Xmas (only the names have been changed)
Or, to be fair, forgotten.
Ah, Christmas (or whatever you want to call this time of year). You've been a long time coming. I knew this year was going to be busy, but... you know. It's been REALLY busy. It's put the 'complete and utter dick' into really, RI-COMPLETE-AND-UTTER-DICK-ULOUSLY busy. Gah.
It's been so busy, I'm not even going to start this blog post with the requisite, "Sorry it's been ages since I last posted but blah deadlines blah blah lazy asshat blah blah..." I'm mean, I'm not going to even. It's so long since my last proper blog post, my last proper blog post is a dot to me (though I liked Will Wright's comment on the last mini post to the effect that it was good when I ran silent, because that meant I was furiously a-writing of stuff).
I've finished Know No Fear, so that's the main thing. There'll be more on that in future posts, but my new Horus Heresy novel (about the Battle of Calth, Word Bearers twatting Ultramarines, in case you were wondering) is done and finally dusted, much to the breathless relief of an increasingly panicking BL editorial staff. It was a monster to wrangle into words-in-the-correct-order form, but that's little excuse, as getting words in the order write is what I'm supposed to be able to do for a living. On the plus side, the actually in-house reaction to the book (ie: un-adjectivable projectile excitement) marginally outweighed the panic over the tardy delivery. I particularly enjoyed Laurie's Facebooked response where he said he had to get up and go for a little walk in the middle because he was getting too worked up.
KNF was just the busy-as-feth icing on a busy year-long cake of alternating busy and busier layers. With ganache. This time a year ago, I knew I was embarking on a year of foolhardy busy-ness, but - gosh! - I went and done it anyway. New Mutants. Resurrection Man. Doctor Who. Sinister Dexter. Grey Area. The Annihilators. Heroes AND Villains For Hire. Wonder Woman. Soldier Zero. Embedded. Salvation's Reach. Lois Lane. Other stuff. Now Christmas, the incentive carrot on the end of my schedule stick, finally hoves into view like a very, very, VERY late 155 bus home, and I'm jolly glad to see it. Take me home, Christmas bus, so that I can have a long lie down and make a premature New Year's Resolution not to be so stupid again next year.
I was oblivious of the busy-ness dangers that 2011 would hold. Now I am blivious. Fully blivious. So 2012 is going to be a bit more selective in terms of work and events. Don't fret: on January 1st, I will still be starting on the long awaited new Inquisitor trilogy ("The Bequin Trilogy" aka Eisenhorn vs Ravenor aka "Pariah"). I'm going to have to turn down a few things I would otherwise love to do in 2012, but them's the breaks. I don't want to feel quite so Know No Big Hand From The Little Hand again.
Anyway, let's talk about some of the things I never got the chance to blog about during the year. I went to a lot of places, and met some lovely people, and then lost the bits of paper I wrote their names down on. And I have the audacity to lecture on the importance of notebooks. Honestly. So I can't, for example, thank by name the two girls in Greenwich Village who brought me a home-made plush Inquisitorial rosette (now on my desk). Or the guy in the same place who made me (nay, wrought me!) a chainmail bracelet (also on my desk). I'm still very grateful , but I wish I could have printed your names here.
I can namecheck Dave Ploss for being such a great guy in Chicago, and I can thank Matthew Churchill for the lovely Christmas pressie (with my new Egon, I can do all the symmetrical book stacking I like). I can also mention Brian McGackin, who gave me a dedicated copy of his book Broetry at the New York Comic Con. I'd met Brian the year before, and signed some stuff for him, so this was his thank-you. Broetry is brilliant - poetry for guys, often in the form of parodies of famous verse. The William Carlos Williams riff on the cover is worth buying it for alone. Broetry funny, but it's also touching, and it's also real poetry. Get it here. Now.
Some places I visited this year went by so fast.
Hey, Seattle! Why you go by so fast? (Also, what was I doing there? When will I be able to tell people about it?)
Then I was in New York-- Oh. Hang on. My daughter's just given me a mini Snickers (or, "Marathon" as I still call them). Mmmnnh.
Anyway, I was in New York, and this is a photo of the full moon over New York, a photo that, I feel, doesn't do much justice to either the full moon or New York.
This does, but it's just flash-reflection-off-the-hotel-window over New York. So what have we learned? Less successful photography = more successful image.
Here's a guy at the New York Con dressed as a Ghost. Very cool. Did I lose the bit of paper with his name on? Of course I did. Of course I did.
Here's the crew from my Warhammer pirate novel Fell Cargo, all hand modeled. Very very cool. Did I lose etc? Of course I etc.
I DO however remember the name Jake Moore. I think. I think he was the guy I met at the opening of No Man's Land, the new indie gaming shop in Maidstone (a very nice place to go and game or paint, so get yourself over there). We were chatting about music to work to (I can't work to anything with significant lyrics, so it's a lot of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp for me), I recommended the fab soundtrack to the movie Monsters, which has been one of my mainstays this year. He recommended Daft Punk's soundtrack to Tron: Legacy. Thank you, Jake (if that really was your name). Most of Know No Fear should be read with Daft Punk's sound track to Tron: Legacy pumping in the background, 'cause that's how it was written.
I'm beginning to realise that this post might take some time. So take a pew.
Here's another photo taken on the same trip Nik and I took to that same tiny old church on that same tiny bit of the windswept White Cliffs near Dover. Is that strange green blob hovering over the graveyard the return of lens flare, direct from New York? Of course. Of course it is.
Or is it something more spooky?
No, it's lens flare.
Or IS it?
No, it is.
Or IS it?
I finally moved offices this year (because, you know, I didn't feel I was quite cramming things in to capacity). I now have a great new workspace, with daylight and a view. The above is a sad, view-from-the-desk farewell to my workspace of the last ten years, taken a few minutes before I started to pack it away.
Along with Broetry and my new office, there are a few other things I've really appreciated this year. The patience of Black Library editors, for a start. The latest thriller ("Truth") from Peter Temple. The first issue of the new Brian Azzarello Wonder Woman. The brilliant low budget British SF movie Monsters (soundtrack mentioned above), which I adored. Really adored. The thriller The Town. Good job, that Mr Affleck. The sublime music of Laura Marling (like this, for example). The album I, A Moon by North Sea Radio Orchestra. The charming fun of Warehouse 13. The ridiculously good pop (in the pure sense of the word) of Nicola Robert's solo album. Yes, that Nicola Roberts. The redhead from Girls Aloud. Okay, shut up. It's good. The sudden friendliness of my (sadly now only) cat. Chuck, for having Yvonne Strahovski in it. Aoenid Thiel (you'll find out why in the spring). Anna Calvi. Downton (which will no doubt return in 2013 renamed Downturn Abbey). Kent Barbers on Gabriel's Hill. Having a real fire. Luther (who is TV cop like a boss). Vicki, my bastard silly New Mini (also known as being able to drive again after my adventures in Epilepsy). The brilliant Scott and Bailey, and also Suranne Jones of the same parish for being the TARDIS too. Richard Dugher painting my shit up good. Seeing Jerusalem in the West End with Lils (the most awesome theatrical sauce ever). The limitless patience and support of Nik.
And next year? Well, the aforementioned Pariah. New New Mutants. More Gilead from me and Nik. And The New Deadwardians from me and Ian Culbard (coming from Vertigo). Just for starters...
Back to New York. Here's me and DC senior editor Eddie Berganza looking sweet in a bank vault-turned-restaurant. This private dining room was actually INSIDE the safe.
And here's the gang: (from left) me, Brad Walker, Eddie, Fiona Meng, Andy Lanning, Todd, Tony Bedard, DC's Larry Ganem, Francis Manapul and... the girl who's name I am ashamed to admit I forgot because I lost the bit of paper...
Now, I don't like to delegate (I have people to do that for me), but it's time to get YOU involved. Yes, YOU. You there, with the mince pie crumbs in your beard/cleavage (delete as applicable - or not). It's time for my end of the year competition.
What's the prize, Dan? Good question, imaginary narrator. The prize is my Games Day 2011 goodie bag.
When you go to Games Day, you get a goodie bag. Well, the prize is mine. The one I was given this year, with my name badge and parking permit and everything else in it. Including my miniatures, a tee-shirt, my (unsullied) digestive biscuits and polo mints! This isn't just A goodie bag, it's MY goodie bag. I will send it to the competition winner to do with as he or she sees fit.
To make it's actually, you know, WORTH something, I'll throw in a signed book, and the following:
It might not look like much, but I found it when I was moving offices. It's the actual, original sketched map (with notes on the reverse) made by me, in my fair hand, of Vervunhive. I used this when I was writing Necropolis and the map in the book was based on it. Little bit of awesome Gaunt's Ghosts history for you to own and keep on owning.
So what's the competition? Well, when I sign books, I like to have a stock phrase or two that works for the book in question, like "The Emperor Protects" or "Remember Tanith" for the Gaunt books, or "Repent, heretic" for Inquisitor novels, or "Blood For The Blood God" for Darkblade. My new book Embedded came out from Angry Robot this year. The winner of the comp will be the person who comes up with the best 'signing tag phrase' for use in Embedded.
You've got until the end of January. My decision will be final. Post your entries here on the comments section, AND email them (with your name and postal address) to the email AS WELL. If I don't have an email with a name and address, I won't award the prize, no matter how good the entry. You can submit as many entries as you like. Thinking caps on, honorary clones.
Before I go off to play with my Christmas Drashig (like you do), I'll leave you with this:
At the last Horus Heresy planning meeting, us High Lords of Terra realised we were referring to future and forthcoming books in the series by odd, euphemistic nicknames and placeholders. I thought you'd enjoy the list (and they are all, genuinely, going to be HH books... probably... just not with these names):
The Motorway into Bristol.
Twatted By A Bloodthirster.
[rude word I really can't write here on a public blog] Attack.
Hammer In The Face.
Bastards Of Evil.
Fungus And Poo.
Traitor To The Traitors.
Wobbly Rum Baba In A Big Pond Of Chaos.
Khorne Worshipping Asshats.
Big Crystal B*ner.
Make of them what you will. Happy Christmas, have fun with the competition, and may 2012 see you, like me, a LOT less ridiculously busy than the head tosser in a crap salad factory.
Peace and love!