When I first got hold of the old second-edition Warhammer 40,000 box and started poring over the rulebooks I already knew a little bit about the setting from the White Dwarf magazines my friends and I had been buying for the Blood Bowl articles. But when my journey into the 40Kverse got properly under way two influences really helped flesh out the setting for me: John Blanche’s fever-dream artwork, and the punchy little two-page narratives interspersed through all three books, by William King.
Griznak at the bridge, plotting the next assault on the Blood Angel defences and trying to ignore the uneasy instinct that Waaagh-Ghazghkull is starting to falter around him. Sergeant Raphael musing on the nature of humans and Astartes. Inquisitor Kruger unearthing what’s really going on in the hives of Gehenna – but possibly too late. Karlsen of the Thousand Sons undergoing the Dark Communion and reliving ten millennia of war against the Golden Throne. On the fantasy side of things Bill created the iconic pair of fantasy adventurers Gotrek Gurnisson and Felix Jaeger, and chronicled their adventures for many years before Nathan Long took the helm. Bill has also written several original-IP novels and even created another game-setting of his own, the cyberpunk/Mad Max Waste World. He’s now back writing for Black Library with an upcoming trilogy about Lord Macharius, one of the giant figures in Imperial military history.
I also have to say that one of the high points of writing Legacy was to find myself writing about the Navis Nobilite at the same time as Bill was, and corresponding with him on getting our references and approaches dovetailed. The first time it properly hit me that name on the stories that had fired my imagination into the setting in the first place was now showing up on mails in my inbox I couldn’t stop grinning.
Most excellently, he has a new website and a blog now, which you can find here. There are some great thoughts on the craft and day-to-day business of writing, and speaking as someone who regularly beats himself up over word counts achieved (or not), I was very taken with the post on the importance of setting your sights low. You might have noticed I no longer do those monthly proposal/acquittal posts for this blog, and one of the reasons was that the acquittal posts had turned, as this post says, into a demoralising head-to-brick-wall exercise that was having the opposite effect to the one I wanted. I’ve been pondering whether to bring that exercise back in some form, but if I do it will be useful to remember that sometimes all that white-knuckled type-A achiever hype can be counterproductive. We’ll see.
I’m also adding in the writing blog of Donna Maree Hanson, an author, long-time member of the CSFG, publisher, editor and tireless organiser and convention-runner, who also happens to be my partner. As well as working on her own writing she’s currently putting together the 2013 Conflux convention and has been working as a reader on the Angry Robot open submission period from earlier in the year. Her posts on the insights from such an intensive reading of submissions and manuscripts are well worth reading.
Off to chase some of my own writing for the evening. Take it easy.