Sunday, December 02, 2007

Since you asked

In the words of Victoria Wood, I am often poked in the street by complete acquaintances, and asked about ‘writing’. “What is it?” I get asked, “Where is it?”, “How do you do it?” and “Where do you get yours from?”

Checking this website’s post bag, I see I have been inundated lately by two or even three emails asking me about the whole ‘writing thing’, so I thought it might be time to publish a few remarks on the subject (are you sitting comfortably, Paul Braggins and Robert Collier?).

Allow me to, first, disambiguate some important stuff (‘disambiguate’ is a proper fifty buck writer’s word; see how I use it, devil-may-care, like I’ve got a bag of them? This is not the sign of a good writer. Also, see how I went and split the infinitive? And you’re taking advice from me?).

Anyway, the first and most important thing to know is this: there is NO FORMULA. There simply isn’t. There is no magic formula that will turn you into a writer. You’re either a writer or you’re not.

So, how do you find out if you’re a writer? Well, is your answer to the following questions ‘yes’? Are you a reader? If you answered ‘no’, you’re excused. Do you read and read and read, anything, everything? Yes? Good start.

Do you write? Day after day, night after night, do you fill notebooks with stuff? No? Then, at this point, you, sir or madam, are also excused the rest of this, and may skip out of class early.

Who’s left? Hands up? The hardcore? Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. You guys write? You write a lot? Wonderful. Do you have readers? Do your readers tell you what you’re doing is good? Or do they tell you it’s bad? What do they say? If they’re critical of your work, do you take it personally and sulk, or do you absorb the criticism and try to learn from it?

This is a fine line. On the one hand, a writer needs a thick skin. He (or she) needs to believe in what he is doing and not get derailed by criticism. However, a writer also needs readers, and therefore needs to be producing something that other people will want to read. If someone says they didn’t like something in your work (and I’m talking here about thoughtful, well-intentioned comments, not heartless slagging off), it might reward you to consider their remarks in a positive way. You might decide you don’t agree, but it’s just as likely you’ll learn something useful.

In my experience, writing (anything, but especially a novel) is like running a marathon. You might have the will, but unless you’ve been training, you won’t last a mile. Writing for yourself on a regular basis is like weight training or practice circuits: you build up stamina and ‘writing muscles’ until you’re fit enough to take on that marathon. Writing for yourself on a regular basis also helps you to burn out all the unintentional influences your reading habits will have caused you to absorb. The more you write, the more you get stuff out of your system until you’re writing your own thing, not your version of something you once read that you liked.

Once you start listening and learning, you never stop. I had been writing for ten years (comics, and three unpublished and never to be published novels) when Black Library invited me to write for them. They wanted comics at first, then short stories, then novels. Twenty-six novels later, I may have paid my dues, but every new project brings its own lessons. Some can take you by surprise.

Creative writing classes and ‘how to’ books are, in my opinion, of dubious worth, because (as I may have remarked) there IS NO MAGIC FORMULA that can be taught or learned (and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty rotten fibber). However, classes and books are very useful in that they get you thinking about what you’re doing, and (in the case of classes) they expose your work to a critical audience. Also, many cogent, amusing and thought-provoking things have been written on the subject, by finer writers than me. I have put together some recommendations (you don’t have to agree with everything they say, but it’s worthwhile hearing someone else’s point of view).
First, google, locate, print out and digest the following:

Alan Moore’s 5 Tips For Would Be Comic Writers.
“Easy on the Hooptedoodle” by Elmore Leonard.
The Turkey City Lexicon.

After that, you may want to explore something a little longer, and I suggest Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and Norman Mailer’s ‘The Spooky Art’ as books that, if they don’t actually benefit you practically, will at least reward the reading.

Finally, submission. I get more questions about how to submit work to publishers than anything else. There is only one basic rule to remember: investigate a publisher’s submission guidelines and FOLLOW THEM. There is no point sending a publisher something inappropriate, too long, too short, wrongly formatted etc. It will just get ignored. If there happen to be any actual publishers reading, maybe they’d like to post any submission-related advice I might have missed.

Thanks for listening. Now go and write something.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Since I'm on the subject...

...Went to GW Cambridge today and had a fabulous time. Hats off to Andy and his crew, George, Alex and, of course, Big Steve. I think Big Steve will become a character in Sinister Dexter before too long, and Alex has become my go-to guy on all things Titanic. Fantastic burgers, also! Thanks to all for a really good afternoon and especially for the Gaunt miniature. It will sit on my desk and look at me. I wish I could share some of the stories that were told, but I feel some of them are too much for public consumption, which is not to say that you won't have the chance to read them in some format or other. If Sinister or Dexter don't end up with luminous splinters in their arses soon, I'd be very surprised. Thanks also to Kampfhamster, chocolate not-with-standing, who turned up on his own and his friend's behalf and did something that has happened to me only twice before, which is to say that he got his friend on the phone to talk to me. This happened to me in Indianapolis, and at Birmingham last year, where I ended up talking to somebody who couldn't be there, but wished they had been. In Cambridge I spoke to Packmaster in Dortmund. It's a funny old world.

On a site like this, you receive e-mails regularly, some of which take you aback. I love getting e-mail responses, either praise or criticism, it's great to know that people care enough to want to write. Below, I repeat in full, without comment, the e-mail I received yesterday. It's one of the all-time classics and I hope you enjoy it.

"Dear Dan

     I don't know where to begin... You used to be my favorite writer up until this book. I loved the Ravenor series. Double Eagle was one of the best books I ever read... But what happened when you wrote this book? Ever since Double Eagle I was dreaming that you would write a book about the Dark Eldar which is the team I play with. When I saw the book I almost crapped in my pants I was so excited... and then within the first chapter I was certain that someone else wrote this book and used your name to sell it because the writing isn't your style at all! Seeing as the book is all about space marines I knew the DE would get the shaft from the start but I was hoping that you would at least give some credit to them, and I cannot believe what you did. Droning on for chapters about how weak the DE are. I thought that if you would write about an army, you'd at least buy their codex and read their stats and study their weaponry to give credit where credit is due. Clearly you didn't even bother to learn anything about the DE. Because if you did, you would know why the Dark Eldar motto is "speed is our armor" the DE have almost nothing for armor, but they are incredibly fast, much faster than space marines, and yet, many times you go on about how much faster the "brothers" are in comparison. The DE also have outstanding anti-armor weapons, Blasters and Dark lances are better at busting up heavily armor tanks/people than lascannons with their special rules. But never once did you mention any other weapons than splinter riles/pistols. The DE also are a "Raiding" army, they rush in on Raiders and Ravagers, never did you include that in this book, which I think is funny, you write about the DE invading a city, and then your "brothers" come in, and the DE are fleeing the city on foot... So did the DE fly to this planet, and park all their vehicles in the jungle some 10 miles away just for kicks? or did they just run across space to this planet?

   There are so many awesome things about the DE that you could have wrote about and make an awesome book (even if the DE didn't win) All I was hoping for was that you would have done justice for the DE. Give them credit where credit is due, just like any other army, and all you did was insult them. For what? do you just hate them? There aren't many of us DE players but we are still around and we love our armies. We're all praying that Games Workshop will give us a new codex and update our models and such. But because we are so unpopular, I doubt we ever will, and you just made it so much worst for us... Why go to such great lengths just to insult all DE players? and not just us, you also insulted all Ork players as well... I believe at one point in the book it was just 50 of your brothers vs. thousands of orks, and not one single brother fell... do you actually play 40k? have you ever seen orks in action? they are unreal in close combat, and you sold them down the river just to rave about how awesome the space marines are... all I want to know is why? the space marines are the favored sons of Games Workshop and one of the most common armies played, and you outright insult several armies and thousands of players, just to praise the already over-praised? Well, you can be sure that you've lost quite a few fans because of this god awful book.

     But, even though I was furious when I finished your book, all I wanted to do is to write to you and scream my head off about how you could do such a thing as create this book. But after thinking about it... I could never insult you more than how much you have embarrassed yourself. The only part of the book that I liked was when you spent about 3-4 pages raving about how invincible your brothers are, enough to claim that they could "destroy the gods themselves"... and in the same chapter, wasn't it 2 of your brothers that were killed by farmers? and 1 was wounded or something like that. You didn't even make an excuse about why they died at the hands of farmers... you didn't rave about how the powers of chaos possessed these people and made them god-like (and that was why they managed to kill some of your brothers) so... the Dark Eldar and the Orks are no match for the space marines.... but pitch fork wielding farmers are their kryptonite? I sure hope that Games Workshop creates that army for the game because I would totally play them.

   So to sum up, you know nothing about the DE or the Orks but you write about them anyway. You completely insult thousands of players around the world. You've embarrassed yourself to no extent because of the terrible writing and god awful story plot, and you have surely lost fans... was it worth it? Seeing as this email is not praising your work, I'm sure you will never see it, but someone needed to try and open your eyes. BTW playing with the DE, I have won many more games than I've lost, and most of my victims have been space marines. I suggest, that if your going to write about a game, you should try to understand at least some of the game, and its armies."

So, it's goodnight from me, and, it's goodnight from him. Goodnight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Another weekend, another signing. This coming Saturday (17th November) I'm due to be signing at the Cambridge Games Workshop during the afternoon. My plan is to arrive early afternoon (2 o'clock-ish) and to stay around for as long as people will have me. Perhaps I'll see you there

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Maidstone signing

Just wanted to post a quick note to announce that I'll be signing at Waterstones (Fremlin Walk) in Maidstone on Saturday 10th November, from 3.30 tp 4.30. Please come along if you can and say hi.

Further to the question 'how many Space Marines does it take to change a light bulb?', I think it's worth remembering that any change is heresy and must be stamped out for the good of the Imperium (answer sanctioned by the ordos of the Imperial Inquisition).

Or... an entire chapter. One Space Marine to hold the lightbulb, and the rest of the chapter to unscrew the hive in the opposite direction.

Compare also: a Dark Eldar joke. "How many mon-keighs does it take to tile a bathroom?" Ans: "It depends how thinly you slice them."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Nurgle's Rot

So it would appear that I've been horribly ill. These things happen. According to my doctor, I had a virus that was "severe" and "unusual". Go me. I'll spare you the gory details, but apart from the delirium and the fever and the general aches and pains, the worst part was the simulated severe arthritis it brought on in most of my joints, especially my right shoulder. I have never been so sick, nor have I ever experienced such chronic pain. I'm pretty much all better now, except for my right shoulder, which is making typing difficult. My osteopath is on danger money.

Anyway, what did I miss? My daughter's birthday, my birthday, and, most importantly, the breaking of the 100 post barrier on the last blog entry. Well done to all those concerned for a whole hearted effort. I'm just going to go through it now and answer any dangling questions or pick up on any particular comments. Oh and welcome to all the newbies who joined in the marathon posting session.

Billy Aguiar: Titanicus will be a 40K novel. I think it's Games Workshop's call if any other authors write within the Sabbat Worlds Crusade setting. As for things I've created, I'd have to say that my proudest moment is probably the vox-caster.

Sotirios: I don't think we've yet decided whose geneseed is in the bodies of the Iron Snakes. I'm open to sensible suggestions.

Anon: I would say your label of "Crusade" for the 500,000 strong regiment is a good one. We have to remember the sheer scale of the Imperial Guard in 40K. Manpower alone dictates that regiments would be much bigger, generally speaking, than real world equivalents. I do intend for the Titans in Titanicus to follow the recognised scale.

Allandaros: I hope to be writing a War Hammer novel before too long, and as Marco was kind enough to point out, my creative handiwork can be found in the 40K RPG.

Anon: I'm afraid to say that my new Torchwood story is indeed going to be exclusive to audio. Bern Gorman (Owen) is going to read it.

Xhalax/NL/Jam Bunny: I especially put a whole Ban Daur bit in OiD to give him a moment of glory, and still you want more?

Grant: *Waves back* Hello!

Everyone listen to Jesse. His advice re tank fighting is bound to come in useful.

BP Steve: Your story about your dad taking you to interview was fantastic.
I'd certainly like to write some more Riders of the Dead and Fell Cargo stories, but a rather different War Hammer book is in the offing first.

Lordy: I think the Chronicles of Malus Darkblade Vol I is going to be the first three books. However, Darkblade book 2 may well become a reality.

Fitz: Welcome. When I first started writing the Ghosts' stories there was a throw away idea that they were the Sharpe in Space novels. That notion has long since got lost under the layers of continuity.

Dan is worn out and needs to retire gracefully, feeling very unfunny. He does however believe that Alpharius could do worse than sing "My Way."

Suggestions please, for answers to the question, "How many Space Marines does it take to change a light bulb?"

Friday, October 05, 2007

Methods of jam defence.

It’s about time I answered the questions Tempest posted. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about the casting questions. Eliza Dushku as Criid is particularly good.

And so, to the questions.

“Will there be novel(s) where the Isstavaan V dropsite massacre and the Battle of Terra is described in full detail? Because right now, the books are skirting the main plot.”

Dan: We’re not skirting the main plot. We’re building the scheme of the Heresy. It’ll take quite a long time, because it is an epic event, and we don’t want to short change you. The massacre will be covered in detail, and the Battle of Terra will be written in full, once Graham and I have fought each other with knives for the honour.

“What novel are you most proud of, or do you think has had the most impact on GW fiction.

Dan: Horus Rising (and Legion) will have the most impact, and I’m proud of them both. However, there are other books that I’m proud of. Necropolis, because it was the book where I finally felt I was getting it right. Honour Guard, because it’s so neat in its symmetry. Traitor General for breaking the mold. The Armour of Contempt for the writing. Only in Death, because it’s a proper Ghost story. And Riders of the Dead, because it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. OK, all of them.

“How far do you plan on taking the Gaunt’s Ghosts series? Are we going to see the final battle of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade with the Ghosts?”

Dan: In my mind, I’m planning on at least another couple of story arcs with the Ghosts. I’d like to have them see out the campaign. I’m just not entirely sure they’ll survive that long. I do have an idea for the last Ghost story. One day, maybe...

“Any more plans to put out some full novels or short stories on Inquisitor Eisenhorn and his further adventures?”

Dan: Eisenhorn was always going to be a trilogy. Ravenor was intended to be a series, but after Ravenor Rogue, I realised that it should be a trilogy too. There will be more novels set in that “inquisitor family” series, and I might lift a character out of the Ravenor books for a trilogy, in the same way that I lifted Ravenor out of Eisenhorn. The Nayl trilogy, perhaps, or the Kyss trilogy, maybe. Before I get to that, there will be a book of Inquisitor short stories, exploring various moments in the lives of Eisenhorn, Ravenor, and their various henchmen. I’m writing that now, so Xhalax will be pleased, I hope.

“What is your next planned Horus Heresy novel?”

Dan: Well, Legion, obviously. After that, Graham and I are discussing how to handle Prospero.

“Can we expect to see any of your more in depth characters added to Warhammer 40K. It would be nice to actually see the Ghost characters put back into play. Eisenhorn and Ravenor maybe?”

Dan: As far as I’m concerned, all my characters are 40K. They’re part of the game universe, so they’re part of the game. It would be nice to see miniatures of some of the characters, but I’ll leave that up to the inventive scratch-building modellers out there.

“What are your future writing plans? Anything in the works for a new series?”

Dan: I’m about to start work on Titanicus, which will be an epic scale, or should I say Apocalypse scale, novel about Titans. At some point, I will get around to writing the second book in the Double Eagle series, and in 08, I will be writing a novel for Solaris.

“Are you a 40K player? If so, what is your preferred army?”

Dan: A-Duh. Imperial Guard.

“Will we ever see Brin Milo and Agun Soric again?”

Dan: Yes. I will not be drawn further on this topic.

“Here on we have several budding authors who frequently write short stories and even long series based on the 40K universe. Do you have any tips for the future writers of BL fiction, and budding sci-fi/fantasy writers in general?”

Dan: Read and write. Build up your writing muscles, because writing a novel is a long haul. Get feedback from people around you, and develop a thick skin. If they don’t like it, it’s your fault, not their’s. Try again and be better, and listen to what they’re saying.

“Which one of your many, varied characters has most in common with you?”

Dan: All of them, and none of them. But at a push, Zweil.

“In a similar vein, if you could be in the 40K universe, who (or what) would you be?”

Dan: A Necron. Or Orfeo Culzean.

“With Only in Death closing on its public release, and your plan to take a break, are you planning to revisit the Sabbat Worlds in other books? Or will Double Eagle II be the last for the forseeable future.”

Dan: I’ll be back with Gaunt in a year or so. From my perspective, I’ve already had a year’s break from Gaunt and the Sabbat Worlds campaign.

“Of the non-Warhammer stuff you have done, which is your favourite?”

Dan: My Torchwood novel was fun to do, and well received, and the comic work I do all the time is fantastic fun, partly because of my collaboration with Andy Lanning. I’ve recently enjoyed writing Superman for DC.

“Of the comic stuff you have co-created (rather than just written for) which makes you most proud?”

Dan: The answer has got to be Sinister/Dexter, which I created myself and have written every episode of (in 2000AD). I’m also very proud of the 2000AD strip, Kingdom. I’ve worked closely with Andy Lanning for 20 years now, and it’s fantastic that our run on Nova for Marvel is blasting out of the shops and earning us enormous praise.

“What’s it like to see your characters made into Citadel miniatures? Are they as you imagined them?”

Dan: It’s fabulous to see Eisenhorn and Gaunt brought to life. I want more!

“Do you have an Iron Snakes army?”

Dan: I wish.

“What is it like being Lord of the Universe?”

Dan: It’s fine, but the throne is a little hard on my backside.

“Who is your favourite character to write about, and why?”

Dan: Rawne, because he’s Rawne. See also Orfeo Culzean.

“If you could make a movie out of any one of your novels, what novel would it be, and who would you like to see acting in your movie?”

Dan: The casting details are still under discussion, here on this blog.

“You seem to have a very good working knowledge of a military fighting force and its organisation in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series. Do you have a military background? If not, what sources do you use?”

Dan: I have never served in the military, but I am flattered by the number of people who assume that I have. I read a lot, and study hard. Given the world we live in, there’s plenty to study.

For all of those waiting for pictures from GamesDay UK, they will appear, I promise. We're all wrestling with new computers at the moment, and haven't quite got them sorted out yet. Watch this space.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

In brief...

Thanks for all the comments, suggestions, and the positive remarks about OiD. I'll get back to covering them all (and the questions), and the casting ideas, when I've had a little lie down, because... I'm Alpharius, and I'm finished.

Legion is now in the hands of the Black Library. I like it, and I hope you will too.

Next up, Titanicus...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Post girding

Well, hands were shaken, books were signed, queues were queued, loins were girded, and jam was defended. That, my lords ladies and gentlemen, was Games Day UK 2007, and I hope you all had as much fun as Nik and I did.

In a day literally jam packed, many fun moments stand out, but I would particularly like to thank:

1) Xhalax, for the jam of course (real, defendable jam, everyone). (NB - Xhalax is a she, Steve)

2) Rachel, for the thank you gift - the dedication was my pleasure.

3) Anybody who came on behalf of someone else and queued in the mammoth queue (it was long, I don’t mean it had extinct ice age elephants in it). Great examples of this would be kampfhamster who came and said hi on Packmaster’s behalf, and Matthew Churchill’s mate, who stood in line on Matt’s behest and casually handed me a cell phone with Matt at the other end of it when he reached me, which was, frankly, very jet set.

4) My fellow Black Library creative types: Graham (and Rebecca), Nathan Long, Jim Swallow, Alex Stewart, Ben Counter, Neil Roberts, Mitchel Scanlon, Ian Edginton, Steve Parker (great to meet you at last!), Jonathan Green and everyone else. It was great to see everyone and a shame there wasn’t time to chat more.

5) B.P. Steve and Claire. Hope you liked the book.

6) Mat, Dju and Leonidas from the Bibliotheque Interdite for being such great company on Saturday night.

7) Marco, Lindsey and the entire staff of BL for working so hard to make it all happen. There were a lot of tired faces in VIP by the end, so I hope the evening in Bugman’s afterwards recharged your batteries. Thanks very much for a great day, Black Library.

8) And everyone else (think that covers it).

There are, as regular readers can tell, some ‘follow up issues’ regarding the casting suggestions. Glad that stirred things up, and I will go back and sort the wheat from the chaff at some point (not now). But I would like to follow up on rfox’s question about the Games Day exclusive and the ship is sinking’s about the OID collector’s edition: I am reliably informed that both are now available via the BL mail order (while stocks last). So, uh, HURRY is all I can say.

And finally, I’d like to share the follow words with you (in no particular order): loins, gird, defend, pumpernickel (Saberrox is right, that’s great to type).

I ate all the jam.

I’m Alpharius, goodnight!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Event Horizon/In the Defence of Jam

First of all, as we all know, it's Games Day UK this weekend. Nik and I had this idea. Nik's gonna bring her spiffy digital camera to record the event, so that we can post photos on the blog, like you do. If you're a regular poster to this blog, and you're gonna be in Brum on Sunday, make yourselves known to us (sorry, but you're more likely to recognise us, than us you) on the signing line, and we'll take a snap, and create a Dan's blog rogues gallery of familiar (or not so familiar) faces. And Xhalax we all ready know what you look like, so don't try to hide. Is that an idea or not? You can always wear a mask or pull your T shirt over your head.

Any other business?

Saberrox - Though I'd never cast Damien Lewis as Gaunt, he certainly has the leanness of face and the right physique. More importantly, his portrayal of Winters is exactly how I see Gaunt behaving. It was a little odd, several books down the line, to see Gaunt personified in a war drama. Gaunt, however, is not a ginga. If Mr Lewis could be persuaded to bleach his hair blond, he'd make a great Gaunt and would probably oust my first choice, Denzel Washington, out of the pole position.

Yeah, don't get me started on the Denzel Washington thing. Can o' worms. It's all about the voice and the presence.

While we're on the subject of casting, can I just say Denis Leary as Sinister, and Wil Johnson from 'Waking the Dead' as Dexter. (We're talking the 2000AD strip 'Sinister Dexter' now, of course, for all you 40Kers). In 40K terms, who do you fancy best for Larkin? Rhys Ifans or Gary Oldman? And for Hark, Oliver Platt? Actually, in that last choice, there is no alternative.

We'll come back to this casting issue later in the blog.

Saberrox - Just to come back to what you were saying, thanks for trying to convert your family to the works of Abnett, and of course I didn't read anything into your comments about Prozac. What a man does in the comfort of his own drop-pod...

rfox - I don't know when the Games Day special that Graham and I did will be available. Stay tuned.

Jesse - I'm so glad you have a soft spot for Feygor. I do too. And I hope that 'G' comes home safe. As Marco posted, if you have photos of 'G' reading the Gaunt books in combat, please send them. Legion is dedicated to you, and I'd be very interested to know why you don't talk to the airfoce, although I can probably guess. I'm very flattered that the people you talk to believe that I am a veteran. Sadly, with my fallen arches and bad eyesight, I'm 4F. Tell the SEAL that, of course, I'm ex-SAS. And I am a lunatic. This will undoubtedly add to my karma. I can pretend. That's what I do for a living.

I can' believe that I know someone who is going to be a Ranger. I say 'know', but we talk regularly, and I always look foreward to your posts. Special Ops, Airborne, Ranger and Special Forces. It sounds like the sort of character progression I would give to one of my Ghosts. Funnily enough, I call my privates Nuggets too. There's a switch. I love the fact that they have imbibed the Fell Cargo lingo.

Shredni Vashtar. No, I'M Alpharius, and I have the pictures to prove it. (In a refined English/West Indian accent).

Matthew Churchill - Hi Matt. Now I can't stop singing the 'Who ate all the Jam' song.

Matt and others - Love all the Churchill stories.

To everybody in general - Do we all know what 'tmesis' means? Fan-fucking-tastic (Xhalax-that's a shilling in the swearbox).

To some guy called Dan Abnett - Look, when I talked about the Dire Straits song 'Brothers in Arms', it sounded like it was some obscure track that nobody had ever heard. Of course, it is a world famous song that everybody knows. That's the point I was failing to make. You hear it and you say 'Oh, that's Dire Straits'. I was merely trying to point out that a mournful, world famous anthem ideally suits Gaunt and his men. The words become invisible to casual listeners because the song is heard so often, but if you listen, if you really listen, they take on a power of their own. I think Big Steve properly appreciated this fact. It might be a popular track, but I'd love to have it as the end credit music for a Gaunt movie.

Robert - Save Our Shoggy is properly funny and poignant.

Colonel Tempest - the irony of you having a mate called Samuel Fisher is made doubly ironic because I've just finished writing the atmosphere chatter for the next Tom Clancy video game.

the ship is sinking - just wait. No really, just wait.

Pack master - I'll sign anything your friend brings along.

Anonymous - of course Tokar was deafened in Straight Silver. You never heard of augmetics? Some of them still rely on sign language, like Nessa, because they like the quiet in the depths of war. Others get their ears repaired.

Pack master (2) - I'm glad you appreciated the Children of the Khorne gag. I'm surprised Black Library let me get away with it.

Saberrox - Pumpernickel. Yes, I like typing it too. Although on this occasion, Nik is typing my ramblings for me.

BP Steve - Yaaay! How's it all going? Are you sure you want to bring your 8 months pregnant wife to the horror show that is Games Day? The upside is that the lady's loos are always free. Bring her over to the Black Library VIP area and Nik will look after her. And come and find me, (before you buy anything) because I have a gift for you. 8 months pregnant and prepared to come to Games Day. I'd hang on to her if I were you. Are your loins girded (and thanks to Nik for the explanation). I am, of course, as you point out, the master of the well girded loin, and my loins have now switched into overdrive.

Tempest - Sorry to hear about your foot. Suggest girding your loins.

the ship is sinking (2) - Of course there's going to be a collectors edition of OID. I don't know what to suggest. The Black Ships await.

John - Going back to what i was saying about 'Band of Brothers', the second and third episodes are truly wonderful. I think of them all the time when I'm trying to envisage infantry combat.

BP Claire - I love the fact that you sign on as BP Claire.

Xhalax - I'm writing a book of short stories about Eisenhorn and Ravenor and all their hangers-on. I think one of the stories is going to be called 'Nathun Inshabel on Elvara Cardinal'. In the meantime, defend the jam for all you are worth. There is, as Tempest suggests, an ancient jam factory buried under the Necropolis. It will awake. It will.

Robert - Perhaps you can bring one of your grandmother's martinis.

Okay, back to casting. Annette Benning as Ana Curth. Ian Hom as Dorden. Kevin Bacon (ten years ago) or Ray Winstone as Varl. Tori from Kymera sandwich house as Kara Swole (now that's the kinda waitress you want). Famke Janson as Patience Kyss. For those in an addled and receptive kind of mood, Lawrence Lewellyn Bowen as Carl Thonius. Ron Silver as Orfeo Culzean. Ben Affleck as Ban Daur. Brian Glover as Agun Soric. Gerard Depardieu as Gol Kolea. Chrissie Hyndes in 1975 as Tona Criid. Matt Damon as Caffran. Megan Mulally, or Pam St Clements as Cynia Preest. Nik Vincent-Abnett as Alizabeth Bequin (news to to me - Nik). Vin Diesel as Horus. Amaure Nolasco (Prison Break) as Alpharius (you'll see what I mean. And while we're at it, in Prison Break mode...) Wentworth Miller as Ludd, Robert Knepper as Cuu or an alternate Larkin,and Sarah Wayne Callies as an alternate Bequin or Curth.

And while we're on a roll, Anthony Hopkins as Pontius Glaw, Gene Hackman as Corbec. Billy Connelly as Corbec. Robbie Coltrane as Corbec. The young Alan Rickman as Rawne. Vigo Mortenstern as Rawne. Elijah Wood as Milo. Al Pacino or Dustin Hoffman as Sholto Unwerth (doing a southern accent). Warwick Davis as Unwerth. Haley Mills as Cynia Preest. Iggy Popp as Rawne. George Burns as Zweil, or John Geilgud. Dudley Moore as Ravenor, because he'd fit in the chair, but James Earl Jones as his psy voice. Stone cold Steve Austen as Nayl. Alan Bennet as Aemos. Haley Joel Osment as Zayl. Prince as Midas Betancore and Eva Mendes as Medea. Jerry from ER (Abraham Benrubi), or Brendan Fraser as Bragg.

Any suggestion for Dalin, gratefully received.

Answers on a postcard to...

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Proper bloggage to follow, with answers to and comments on that mahoosive previous post.

But this is just a quick word to say, hey, it's Games Day UK in Birmingham this weekend, and I look forward to seeing some or all of you there!

May the jam be defended.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Behold! The man himself appears from behind the curtain!

I feel I have to apologise for the lag in blog posts. Legion and a few other projects are pressing on my time.

Matthew - I think a campaigning-in-parliament-square-for-a-homeworld-for-the-Tanith might be the best way to get one. You know how cruel I can be.

Philth - Yeah, I wish gencon was in Milwaukee too.

Xhalax - Yeah, I ate all the jam.

Richard - There ain't no such thing as Dan Abnett proof boxes.

Colonel Tempest - I'd be happy to do an interview for

Saberreox - No one presumed for a moment that you were abusing prescription drugs.

Laurie - The Sindemann scene rocks. I'm very impressed.

b.p. Steve - I loved Cuu too. Maybe his loss will be ameliorated by the fact that Only in Death is dedicated to you. Blood pact! Hunhh Hunhh!

Robert - Hawaii sounds nice. I just have to persuade Nik.

Jesse - I'm really pleased, in a strange way, that you appreciated the loss of Feygor. Coming from a person in your situation, that response means a lot. Your take on Feygor's demise really meshes with mine, and I'm glad that I seem to be grasping something that people who do this for real recognise. Airbourne! (Come back to us, all right?)

Jeff - Band of Brothers is one of my favourite series.

Saberrox - I often see Gaunt as Winters.

John - You said that the only people you look at as safe are Gaunt and Rawne. You'd better read Only in Death. And, even that's not the end.

Drew - Shoggy lives... or does he? I haven't been doing this for ten years without understanding the knack of titillating my audience. However, a 'save our Shoggy' campaign would be splendidly entertaining. Still, Ludd and Hark die. Or is that just a spoiler?

The enormous event that is Games Day UK looms above us like an enormous looming thing. It's a week away and I am girding my loins. When I'm not busy girding my loins, Nik is girding my loins for me. My loins are fully girded. Chicago Games Day, let me tell you, was a three pen convention. I don't know if you're accustomed to this scale of measurement, but by a three pen convention I mean a convention where I wore out three pens signing copies of my books. So, it's as well my loins are girded. I'm bringing four pens.

Legion is almost finished, but I can't believe how nefarious the characters I've created have become. Every time I look away, they backslide and cheat on one another. And the Alpha Legion are the biggest liars of all. A black dawn will come and wash everything away. I know, I was there.

I'm Alpharius!

Defend the jam!

Nik vamps until ready

Do you know, I've been reminding Dan all week that he needs to blog, but he's been so bogged down in shooty death kill that he just hasn't found the time. Bear with me, he's using the facilities, but now that I'm on line (it never hurt to know your husband's favourite passwords) he's bound to want to say something, rather than let me ramble on...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Defend the jam!

Better still, come to GenCon at trhe University of Reading this weekend (google GenCon for details). I'll be there this Saturday afternoon, between about one and four, for chatting, Q&A and signings and what not.

See you there!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

This is just to say...

...thankyou to all the people who came along to the X-Fire chat this evening. My apologies to anybody who didn't get their question answered. You can always ask it again here. It was fairly frantic, and Nik was typing her fingers off. I enjoyed it, and I hope you did too.

I never met Mike Wieringo, but I always admired his work. He was one of the most distinctive pencillers in the comics industry, and we lost him far too young.

I did, however, know Phil Gascoigne. He drew some of the first scripts I ever wrote (Ghostbusters) and I've worked with him on and off for the last fifteen years. With Andy Lanning, we produced strips for Loaded, adapting Get Carter and Quadrophenia. He was one of the most professional freelancers its ever been my pleasure to work with.

Phil and Mike both died in the past week, which makes me very sad.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

X-fire! the place to hurry to! Head over there and sign up for any one (or more) of their week long range of amazing on line sci-fi chats, with such luminaries as Charles Stross, Vernor Vinge, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Mike Whelan, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson and... well, me.

Mine's at 1pm PDT/4pm EST/9pm BST on Friday 17th of August. Maybe I'll 'see' you there. The last one was a lot of fun.

In the mean time, feast your eyes on the above snap of Drew Drescher's Golden Daemon winning 'Sons of Ithaka' Iron Snakes, plus a shot of Drew in the act of celebrating his win. Thanks for the pics, Drew... more to come later, everyone!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Clone Arrives To Swell Abnett Workforce

Mmm... so many cool posts on the last entry, I feel I should reply to them all. May I just say, in no particular order, that: (1) Robert’s memories of Chicago and food advice was priceless; (2) I’m glad you all liked Transformers; (3) chin up in Arizona, Jesse, and good luck with the cult; (4) Eisenhorn is coming... at some point; (5) Chris, you showing me around the tournament was MY high point too, thanks; (6) Xhalax takes the prize (as usual) for the funniest, deadpan one liner (a girl makes a model railway joke, how cool is that?); (7) I actually LOVE the Inquisition book, sorry... all the lore in one place (and I wrote the psychic mastery thing heh heh!); (8) Martin (pack master) - email me your snail address and it’ll be my pleasure to SEND you a signed copy of something; and (9) thanks to everyone who came to Chicago Games Day. I have some piccies. I’ll try scanning them and posting them.

The main reason for tonight’s post, however, is (10) to welcome to this site the one and only (first and only?) Jack Abnett O’Reilly!

Isn’t he just... much much sweeter than me? Thanks for the picture, Chris, and my very best wishes to you and your family.

Now everybody post “awwwwwwww!”

Funnily enough, that's exactly what I look like when I sit in the Golden Throne my clones have built for me in the basement and play "I'm the God-Emperor". Only not quite so cute, obviously.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wild Leek

That’s right, everyone! Chicago means ‘wild leek’. I include this detail as a jaunty segue into the fact that - hey! - I’m in Chicago! For Games Day! So this is my first roving, on-the-road blog (thanks to the hotel’s wireless internet connection ... don’cha just love modern technology?)!

And what can I tell you that I can’t tell you from home?


Well, it’s not windy, for starters. And I’ve never been anywhere that’s so like New York and yet defiantly not. The cab drivers are a bit ‘two fer’ (ie for every one that took me where I wanted to go, there were two who didn’t). I saw that Paul Morley off the telly riding the down escalator in Borders while I was riding the up (a fact that will mean little to nothing to our US readers). I met the very charming Chris O’Reilly, who has (as regular posters will know) named his new born son Jack Abnett O’Reilly. O’really? Yeah, really. I wish Chris, his wife and little Jack absolutely the very best for the future (whilst feeling slightly... nonplussed). Jack will have the first available book dedicated to him. May I also, while I remember, wish Tara’s boyfriend Jason a very Happy Dan Abnett Birthday Party. It’s a funny old world.

My dad (I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this), apart from being a rather famous maker of plucked stringed instruments (the correct term is luthier) is also a keen railway modeller (N gauge, for those nerdishously interested), and has constructed some of the most amazing scale model railways I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a good few, believe you me). So I arrive at my hotel and guess what? The other convention in town is an American railway modeller’s show. I’m going to have to go awol from Games Day for half an hour and take pictures so he can evaluate the competition.

What else? I’m half tempted to go off on a little riff about food in the states, and how it’s great but it comes in portions four or five times larger than is in any way necessary, and that’s coming from me, and you’ve seen me, I like my food...

But I won’t, ‘cause it’s a cliché. Though clichés are usually clichés for a reason.

Instead, I will point you in the direction of Hot Fuzz, which I watched on the plane. Yeah, it’s been out for ages and, yeah, I love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost... it’d just slipped past my lateral deflectors somehow. Great stuff, if a little odd in places, but truly, truly sublime in others.

And Transformers, which I went to see with my girls and my brother in law last weekend. Accepting the premise that it isn’t and cannot be the greatest film ever made, I will add the following remarks:

1) Michael Bay in fabulous movie shocker! (Never, EVER thought I’d write that)

2) It’s pure, pure entertainment if, like me, you’ve the brain of a twelve year old boy (mine’s in a jar, where do you keep yours?).

3) It’s the first film I’ve seen since I was a teenager that simply made me thrilled to be in the theatre. I’ve seen better films than Transformers, but nothing (not Matrix, not King Kong, not Lord of the Rings etc) that afforded me that same pure buzz, the buzz I got off Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner, Conan, Aliens and Mad Max 2 when I was a nipper and going to the Maidstone ABC.

4) Also, if you forget for a moment that they’re robots/Transformers, I contend the movie has the best superhero/40K action ever filmed (depending on your preference). In the last third of the flick, think of them as superheroes (if you’re into comics) or Space Marines and Dreadnaughts (if you’re a 40ker), and you’ll see what I mean. Crunching, super-powered, high speed, heavy calibre street fighting.

To sum up, I absolutely loved it. Which is a good thing, as I’m going to have to go and see it again with Andy Lanning, or he’ll feel left out. PROVISO - do not take my recommendation if you:
a) don’t like heavy duty shooty death kill action


b) are not prepared to suspend your disbelief.

Otherwise run, run like a fool and go see it. I personally think it’s going to change the way movies work. Here’s why. Ahem... My theory, my theory is this... when CGI first came along, it changed the face of cinema and advertising (cf Jurassic Park, Matrix etc) and thereupon everyone realised that ANYTHING was possible, so they tried to DO anything, with some pretty creditable results (cf Lord of the Rings) and some palpably bad ones (cf the Star Wars prequels). In other words, because CGI allowed film makers to do anything, they tried to do EVERYTHING. And the kitchen sink.
Now Transformers is not a movie of restraint, and Mr Bay is not a director of restraint, but restraint is ultimately what Transformers delivers. It does what it has to do - hugely and brilliantly - but it doesn’t go overboard (I mean, not more than any movie about giant clashing robots CAN go overboard). It is massive and noisy, but there is was nothing extraneous. I honestly believe it is a turning point: the first blockbuster picture to use CGI absolutely as much as is necessary without CGI-ing the arse off everything willy nilly. I mean, it’s got a surprisingly good script, characters, humour, good performances...


Time for bed. Games Day looms. I miss being at home, and I miss Nik and the girls. Home soon. I will retire and contemplate Jack Abnett O’Reilly. I don’t wish to harp on about that, and I certainly don’t want Chris and his wife to feel in any way odd about their naming choice. But it’s very strange to me. I just wrote some stories and look what happened. I am, entirely, flattered and humbled.

Dan, Chicago, Friday night.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Is what I appear to be at blogging this month. Sorry. Very work heavy just now, chasing a deadline or two on what will now and forever be known as 'boks' (thanks, Jesse. Yes, I want to see the Smite Fairy). I'll come up for air shortly and tell you all about it.

Oh, while I remember, I'll be at Games Day Chicago on 28th of July (that snuck up on me), so I look forward to seeing some of you there.

In the meantime, may I recommend you amuse yourselves by going to UTube and looking for 'human tetris' and 'silent library'.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

And I feel fine

It was raining with biblical fury, real apocalyptic weather. Just moving between shops, I got soaked. I went into this particular shop. “Did you get wet?” asked the bloke at the till. He looked at me. “Oh yeah, oops, ha ha ha.”
“What’s this weather all about, eh?” he continued, jovially. “I mean, what is it like?”
“It’s the Deluge,” I said. “The end of the world.”
“Yeah, we’re all going to die!” he replied. “Anyway, have a nice weekend.”

So that was lovely. Bless. World’s blowing up, car bombs in London, burning Jeeps ramming into Glasgow airport, the Gaza Strip, Gordon Brown (“texture like sun”), not to mention the climate. But have a nice weekend.

Anybody watch Rescue Me? Anybody else think it’s the most underrated US series on telly? I mean, it’s so vulgar and politically incorrect and obnoxious, and all the characters, I mean ALL the characters, are so deeply flawed... I love it. Then again, I’ve been a fan of Denis Leary since he decided to become (Saint) Bill Hicks lite, and sang “I’m an asshole, woo-hoo!”

For those of you who’ve never seen Leary’s “No Cure For Cancer”, go find it. Savour it. Then watch all the Bill Hicks you can find. The late Bill, god love him, was the greatest, most toxic, most pertinent stand up that ever lived and died too soon. As you might be able to detect, I am a devoted Hicksian.

Here’s some thing else. The brilliant Gollanz Fantasy Masterworks series (just buy them all and read them) has recently brought out The Mark Of The Beast, a collection of Rudyard Kipling’s short tales. Say what you facking like about Kipling’s personal politics (mmh, much as you might about Bill Hicks, actually), he wrote like a glorious bastard. And scary too, scarier than Dickens or Wilkie Collins or James or Hardy or any other of the ‘grown up’ writers of that era who turned their hands to the supernatural. Not that they didn’t do a good job. But Kipling is really creepy, really tight.

And John Simm as the Master? That’s so good, it makes me want to grin a big, ludicrously larger than life grin, and run around like a giant spaz in my converse and vintage Edwardian pinstripe. And Martha, god bless her. It may be subtle, but I love the way the dynamic of her relationship with the Doctor is a little skewed from the normal Doctor/companion relationship. Series three took a borderline jump-the-shark-ish dip with the Daleks and 42, but Cornell’s two parter and Moffat’s stand alone were simply the best episodes the redux show has produced. It’s all about the writing, you see.

So, the world may be ending, but at least Doctor Who’s good, so I will have nice weekend. All together now, “I’m an asshole, woo-hoo, yeah yeah, yeah yeah, I’m an asshole...” [repeat to fade]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's that man again

Devastating lack of regular blog action recently. My apologies. The reason is very simple - Legion (that’s Horus Heresy volume 7) has been entirely occupying my attention, and the typing fingers of most of the clones.

So, sorry for the empty landscape and the forlorn tumbleweed. I wasn’t in Aruba or Clackton-On-Sea, I wasn’t indisposed or out for lunch. I was in deep cover with an Alpha Legion insurgency team. Honestly, officer.

While I’m on the subject of apologies, sorry about the centred thing (scroll down and behold). I don’t know what the feth that’s about, and it seems the only way to cure it is to remove the lovely Blood Pact pics from the last post, which I frankly don’t intend to do as Big Steve’s work deserves all the unabashed staring-at it can get.

Creativity certainly breeds oddness. You may care to know that after weeks of no-show my household guest is back. And all the clocks in the house went screwy again yesterday, just like last time. Maybe I generate poltergeist activity when my brain is in full writing mode. Maybe the ‘guest’ is a manifestation of my muse, though I thought my muse was Nik. Maybe it’s Nik, re-setting the clocks when I’m not looking to mess with my head.

I’d like you to run, not walk, directly to your local quality bookstore and purchase a copy of Graham M’s excellent Fulgrim (not that any of you need such encouragement, I’m sure). It’s worth remembering that a man who can write a Horus book that good knows what he’s talking about, so when he tells you that Stornoway black pudding is the best black pudding in the whole wide world, take him seriously. I can confirm that it is, and would only add the word ‘yum’.

What else? Nova has now reached its third issue, and every issue so far has sold out, which either means people like it, or Marvel is only publishing ten copies. Preferring to believe the latter, you’ll pardon me while I do a little happy jig.

By way of amusement, I recommend you google ‘Transformer costumes’ and watch the various U-Tube style clips the links lead you to. Home made transformer costumes that actually transform. Fantastic.

Also amusing was a sign I saw recently sellotaped to the doors of a lift in a department store. It said “This lift is isolated”. I know how it feels. More amusing - well, inexplicable, actually - was a sign I saw about ten minutes later, taped to the closed curtain of a changing cubicle in a clothes shop. It read “This Changing Room is Out of Order”. Uh... but... how could... ? What working parts are there in a changing room that could break down? Or maybe the shop assistants had just had enough of the cubicle’s unrelentingly surly attitude.

Finally for today, I got an e-mail from a ‘lilibat’ who is making an inquisitor costume for her husband and wondered if she could costume herself as the inquisitor’s wife, or would have to settle for being ‘a member of his staff’. I answer her here only because for some reason my e-mails back to her keep getting bounced. Can an inquisitor have a wife? Well, seeing as inquisitors can do pretty much anything they want to, I don’t see why not. May you have and hold, honour and respect, and burn and purge, from this day forward.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ally Pally

Dan and James, pens in hands.

Graham, Dan and James

You see, people don't just put them on their shelves and look at them!

Big Blue Monster!

Big Balloon!

And from this point on, everyone marvel at Big Steve's custom made Blood Pact army. Take a bow, Big Steve!

Rear view...

... and front view of the regiment's corrupted ex-IG commander!

Here come the mutant auxillieries, Steve's 'twist troops!'

Check out the long-form staves of the flamers! And the Grotesks!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

So anyway

Taking back control of my own blog for a sec (thanks, Nik, for covering), I just wanted to remind all those who care that I'll be at Conflict:London this coming Sunday. See you there.

Kudos to all who voted 'aye' to the idea of the blogathon (yeah, THANKS, Nik), we'll have to get that sorted on a sunday soon (not that my typing fingers aren't already down to the bone - I've worn out two clones this week, and it isn't thursday yet!). Still, I'll be here if you will. Let's set a date.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Listen up...


first of all... Ohmigod, I'm not Dan!

Some of you may remember that I (that is Nik, or as many know me, "Mrs Dan") managed to talk Dan into a blogathon. We had rules and everything...

Now, some of you seemed to get on board with the idea... one or two of you even seemed quite interested, so we set the blog date for Sunday, twenty-something May, anyway... tomorrow!

I did try to whip up some semblance of a frenzy about the whole deal... I for one was looking foreward to Dan sweating for twelve hours at a stretch, and turning in 6,000 words in one day (not that he hasn't done that once or twice before, with the help of the odd clone of course). But as of right now... that is 00-50 GST, Sunday the whatever of May, we have postponed.

The man plans to give up AN ENTIRE SUNDAY for feth's sake, so, of course, he needs an incentive.

I'm still up for it, and so is Dan, so if we can get enough people involved in batting stuff back to him over the Blogathon, then he will, sooner or later, commit to it.

All those in favour say "Aye"

See you back on the other side.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Signing II: This Time It's Bromley

Well, a big thank you to everyone who came to see me at last Saturday's London signings. In the spirit of public service announcements, I'm here to tell you I'll be at the Bromley GW store this coming Saturday from 2 til 4 approx, and the following Sunday (June 3rd) I'll be a guest at Conflict London at Alexandra Palace (along with Graham and Jim - yes, it's three-for-one day at Ali Pali!). BL probably know much more about when and what the three of us will be doing on the day so, as they say, check press (or the BL site at least) for details.

Quatermouse and the Mitt made me laugh (see last thread), and I can't let it go unanswered.

Quatermouse and the Kit

"So in fact what you're saying," said Quatermouse, with a slightly crestfallen air, "is that I should have painted it before I stuck the transfers on? Bum."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Just a quick reminder that I'll be at Forbidden Planet this coming Saturday at 1.00 o'clock for an hour, and then at Games Workshop Oxford Street at 3.00. Hope to see some of you there.

Oh, and today's exclusive short story. It's called:

Quatermouse and the Flit

"Don't we owe them rent, professor?"

"Shut up," said Quatermouse, "and keep running."

The End

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Exclusive! Get It Here!

I took this evening off and, during the general and delicious R&R, watched Quatermass and the Pit. What a fabulous movie, and so ahead of its time. What makes it especially brilliant is the script - Nigel Kneale, of course - written in the fifties, revised in the sixties for the film, and absolutely dead on the noughties zeitgeist. As a writer of sf (albeit of the combat variety), it’s humbling to see so many relevant and oh-so contemporary themes right there, in a 1967 film. And we think the new stuff is new. There are no new ideas. Well, there are, but they’re staggeringly scarce and none of us are having any of them. I advise you all to watch it, anyway. It so shockingly prefigures Who and so many genre moments (Carrie, the Fury, Test Match Special... and I could go on). And yes, I know Who predates 1967. But not the original version of QatP. It would not be a surprise to me to learn that Russell T. and many of the writers and producers in the long legacy of Who were inspired by Quatermass in general and QatP in particular.

In tone, if nothing else.

Moving swiftly along (yes, Test Match Special WAS a joke), I have been asked a number of times to share some writing tips (of which, of course, I must have many) with the world. So here goes, the first of an occasional series of writerist observations:

Dan’s Writing Tips #1
Sometimes, a project - a novel, a story, a script - is like a piñata. The plot just hangs there and wants you to take a smack at it. A couple of solid thwacks, maybe, just to open it up. Then you have to keep on smacking it to get at all its goodies. It may resist and require a lot of smacking. Some projects are tough like that. Legion is like that.

To sum up: keep swinging. You’ll break the bastard eventually.

Today, Nik referred to Laurence Fishburne as “Loren Finchperson”. Later (during QatP, actually) she called a belisha beacon a “Beleeka Beeshon”. I don’t mean to mock. I just think that today may be National Lexical Drop-Out Day.

And now, before we drift off into sunday-land, here’s the first in a string of short short stories, exclusive to this blog. Short short story one is called..

Quatermouse and the Writ

“But I wasn’t anywhere near the Ballspond Road that night!” complained Professor Bernard Quatermouse.

“Whatever,” said the server, “you’ve just been sued.’

The End

Humm. Piñatas, like I said.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Note to self

Dear me! Some backsliding! My blog rate seems to have dropped again. I must remedy that, and you know what that means, don’t you? It means daily lumps of content-free nonsense as I hit keys at random and post the result just to say I have.

Nik’s remedy was rather different. She suggested a blog-a-thon. According to her, a blog-a-thon would involve writing five hundred words an hour every hour for twelve hours. I’d write five hundred words, take the rest of the hour off, and then write another five hundred at the start of the next hour - and so on, all the while answering posts. I think she may have bee having a laugh. I can’t even find a clone willing to volunteer for that.

In other news, they’ve found King Herod’s tomb, which is interesting because I wasn’t aware they’d lost it. And scientists have observed a ‘super’ supernova called SN2006gy. It was a massive explosion, a hundred times more energetic that a typical supernova, and was 1000,000 million times brighter than the sun. On the plus side, we can relax, because it was 240 million light years away in another galaxy. However, a Milky Way star called Eta Carinae, just 7500 light years away, look like it’s about to go supernova. If it does, it’s likely we’ll be able to see it alongside the sun in daylight. Which doesn’t happen very often.

Just as long as we don’t all go blind looking at it, thus paving the way for the Triffid conquest of the Earth...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pauses to blow own trumpet

This just in, and I must say I’m chuffed. Horus Rising, by yours truly, and False Gods, by Graham M, have both been nominated for Origin Awards. BL got three nominations over all. So there’s lovely. The BL website will, no doubt, have details as to when the actual awards are announced. It’s nice to be thought of.

A reminder that I’ll be at Forbidden Planet AND GW Oxford Street on the 19th to promote Brothers Of The Snake. After that, I’ll be at GW Bromley on the 26th, and Conflict London on the 3rd of June. That’s verging on the ubiquitous.

Aside from the next Horus book and Nova, I’ve been working on some ----------- for ----------, which I’m not actually allowed to talk about. This is a shame, because ------------- is quite an interesting challenge, and quite different to my usual stuff. You have to think in really different ways when you’re ---------- for a ------.

So don’t say I never tell you anything.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


So, let’s see now...Seems the Alpha Legion book, my next Heresy opus, will be called (drum roll) Legion. Which may confuse the arse off anyone who knows me for my DC work, but stuff happens.

Just now been writing a couple of episodes of the Kingdom strip for 2000AD. Kingdom’s first run was a hit, and I’ve heard very positive things from the readership. Most of that is undoubtedly due to Richard Elson’s amazing artwork, but the strip does seem to have something. You can’t beat a bit of hack and slash heroic fantasy dressed up in a post-apocalypse milieu. And, oddly (seeing as I’m absolutely a cat person), I seem to write good dogs.

All of which, on reflection, will make no sense to anyone who hasn’t read Kingdom. So let me just add... it’s so very easy to subscribe to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic (Ker-ching! Oh, my pleasure, Tharg!).

So Ian Edginton, my ‘other’ partner in crime (‘other’ as opposed to Andy, yeah, yeah, I’m a collaborating hussy). Let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that the Warhammer 40K comic Ian and I are co-writing for Boom! (“Damnation Crusade!”) is selling like a hot selling thing, and our follow up Warhammer comic (“Forge of War!”) is about to launch (available, like Damnation Crusade, from all good comic shops, not GW stores), the thing I really want to mention here is that Ian has just got himself nominated for TWO Eisner awards.

TWO. Tuh-woo.

And all I can say is, it can’t have happened to a nicer, more talented, more deserving person. I’ve plugged his work with D’Israeli for Dark Horse before. That’s what he got his nominations for. Go find it, buy it, read it.

The Angel of Coincidence has been round my place again, as usual. I’ll spare you the boring the details. But I am growing worried about my ghost. Not a peep out of him in a fortnight.

Maybe I should leave some food out. What do ghosts eat?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Random Box of Horns part II

Games Day France, April 15 2007.
"Let's get this party started!"
Spontaneous jubilation breaks out as the crowd is told that
Dan and Graham have entered the building.

Le shopping.


Blood Pact!

Sigmar Queues.

A blue man.

A French ork.

Dan and Natalie, Madame le translator.

Dan and Julien, Monsieur le translator.
Nik and Mathieu, Monsieur le Publisher,
Bibliotheque Interdite.

Dan and Graham, the Look of Destiny!

A random box of horns, earlier.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Random box of horns

Previously on Dan’s blog...

I found out today that issue one of Nova has sold out. Andy and I are jolly pleased and so, I imagine, is Marvel. Thanks to all who bought it. I hope you liked it. It’s great to get a new series off to a healthy and robust start.

Spent the day at the Black Library today, discussing ideas for my next Horus book with Primarch Alan Merrett. No, I can’t tell you what we talked about and what we decided, but I will express my delight and slight disbelief about what BL/GW is going to let me do. Talk about being given the keys to the executive wash room (creatively speaking). This book is going to elicit gasps. I’ll go as far as to say it’s going to be the Marmite Horus Heresy book - people are either going to love it or hate it. And I haven’t even written it yet. I just hope I can pull it off.

While I was there, I got my cloned hands on a copy of Brothers Of The Snake for the first time. It’s a lovely thing (wonderful Clint Langley cover) and I think you’re going to like it. Hell, it’s a Space Marines book. And it might, just might, have orks in it too.

I (and when I say I, I mean we - me, Nik and the girls, along with Graham McNeill and his girlfriend Rebecca) attended Games Day in Paris last weekend. The response was amazing, almost overwhelming, and we had a fantastic time. We met Sigmar, for a start. On behalf of us all, I’d like to thank everyone who came along to ask a question or get something signed, and thank our host, Matt, and our translators (who were doing in person what they usually do to our books) Dju and Nathalie.

Nik and Lily took lots of snaps, so as soon as I can, I’ll post up a little pictorial of the highlights: Sigmar, crowds, looks of destiny, and a random box of horns. You’ll see.

I see you’ve been posting comments about Miss Kys. Well, she isn’t very likeable, I suppose, though that was part of the point. She’s always been very polite to me. That said, she still won’t let me call her ‘Patti’.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nova Day

Today, I am reliably informed by both the Diamond Previews catalogue and my esteemed editor at Marvel, Bill Rosemann, is Nova day.
The first issue of Nova hit the stands in the US this morning. Written by myself and my long time partner in crime Andy Lanning (collectively DnA), it’s drawn by Sean Chen, and is an ongoing series arising from the success of the Nova mini series Andy and I wrote last year as part of Marvel’s Annihilation event.
Nova the character has been around since the early seventies. A teenager from Long Island who becomes a member of an alien-sponsored galactic ‘police force’ (the Nova Corps) and gets amazing powers as a result, Nova was always a little bit... naff.
I’m not dissing the poor guy, it’s just that, compared to Cap or Iron Man or Spider-Man, he was always a bit second rate and try-hard, a third division player, an ‘if wet’ hero. As in “featuring The Mighty Thor! (if wet, Nova)”.
But, he was a cosmic hero with cosmic powers (he’s a human rocket, don’cha know?), and Andy and I lurve cosmic heroes. Warlock! Captain Marvel! The Silver Surfer! The Legion of Superheroes! (if wet, Nova). When we wrote the Nova mini, we made that ‘if wet’-ness part of the riff. Nova was painfully aware that he WASN’T Cap or Shellhead or Spidey. He had become a second stringer because that’s how he saw himself.
It seemed to work. Nova ended up saving the galaxy and becoming one of the most potent characters in the Marvel Universe. He’s first rank now, premiere division. “Featuring Nova! (if wet, the Fantastic Four)”.
Okay, not quite, but you get my drift.
The new series kicks off by taking Nova back home, so that the rest of the Marvel Universe can collectively gasp, then propels him into this year’s cosmic event, Annihilation: Conquest!, which Andy and I have also been left in charge of.
It’s the most fun Andy and I have had without laughing for ages. I say without laughing, that’s a lie. When we get together for plot-bashing sessions, Andy and I regularly end up in a fit of giggles. This is most often due to the fact that a) we tend to act out, in improvised format, various parts of the story, and b) during said actings out, unlikely casting choices seem to influence the lead roles (Ray Winston IS Galactus! Dick Emery IS The Silver Surfer! Goldmember from the Austin Powers movie IS Drax the Destroyer! Professor Stephen Hawkings IS the artist formally known as Prince!).
We might have gone off on a bit of a tangent that day, admittedly. Although, you try reciting the lyrics of U Got The Look in a voicebox monotone and see if you don’t crack up.
I’ve lost the point, if I ever had one. Oh yeah, Nova day! Huzzah! Get thee hence (he says, using his best Stan Lee cover blurb voice) and purchase Nova #1. If only to read it aloud in the most inappropriate celebrity voices.
I’m off to Paris this weekend, to attend the French Games Day, so if you’re in the vicinity of the Stade De France on Sunday, drop in and say hello. The part of Harlon Nayl will be played by Hulk Hogan (if wet, Bob Hoskins).

“Oi, Ravenor! There’s bin an eruption!” Like that, you see, but in French.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter rabbit

So, Happy Easter. I hope you get all the chocolatey egg related loveliness you need.

At what seemed like an almost leisurely pace, I’ve been working on the Horus Heresy exclusive short for Games Day, my half of a double header with Graham, like a brace of pistols*. It proved to be an excellent way of easing myself back into all that Horusy goodness after long sojourns with the Ghosts, the Inquisition and, uh, Torchwood.

It’s sometimes hard to get back into the right mindset when starting a fresh project. The sheer number of characters in Gaunt, for example, makes it quite a demanding exercise when you sit down and think “Right, where was I?”

I began to assemble material for Horus work and was struck by how dense and complex the Heresy strand has become, after only a few books. It’s partly because it’s 30K and not 40K , and they do things differently there, but it’s also down to the fact that the Heresy is about main players and cosmic events. Writing 40K, you can (in a manner of speaking at least) occupy a little corner of your own and allow the 40K Universe to just BE as a backdrop. Any, shall we say, aberrations, can be chalked down to it being just one incident in the middle of a billion billion world scheme of things. In 30K, one false move and you’ve rewritten history. I’m consulting a different source book, note pad, post it or manuscript every couple of lines.

In the next week or so, I’m going to GW HQ to present my pitch for the next Horus book. I’ll let you know what their verdict is. Let’s hope it’s not “Are you off your chuff? You can’t do that!”

Now let’s all join hands and sing a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the Black Library, ten years old this past week. Which means that, at some point last year, I became the freelance equivalent of a ten year veteran. How time flies when you’re burning the galaxy.

An Easter Joke (in the spirit of all things chocolatey)

Q: What do you call a hobbit’s thingy?
A: A hobnob.

Today’s joke was brought to you courtesy of Lily’s friend Hannah Lloyd. So do not be taking issue with me.

* Hmm... just got a ‘battery low’ warning on my Simile-O-Meter.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Life after (Only in) Death

So OiD is done. Well, it’s gone to Lindsey at BL, and her word will be final, but I finished it at the weekend, and I’m feeling pretty happy with it. “Are you feeling pretty happy with it because it has a happy ending?” I hear you ask. Well...

... that would be telling. And defeating the purpose of writing a book designed to intrigue and surprise. Oddly, I haven’t heard a peep out of my ‘ghost’ since I finished. Maybe it was a creatively generated poltergeist. I’ll let you know.

No rest for me. Nova, Annihilation: Conquest and - hey hey! - Superman awaits, along with my next Horus novel, plus a special little thing Graham McNeill and I are working on for Games Day. Oh, and yet another Secret Project I can’t blog about just yet. Busy busy busy.

Games Day Paris awaits, the weekend after Easter. Both Graham and I will be there, so if you’re around, come along and say ‘bonjour’.

Let me, once again, thank you for the ongoing comments and remarks - great stuff as usual (Jesse’s turn of phrase once again made me laugh, and Toymachine’s list of Gaunt’s previous ‘demises’ was truly funny), and I’ll just take on the chin any less than glowing remarks about AoC (which I’m very proud of, and which was deliberately written to show a view of 40K combat quite different to the other Ghosts books). For those purists out there (Xhalax?), OiD is a return to the ‘all the Ghosts together in one hell of a bad situation’ format. So I hope that’ll make you happy.

Making me happy was the movie Stranger Than Fiction. It’s a sort of Adaptation lite, but extremely entertaining (plus Will Ferrell in bearable lead role shock). Like Adaptation (which I also recommend), it’s a story-within-a-story story about writers and their characters. Can’t imagine why it appealed to me.

Oh, my Torchwood novel just came out on audio, read by Eve Myles. Which was nice.

Right, which notebook did I write those ideas about Alpha Legion in..?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Textbook eyeball kick a phrase used recently by my friend Matt Farrer, along with ‘high octane idea catnip’. I feel both should be officially introduced into the language. The former refers to a passage in a work of fiction that delivers a stunning descriptive effect, the latter to anything that gets the creative juices flowing with concept overload.

Thanks, Matt - I hope you don’t mind if I use them freely.

BTW - here’s a question: does anyone know if the 1969 Hammer SF movie Moon Zero Two is available on DVD? I saw it when I was a kid, and remember it fondly, but I don’t seem to be able to track it down. Any clues, anyone?

Back to the Ghosts. OiD is almost finished...

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..?