It’s a red letter day for the people here at the Bolthole. Our blog has recently been improved aesthetically, thanks to the amazing work of artist Manuel ‘Forjador’ Mesones! And we’re working to improve the consistency of our content as well. So what finer way to celebrate than with an interview with Nick Kyme, editor for the Black Library and author of the Salamander series of Warhammer 40k books?
He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in one word, what would it be?
Nick: Ha, ha – in one word? Arduous, probably. Especially novels. Don’t get me wrong; I love writing, I wouldn’t do it otherwise, but it’s hard.
Really it’s just the amount of time and extra effort on top of a full time job. It’s regular – every night, and all day on the weekends when I’m up against a tight deadline.
I find it takes me about 30 minutes or so of procrastination in an evening session, which can run from 6pm up until 9.30pm on some nights, before I actually get started. The weekend is better, I usually work more productively in the morning, so tend to get into the work straight off the bat and usually mould my day around two to three sessions.
“It makes me laugh that nowadays there are writers and tweeters that use ‘grim dark’ to describe a sub-genre of fantasy.”
He2etic: What kind of music do you listen to while you write?
Nick: Classical mainly, and more often than not, soundtracks. For instance, I’m working to Man of Steel at the moment, which is suitably moving and epic. It suits 40K/HH very well. I have a vast iTunes archive of soundtracks, actually. Thor is a popular one too, so heroic and dramatic. It stirs the blood and the creative juices all at the same time!
He2etic: Who are your favourite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?
Nick: For the Salamanders, Tsu’gan is definitely the most fun to write. He’s an angry, uncompromising character. I can empathise at times. I also like Fugis, too. He gets overlooked a lot as he doesn’t get much of role in the novels until later on, but he’s been one of my favourites since the beginning. Vulkan is a fascinating character to write about, a real challenge too. Morgrim in the War of Vengeance novels and Ranuld Silverthumb, in the same series.
As for other authors, I think Aeonid Thiel is fantastic, one of Dan’s best creations (I got to play with him a bit too in the audio drama, Censure). A little farther a field, Jack Reacher from Lee Child and Charlie Parker from John Connolly are particular favourites too.
He2etic: What is your favourite Chapter and army?
Nick: Necrons are far and away my favourite army. I love the sleek and terrifying look of their troops and war machines, plus they’re hard as nails on the tabletop. Chapter, I’d say Salamanders. Genuinely. Writing about them has fostered an empathy for them that transcends the novels. As well as Sisters of Battle (admittedly, a bit fringe), these are the armies I have for 40K. For Warhammer, it’s Dwarfs all the way
He2etic: What do you think of the cover art for your books?
Nick: Stunning. I’ve been blessed with some fantastic covers. My jaw dropped when I saw Neil’s work on Vulkan Lives, Promethean Sun and Scorched Earth. They’re masterpieces worthy of all the accolades they garner. Clint’s done some amazing covers for me, so too have Jon Sullivan and Cheol Joo Lee (he does all of my Salamander covers). I feel very lucky.
He2etic: Are there any dream characters or settings you want to write about? In other franchises or even your own?
Nick: Well, I am a huge fan of the DCU, particularly the Dark Knight. I’d love to write a Batman novel or even short story.
I even dallied with the idea of writing a screenplay for a pilot for Gotham Central, the excellent series written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka.
As for my own, I have a crime novel that’s about 16,000 words old that I need to finish. I did write a Sherlock Holmes ‘elseworlds’ style story for a book called Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, and would certainly love to return to that mythos.
“It’s nice to know there are people out there who like what you’re doing as a writer and want to show that with a gift that reflects what I’m into or enjoy.”
He2etic: What’s your favourite drink?
Nick: Alcoholic or non? Alcoholic, I do like a nice real ale or red wine. I think my tipple of choice would be SoCo, however. I blame my eldest brother, Rich, for that. I’m not much of a drinker, to be honest, but it’s nice to be social once in a while… 😉
And non? Hmm. Purple grape juice, as lame as that sounds. I keep fit a lot and run three times a week, so don’t tend to go in for Coke or whatever. I do like root beer, a throwback to a family holiday many, many years ago visiting relatives in beautiful Canada. Oh, and coffee. How could I forget that! It’s probably the fact I drink so much of the stuff it’s more like my actual blood than a drink per se…
He2etic: What is it about Warhammer and its 40k brother that you love the most?
Nick: It’s the grimness. It makes me laugh that nowadays there are writers and tweeters that use ‘grim dark’ to describe a sub-genre of fantasy. It came from Warhammer, so it feels a little disingenuous and more than a bit cheeky to co-opt it for this purpose, but that’s the strength of the idea. I love the Britishness of it all, it really speaks to my culture and sense of national pride.
He2etic: Do fans give you gifts at the conventions?
Nick: Occasionally. I’ve had Hobnobs a few times (always gratefully received, I LOVE Hobnobs). Some fans bring me Lego, which I also really appreciate as I’m a proper AFOL when all’s said and done. I’ve had Batman memorabilia (thanks, Stealth Budda) and even got a quill-pen once too. It’s nice.
I certainly don’t expect it, but I really do appreciate it. It’s nice to know there are people out there who like what you’re doing as a writer and want to show that with a gift that reflects what I’m into or enjoy. I strive to respect that appreciation by writing the best stories I can.
He2etic: Last question. If you could pick any actors to play the roles of Tsu’gan and Vulkan, who would you choose?
Nick: Hmm, that’s a tough one, though I have done some thinking on this. When I first starting fleshing out the characters for the Tome of Fire trilogy, I used IMDB to find actors who I felt would best reflect their characters, at least in terms of how they look. It made it easier to cement them in my own mind.
For Tsu’gan, I’ve often said he’s a little like Kratos from God of War in temperament, but the actor I’d choose to play him would be Djimon Hounsou. And for Vulkan (wow, that’s tough), I’d say David Oyelowo or Sammi Rotibi. Honestly, I would’ve gone for Idris Elba but I also thought of him as more like Ko’tan Kadai or Adrax Agatone.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to 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. The author can be followed @He2etic, or on his blog.