Today’s interview is with David Guymer, one of the newest writers to join the ranks of the Black Library author roll. Part scientist, part writer and all nerd, he’s here to answer some questions about the creative process that goes into word craft.
He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in one word, what would it be?
Some people might enjoy a whispering muse at their shoulder. My writing is accompanied by buzzing neurones, lack of sleep, worry, doubt, and then I print off what I’ve done, cover it in red and do it again. And again.
It’s not a method I’d recommend but it gets the job done, and anything that can survive three or four lashings of the red pen probably deserves its place in the final draft.
He2etic: What kind of music do you listen to while you write?
David: Basic rule is not to listen anything with lyrics but the precise choice varies from project to project. I find music useful in setting the right mood for a piece and (probably for fantasy and horror more than anything) if you get the mood spot on then you can get away with a lot.
“I’m a gamer first and a writer second, but I love the fact that this is a world that enables me to do both.”
For Headtaker that was the Dragonball Z soundtrack with a bit of Final Fantasy: Advent Children. Big fight music for big fights! For City of the Damned I needed something more eerie. I started off juggling between The Killing and Mass Effect 3 soundtracks before ultimately settling on the soundtrack to the old computer game, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.
He2etic: Who are your favourite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?
David: It’s hard not to work with a character every hour of every day and not become attached. There are actually very few characters that don’t pop into my head from time to time to demand a little love and attention. I’d originally intended to produce a small list of a selection of my favourites but, for the reasons noted above, I’ll just give you my standout, except no alternative, favourites. And that is…
The reasons are many. He’s delightfully devious, intelligent, but also vulnerable in a way that’s relatable to a human being reading about rat-men. I also think he’s quite unique amongst the skaven currently out there, surviving well into old age on the back of his wits and cunning. Before the plot for Headtaker was settled, Sharpwit existed. His full backstory and arc needed padding out, but the character was there right from the beginning. He’s my little contribution to skavendom!
As for other authors, that’s tricky too. What with their being so many. When I close my eyes and just wait for a character to spring to mind then (surprise surprise) they’re all members of the Tanith First!
I don’t know how he does it, but nobody writes characters quite like Dan. It’s doubly amazing given that his books tend to feature so many of them. The very first that came to mind were Rawne and Feygor. I couldn’t even tell you why as it’s so long since I read them, but that just goes to show how powerful they are.
He2etic: What are your favourite armies in the Warhammer and 40k universes?
David: I have a skaven army, naturally, that’s waxed and waned through the years ever since I first picked up a box of mono-posed plastic clanrats when I was twelve. We’ve fought some epic battles down the years and they’re the favourite to which I always return.
Most other armies have had my eye run over them at some point or other down the years. Wood Elves and Tomb Kings attract a lot of covetous glances. Writing Headtaker made me desperately want to collect dwarfs, but I do yearn for the chance to field some cavalry for once.
With 40K it’s more tricky. I did have a bit of Imperial Guard, but my school friends and I didn’t really play it. Necrons, Dark Eldar and Tau didn’t even exist when I last properly played 40K!
That said though, an Imperial Guard army is my current project because I do love tanks and big guns. What I *really* wanted though is Eldar or White Scars. I love them for the background and the feel of them, but neither suits the way I play. I’m a ‘sitting on my hill clustered around my war-machines’ kind of guy.
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?
David: Ikit Claw was always my favourite character, so I’d always love to write about him. The great thing about Warhammer and 40K though is there are so many great characters, settings and possibilities that it’s a pleasure to write for any of them. I’d never fielded Queek in my skaven army, for instance.
And I didn’t think much of King Kazador in the old dwarf army book either. He was basically a dwarf lord with an extra point of strength and a hatred of greenskins.
But when you look past the stats, immerse yourself in the background, then you see that there’s so much character to them both.
If, however, we’re talking other franchises then I’d love to write a Star Trek story as I grew up as (and still am) a massive Star Trek fan.
I’ve also threatened to write a Ms. Marvel screenplay if no-one else looks likely to do it!
He2etic: What are your favourite drinks, both alcoholic and not?
David: I consume vast quantities of milk. It’s good for you, although in these doses probably less so. With alcohol, you can’t go too far wrong with a good cider. Out of regional pride, I like to get Aspall’s Suffolk Cider. So if anyone sees me dry at the Weekender, you know what to get me.
He2etic: What is it about Warhammer and its 40k brother that you love the most?
David: I’m a gamer first and a writer second, but I love the fact that this is a world that enables me to do both. When I think about what I want to write it’ll be cool stuff from the game that comes up. I want to see what happens when a doomwheel charges a giant, or when rat-ogres get shot by an Anvil of Doom.
If they let me loose on 40K, I’d want to write about a fleet battle in an asteroid belt or hundreds of battle tanks blowing the crap out of a titan.
I like that these are worlds where big things can happen, where there are heroes and villains and a whole lot struggling along in between. And I like that one will always be trying to stab/poison/blow up the other.
He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?
David: I’d be terrible at this. I’d just want to put Star Trek and Buffy actors in everything. Will Wheaton as Felix Jaeger? No… no, I don’t think so.
“It’s hard not to work with a character every hour of every day and not become attached.”
He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing?
David: They don’t come much longer term than my ‘first’ novel, which I started working on well before I first submitted a story for Black Library. It’s a fantasy story about wizards that (stop rolling your eyes at the back) draws quite heavily from my love for Dragonball. It’s about two-thirds done. Occasionally, between projects, I’ll edit the opening paragraph for the zillionth time and then it’s back to the hard drive. I do plan to finish it one day.
It’s a long term project!
Closer to fruition, I’ve got plenty of irons in the fire with Black Library to keep me going for the near future. So I’m afraid you’ll not be seeing the back of me just yet.
That’s all the time we have for today! Thanks David!
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.