occultists, and there will be many more, thanks to the strong British sense of tradition, bloody-minded necessity and the ridiculously short life expectancy for those who assume the post.

Knight of the Blazing Sun, by Josh Reynolds.

Knight of the Blazing Sun, by Josh Reynolds.

The current Royal Occultist, Charles St. Cyprian, is basically Bertie Wooster by way of Rudolph Valentino. His assistant, Ebe Gallowglass, is Louise Brooks by way of Emma Peel. He’s the brains, she’s the brawn. He likes to talk things out, preferably over something alcoholic, and she likes to shoot things until they die.

I suppose the stories could be called ‘urban fantasy’, or even ‘historical fantasy’, what with them taking place in the London of PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh. That’d be the 1920s to you or me. The ‘Inter-War Period’ as historians call it. If that sounds interesting, you can find out more.

The first novel-length Royal Occultist adventure, The Whitechapel Demon, will be released sometime in the next two months by Emby Press and I’ve sold close to thirty short stories about St. Cyprian and Gallowglass since I wrote their first adventure, Krampusnacht, in December of 2010.

Several of these stories are available for free at the website above. There are also several audio versions of some of the stories available, which can be found here with more to come in the near future, and there’ll be graphic (i.e. comic) versions of one or two of the short stories coming some time in 2014.

He2etic: Who are your favourite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?

Josh: Okay, lessee…

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Caitlin Kiernan’s Dancy Flammarion, Manly Wade Wellman’s John Thunstone, Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise, Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon, Chester Himes’ Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, Richard Stark’s Parker, more, lots.

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you enjoy it, own up to it, unless it could get you arrested, in which case we shouldn’t be talking about it.”

 

I really dig series characters, so I’ve got a lot of favorites. More than I could comfortably list here.

As to those I’ve written? I think my top three are Mr. Brass, the American Automaton, John Bass, the Ghost-Breaker and St. Cyprian and Gallowglass, from the Royal Occultist stories. Mr. Brass is, in essence, ‘steampunk Robocop’ set in a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen world. That’s the high concept pitch.

John Bass is a darker character—a crotchety old farmer who fights ghosts and evil spirits in the Depression-Era southern United States. And Charles St. Cyprian and Ebe Gallowglass, as I mentioned above, are occult adventurers who fight monsters, magicians and madness-inducing entities in Jazz-Age England.

Neferata, by Josh Reynolds. Coming soon from the Black Library.

Neferata, by Josh Reynolds. Coming soon from the Black Library.

He2etic: Are there any books, movies, television series or even games that you think are mandatory viewing for struggling writers?

Josh: All of them? If you’re writing in a particular genre, it behooves you to read widely in said genre—old stuff, new stuff, indy stuff, popular stuff. Read all of it.

Television is good for helping you with dialogue and condensed plotting, especially sitcoms or family dramas—they’re not to everybody’s taste, but think about how little time the average sitcom has to tell a story, and how they go about doing it. That’s a lesson worth learning.

Movies are good for helping you understand how to plot longer form stories (or how NOT to, depending) and how to set mood and scene, if you’re attentive.

Basically, if you think you can learn from it, go with it.

He2etic: Is there anything you consider to be a guilty pleasure? Something that is trash, but you love reading it anyway?

Josh: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you enjoy it, own up to it, unless it could get you arrested, in which case we shouldn’t be talking about it.

Also, don’t try and rationalize the problematic aspects of said pleasure in order to make yourself feel less guilty about enjoying it. That never works out. But to answer the question, I love me some sitcoms. I will devour whole DVD box sets of everything from Leave it to Beaver to Amen, the latter starring the irrepressible Sherman Hemsley and lasting five glorious seasons.

He2etic: Any advice for new authors?

Dracula Lives! by Josh Reynolds.

Dracula Lives! by Joshua Reynolds.

Josh: Write everything. Try your hand at every genre, especially ones you don’t like. Don’t argue with the editor, unless you know you’re right, and not even then, unless you absolutely have to.

Embrace formula, cliché and stock characters. They’ll make your job easier, when you start out. When in doubt, have a man with a gun come through the door. If that doesn’t work, try a monkey with a switchblade. Everybody writes something a bit crap on occasion. It happens. Move on, do better next time. Last but not least, always get paid.

A giant thanks to Mr. Reynolds for his time! Follow the Bolthole at @BLBolthole. And follow Josh Reynolds @JMReynolds.

Interview with James Swallow

He’s written for Warhammer 40,000, Stargate, Star Trek and Doctor Who. He’s worked on Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A BAFTA nominee and a New York Times best selling author. Today, James Swallow has a few minutes to tell us about some of the work he’s done and his thoughts on writing.

James Swallow. Because the world is his (to create).

James Swallow. Because the world is his (to create).

He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in one word, what would it be?

James: That’s a difficult question to answer. You know, I can’t describe it in just one word. There are so many aspects to the job of being a writer, it’s not just the act of putting a pen to paper.

There’s also the research, the “brain time” required to let your story percolate, the whole act of losing yourself to the narrative involved.

He2etic: How do you approach character development? Do you prefer to see how the character evolves as you go, or do you put more planning into it beforehand?

James: A bit of both, really. You have to have an idea as to who a character was before you let them step onto the scene. But, at the same time you can’t put everything in there straight away because they have nowhere to go.

“The problem of being a writer is that there is not a shortage of awesome ideas to write about.”

 

You can have a character begin in one place, but you also have to give a character a direction toward an endpoint. It is a really bit of both. They have to evolve and fill their role naturally, but sometimes you realize you have to make the character move in the right direction for the needs of the story.

Red Fury, by James Swallow.

Red Fury, by James Swallow.

He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?

James: I originally modelled Rafen after Daniel Craig, but now, I’d probably choose the late Andy Whitfield from the TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand. For his brother Arkio, a younger Rutger Hauer from the movie Flesh & Blood.

He2etic: Sometime back, a question was posted your way about what kind of Imperial Guard regiment you’d like to write about and your answer was ‘The
Framlingham Rifles.’ Is that still true? How would you envision them?

James: I picked them because there was no background about them!

I like the name because it has a kind of Old English feel to it. If I could, I would use something that has not been done before. I’d try to do something new, a new theme. It would probably be very British, like something from the era of the Raj.

“I can’t pick [my favorite] from my own characters. It’s like picking out your favorite child.”

 

He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing? For example, do you intend to someday spin your own franchise or complete a long novel series?

Peacemaker, by James Swallow.

Peacemaker, by James Swallow.

James: Yes! Many projects. Lots of different things. I’ve been working on a thriller novel, a contemporary action adventure story for a while. And have been doing some work on a science fiction project too. The problem of being a writer is that there is not a shortage of awesome ideas to write about!

He2etic: Who are your favourite characters amongst both those books you’ve written, and by other authors?

James: I can’t pick from my own characters. It’s like picking out your favourite child. But from the rest of the Warhammer universe?

Horus Lupercal is a great character, and so is Erebus. We have so many good books, and so many great writers. I always want to see where the other guys want to go with their stories – Dan Abnett with Ibram Gaunt, Honsou in Graham McNeill’s novels, Sandy Mitchell with Ciaphas Cain, Sarah Cawkwell’s Silver Skulls…

Beyond that, I enjoy William Gibson’s characters from Neuromancer, the work of John Brunner, Harry Harrison… If a character is compellingly written, if he speaks to me as a reader, that’s a good piece of work. I’m always going to try and do the same thing, make a connection to my reader and engage them.

Flight of the Eisenstein, by James Swallow.

Flight of the Eisenstein, by James Swallow.

He2etic: Are there any books, movies, television series or even games that you think are mandatory viewing for struggling writers?

James: In terms of good writing on television, I’d mention about The Sopranos. Hill Street Blues, Firefly. The Twilight Zone is a great example of really short compact stories with great characters.

I’d recommend a book about how to write rather than fiction. J.Michael Straczynski’s The Complete Book of Scriptwriting and Ben Bova’s work on writing science fiction.

He2etic: You had an opportunity to work on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, designing the story for the game. What can you tell us about that and some of the themes that went into it?

James: I worked on that project an external writer, developing the characters, the core narrative and the game world along with a team of other writers. I also worked on the mobile phone game Deus Ex: The Fall and the DLC pack The Missing Link. I also wrote a novel, called Deus Ex: Icarus Effect, that spun out of that.

The themes of Deus Ex are all about human augmentation, about allowing people to become more than they are. We talk about cybernetics, neural implants – how do those things change the way people see you? We touch on a kind of “cybernetic racism”… It’s all about how society is changed by technology.

He2etic: Do you consider Deus Ex: Human Revolution to be post modern?

Deus Ex: Icarus Effect, by James Swallow.

Deus Ex: Icarus Effect, by James Swallow.

James: It’s not post modern, it’s modern! We thought it was sci-fi when we started writing the storyline, but over the four years during the game’s development, a lot of the things we wrote about began to come true.

The prosthetic technology that has become so common, the limb replacements for veterans of the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan and so on… It all reflected back on real issues of the time.

He2etic: When it comes to reading, do you have any guilty pleasures? Stuff you know is trash but read anyway?

James: I’m guilty about nothing! I like chunky thriller novels from the 70s and 80s, the Tom Clancy-style techno thriller about jet pilots, guys in submarines or tank crews – all that military hardware pornography! That and classic pulp sci-fi would be the closest!

I don’t like it when people say something is a “guilty pleasure”. If you like to read something, you should just embrace it, don’t worry about what others might think of it! At the end of the day, if you enjoy reading a book, that’s the most important thing.

A huge thanks to James Swallow for his time today! You can follow him @JMSwallow. Want more news and updates? Follow the Bolthole @BLBolthole.

Interview with Gav Thorpe

I had the honour of meeting Mr. Thorpe at the first Black Library Weekender in November of 2012. To this day, Thorpe’s Last Chancers omnibus is actually still one of my favourite books. Not just of the fiction from the Black Library, but of every book I’ve ever read. Today, Mr. Thorpe shares some insights in the field of writing with us.

Literary Lord, Gav Thorpe.

Literary Lord, Gav Thorpe.

He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in what word, what would it be?

Gav: Inconsistent.

He2etic: How do you approach character development? Do you prefer to see how the character evolves as you go, or do you put more planning into it beforehand?

Gav: Main characters have their fate set from the beginning most of the time – it’s their story I’m telling and a story is about how they change and don’t change.

Secondary characters are more interesting for this reason, as they are much more likely to surprise you. It’s one of the dangers to avoid – secondary characters being more interesting than the main characters because as a writer you end up having more fun with them.

He2etic: You have a long list of Eldar and Elven works to your name. From what do you draw your inspiration for writing about these races?

Gav: There are two main sources for both of these, though interpreted slightly different and to altering degrees. Whether fantasy or future, the pointy ears combine myth with classical history. The Eldar verge more towards the mythical, while the Elves are at the classical civilisation end of the spectrum.

“40K is the huge sandbox… [stories] can be ephemeral; grandiose but never gaining traction in the wider galaxy because the setting is so big. It’s hard to make an impact, I guess.”

 

I try to think of it as writing a novel about the ancient Greeks as if their beliefs about the gods and heroes were real – that’s the substance of the Eldar and elves. Obviously the pantheons and the societies draw from many different cultures on top of this basic premise. There is a lot of Celtic influence as well as nods to myth and worship from Babylon, Sumeria, Carthage and the Phoenicians.

Empire of the Blood, by Gav Thorpe.

Empire of the Blood, by Gav Thorpe.

All of this is blended with an ultratech anime style – immensely powerful weapons and beings that are emotionally fragile.

He2etic: You’ve written books set in both Warhammer universes. Do you find yourself preferring one universe more than the other in anyway?

Gav: No, I like them both for different reasons.

40K is the huge sandbox, in which you can create and destroy whole star systems. The good thing is that you can create massive stories against a never-ending backdrop.

The downside is that the universe if so big often stories don’t touch the sides. They can be ephemeral; grandiose but never gaining traction in the wider galaxy because the setting is so big. It’s hard to make an impact, I guess.

This is where Warhammer wins out. It has a much more defined geography and chronology, so it is easier to use ‘real’ events and characters as a backdrop and make it seem that characters and stories of your own devising are just as important as what is published in the army books. The more contained scale makes the stories bigger by comparison.

“In terms of fiction I don’t think there’s anything you can read, watch or play that’s going to help you come up with anything other than a clone of whatever you are reading, watching or playing.”

 

He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?

Gav: I’m really bad at this sort of thing because firstly I don’t really think about characters in that way when I’m writing them, and secondly I am awful at remembering the names of actors. The closest I’ve come really is that when I first started writing Lieutenant Kage I pictured a young Bruce Willis, or perhaps even Vin Diesel (amazing some of the similarities to Riddick, eh?).

The Last Chancers, by Gav Thrope.

The Last Chancers, by Gav Thrope.

He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing? For example, do you intend to someday spin your own franchise or complete a long novel series?

Gav: I already have a trilogy out with Angry Robot. The Empire of the Blood omnibus has just been released. As well as that I’m just taking some time in my schedule to start just that sort of project – an opening novel of what i hope will be an open-ended series of books. When I started writing full-time everybody in fantasy was talking about world building and its importance. I had just come out of fourteen years at GW where I had basically been world building for a living. I wanted to concentrate on narrative instead, which is where The Crown of the Blood came from.

Now that I’m a bit more settled, I like the idea of creating more setting-based fiction. This is more of a Discworld sort of approach than A Game of Thrones. In other words, the setting might subtly change over the course of the books as things happen, but there isn’t an all-conquering meta-narrative driving the setting. I can dip in and out with characters and stories whenever and however I like (and perhaps other authors too…).

He2etic: Who are your favourite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?

Deliverance Lost, by Gav Thorpe.

Deliverance Lost, by Gav Thorpe.

Gav: Kage is still one of my favourites and I had a lot of fun writing Alith Anar – though Malekith and Morathi were great fodder for drama too. In terms of other writers I don’t particularly get hung up on specific characters like some people – I enjoy the whole roundness of stories when they are told well. I grew up with Dredd and Johnny Alpha and always have a soft spot for them but in terms of books there isn’t anybody I am clamouring to read “The Further Adventures of…”  I’m not sure if that makes me broken in some way.

He2etic: Are there any books, movies, television series or even games that you think are mandatory viewing for struggling writers?

Gav: Depends on what they are struggling with…

Struggling to get published? Read The Career Novelist by Donald Maas. He runs the Maas agency and the book is available for free from the website (or was, I haven’t checked in a while).

Struggling to write? I suggest Chuck Wendig for some incredible and succinct writing advice. Even us old pros need kickstarting now and then or just reminding, and he’s the one I’ve turned to of late. Lots of swearing though, so be warned if you’re offended by that sort of thing.

The Sundering, by Gav Thorpe.

The Sundering, by Gav Thorpe.

In terms of fiction I don’t think there’s anything you can read, watch or play that’s going to help you come up with anything other than a clone of whatever you are reading, watching or playing.

A broad spread of storytelling experience helps, but my greatest inspirations come from the source – history. The problem with focusing too much on other people’s fiction is that you end up just trying to recreate what someone has already done.

We’re all going to be influenced by what we like and we’re exposed to, so going out-of-genre – reading biographies, diaries, history – ensures that the influences are broad.

Once you’ve absorbed loads of stuff, that’s when you can really get writing. Put it away, work from the memory and the sense that’s left behind rather than the specifics.

I say the same of research too most of the time – you need the gist not every detail. You have to look at the things you like – and don’t like – with a writer’s eye as well as the reader’s. How narrative is moved along, how your favourite authors write action, the sorts of dialogue and description you find appealing or off-putting. read your favourite novels again and work out why you find them gripping, tense, exciting or whatever.

The Curse of Shaa-Dom, by Gav Thorpe.

The Curse of Shaa-Dom, by Gav Thorpe.

The same applies to trying to write for Warhammer and 40K. Read the style of stories that get published but don’t focus on any one series or author over the others.  There’s plenty of authors already writing in the worlds of GW so finding something that adds to the mix, a particular take that sets a new writer apart will be difficult. The ‘feel’ of a Black Library novel can be elusive, so concentrate on that more that the specifics of the background.

A giant thanks goes to Gav for his time today! He can be followed @DennisHamster on Twitter.

For more updates, news, interviews and announcements, follow the Bolthole @BLBolthole.

Editor’s Note: During the crafting of this interview, a mistake was made. The article incorrectly asserted that The Treasures of Biel-Tanigh was written by Gav Thorpe. This was an error, Andy Chambers was the author of that story. Thorpe wrote The Curse of Shaa-Dom, which is a tie in story to Chamber’s tale.

Interview with Emby Press

It’s October. You know what that means. Monsters, ghouls and goblins. Horrors and haunts galore. I won’t bother disguising the fact that Halloween is my favourite holiday. So what finer to celebrate than with an interview with Miles Boothe, manager of Emby Press and its monster filled books?

Emby Press. The stuff of your nightmares!

Emby Press. The stuff of your nightmares!

He2etic: We usually start with a qualifier. Can you tell us about your background in writing and publishing? Other projects and releases you’ve worked on both with Emby Press and before?

Miles: My father was a magazine publisher and I grew up spending a lot of time lurking around his company’s art and photo departments (they were the most fun – the advertising and circulation departments not so much…).

I was also an avid reader and was bitten early by the “Hey, I could write a better story than that!” bug.

For many years I just kept all of my ideas locked upstairs. I don’t remember what instigated the sitting down and pounding out of my first true attempt at a story, but I was surprised and delighted when the first draft sold upon my initial inquiry to a major publisher and went on to become an NYT bestseller!

Wait, that’s not what happened at all… It was terrible, of course, but I was still unaccountably proud that I had written it and became completely obsessed with how to make it better.  I wound up submitting it to a writer’s workshop to be critiqued by A.C. Crispin (a day I’ve thought about a good bit since her recent passing) and she was very helpful in pointing out what needed work, what should go and what could be salvaged. But, there was a part that she liked, and she said so in front of the auditorium. Loudly enough so that everybody could hear…

“Monsters are how we express so many of our conscious and subconscious thoughts, feelings and desires.”

 

That really stoked my fire and I’ve been writing since then.

I’m in a handful of anthologies, but I’ve always been more interested in writing about what inspires me instead of what’s being called for, and that’s how the whole monster-hunter thing got started.

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds! Coming soon.

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds! Coming soon.

This part is pretty well documented, but one day I was reading Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter by Brian P. Easton, and it hit me like a lightning bolt that there were just not enough monster-hunting stories out there, and that I wanted to write some, and that there should be an anthology dedicated to monster-hunting stories!

I pitched the idea to a publisher (the now defunct Pill Hill Press), we put out the call and got a ton of stories.

When PHP closed, I had the 3rd volume of the monster hunter series half done, and there was never any question that I had to finish it and get it out there.

Emby Press was born and the rest is monster-hunting history! There are currently three volumes of the Legends of the Monster Hunter series in print, with an omnibus of 1 and 2, and a 4th and 5th in editing. I have three more currently accepting submissions (attention writers!) and that’s only the tip of the monster-hunting iceberg.

The big news is that Emby’s first two novel releases are scheduled for release this fall! We’ve just announced Josh Reynold’s The Whitechapel Demon and I cannot wait to release it! Fans of Josh’s Charles St. Cyprian Royal Occultist stories are going to be very excited to get their hands on it!

The second novel is Black Fox In Thin Places by Scathe meic Beohr and is an amazingly beautiful work set in 17th century Ireland based upon the history of the Seelie and Unseelie people, told through the eyes of a young girl. It is written in a style that will remind readers of Tolkien, Lewis and Carroll. But the story is timeless and is a joy to read. There is a great deal more to it than that, but suffice to say that I am thrilled to be able to publish it!

“You’re much better off writing and making those mistakes – that’s how you learn. Especially when you are just getting started, the more you get out there and mix it up, the better writer you will become.”

 

Last, I just had a serial novel accepted by JukePop, a site that I absolutely love, and am psyched to get back to the serial style, which is how I wrote my first novel.

He2etic: Most publishers really aim for a wider reaching genre, like horror or fantasy. You’ve really hit it with the monster niche specifically. What inspires this passion?

Miles: All of the works I’ve described above include a bevy of monsters. The majority of what I’ve read and loved usually has a monster or two in it and the movies and television shows I love the most had and have monsters in them, so it seemed like a perfectly fine idea to devote a press to the theme of monsters.

Use Enough Gun, from Emby Press.

Use Enough Gun, from Emby Press.

Monsters are how we express so many of our conscious and subconscious thoughts, feelings and desires. Monsters have been present in the storytelling of every culture, going back as far as figures drawn on cave walls.

How each era presents monsters is always a fascinating reflection of the struggles, triumphs and collective wisdom of those times, and no matter what facet of culture you are looking at, a monster will usually pop up at some point. From ancient mythology to theology, to folklore to pop-culture, the theme is nearly always present in one form or another, and intertwined with daily life.

There are so many ways to present monsters that I have to believe that the storytelling possibilities are endless, so I let my monster flag fly.

I also very much appreciate when an outfit delivers what it promises.

You like to read stories about monsters? Emby Press has monster stories for you. Problem solved.

He2etic: On a personal note, what is your all time favorite monster? If he or she has ever been on the big screen, what is your favorite rendition?  

Miles: It’s really not that easy… Monsters in film and literature are like a lavish buffet, loaded with all of your favorites. On rainy, foggy nights you just need a classic ghost story, and sometimes you get a little thrill from the rumor of some creature spotted on a road not far from where you live.

Leather, Denim & Silver, by Miles Booth.

Leather, Denim & Silver, edited by Miles Boothe.

Then Halloween comes and you have to mix documentaries of 18th century vampire stakings, witch burnings and the Beast of Gévaudan with the Universal classics and Hammer films.

I started with and will always love Harryhausen’s work as well as watching movies with lizards and ants blown up to the size of busses. I begged my father to take me to Bigfoot docu-movies in the 70’s. There was King Kong, and then came Jaws and Alien. How do you choose between those? The original Salem’s Lot blew my mind and seared the image of vampires into my brain. The Howling did the same with werewolves.

I dig modern movies like Predator and Pitch Black, and this summer was a blast watching skyscraper-sized robots battle Kaiju in Pacific Rim.

One of my favorite children’s books is David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd. I loved the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books and movies. I wanted to read The Terror by Dan Simmons in one sitting, but it’s, you know, Dan Simmons.

Right now I’m waiting for the third book in Easton’s Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter series and wondering why no television series or movie has been made of these yet.

I’m also currently infatuated with early 20th Century Spiritualism. Did you know that Houdini was also famous for his efforts to debunk spiritualists, but evidently promised his wife that after death, he would try to contact her? That he and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a spiritualist, were said to have argued vehemently over what is really out there? Mind-blowing, fascinating stuff, all of it…

“Clichés get a bad rap. Clichés work – that’s why they’re cliches, and the only real sin in using them is to present them the exact same way as someone else.”

 

It’s impossible to name a favorite out of just those, and there are so many more! I’m just glad that they’re all out there.

He2etic: What’s the single biggest mistake most budding authors make in your opinion?

Miles: The single biggest mistake, in my opinion, is to spend your time worrying about making mistakes, or listening to other people lecture on the evils of mistake making. You’re much better off writing and making those mistakes – that’s how you learn. Especially when you are just getting started, the more you get out there and mix it up, the better writer you will become. Just get those words on the page!

Write what you want to write. Write when you want to write it.  If it comes together in the way that you wanted it to, show it to someone. If they like it, write more and show it to more people.

The Trigger Reflex, edited by Miles Booth.

The Trigger Reflex, edited by Miles Booth.

You won’t get too far before someone points out a way to make it better, and you need to acknowledge and implement those observations. Then get on with making the next mistake!

It’s inevitable that along the way you will either learn the lessons of grammar, plotting, character development and so forth, or your writing path will come to a stop. This is a process that every writer must go through, it’s just tough when half of the blog posts you see are titled “More Reasons Than Science Can Count On Why Your Writing Sucks.”  Don’t let them distract you or get in the way of your story.

He2etic: What’s your opinion on the value of literary cliché’s versus something that’s too original (ie, kind of out there)? Any advice on striking a balance?

Miles: Clichés get a bad rap. Clichés work – that’s why they’re cliches, and the only real sin in using them is to present them the exact same way as someone else. If you are working from an idea born of your own creativity and passion and giving it your own voice, you are usually going to be okay. Clichés can offer a lot in terms of structure and formula and are a great way to learn how to navigate these.

Having said that, going for something completely original is always a goal and is usually required to some degree to sell work these days. But, you need to have a very detailed understanding of clichés to know how to avoid them and to create something that works as well.

Never forget that you have to keep the reader with you and that the more you get away from their comfort zone, the better you have to be to keep them on the page.

See where I’m going with this? Of course you do, because so many have said it before…

He2etic: Finally, any tips or advice on getting ahead?

Monster Hunter: Blood Trails. Coming soon from Emby Press.

Monster Hunter: Blood Trails. Coming soon from Emby Press.

Miles: It’s a total cliché, but if you want to be a writer, then you have to write! Don’t worry about mistakes. Write about the things that you are passionate about. Stay open to and thankful for the advice that others give, right up to the point where it is no longer given in a benevolent spirit.

And, these days, it’s important to have some of idea of what kind of writer you want to be! I know some writers that have published a couple of short stories, and that’s enough for them.

I know others that bang out word counts that can only be matched by telephone directories from major cities.

But they’re all writers. Don’t get swamped because you didn’t get 2,000 words written by lunch.  Set a goal (get a story published), and meet that goal before you decide to give Jack Kerouac some competition.

Last, take full advantage of and enjoy the hell out of the digital wonderland that we live in now. The ability to research is unparalleled, networking on social platforms is amazing and expressing graphic art on your website to match your story can be almost as satisfying as the writing itself. You can find just about every open market there is between Duotrope, Ralan, Dark Markets, and Horror Tree (and others!).

The water is fine, so just jump on in.

Of course, that’s coming from a guy picturing a host of monsters lurking just beneath the surface, but that’s what makes it fun!

That’s it for today! A huge thanks to Miles Boothe for his time and thoughts! Follow the Bolthole @BLBolthole.

Interview with Chris Wraight

He’s written about the Iron Hands, the Space Wolves and the White Scars. Is it because he’s a nice guy that he writes about the meanest bastards in Warhammer 40k so well? Who knows! But Chris Wraight has spared some time to speak to the Bolthole.

Not pictured: The pile of slain foes that are Chris Wraight's seat.

Not pictured: The pile of slain foes that are Chris Wraight’s seat. Or the happy, not-a-seat fan he just met.

He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in what word, what would it be?

Chris: One word: difficult. More words: It varies tremendously. I tried to make a commitment not to write weekends and evenings, which sometimes works but tends to fall over when a book is due in. On good days it’s a fantastic way to make a living: creative, exciting and challenging. On bad days it’s just very hard work.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse, of course. I’m always very touched when people get in touch to say they’ve enjoyed something; equally, it’s very easy to find people who hated it. My favourite part of the writer-thing is probably the live events, particularly the Weekenders. Real people is what it’s all about. To chat to someone who enjoyed a book is both a buzz and a privilege.

He2etic: What kind of music and musicians do you think best exemplify the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k universes?

Chris: When I’m writing I normally listen to film scores, partly because I’ve always liked them (ever since Danny Elfman’s music for Burton-era Batman), and partly because I think a good BL book ought to be fairly cinematic: the job of the books in some ways as giving Warhammer the big-screen treatment on the page, and a score gets me into the head-space for that. Hans Zimmer would definitely be the composer for a 40K movie, and that strikes me as no bad thing.

“Real people is what it’s all about. To chat to someone who enjoyed a book is both a buzz and a privilege.”

 

He2etic: How do you approach character development? Do you prefer to see how the character evolves as you go, or do you put more planning into it beforehand?

Scars (episode 1), by Chris Wraight.

Scars (episode 1), by Chris Wraight.

Chris: Most of the characters are fairly well planned out in advance, especially so when taking on established canon creatures like Bjorn or Schwarzhelm.

People have (rightly) high expectations that BL versions of the Codex characters will stay faithful, and while you can’t please everyone it’s important to at least try to produce something recognisable.

Secondary characters, in my experience, tend to change more during the writing process. The Blood Claws in Battle of the Fang weren’t even in the synopsis, so their stories evolved along with the fighting.

In my most recent book, Master of Dragons, there’s a minor character whose role changed several times as I was writing, ultimately in a way that I ended up liking very much. You’re constantly making decisions as things go along, which is one of the pleasures of story-telling.

He2etic: Were there any particular pieces of fiction that inspired you when writing of the Iron Hands?

Chris: Fiction? Not that I can think of. The imagery for the Hands came more from films, I think. Terminator was in my head quite a lot, and I had James Horner’s score for Aliens on loop when writing the hive-scenes.

Wrath of Iron, by Chris Wraight.

Wrath of Iron, by Chris Wraight.

He2etic: You’ve written books set in both Warhammer universes. Do you find yourself preferring one universe more than the other in anyway?

Chris: I find writing Fantasy comes a little easier, if I’m honest. I think that’s partly due to the fictional world being rooted in a historical real one, at least to some extent. In books like Iron Company, for example, it was fun to think about how real blackpowder weapons functioned, and then translate that to the fantasy environment.

The human characters in Fantasy are also recognisably placed in a pseudo-historical setting – early modern Germany (or Medieval France, etc.). They have similar, albeit altered, concerns to people in real-world settings, so there’s something to latch on to there.

40K is different. It’s such a vast and extreme backdrop that the leap of imagination needs to be bigger. I find Space Marines very difficult to characterise, as well as the general sense of colossal, mind-bending carnage that’s taking place all the time.

I don’t think I’ve ever got it quite right, though it’s always fun having a try. One day I’d love to try something non-Space Marine-centric in the 40K field, like an Inquisitor novel or an Imperial Navy saga, though the audience for such a thing might be… small.

“Stepping up to doing it professionally makes things a bit different – it’s no longer an indulgent business of doing it when you fancy it or when inspiration strikes – it’s a day job, and you need to get words on the page at a pretty consistent rate.”

 

He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?

Sword of Vengeance, by Chris Wraight.

Sword of Vengeance, by Chris Wraight.

Chris: The best suggestion I ever had was for Sean Connery to play the Khan. To see the full majesty of this idea, just Google ‘Zardoz‘.

He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing? For example, do you intend to someday spin your own franchise or complete a long novel series?

Chris: Right now I’m concentrating wholly on BL stuff and have lots of ideas for stuff in that setting. Despite writing a handful of novels in both worlds, there’s so much to learn and it’s still very much work in progress. I’m lucky enough to have been given the chance to write some Heresy material recently, and that’s a whole new landscape to get immersed in and try to understand.

Both Warhammer franchises are such huge worlds that there’s still loads I’d love to have a crack at. My ultimate wishlist would be (for 40K) a trilogy on the fall of Iyanden, and (for Fantasy) the Great War against Chaos. I can dream, I guess 🙂

He2etic: Who are your favourite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?

Chris: In terms of stuff I’ve done, I’m probably fondest of the Fantasy characters: Magnus Ironblood, Pieter Verstohlen, more recently Imladrik in the War of Vengeance series. In 40K/Heresy stuff, I loved writing for the White Scars and like Shiban very much, as well as Targutai Yesugei (who’s really Graham’s character, but he very nicely let me continue his story).

As regards other BL authors, the primarchs are the most compelling for me, Russ in Prospero Burns and Magnus in A Thousand Sons being particularly memorable and nicely drawn.

“You can’t write about the world, even in a fantasy sense, without having lived in it. Get out of the house, meet people, travel, experience new things – you can only tell stories if you have them.”

 

He2etic: Are there any books, movies, television series or even games that you think are mandatory viewing for struggling writers?

I liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip for that, and of course there’s The Shining (all work and no play, and all that). In terms of sheer story-telling perfection, you can’t go wrong with a good Pixar film. The Incredibles was wonderful – funny and clever, Up was heartbreaking. Jim Swallow told me once that every up and coming writer should watch and study the original Die Hard to see how to construct a tight, smart three-act action story. I did, and he’s right.

Blood of Asaheim, by Chris Wraight.

Blood of Asaheim, by Chris Wraight.

He2etic: Any advice for new authors?

Chris: I get asked this from time to time, and never really know what to say. That’s not because of being precious or protective, just because, like a lot of authors, I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled into this thing, have very little idea how I’m still here, and no clue at all how long it will last.

Neil Gaiman talks about the Imposter Syndrome, and he’s quite right. However, in the interests of saying something rather than nothing, I have two thoughts:

1. Read your favourite books again and find out how they do what they do. Good writing, to an extent, can be learned.

2. You can’t write about the world, even in a fantasy sense, without having lived in it. Get out of the house, meet people, travel, experience new things – you can only tell stories if you have them.

He2etic: Have you always written? Was it something that came with time?

Chris: I’ve always wanted to write, and have done so on and off since being at school. Stepping up to doing it professionally makes things a bit different – it’s no longer an indulgent business of doing it when you fancy it or when inspiration strikes – it’s a day job, and you need to get words on the page at a pretty consistent rate. Like all writers, I’ve been learning on the way – making mistakes, screwing up, occasionally getting the odd thing right.

Sword of Justice, by Chris Wraight.

Sword of Justice, by Chris Wraight.

Writing in a shared world brings its own challenges. You’d like to think that you can being original ideas into the setting, things that strike you as being cool or interesting, but you’ve always got to be careful not to step outside the mythos or mangle it into something else. We get a lot of help from the editors with this, of course, but in the final analysis it’s our name on the cover. All fun, though frequently terrifying.

He2etic: What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Chris: I try to keep something like normal working hours. That means starting the morning around 8 or 9, breaking for lunch, writing a bit more in the afternoon and then stopping around 6 or 7pm.

The rules are designed to prevent insanity setting in and total desocialisation, but they tend to get waived when a book’s due in or there’s too much on.

This year’s been very busy, as it turns out. That’s great for a freelancer, but I reckon I’ll need a break once the current book (Stormcaller) is delivered. There are only so many seven-day weeks you can pull before everything starts to look a little hazy…

He2etic: When it comes to reading, do you have any guilty pleasures? Stuff you know is trash but read anyway?

Chris: No, not really. My reading’s been pretty good over the last few months, and I’ve been enjoying the things I’ve picked out. Movies and TV, on the other hand, are a different matter. I have a strange liking for Columbo. And Bullseye. Go figure.

Thanks again to Chris Wraight for his time! Tune in next week for another interview on The Bolthole.

Interview with Joe Parrino

Joe Parrino, one of the Black Library’s newest authors, lets us pick his brain non-Hannibal style. We spoke to him about the writing process and he had a fair bit to say.

Lord and Commander of the Chickens, Joe Parrino.

Lord and Commander of the Chickens, Joe Parrino.

He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in one word, what would it be?

Joe: Systematic.

I struggled a long time with answering this question, and then, like a bolt from the heavens above, it hit me. Systematic. I write in a linear fashion. I start at the beginning and chip away at something until it is written.

Then I comb through it, making changes both minor and major until it resembles something I am happy with. Very rarely do I jump about and write later sections before I’ve laid the groundwork.

That said, I do get flashes of words, often bits of dialogue or character descriptions that fly in at random moments. A prime example of this would be the prophecy scenes in Nightspear, but those are the exception and not the rule.

He2etic:  Who are your favourite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?

Joe: My favourite characters tend to be ones who wind up being rather minor in the story. Amonther Numeriel is one. I spent a long time thinking about his backstory. In my characters, I’m attracted a lot to tragedy. How much more tragic a backstory can you get with a survivor of Iyanden’s doom who thinks he’s failed his family?

“Places like Antietam and Gettysburg, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg, held a mystique and influence over me. It instilled a love for history in me that I have never shaken.”

 

Prestoff is a favourite character of mine for an entirely different reason. I realised, on the train down to Nottingham for the Horus Heresy Weekender, just how much of me was in that character. His journey mirrored my own. I had just moved to the United Kingdom when I began writing that story and a lot of that uncertainty made its way into his character. Obviously our journeys diverge a bit.

He2etic: Speaking of characters… Going from writing about the Tau to the Grey Knights is a pretty drastic change in the philosophy of your characters. Aside from the codexes, what other sources did you draw inspiration from for your tales?

Witness, by Joe Parrino.

Witness, by Joe Parrino.

Joe: I grew up in Maryland and, about once a month, my dad would take me to the local battlefields of the American Civil War. Places like Antietam and Gettysburg, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg, held a mystique and influence over me. It instilled a love for history in me that I have never shaken.

This is what first brought me to 40k, that sense of future history that is very much inspired by the past of our own world.

In writing Witness I actually drew a lot of inspiration from that childhood experience and what I was going through at the time. The American Civil War has always fascinated me and the Brindleweld are modeled very much after the armies of the period.

There’s even an explicit reference to this. There is just something about the long marching lines, the drums and fifes and the streaming flags has always resonated with me and this was distilled into the Brindleweld Ninth Division.

“I also watch HBO miniseries, period dramas, etc. I can’t really put my finger on specific works that inspire my writing… Generally, it is more a means of me absorbing the information and my subconscious synthesising it into useable material without my explicit attention.”

 

I spent a long time thinking about the Brindleweld regimental culture and what it would mean for the humble Guardsmen to encounter a Space Marine, let alone a Grey Knight. I wanted to bring across the religious rapture that would surely occur when encountering the very proof that the God-Emperor exists.

The Patient Hunter, by Joe Parrino.

The Patient Hunter, by Joe Parrino.

The influence for the tau came from a bit more esoteric place. At the time I was studying a lot of political theory and I spent a long time considering what tau political structures would work like. I found myself asking questions like ‘Do the tau believe in private property?’ and ‘What would the appeal of the tau be to the unwashed masses of the Imperium?’

Due to the constraints of such a short story the questions weren’t fully able to be explored, but they linger beneath the surface. As someone who has always had a keen interest in languages, I sat for a long time with the Lexicanum article on the tau lexicon and tried to immerse myself in their language. This led to the heavy use of tau words and concepts when we get into Vre’valel’s perspective.

For Nightspear, I tried to tackle the story in another direction and explore a different style. I wanted to delve into the eldar method of storytelling and veer the writing to mirror the non-human perspective and thought process. I looked at oral storytelling and how that functioned. Because I lived in Scotland, I also took inspiration from Scottish myths and legends. This is especially prevalent in the naming conventions for the eldar.

He2etic: Thus far, you’ve written 40k exclusively. Have you given much thought to Warhammer fantasy tales at all? If you could, what would you like to write about in the Fantasy universe?

No Worse Sin, by Joe Parrino.

No Worse Sin, by Joe Parrino.

Joe: Warhammer fantasy was actually my introduction to the GW IP.

Way back when, in the misted hazes of my youth, it was Trollslayer by William King that first caught my eye and started me down the path. Once upon a time I even started collecting and painting Fantasy armies (Dwarfs, Tomb Kings and Wood Elves). Very shoddily, I might add, but they still sit enshrined on a shelf in my house.

Since then, my tastes have been inclined towards 40K, but I haven’t forgotten my roots. I still pick up the odd book or three from the Fantasy side of things, especially if it has dwarfs in it. I was a huge fan of Stephen Savile’s Von Carstein trilogy.

The Vampire Counts have snagged upon something in my psyche (despite being a complete pansy about zombies) and I would love to write something involving them.

He2etic: Are there any dream characters or settings you want to write about? Such as in other franchises?

I would sacrifice my left eye to be given a chance to write about the Alpha Legion. I find them absolutely fascinating and would love to get a chance to delve into the XX Legion. The Inquisition is another area I would like to explore.

In terms of other franchises, there aren’t too many that I actually follow. I tend to read universes spawned by specific authors (typically fantasy ones) rather than other franchises. Growing up, I used to be a huge Forgotten Realms nerd, but that was replaced by Warhammer Fantasy and 40,000.

Maybe, given half a chance, I’d love to do something in Joe Abercrombie’s fictional setting, but I’m much too enamoured with his own take on it to slice off a bit for myself.

“I have recently started plotting, planning and writing a novel of my own devising in the aforementioned world loosely inspired by the Jacobite Rebellions of the 18th Century.”

 

I’m in the midst of planning, plotting and writing a fantasy novel loosely inspired by the Jacobite Rebellions of the Eighteenth Century. So obviously I would like to write something set there.

He2etic: We’ve asked other authors before what kind of music they listen to while writing and the answer is frequently “lyric-less soundtrack” type answers, so we’re spicing it up. What composers do you think best capture the tone of the Warhammer 40k universe? And of course, what do you prefer to listen to while writing?

Joe: When writing or planning I tend to listen to a lot of Hans Zimmer. His work conjures a sense of movement and excitement for me. Building from very slow parts to fast sweeping pieces, his work conjures a narrative of his own. Its much too light hearted in my mind, though, to perfectly encapsulate the grim darkness of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000. It does make for great pieces of music to write to.

For composers that capture the Imperium I would fall back to Strauss II. His waltzes are what an Imperial citizen (provided they had the wealth and status) would relax to.

The Brindleweld would listen to a variation on the music their real world counterparts once enjoyed. They’d kick back around a campfire and in their parlours and listen to fiddles, banjos, pianos and reminisce of the glory of war and the melancholic hope to return home.

Eldar music, in my mind, exists on several different planes at once. I think it’d be something that conveys emotion in a much better way than modern human music does, conveys images psychically and is heartbreakingly beautiful to listen to.

Nightspear, by Joe Parrino.

Nightspear, by Joe Parrino.

I’ve got a strange habit when it comes to music. I’ll often find and fixate on one track or one album and that will usually last a week or more. Then I jump off to something else that catches my ear. I do return to albums, but usually after a few months, when I happily rediscover them lurking in my library. The cycle then repeats.

He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?

Joe: I don’t really visualise actors in the roles of my characters as I write. This question threw me for a bit of a loop.

Russell Crowe and Mark Strong immediately spring to mind. Mr. Crowe looks perfect for some upcoming Space Marines of mine while Mark Strong’s voice is perfect for any Son of the Imperium.

He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing? For example, do you intend to someday spin your own franchise or complete a long novel series?

Joe: I have recently started plotting, planning and writing a novel of my own devising in the aforementioned world loosely inspired by the Jacobite Rebellions of the 18th Century. Not content to just use one aspect of history, I’m also lifting inspiration from the American Civil War and the American War for Independence. Basically, the novel and the series that may some day follow, are my love letter to the parts of history I have always been obsessed with. Hopefully, between projects for the Black Library, this series will take more shape and emerge onto bookshelves at some point in the distant future.

He2etic: Are there any novels you would consider required reading? Are there any movies or television series that inspire your work?

Joe: There are several authors that I always recommend to friends when they say they want to get into Fantasy or Science Fiction. Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin always top the list.

In terms of TV, I watch a lot of historical documentaries and tend to derive a lot of inspiration from them. I also watch HBO miniseries, period dramas, etc. I can’t really put my finger on specific works that inspire my writing (outside of a few documentaries like the Civil War). Generally, it is more a means of me absorbing the information and my subconscious synthesising it into useable material without my explicit attention. Sometimes I will get inspired by a particular phrase of snippet of sound that I hear on TV or in a movie, but those are rare moments.

Big shout out to Joe Parrino for his time today! You can follow him @jtparrino

Follow the @BLBolthole on Twitter for updates, articles and more. This blog’s art was crafted by Manuel Mesones, and you can check out his portfolio.

Interview with Nathan Long

Nathan Long takes a few minutes to tell us about what it’s like being a writer. A veteran screenwriter of 15 years before becoming an author, Nathan has a fair bit of thought to share with us today.

Character-craft Master Nathan Long.

Character-craft Master Nathan Long.

He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in what word, what would it be?

Nathan: Wait, is that two questions or one? Uh, my one word answer would be, “Structured.” By which I mean, I build a structure for each story before I write it. I almost never “wing it.”

He2etic: What kind of music do you listen to while you write?

Nathan: Mostly soundtracks, Conan, Lord of the Rings, etc. But I try to match the music to the subject matter I’m writing, so if it’s something science-fictiony I might write to trance or electronica.

“I tend to come up with plot ideas before I come up with the characters to put in them, so my character creation is strongly influenced by the role the character needs to fill.”

 

He2etic: Who are your favorite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?

Nathan: Favorite characters by other people: Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber, and Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. Favorite characters by me: uh, it’s really hard to choose. I like them all because they all give me the opportunity to write in different voices and explore different aspects of my psychosis… er, I mean personality.

He2etic: What are your strongest influences when it comes to character creation?

Jane Carver of Waar, by Nathan Long

Jane Carver of Waar, by Nathan Long

Nathan: I tend to come up with plot ideas before I come up with the characters to put in them, so my character creation is strongly influenced by the role the character needs to fill.

For instance, with The Blackhearts, I didn’t come up with Reiner first, then build the story around him, I came up with the idea of “The Dirty Dozen in the world of Warhammer” and then sat around thinking about what kind of person would lead such a group.

He2etic: Are there any dream characters or settings you want to write about? Not just those in the Warhammer universes, but in other franchises or even of your own make?

Nathan: I have plenty of my own characters that I am dying to bring to the public’s attention, but, yes, there are a few established characters I would love to write. Top of the list would be Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and in fact I actually wrote an F+GM fan fic, which you can find on the ‘Free Stories’ page of my blog.

Others would include Solomon Kane, Catwoman, the Creeper, the Aliens franchise, the Bordertown series, Buckaroo Banzai, and I’ve always wanted to adapt a kids story called the Weathermonger into a movie, though I think the BBC might have beat me to it.

“I would say screenplays require tighter, simpler plots than novels, and a focus on a fewer number of characters.”

 

He2etic: What are your favorite drinks, both alcoholic and not? Do you occasionally partake while writing?

Nathan: I don’t drink alcohol, but I drink absolutely gallons of tea when I write. My favorite is oolong tea. It is the nectar of the gods.

Bloodborn, by Nathan Long

Bloodborn, by Nathan Long

He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?

Nathan: Hmmm. Good question, but I’m really bad at this. Lets see…

Ulrika – Tilda Swinton (Well, she’s a bit old for the part, but someone like Tilda Swinton, only 20.)
Reiner – Tom Hiddleston (The guy who played Loki.)
Jane Carver – Sadly, there are no actresses I know who look like I imagine Jane looking.

He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing? For example, do you intend to someday spin your own franchise or complete a long novel series?

Nathan: Yes. Jane Carver was planned as a four book series. I have no idea if the last two will ever be written, but I would like to. I also have a few other novel ideas that could easily become series, and right at the moment I’m getting set to announce an on-line comic that I’m writing, which I hope will go on for a very long time. I can’t tell you anything more about it yet, but there will be an announcement in the next few months.

He2etic: Are there any novels you would consider required reading?

Blackhearts the Omnibus, by Nathan Long

Blackhearts the Omnibus, by Nathan Long

Nathan: As follows…

The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber
The Flashman Papers series by George MacDonald Frazer
The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood by Raphael Sabatini
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
House of Stairs by William Sleater
The Bordertown Series by Terri Windling and others
The Jeeves series by P.G. Wodehouse
Last Call and The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

…I could go on…

He2etic: What advice do you have for anyone trying to make the transition from novel and short story writing to screenplay writing?

Nathan: Hmmm. I can’t really answer that question, since I went entirely the other way. I started as a screenwriter and became a novelist. I would say screenplays require tighter, simpler plots than novels, and a focus on a fewer number of characters. A screenplay is usually about one or two heroes doing something in a fairly short period of time. A novel can be about generations of heroes and take place over centuries.

“I really enjoy telling the smaller, more self contained stories that fall between the cracks of the big momentous things…”

 

He2etic: What’s your favourite part of writing a story?

Nathan: Hmmm. I like all of it, for various reasons, but I guess my favorite parts are the initial plotting phase, where I work out the ending, and all the little twists along the way, and then the polishing part at the end, where I fine-tune everything and add the last details.

He2etic: What is it that draws you to the Warhammer universe? Is there anything it permits you to do that you can’t find anywhere else?

Gotrek and Felix: The Fourth Omnibus, by Nathan Long

Gotrek and Felix: The Fourth Omnibus, by Nathan Long

Nathan: I like that the world is already built, and that it is so clearly defined. World building is fun for me, but coming to a world which already has a well-documented history and established rules makes creating stories in it almost like creating stories set in the real world. You look at the history, see the stories that have already been told about it, then try to find some place or some event or some time that nobody’s touched yet.

I really enjoy telling the smaller, more self contained stories that fall between the cracks of the big momentous things that the history books (or the army books) tell us about, and the richness and depth of the Warhammer background allowed me to do that.

He2etic: And the least favourite part of writing?

Nathan: The first draft is often a slog. Some scenes I love writing, and I breeze right through them, giggling to myself along the way. Others, particularly descriptive passages and stuff where people are traveling, are a grind, and I try to get them over with as soon as possible. My writing tends to be a little light on that stuff, and now you know why.

He2etic: What does a typical writing day look like for you?

Gotrek and Felix: The Third Omnibus, by Nathan Long

Gotrek and Felix: The Third Omnibus, by Nathan Long

Nathan: Hmmm. Up at 8:30. Have breakfast and noodle around on the internet until 10. Write until 12:00. Have lunch. Write until 3. Have a half hour nap. (Yep, sorry, I’m old.) Write until 6 or 6:30. So basically six hours of writing time. But if I’m on a deadline I’ll often work until I reach a certain word count, no matter how long it takes. Sometimes 3000 words have taken me until 11:00 at night.

He2etic: Finally, do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to reading? Stuff you know is utter trash, but you love reading anyway?

Nathan: I don’t read as much as I used to, so I am more selective now when I do read, so less trash these days. But back in the day I burned through Pier’s Anthony’s Xanth books and the Saga of the Exiles books by Julian May.

Neither of those series were trash, exactly, but definitely popcorn books.

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