Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Squeaky Gate

It turns out that our ghost has migrated. It must be the spring, or something. Tired of standing in the upper hallway as a dim and distant silhouette, he has gone out into the garden. It happened like this. I was in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, loading the dishwasher (oh, how middle class!) and I kept hearing the squeak of the gate outside and footsteps. So that you can understand, our back door from the kitchen opens into a concrete courtyard (Nik calls it the lanai or patio [pronounced 'pay-show'. Oh, how middle class!]), which has its own gate onto the garden, up a flight of five stone steps. The gate is heavy, iron and old, and very rusted in its hinges, so that every time someone opens it, you can hear it in the rest of the house. It cannot swing on its own and it would take a typhoon to move it. That Sunday afternoon was very still.

So, as I said, I was loading the dishwasher and I heard the gate squeak several times and lots of footsteps. At first, I thought it must be Jessica out in the garden for some reason (probably collecting herbs. Oh, how middle class). Then I thought it might be Nik, or Lily. But Jess was staying at a friend's house, Lily was up on the fourth floor revising and Nik was in our bedroom editing Titanicus. So I supposed it might be the boys next door, hopping over the stile that divides our properties (oh, how middle class) to retrieve their lovely little dog. BTW the dog is small enough to go through the gate without swinging it open.

So, I looked up, out of the kitchen window. There was nobody there. The garden was empty. As I watched, the gate deliberately swung open, stayed open, and closed again. As before, I heard footsteps outside.

The hussar has gone outside to enjoy the spring. It bodes well...

I told Lily about it as we were cooking dinner together and she immediately went outside and hooked the gate up to stop it 'blowing around in the wind' (which it hadn't). Half an hour later it was opening and closing again, all by itself.

So whatever... Blackpool!

Go Back to Back! Yay!

Lily was competing in the 8 couple formation dance competition at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool. Inevitably, since this was her first outing to Blackpool, Nik and I escorted her and stayed in a hotel nearby while she strutted her stuff. Blackpool is a very strange place. It's like England's answer to Las Vegas, but if it's England's answer to Las Vegas, Las Vegas is a bloody silly question. Lily's team reached the semi-final, the first time her dance school has done that in years, so we were all very proud, and shouted a lot.

Because we were up there, we arranged to put in an appearance at the nearest GW store (Preston) and a very fine reception we had. Many thanks to James, Alex, Chris, Paul, Gareth, Ben and... and... I'm really bad with names, but we had a lovely time and I hope Preston GW enjoyed it as much as we did. James, we'll be back same time next year, if you want us. I have a feeling Lily will be dancing then, too. Oh, and Sarah, I'm really sorry for making you wait while I blathered on. I didn't realise you were waiting for your books to be signed. Thanks for coming.

GW Blackpool - Pete, I'm really sorry we didn't get to see you too, we did try... promise.

And now to other business...

Rory - I have been invited to Scotland, I'll tell you when.

Allandaros - I wish I had a blog clone too. Nik is getting very tired.


Bigwill - Ravenor isn't half-eldar, but the fluff is (that I imagined) he was involved with the eldar for quite a long time in his early years, hence his use of wraithbone. I think it's mentioned in the books.

And no, you're not Omegon. I'm Omegon. Everyone else is Alpharius. Except the ones who are Omegon. On reflection, that might be you, so forget what I said previously.

Ross - Thank you for the kind comments on the Solaris story. Last weekend, it was reviewed, favourably, in the Guardian, and my tale was picked out as one of the highlights. Go me! Reviewed favourably in the Guardian!

Big - You are still the master of the Blood Pact. Apocalypse Blood Pact... you just wait for the next Gaunt.

Rob - I don't know where I'm signing this summer, apart from Games Day, obviously.

Per - Eisenhorn did it inwardly, of course. It was a character thing, not a muscular reaction.

Cor - Thanks a lot for the nice words.

Anonymous - I'm glad you appreciated the twist.

Okay everybody, sleeping in is so win, so I'm going to try for it.

Xhalax - I think you might be Kara Swole after all.

Oops... the gate's squeaking again. I must go and attend to my hussar. See you all next time on the funny place.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lancashire in the spring.

Dan will be signing at the GW shop in Preston on Saturday, 29th March at 11.00am. He doesn't often venture quite so far north, so take advantage.

He'd blog himself, but he's getting ready to travel to Preston, while simultaneously writing more Titanicus, and his blog clone is indisposed.

Best to all,


Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Saturday Blog

It was a dark and stormy night. Well it WAS. You should see it out there.

Graham and I would like to thank everybody who turned up at Forbidden Planet last Saturday (or Forbidden Plant as Nik just typed). We had a good time, I hope you did too. It’s Good Friday today, and Nik and I spent a few hours wondering up and down Rochester High Street. We discovered the Rochester Armoury, and I bought a pilum. That’s not a sentence you often get to say. For anybody who doesn’t already know, I collect weapons as part of my research for the novels. It’s useful to know how a weapon feels in the hand, what the weight and balance are like etc. A pilum is a Roman javelin. It’s a wonderful piece of military technology (don’t take my word for it, go and look it up on Wikipedia), but not something I’d ever thought to buy. I’d like to thank Dave at the Rochester Armoury for drawing my attention to it, and being an all round good bloke (I urge you to visit the Armoury and engage Dave in such subjects as hunting boar... with a bow... in France).

Oh, and the Armoury has a website too. Google Rochester Armoury.

Anyway, it was only after I made my purchase and was lugging a first century piece of military hardware back to my car, that I realised that a Roman spear was possibly the least appropriate thing to buy on a Good Friday. I console myself with the thought that the centurion did it out of pity. I was chatting to Andy Lanning later on, and told him of my purchase. Andy said, as a sign off, “Well good luck with the rest of your blasphemy.”

I bought a buckler too, so I could swash it. How sad am I?

Anyway, to business:

I love zoids. Grant Morrison’s first comic book work was on zoids (little known fact), and I’m sure I gave Nik the ones she had on her desk at college.

I refuse to get drawn into the whole primarch kneeling thing. Several posters have already articulated interesting points of view (thanks, Sredni). 30K, just like 40K, is all about interpretation, and we’re all working from a mass of disjointed, revised, contradictory and all together mythic material that has been established in the last quarter century. Everyone’s entitled to their own take on ‘how it should be’. No one is wrong. Go with the version that feels right to you and own that one. That’s the point of a hobby. However, I feel I must point out that Alan Merrett is no newbie and he’s been around since the Age of Strife.

Pack-master - Hark’s ‘superior bulk’ certainly counts as ablative armour.

Jack - I remember Gilgamesh, so we’re best pals forever.

nhz - Titanicus is going fine, thank you. As you might expect, it is big and ponderous, and difficult to control.

James - Yes, I also want to know what happens next.

James Ferguson - We still have something for you, and haven’t received your address yet. Please advise.

Childofnurgle - Yes you are Varl. Look after yourself and feel better soon.

Rob - Yes, you’re Varl, too. Varl-ness is not exclusive to a single poster.

Brother Chaudeux - Welcome to the fun and games of the Dan Abnett blog. Excellent posts, so far. I hope to hear more from you.

Ross - No...

I’m Alpharius.

Jack - Gotta love that Wikipedia.

The-seventh-son - Konrad Curze sounds like a good idea.

Ross - Simon Spurrier is a great writer and I recommend you seek out all of his material.

One day gingers will rule the Earth - Thank you for the compliment. Much appreciated.

Rory - I did paintball once. I shot Andy Lanning in the face. Huzzah!

Lofty - 1) No, when I introduce a character into the Gaunt series, I do not, necessarily, have in mind their ultimate fates.

I studied Anglo-Saxon at university (well, I studied English, and AS was part of the course). I studied it under Bruce Mitchell, who is pretty the world authority. He used to go and teach it to the Japanese. He is Australian, and a previous alumnus of my college, Terry Jones (of Monty Python) used him as the inspiration for the classic Monty Python “Bruce” sketch. I have a feeling therefore that Bruce Mitchell was entirely responsible (via Monty Python) for the cliche that all Australians are called Bruce. He is a fantastic bloke. He wrote the standard Anglo-Saxon primer. His study was at the top of a slender and winding staircase in the front quad. At the end of every tutorial, he’d say, (and use an Australian accent for this) “don’t fall down the stairs until you get a first”. So, to answer your question... Anglo-Saxon. A (very very) little bit. And then, made up shit.

Bog - Glad you’re enjoying Ravenor. I knew you would.

Garrett - Thanks for joining in. I’m sorry you have been affected by the deaths of several characters. So was I. That was the point.

Xhalax - Hello!

Jack - Thank you.

Rory - Ezrah is pretty cool. He has a life of his own.

Arianwen - I’m sorry I made you cry. I suffer when my characters meet their ends, too.

Elaes - Welcome aboard, and thanks for the kind words.

Big - Loving the fact that you’re now calling yourself ‘Big’ on this site.

I’d like to leave you all with the following pict that was sent to me by my brother-in-arms, James Swallow. Thanks, Jim! It is rather funny or rather portentous, depending on your pov (point of view). Enjoy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

WE had chocolate cake...

...thanks to Alex, who came to the Cambridge GW signing this afternoon. Apparently, at the last Cambridge shop signing, I had told him that if he brought chocolate cake, I would be prepared to sign his entire back catalogue of books. Alex duly brought chocolate cake and a very heavy bag. Twenty minutes and a repetitive strain injury later, I had upheld my side of the bargain. The Cambridge signing was great, and my thanks go to Andy, the store manager who organised it and mediated the entire event. It was great to see people like Big, and also new faces like Gregg, Martin, Lars and Paul (welcome to the bloggage and thanks so much for showing me your fantastic sketch books). Thanks to everyone else who attended, it was great to see you.

Over lunch, at the Fucking Stupid Large Burger Joint across the street (buffalo! Who knew buffalo could be so good?) Big told a story about a group of variously deaf and blind people who had turned up in his club the other night. Big is a doorman, and runs security and general behaviour, just so you know. He’s also big, ex-army and, you know, big. He has a way with words. The deaf/blind group came to his club for a night out and got a bit carried away with the haha juice. What happened then was something out of the ‘Keystone Cops’. I can’t begin to repeat it here, or do it justice, but if you encounter Big Steve at a Games Day or similar event, implore him to tell you the story, because it is the fething funniest thing I have ever heard. I almost choked on buffalo. I think it was the moment where Steve said, ‘Mind the step,’ to the blind guy and the blind guy fell down the step and the deaf guy, who hadn’t heard Steve, started to attack him for pushing his blind friend down the step. The entire story is much longer and much more involved and much funnier than I’m presenting here. Get it from Big himself, and when you have, ask for the other stories: the luminous shards of wood in his arse, for example, and the wolf man on the roof of his building when he was a kid. Laugh? I nearly went to Ethiopia; second class of course.

It was great fun to hang out in a shop with the living embodiment of Gol Kolea (Big Steve, or is he Corbec? Or Bragg?), MkVenner (Gregg, I hope you don’t mind me comparing you to the character, but you were so quiet and serious), and Varl (Andy, you are Varl, and if you’re not, you’re Brostin, take your pick). I write them here and they come out there, in person, to meet me, and they are always much better than the characters I have fashioned in my head.

Let us now attend to the day’s business. I’m sorry if these recent blogs have come across as a bit of a Q&A, but it seems the fastest and most efficient way of getting things done.

Lordy - I’ll be at Forbidden Planet in London next Saturday with Graham. Is that any good?

Allandaros - Very few things in the entire universe beat the coolness of the Starship Enterprise. It just IS. But I am a devoted fan of both Firefly and Babylon 5. However, in terms of doors, I wish life worked the way it did in Space 1999, when you can point a comlock at a door and make it open. I have a fabulous replica comlock sitting on a shelf above my desk. Sometimes, when a novel is going slowly, I pretend I am John Koenig (or actually, Alan Carter) and point my comlock at various doors. Non ever open, but (see previous post) I’m hardly surprised.

Jack - Me and a Jerry Cornelius, Michael Morcock story in the same book? How chuffed am I? I’m glad you enjoyed ‘Point of Contact’, and if Dreadstar is as wired into your makeup as it is mine, we’ll be friends forever.

Xhalax - You are not a minion, but you are a servant of the Legion and one of the few who gets to hear the command, “Do it.”

Big - I’m delighted you enjoyed my most recent Warhammer 30K novel, Legion, and your expressions of delight were duly noted here at Abnett Towers. Good luck with the therapy.

Toobad and Sredni - Ravenor Rouge will now become a short story in the forthcoming Ravenor/Eisenhorn collection. It will be about Maxilla.

Rory - I will come to Scotland and, indeed, Edinburgh as soon as the Black Library organises it (late summer, we hope).

One day gingers will rule the earth - Delighted as I am to be playing tennis with the multiple personas you are lobbing at me over the net, I feel, at this time, I should say, “Good luck with that.” Paper towels are, of course, always an option.

Shawn - This is how it worked. Mike Lee was cloned from my genetic material into 15 bodies and then ran wild and free with creative energy to turn the Darkblade graphic novels I had produced into proper prose. He now needs to have a long, restful lie down.

Jimmi magnus - The Emperor was worshipped right from the minute he sent his forces out from Terra. They didn’t actually understand him as a god, but they realised he was fething heavy duty.

Anonymous - The Patrick O’Brian novels are, indeed, fantastic, and I would recommend them to anybody. The film’s pretty good too. I wish I was half as good as Mr O’Brian.

Kromvolt - I am so glad I put the E in epic. I may have put the c and i into epic as well. I’ve nearly got the whole word covered.

Nemesis749 - No one in the known world can actually explain the colour code at the top of the Horus Heresy novels. It’s just a fact. Accept it and get on with your life. I have. If it’s any consolation, we meet regularly and discuss the over all structure of the Horus books and none of us understand the colour coding either.

Ross - Yes, you did get mentioned in a Dan Abnett blog post. Oh my fething god, you got mentioned again.

The-seventh-son - Thank you for your kind words, and welcome to the blog. May you post regularly.

Brandon - The death of Gary Gygax was, indeed, a terrible blow. Without D&D, AD&D, Traveler and Call of Cthulhu, I would not be doing what I do today, and neither would my wife. We were RPGers in the 80s and we were proud to be so. The death of Mr Gygax made me think of iron spikes (always useful), the original Games Workshop pale blue cover edition of D&D, which I treasure to this day, and the fifth form at school (year 11 or 9th grade to you lot). My friend, Julian Styles had the original 3 volume D&D and introduced me to role playing. Everything I do and write now is based on the campaigns I mastered back then.

Chris - Thanks for your fond remarks. Gravier’s storyline never really came to an end.

nhz - The wounds that Gaunt has received during his career defy cataloguing. Just be thankful he’s still alive.

mob - Guardians of the Galaxy, like Nova, is going to be a blast. Hold tight and prepare for action.

Jennifer Burdo - If it was me, I’d call my cat Ludd, which is like purr, backwards, except it isn’t. I’d also be tempted to call it Mkvenner, except that it would go out and never come back again.

sorl kennedy - Namatjira is empowered with the authority of Horus, which equals the Emperor. He is the commander of a branch of the crusade. Of course fething primarchs kneel to him. He’s the proxy of the fething Emperor. By the way, congratulations for being the first Legion nay-sayer so far.

Paul - As I said somewhere at the start of this rambling monologue, welcome to the blog. Your sketches were really fantastic and you should post them here for others to enjoy.

Thus concludes the business of the day. Tune in next week to hear Nurse Janice say...