Thursday, March 22, 2007

Away with the ghosties

So take it as read, periods of blog-silence from me = furious work sessions. Only In Death is thundering to a close like a... thundering thing (sorry, my weekly simile ration got used up writing the last chapter). It’s demanding stuff, to be honest, creatively speaking: after ten books, you’d think it would get easier (a false assumption I made when I started work on it), but with ten books in the bag, it’s actually harder. I keep thinking “nope, I’ve done that before” or “I can do better than that, this has to be bigger” etc. What’s more, when you’ve been around a bunch of characters for this much time (almost a decade) and this quantity of material (over a million words on the Ghost books alone), a big, climactic, arc-punctuating book like OiD is a intense experience to write. And, no, that DOESN’T mean I’m going to kill everyone. (Or should that be... “and no, that doesn’t mean I’m going to kill EVERYONE”?)
I’ve set myself all sorts of (sometimes conflicting) challenges with OiD. It has to be a good story, naturally, with lots of crowd-pleasing shooty death kill AND character threads... that much applies to any Ghost book I take a swing at. But OiD is also the last book of the third arc, and the last Ghost book for a while. The series is going on hiatus for a few months while I work on other groovy things for BL (news on that soon). So, like Ravenor Rogue, OiD can’t just HAVE a good ending, it has to BE a good ending, a satisfying end-stop for a run of books that wraps up all manner of story lines and ongoing threads. I want to make sure that everyone gets a moment or two to shine, not just the main characters but the background boys too (big shout out for Corporal Chiria! Noa Vadim! Rerval and Derin! Haller! Jessi Banda! Jajjo! And, all the way from RIP duties.... Merrt!). I want to make sure that if anyone does actually, you know, die, said demise is appropriately appropriate (heroic, shocking, accidental, surprising, whatever).
I also, this time around, wanted to make it claustrophobic and creepy. This is siege warfare undertaken in a deeply unpleasant place. This is a last stand at the end of the world. This is the Ghosts fighting to the bitter end in a place full of ghosts.
Oh, Xhalax? Just to put your mind at rest Ban Daur gets a lot more than one line in this book.
Okay, I’d better get back to it. I’ll be at Forbidden Planet, London, on Saturday 19th of May (1.00 o’clock), signing Brothers of the Snake (and anything else you’d like me to) and then at GW Oxford Street Plaza at 3.00 the same day. Keep those posted comments coming. We’re getting a really lively chat going, and some of the stories are priceless. When OiD is put to bed, I’ll try to respond to a few more directly.

Right, where was I..?


Oliver said...

Hey Dan, Is there any plans in the near or far future on coming up to Manchester's Games workshop and doing a book signing?

Boom said...

So could it be said then that this book is the end of the second act of the Gaunt's Ghost "play"? Granted the series is in the third arc but interms of structure is that where the books are at? Because you know what they say, "The second act is usually the best". Though I'm sure the forth arc will be awesome as well.

John said...

Glad to hear we'll hear from some of the smaller names- I actually to think if Vadim had died in some of the later books, and I'm sure glad he hasn't!

Looking forward to this release more and more.

If you ever attend anything in Ontario (unlikely I'd say)- I hope there's ample warning for us here!

Xhalax said...

*runs arounf and whoops in a suitable Dr. Zoidberg style to show her delight*

More Ban! YAY!

*dances with glee*

Oh wait....does this mean we're going to have more 'Saint' apearing. Coz whenever he gets largish parts through out the whole book (with the exception of Necropolis) it's usually in books that are heavy with The Saint. Like Honour Gaurd and Sabbat Martyr.

Now I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing coz the whole 'Saint Reborn' thing never sat right with me.
Guess I'll have to wait and see.

Though I will wish deeply horrid things upon you if you kill Ban. Afterall, a girl can only take so much death of her favourite characters.

Toymachine said...

The king of small roles?

Poor Vamberfeild. He's mentioned once in Necropolis, and then in honour gaurd has his skull blowen open (amongst some eight other wounds...). He only saved the Tanith first, the shrine-hold and all of Hagia. Only.

P.s Im glad that Ven's not dead (Oh come on, we all know it).

Xhalax said...

Yeah.....though I seem to have a habit of developing a liking for those who have small roles/are woefully under used in my opinion

Plus you have to feel sorry for poor ol' Ban. 8 books and he's still just a Captain and he's not even third in command anymore coz Kolea got promoted to Major. And then there's Rawne to deal with. As well as Baskevyl (the offical Tanith-Verghastite-Belladon command triangle according to AoC).

And now he's has people like Shoggy to contend with at Captain level. I really feel sorry for him and wish to give him a hug.

Vambs as a tragic character. But he got the best death EVER. It was brilliant. Plus you have to factor in that he was crazy due to 'shell-shock'

And as Saberrox said before. No one has the stones to kill Ven except maybe Ven himself. And that ain't going to happen anytime soon.

sredni vashtar said...

isn't Mkvenner being hunted by the inquisition now? I'd say he got a better deal than Soric did :P

Martin said...

So, like Ravenor Rogue, OiD can’t just HAVE a good ending [...]

Uhm... I never considered the ending of Ravenor Rogue as... well, good or nice, rather... depressing. Too much like Hereticus, but of course there my worst fears came true right at the beginning with poor Lizzy... and speaking of Bequin, you never mentioned her again in Ravenor II & III... hope she's still on board of the Hinterlight, and (relative) fine.


Aye, that one. Really liked him. And bytheway, what you think about some short stories of Inshabel and Nayl? Eisenhorn mentioned their interesting adventures during the Eisenhorn Conspiracy, and you nearly hit us readers with a battlebarge broadside that there would be some mentioning of their doings on this trek in the future.

Merrt gets his part? Oh, that pleases me, really. He was a tragic one. Hope we get Ven back on board... and I'll friggin' stalk you, if Milo won't reapper when you finally get back to work on the next GG Arc.

Greetings from your fething biggest german fanboy ;)


Soapy said...

@ Xhalax: Feel happy for Ban. It seems all he ever wanted was to be given the chance to lead troops in the field, be in command and be his own man. Leading a company, no matter who now has parrity of rank, seems to me to be what he'd always wanted. That and the occasional tickle behind the ear from the Big G.

It's good to hear that everyone's gonna get a bite of the pie come OiD. I really loved the feel of the earlier stories with the action popping around between the platoons with everyone getting their combat freak on. The Lost really changed the feel of the Ghost books. From a sweeping regimental tale with a cast of thousands and enemies within and without the body to a special forces team behind enemy lines and constantly in the firing line. Reminds me of when Tour of Duty stopped being about 2nd platoon and shrank down to team Viking. Good times. Anyway much as I've enjoyed the dislocation I felt through the other books in the arc I'm looking forward everyone being back in the bosom of the regiment and feeling warm and fuzzy again.

19th's in my diary. Can't wait for that hot throbbing Marine action.


Toymachine said...

I assume Soric is the person screaming in Gaunt's dreams? What happens abord the blackships?

Oh - I just had a real cool thought. Imagine if a certain sanctioned psyker joins the ranks of the Tanith first in the future...

Xhalax said...

Well martin....although it could have just been one of his clones fobbing me off to get rid of me as quick as possible....Mr. Abnett has said that he wanted to/could/is thinking about doing a short about what Nathun got up to during his trip Elvara Cardinal.

Though that was a couple of years ago now......knew I should have bombarded him requests for the story.

*light bulb*


I must go to sleep. Yes, sleeeeeep

John said...

Toymachine, I was just browsing the GW site earlier to look at pricing and happened to read up one on of the Witch hunters stories- according to that it's the transports used to take the non-sanctioned psykers back to have their brains feasted on by the Emperor.

At least that's what the story said.

John said...

Terra***** Gah. Yeah, Terra.

Martin said...

@ xhalax: wheeeee!


*mental note: stalk Dan about mentioned stories*

sredni vashtar said...

toymachine: you don't wanna know what happens on board the black ships. supposedly it involves a great deal of mind-breaking, gratuitous torture and unmentionable Inquisitorial experiments. somehow I don't reckon we'll be seeing poor old Soric again :_(

nik said...

Just finished reading the first half of 'Only in Death'.

Some days I really love my job!

Xhalax said...

*is bitter by the last comment*

I'd happily switch jobs with you there nik.

*crosses her fingers and hope the offer works*

Richard said...

The return of Soric would make me a very happy Ghost's fan (Not that I'm not already happy, but...)

He quickly became one of my favorite characters and I was sad to see the Black Ships drag him away.

Tim said...

You lucky somethingorother, nik :(.

And always a pleasure to hear that OiD draws ever closer to completion.. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what becomes of my favourite characters (well, the ones left alive at least - leave some Tanith for the next arc!), and see how the story develops.

Alas, DHL attempted to deliver my signed Ravenor Rogue while I was out at Cambridge this week. I shall have to wait even longer for it - I'm not happy.

Good luck with the writing, though!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys (and Dan too if you see this). I am doing a report on Dan for my High School literature class and need a xerox copy of his interview in Judge Dredd magazine. Anybody have a scanner? I can't find the mag in So. Cal. If so could you e-mail it to me at


Toymachine said...

You just bragged to the wrong ghost fan, Mr.Nik. Imagine the scene in straight silver where varl asks for some straight-silver.
Yeah. I said it.

Toymachine said...

That reminds me.
Isn't Varl so cool?

Xhalax said...


Varl is all sorts of shades and kinds of cool

Tim said...

Varl has always been the coolest of cool.

And I think Nik beats us all as Dan's number one fan.

Jesse said...

Tim, I must respectfully disagree with you. Nik is no doubt a devoted fan, but I know someone who goes one better.

My buddy "G," who I KNOW is reading these posts, but thus far yet to write in (asshat!), puts even my rabid appetite for Dan's work to shame. I brought my Ghost books to Iraq with me and read them in my off time. "G" read them while in combat!!! I don't care who you are, that takes some stones!

Saberrox said...

Varl is awesome. The Ghosts rival "The Simpsons" in terms of the amazing total of well-developed characters.

Stephen S said...



*is imagining 'the Simpsons' Intro sequence, but with Ghosts characters instead*.


ok...extrapolating from what you said, which ghosts character would fill which simpsons role?

Nik said...

toymachine - that's Ms Nik to you :-)

jesse - and what kind of stones do you think it takes to get in the same bed as the primary clone night after night?

Martin said...

Nik - 1
RoW - 0


Round #2, go ;)

nik said...

martin - nik takes a bow ;-)

Toymachine said...

(Abashed) My deepest apollogies, Ms.Nik!!! Oh Emperor, ive made two, very powerful enemies.

(audiable gulp)

@ stephen s, U LEGEND!!!
Im going to be thinking about simpson intros featuring the ghosts for a long, long time.

Xhalax said...

Ah, there's nothing more refreshing than a good dose of smackdown when someone mistakes you for being a man.

Go Team Nik!

sredni vashtar said...

what the hell, there are girls on the INTERNET?!

why am i always the last to know these things

Toymachine said...

you mean xhalax is a girl too?

-Joke!!! for feths sake, a joke!!!

Xhalax said...

I'm a girl?

When did that happen? Who told you people.


And now I really am starting to get worried that I'm developing a thing for blonde interrogators....coz Carl is definitely pulling ahead into my 'favourite character' slot in Ravenor.

I feel sorry for him already.

Toymachine said...

@ Xhalax?
Was it the fact you said -

*shakes HER fist*

*Runs around and whoops like dr. Zoidberg to show HER delight*

*crosses HER fingers and hopes the offer works*

*spotted Mr.Abnetts torchwood in the shops. Its very PRETTY*

*There was a LOVELY £3 sticker on it*

I've made my point. And no, im not a stalker. Muril mabye... WHY'D SHE HAVE TO DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Xhalax said...



sredni vashtar said...

don't get too attached to Carl - even I wound up feeling sorry for him at the end :_(

Martin said...

Sorry for Carl? Naw, not really. I was pissed that Angharad had to die, and Kara's now inmprisoned. Dan, why have you done that to Nayl? He's your character of choice, and then you do that to him?
Shame on you.

@ toymachine: aye, Muril's one of my favourites, too. Dan has something about tormenting us... and himself too, methinks.

Saberrox said...

@ Martin

ARGH! Write a spoiler warning next time! Luckily I stopped reading, but now I know there's someone named Ahnarod or something who dies and you don't feel sorry for something that happened to Carl. ARGH!

Martin said...

Gah. Sorry that, I'm talking about spoiling myself and then...

But the Carl thing - if you'd read the end of Hereticus open-minded you'd know already. ;-)

Xhalax said...

You all should have known that something untoward would happen to Carl one way or another....coz he's one of my favourite characters.

That's as good as killing them off myself!

Martin said...

That's an interesting theory, one worth of supporting... nay, worth of discussing. I won't support such a drama ;-)

Spoilers, even when old as stones

Aye, every character to be adored dies somehow. Bequin (not wuit dead, but I don't believe her to wake up somehow in the future, even with the fact that Dan likes to do some more Eisenhorn), Fischig, Inshabel, Voke (yeah, liked him, really!).


I don't like it, but that's the wa it has to be, methinks.