Tuesday, June 18, 2013

This is just to say

Just a quick note today to do two things: mention that I'm looking forward to seeing you at Black Library Live: Dublin, and point you in the direction of Nik's blog, where I have written a little guest post.

There. All done.

Plus, a William Carlos Williams ref in the post title. I can do brevity and literary-referency at the same time, me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

SF Bokhandeln - Sweden!

Coming to a Sweden near you this weekend (and I'm very excited about it!).... me!

Now, I don't speak Swedish, so I can't be sure, but I THINK these links will tell you everything you need to know:

For Friday and Saturday.

Also for Friday and Saturday.

And for Sunday.

This should be an awful lot of fun, so if you're... you know... in Sweden... come and join in!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Free Comic Book Day (or, May The Fourth be with you)

Be it an old gag, or an internationally recognised Festival, May the 4th is also this year's Free Comic Book Day, and I'll be a Forbidden Planet in London from 1 PM supporting 2000AD's FCBD publication, alongside Al Ewing, Ben Wilsher and - oh my goodness! - Ron Smith! Details, well, here. We are, apparently, "Legends of 2000AD", and with all due respect to the lovely Al and Ben, I suspect one of us is rather more legendary than the other three. And by that I mean... RON SMITH!

In the meantime, no blog post is complete without pretty pictures, so try this, the cover of the book I'm finishing now:

When you've done salivating over Neil Roberts's fine work, get your blinking gear around this:

And if that wasn't enough, here's the cover to a book I wrote oh... quite a while back... which is now being reissued as the first of the "Classic" series:

My pleasure :)

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Gilead’s Blog

Any minute now, those lovely people at Black Library will be launching Gilead’s Curse, which is not only one of my all too infrequent forays into the Warhammer side of things, but one of the rare and exciting opportunities I have to collaborate with Nik Vincent (ie, the wife).
Gilead’s Curse  will appear alongside a reissue of our previous collaboration, Gilead’s Blood, which was published by the Black Library back in ninety-ten-a-hundred-and-frozen-to-death (and don’t you just love Stefan Kopinski's gorgeous matching covers? Two sides of Gilead!).

Nik and I have collaborated on quite a few projects over the years, and will continue to work together in the future: stand by for an adjunct to the Sabbat World’s Crusade saga. 

Gilead’s Blood was the first time we properly collaborated on a book. Hammers of Ulric was our second effort. Curse was a wonderful opportunity to return to such a powerful character as Gilead, and it has demonstrated to us that we can have as much fun working together as we have living together

So, grab a longbow and a decent sword, and delve into the adventures of this longstanding character. It was very satisfying to revisit him after all these years, and we jumped at the chance to write him again, because so many people at GamesDays and conventions asked us for more Gilead. It's funny to discover what an enduring figure he has become for certain people.

Oh, for those of you who don’t know, the Gilead books are about an elf, who is cut off from his ancestry and is roaming a lone path through a human-controlled world in search of his destiny. I’m told that we do particularly good Skaven, but the Skaven were actually Nik.

Oh, and there’s a lot of sand at the end... A LOT of sand.

Don’t get Nik started on sand.

By the way, back in the day, Forge World produced a large scale figure of Gilead based on the original cover art. I had one, because they very kindly sent me one, but it's long since disappeared into the black hole of innumerable moving days, and Forge World no longer have the moulds. Anyone out there got one? I’d love to know. Answers to the usual e-mail.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Doctor Who... and DemonCon

I had a great time at the Doctor Who 50th birthday event at Forbidden Planet last Saturday. Not the last event of its kind I'll be involved with this year, I imagine. It was a bit of an honour, to be honest. To have been even a small part of Doctor Who's fifty year history is a big fething deal to me.

What was the event specifically about? Thanks for asking, you at the back there. The BBC is re-releasing eleven classic Who novels this year, one for each Doctor. The design is gorgeous, and the set looks lovely all together (a full figure shot of each respective Doctor side-by-side on the spines, for instance). My novel The Silent Stars Go By was picked to represent the 11th Doctor, aka Matt Smith. This is what I mean about it being a bit of an honour.

Here we are (above) lining up in the delicious bowels (...uhn, delicious bowels? Really?) of London FP. From left: me, Gary Russell, Ben Aaronovitch, Terrance Dicks, and the lovely Shona Abhyankar, from BBC Books.

Add one very long queue (that's after we'd sat in the back room signing the vast stack of pre-orders) and serve.

Gary's book is the splendid 10th Doctor novel Beautiful Chaos, and Ben's is the 7th Doctor book, Remembrance of the Daleks, an adaptation of his own TV script, one of the best Sylvester McCoy adventures. Daleks and stairs? Hello? Special Weapons Daleks?

I finally got to meet a hero of mine, Terrance Dicks. This is the "official" photo of that moment...  

...but this blurry iPhone image much more effectively captures the friendly fun of the chat we had. Terrance's novel is the 6th Doctor story Players. His contribution to Doctor Who in books and on screen is colossal.

Gary and I were kept busy...

... until the very end. I owe Gary an awful lot. Thanks to his enthusiasm for the comic stories I used to script for Doctor Who Magazine 'back in the day', I got the chance to write for Big Finish, and then the Torchwood novel Border Princes, and then Doctor Who books and audios for the BBC. He's a lovely bloke too. Thanks, Gary.

Anyway, it was a great day. Thanks for coming along.

Speaking of great days, there's another in the offing tomorrow, when sunny Maidstone hosts the fifth Demoncon. Details below. I will be there... and it'll be a fine way to spend a Sunday.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Who is 50

Of course he is. We all knew that. And to celebrate that momentous birthday... well, lots and lots and lots of delicious Doctor Who things are happening this year. Cakes, for starters. Cakes in the shape of Daleks, most likely.  Hot air balloon flypasts where the hot air balloons are ingeniously made to look like Sontaran capsule ships. Or, indeed, Sontaran bonces, both being conveniently spherical. What else? I dunno. A special broadway revival of the musical Miss Zygon.

I digress ("No, really? You? Digress?" they all call out sarcastically).  I'd like to draw your attention to one delicious Doctor Who thing in particular. BBC Books is reissuing eleven classic Doctor Who novels -– one for each Doctor – from across their fiction range. Each one has a new cover, a new introduction, and looks pretty damn gorgeous, and my Eleventh Doctor novel The Silent Stars Go By has been selected to represent the Matt Smith incarnation. Look! Look below! Look, how pretty!

Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go ByThere's a good chance I'll be doing several signings for this as part of the 50th Anniversary event, but one is already set, and that's at Forbidden Planet in London on Saturday March the 9th. Here's the skinny. So materialise, get a signed copy, plus signed copies of the books by Gary, Ben and Terrance, and a very good day will have been had by you. And no mistake.

Miss Zygon. *makes a Sheldon Cooper "I've just amused myself" yelp-laugh*

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It means "really very good"

It's Black Library Live this coming Saturday in Nottingham, home of the eternally burning galaxy. I hope we'll see you there.

But besides, that... Other business.  I do like to collect a good phrase, me. A nice, fresh, unexpected use of language. A few weeks ago, the writer Sarah Pinborough declared on her Facebook thread that "If I write more than four thousand words a day, my brain turns to wang." Turns to wang. I ask you. That's just brilliant. You don't see Shakespeare doing that.

Sarah's a great source of such elegant combinations of words. She said something about the Pope's resignation too. She described it as him "fucking off from his Popehood." Because that's what it should be called, officially. In the Vatican. On scrolls.

She's a fine writer, so it's no wonder she turns a memorable phrase. Another memorable phrase that dropped into my lap recently came in an email to this very website, which described one of my books as "pretty boss sausage". It means "really very good". I am now using it. I am also now using the "turns to wang" thing too.

Nik found something that was pretty boss sausage the other day (behold how I am using it in a sentence AND making a passable segue out of it? Yeah? Yeah? Get me and me fancy writing footwork). Anyway, it was this, a write up of Ravenor that properly made my day. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Me, in the middle of No Man's Land

... No Man's Land being the independent gaming store in my home town of Maidstone, which is a very friendly and convivial place to hang out, play some games, and generally be. Here's a link to their website.

Anyway, next saturday, the 23rd of february, they are going to be opening in a new premises not far from their old site, and I'm going to be generally hanging around in a menacing way during the afternoon to help celebrate their new opening.

The new shop address is Unit 32, the Royal Star Arcade, High Street, Maidstone ME14 1JL. They're going to be open from nine thirty to six on the day. If you're in the area, or feel the inclination, please come by and support the event. It will, I'm quite sure, be possible to persuade me to sign stuff, or answer questions, or even – can you believe it? – play a game of something. I believe there's also going to be a raffle or a competition... it'll be fun, anway. And if you need further incentive, there's a psychic fair on in the arcade the same day,  so you'll also be able to find out how grim and dark your own far future is going to be! Ba-dum tish!

No, wait... wait.... I've got a better closing gag... ready? Ready? Ahem... "And if you need further incentive, there's a psychic fair on in the arcade the same day, which we all should have seen coming."

Nothing? No? Really?

I'll get me coat.

Friday, February 15, 2013

In which I go back to college

Just a quick thing today, a reflection on the rewarding day I spent last weekend at my old college, St Edmund Hall, which held a celebration of "writing at the hall". It was enjoyable and inspiring. I'd like to write about it at length - and I may well do that - but I've got a full workload in front of me, and this Horus Heresy novel isn't going to just write itself (before you ask, it's The Unremembered Empire, direct sequel to both my Know No Fear AND Aaron's Betrayer, and The Lion hasn't actually punched Guilliman yet, but the fan and the faeces are going to meet when they both find out which other of their brothers are present in Macragge City...).

Anyway, the day was great. I particularly enjoyed the talks given by Samira Ahmed, Emma Brockes, and Stewart Lee (who, I discovered last night, name checks me in the extras on his latest stand-up DVD, Carpet Remnant World, which surprised and chuffed me). I also loved the fact that Samira was live-tweeting from the audience of my talk. And I found truly fascinating the fact that all of us, though we use writing in vastly different ways, had almost the same thing to say – or parallel, comparable things, at least – about the basic practice and craft.

As I said, I'm a little too busy writing to spend time today writing about writing, but I will direct you to Samira's blog where, unsurprisingly, she provides an excellent report of the day.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

TV Highlights to look forward to...

Here’s the inside track on some of the new directions that TV will be going in 2013. Some very exciting developments, all of which are guaranteed to combine your favourite shows.

Now that Disney has secured the rights to the Star Wars franchise, we can expect a number of films and shows exploiting the potential variations of this immense licensing opportunity. My sources indicate that Disney is particularly keen to combine the crowd pulling appeal of Star Wars with the massive television audience ratings of the classy BBC period drama, so before the year’s end look out for the flagship new drama series “TaunTaun Abbey”, featuring Hugh Bonneville as Grand Moff Crawley, Rob James-Collier as the sinister looking one who skulks around in the back rooms and gives away the location of the Millennium Falcon’s landing bay while wearing goggles and a big nose, and Maggie Smith as a scruffy looking nerf herder.

Death Metal of a Salesman. Hotly anticipated reality tv show where the front man of Metallica joins creative forces with members of one of Sweden’s most notorious black metal bands in an effort to bring to the London stage a brutal yet muscular musical version of Arthur Miller’s classic play.

Last of the Summer Winehouse. The BBC scrapes the very bottom of the barrel in an attempt to find bits of Amy Winehouse footage that have not yet been anthologised, and comes up with some fleeting segments of the 1993 Jules Holland’s Hootenany when she was in the crowd at the back.

Big Shit, Little Shit. Frankly I can’t believe that the commissioning editors at CBeebies thought this was a good idea.

Gran Torino Designs. Clint Eastwood takes over from Kevin McCloud and talks us through the design and construction of some extraordinary and pretentious, middle-class self-build projects, before slightly curling his lip to camera and explaining why the World is a better place now that they’re dead. Featuring an Arne Jacobson chair with no one in it that Clint talks to as if it’s his co-host.

Nigella Lawson Lets You Actually Touch Them. I think the appeal of this show is aptly demonstrated in its title. May include meringue.

Goodness Gracious Meerschaum. In a desperate attempt to find a fresh take on the Holmes myth, Channel 4 relocates the story to Bombay, where a call centre worker (The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar) discover’s that the random “western name generator” has allocated him the name Sherlock. He decides to uphold the legacy and become a detective. Capers ensue. Featuring Lucy Lu for no readily apparent reason.

TOWIE (The Only Way Is Exhaust-port). Set your deflectors to double-front for this new, high-octane quiz show, presented by Philip Schofield and Clare Balding. Part first-person-shooter and part one-of-those-ridiculously-complicated-games-they-play-before-the-national-lottery. Contestants are coached by Philip on how to hit a target not much bigger than a womp rat in Beggar’s Canyon back home, in order to win the Big Money Prizes. Highlight of the show is the moment when Clare Balding suddenly goes strangely slack-jawed and clacks out the program’s key catchphrase, “it’s a trap!” in a muppet-stylee.

Beastenders. From the people that brought you Masters of the Universe and the people that brought you Eastenders. Look! They’ve brought you something you didn’t even know you wanted. At all.

Richard Hammond’s Secret Service. Honest to god, dude, you really don’t want to know what this show is about.
Top Gear. With Gok Wan. On the Nurnberg Ring, Gok brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Show us your bangers.” Also, James May repeatedly says, “please stop touching me.” in an increasingly plaintive voice.

Gok Wan, Purl Wan. Knitting show.

Time Time. Tony Robinson and Phil Harding get their hands on a flux capacitor and a DeLorean, and haphazardly rewrite the history of 80s cinema. Nothing good results from their escapades, but Phil gets to say, “God, aaarrhh!” a fuck of a lot.

Flog it! Paul Martin comprehensively reinvents the antiques show in such a way that it is no longer an antiques show at all, but rather a gruelling catalogue of human perseverance. Featuring Philip Serrell.

Master Chief. Greg Wallace and John Torrode oversee the nail-biting competition to find the next HALO petty officer. Featuring Michel Roux-117 as the acceptable face of the Covenant.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Research, research, research...

Came across a question about research, posed in the blog of Medwayscott (follow the link and read his post before continuing, that might be best).

Anyway, he said some very nice things about Salvation's Reach, the most recent Gaunt book, and was very complimentary about the Navy action depicted in it. How much was researched, he wondered.

I do a LOT of research, for pretty much everything I write, which may sound faintly bonkers considering that what I write is Made Up Stuff. My contention, and I've stuck to it for over twenty years, is that SF and Fantasy work best when they feel authentic, when they seem grounded and real. So my basic approach is to consider each book as if it were a 'real world' or even historical novel. I find the closest thing in the real world to the fantastical thing I'm writing about, and research that, then convert laterally into the fantasy frame. So... writing about Kislevite Lancers (as I did in Riders of the Dead)? NO such thing in the real world, obviously, but how about 17th Century Polish Hussars?  Let's go! 40K air combat (Double Eagle)? Let's try the Battle of Britain and mix in a little Korean War and modern theatre jet warfare. TItans... and, indeed, Imperial Navy vessels and engagements (various, but especially Titanicus and Salvation's Reach)? Let's look at the British Navy, let's look at U boats and other submarine experiences. Let's visit Chatham Dockyard... ;)

Right now, I'm writing about court intrigue during the Horus Heresy, so I'm ransacking all the stuff I can find on the Tudor Court, the Vatican, Italian Principalities, Imperial Rome etc. etc.

But when the (goodness me!) half dozen Primarchs I'm handling here start duking it out through a city hand-to-hand, I don't know WHAT I'm going to start looking at. That may be when fiction starts looking at other fiction, and I start drawing on the thousands of superhero comics I've written over the last two decades...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Oh... my... GOD...

Yes. Yes, it is. It's Major Rawne. This isn't a dream, dear blog-post reader and Gaunt's Ghosts fan, it's an actual brilliant thing that has really happened somewhere in the world, and you're looking at it.

And if you think THAT'S as good as today is going to get, follow this link and see the rest. Yes, the rest! They're ALL there. Follow the link! Follow it now!

It's absolutely extraordinary. I have no words, to be honest. I am just too impressed. But I will say that TheMightyGoatMan on Reddit, whoever he is, is a very, very fine human being indeed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Good letters what I have received – no #123 in an occasional series

Sometimes, a letter arrives via the website that properly amuses me. Here's the latest one - thanks, Adam :)

Dear mister Abnett,

I just wanted to let you know that I am sitting here at the pub with a pint of ale in one hand and "Brothers of the Snake" in the other. (1)

I am not quite certain, but I think it is the third or maybe the fourth time I read it. It is without the shadow of a blasphemous doubt my favourite book in the category "Shit Blowing Up", followed closely by "Titanicus".

I have lent both to my friends, and I will until the day I die remember one of them whooping and cheering as he read the sequence in which Sicarian Faero goes mano-a-mano with Nekromant Invidiosa in the Birdmarket. Just a few days ago, I let a librarian (2) friend read how brother-sergeant Priad engages the Dark Eldar in the treasury on Baal Solock. Afterwards, he just put the book down, nodded and said: "Slow motion writing. Respect."

I wanted to thank you for giving me hours of explosive entertainment. Whenever I feel the need for some dakka, I head over to the 'A' section of my bookshelf (3) and indulge myself. I expect to keep doing that for a long, long time to come.

So... thank you. Thank you very much. Keep it up, please.

All the best regards, from Malmo in Sweden,

Adam Thorp

"Spehss Mahreens - for the Emprah!"

(1) Actually, I had to put both down since writing on my phone is a two-handed job but I am sure you get my meaning.
(2) He is a librarian, not a librarian. The difference is small but important.
(3) Yes, you have your own section in my bookshelf.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Whoa-oh Wait a Minute Mr Postman...

Well, hello January. Hey. You’re looking pretty good. Nice to see you again. What’s that you’re wearing? Nice.

And look at all these things you’ve brought me. You’re generally regarded as the coldest and most unfriendly part of the year, like the biggest Monday morning ever, but look at this! Look at all the good things you’ve give to the postman to bring to me in the first two weeks of the year.

(Note to self: Maybe I should put aside one copy of everything of mine that is published in the course of one year and offer it as a prize for a Christmas competition. Hmmm. Needs thoughts and comments from blog commenters...)

So, on the first day of January my postman brought to me... Fuck all, because it’s a bank holiday.

But on the first postal day of January, my postman brought to me... the comp copies of Dragon Frontier!

Now I have waxed lyrical about this already in a previous post, but the start of January saw the publication of my first junior novel, and my first novel for Puffin (an imprint that I have been reading since I was a kid). Check out the Dragon Frontier FaceBook page, and look out for news of a schools tour in the UK, and read the damned book! Dragons and cowboys! Cowboys and dragons! What’s not to love? Read it yourself or buy it for a child you love if you consider it to be outside your age-range/demographic. For very many reasons, this novel is close to my heart, and I hope that it is enjoyed by its intended audience and anyone else who wants to read it. SFX magazine gave it 4 stars in this review. Thank you SFX.

On the second postal day... I got my comp copies of the Embedded audiobook, which is unabridged and lovely. Regular readers of my blog will know how important Embedded is to me, and I simply want to applaud the work of the audiobook producers in bringing my so-non-audio novel to audio-ness. Kudos. If you want to know what I sound like as an author when I’m not writing for a franchise, when I’m writing ‘original fiction’ (like that’s a distinction that matters to me) then this is a good place to start. It’s also military science fiction, which is, apparently, what I’m famous for, so get in!

Then the third lovely delight of January was my advance copies of The New Deadwardians trade paperback, from those splendid people at DC Vertigo. The New Deadwardians was my first venture for Vertigo, and my first collaboration with the redoubtable INJ Culbard, and I have to say that it was a particularly satisfying experience. In a world saturated with zombie/and/or/vampire stories, I think we managed to find something different to say. I hope we’ll be able to say some more about this particular world in ‘season two’ if this trade sells well. So, may I suggest you buy it. It certainly had some gloriously good reviews, which is most gratifying. I really love that reviewers found it both clever and funny. Ian’s artwork is sublime. Publisher’s Weekly picked it as an honourable mention in it’s graphic novel list of the year (along with Kingdom: Call of the Wild, which I write for 2000AD, and which is drawn by Richard Elson, and is another strip I am very proud of). It is no exaggeration to say that The New Deadwardians, for reasons that are hard to explain, is one of the highlights of my career. I urge anybody who is interested in anything I do to read it.

If that wasn’t enough, January’s postman also delivered the latest issue of The Hypernaturals. This creator-owned, cosmic superhero team book, which I create with Andy Lanning, my partner in crime from the Marvel cosmic classics, has been receiving extremely good press. We are blessed with two tremendous artists and some fabulous cover artists, and the depth of the world-building, matched with the complexity of the plot, seems to have really found an audience. If you aren’t reading The Hypernaturals, which is published by Boom! then what the hell are you playing at? Go and get some back issues, or, if you’re really lazy, wait for the first trade, which will be coming your way, soon.

Talking of January, I’m not given to making New Year’s resolutions, and that’s not going to change any time soon, but I am going to make a small half-promise to myself, and to you. I’m going to make a huge effort to be back here with a new blog before the end of the month.