Location of the most recent breach into Malifaux, Latest area to be occupied by the forces of Cryx, Stronghold of the Dark Legion, Homeworld of the 'Night Reapers' Space Marine Chapter, Council of Seven allocated Deadzone and the lair of some opinionated git called GMort who they let hang out with them...when he's not distracted by Steampunk, Gothic culture or Cosplay...
Time has been much on my mind lately, generally due to a seeming dearth of it. Not that I don’t have time in itself, but that there seems to be so many things I want to do with it.
On the work front there are always multiple projects – or potential projects – competing for my attention. The majority of what I do is for the Black Library, about 80% I’d say, but it’s good to do something different now and then.
One of those things is writing original short fiction for anthologies, like my story in the forthcoming Frontier Worlds collection, or the Weird Ales: Last Orders book which will be launched at this year’s Edge-lit. It’s fun and challenging to write different sorts of tales across genres, and short stories are the perfect way to get ideas onto the page without the massive time and emotional investment of a novel.
Similarly, I like to dabble in games design. Lately I’ve focused my efforts on Big Stompy Robots, but I’ve noodled many ideas over the years and even done some commissioned work like Cutlass! for Black Scorpion Games. And, as well as tabletop games it’s also fun to work with video games studios, and I would love to spend a bit of time doing more comics work if it was possible.
But pursuing these other avenues is time away from solid, mortgage-paying Black Library work. Not everything can be about the money – creativity requires release in different ways – but the cold truth is that my writing pays the bills and a steady income is required. A day away dreaming about my 'futuresports' rules is money not going in the bank.
So it’s a balance. There used to be a trend among successful film actors – a Hollywood blockbuster for the pay, followed by an arthouse flick for the soul. It's not quite as mercenary for me - I still love writing for Black Library as much as I did when I wrote my first story for them, but I like to think that each Horus Heresy or Warhammer 40,000 novel is providing funds (and therefore time) for me to pursue other interests as well.
The same can’t be said of my hobby backlog... I have so many things to paint and play, and Kickstarters still to be delivered, it’s almost too much to bear. I want it all ready now, now, now!
But there too I have to prioritise. Which miniatures do I need to play a particular game (I’m looking at you, new Blood Bowl dwarfs) and which are the bits to amuse me in-between? Where are the quick wins and the longer term projects?
And also, which ones don’t make me feel like I’m cheating on the Big Stompy Robots? Those mechs get so jealous sometimes...
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I have some news, which is very exciting and, in a moment of synchronicity, oddly relevant to my introduction.
Occasionally I am asked if there is any other licensed property I would like to work with, bearing in mind I've already ticked off Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 from my teenage fascinations. My answer is always that I'd like to work with the classic 2000AD comic strips of my youth, most notably Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and Strontium Dog.
Well, that's happening! Just this week I had a great meeting with former Games Workshop ne'er-do-well Andy Chambers, and I'll be working with Andy on Warlord Games' new Strontium Dog skirmish game. More details to come, but I am really looking forward to having some fun with Johnny Alpha, Wulf and, of course, the Gronk.
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Holder of the Keys
Bit of a Flashback Friday!
C Z Dunn's Eye of Ezekiel has recently been released, and if you want to read even more more about the Dark Angels' Grand Master of Librarians you might like my audio story Holder of the Keys, which was released back in 2014.
One of the Fallen, the Dark Angels who betrayed their oaths and turned on their brothers, relives his past under the psychic interrogation of Chief Librarian Ezekiel. But with treachery and falsehood in his nature, nothing the Fallen says can be trusted – does Ezekiel hold the key to unlocking the truth and discovering the warrior’s role in the fall of Caliban?
Half truths, rituals of mistrust and layers of deception. Is this a glimpse into the fabled fall of ancient Caliban, or just a pack of lies from a deranged madman?
Holder of the Keys is available on its own as an MP3, or you can read the prose version in Lords of Caliban. Ezekiel is also a major player in my Legacy of Caliban series and has a key role in Azrael. He even puts in a guest appearance for Angels of Darkness.
After the flurry of activity before the ROBIN wargames show, it has been a relatively quiet month for my new Big Stompy Robots game.
Not wanting to lose momentum, and as I'm someone who needs a deadline to get me focused, I've signed up to demo Stompy at CHILLCON '17, a new wargames show in Sheffield on Saturday 27 May, as well as DaffCon in Cardiff on the 11-13 August.
If you missed it earlier this week, here's a link to my latest blog where I discuss how I've approached revising the rules based on playtesting and demo-game feedback.
If you would like to receive e-mail updates on progress of my new game, you can sign up below.
"It is easy to get drawn into writing the rules for a game without playing it enough. It’s a very rewarding intellectual exercise to wrinkle out the wording of a particular rule, or to start creating new weapons, scenarios and troop types. There’s nothing wrong with this, but in the earliest stages of a project what is vitally important is to maintain the connection between what you are writing and what happens when the models, cards or counters hit the tabletop."
Devon asked: So as a long time GW guy, what is your opinion on Primarchs returning to 40k? If you don’t mind my asking.
There were two gospel truths when I was in the GW Studio. Firstly, the Horus Heresy would never be made as 28mm miniatures. Secondly, the Primarchs would never return. As of now, both are out the window!
Any changes like this are all in the detail – how individual writers deal with the new reality. I’m already dealing with some of the opportunities presented by the Gathering Storm narrative, and so far it’s been fun playing with the new toys. I think it could go too far, but for the moment having one Loyalist returned is okay.
If you want to ask a question, just reply to the newsletter and I'll get back to you as soon as my schedule allows. I'll pick a question to go in the next newsletter, and combine them all into a blog post for the website. Click the button below for the full Q&A round-up for March.
There's plenty of time to submit some Strange Beasties!
"Are you itching to invent your own odd literary devices or creatures? Impress us, delight us, or scare us with the diversity of your fiendish creations. Creatures of the id don't necessarily have to be monsters, but they do need to be strange."
Third Flatiron Publishing produce quarterly science fiction and fantasy anthologies, in both digital and print formats, and they are happy to accept stories from new writers. The pitch above is for "Strange Beasties", their Autumn 2017 publication, and stories should be submitted between 15 May and 15 July.
"In 1973, a study carried out by researchers from the University of Borghetto San Nicolò elaborated the "Scale of happiness" (or De Carli's Scale, by its creator's name), an order of magnitude which measures the happiness of a person on the basis of certain factors. Without going into details, the various studies correlated the proportion between the income of an individual and the extent of his collection of Dwarfs: in 94% of cases, it has been demonstrated that those who spend at least 42% of their income in Dwarf miniatures are on average happier than others."
With scientific evidence like this you'd be a fool not to back this new miniatures project, and I've even broken my self-imposed Kickstarter ban and backed it myself. Now, if you could all go out and buy my Dwarfs novels Doom of Dragonback and Grudge Bearer, I'll be able to up my pledge and be scientifically proven happier.
All subscribers to my mailing list are entered into the bi-monthly draw to win a personalised, signed copy of one of my books. This month's winner is David Paterson from Scotland who chose a signed copy of Azrael from my back-catalogue box. The next winner will be picked in May, and will receive a signed hardback of my next Phoenix Lords novel, Jain Zar: The Storm of Silence.