Post from January, 2010

Stand Alone

Thursday, 28. January 2010 3:28

I just read a fantasy novel – not naming names, sorry – but it was a good one. I liked it so much it kept me awake until 6 in the morning one night, but, at the same time, it was the first in a continuing series, and when I got to the end of it, I found it did a thing that bugs me. It didn’t end. In fact, it hadn’t even properly begun. The entire book was the ‘assemble the team’ part of the movie that comes at the beginning before the leader sits his band of misfits down and says, “Okay, ladies, here’s the situation.”

Yup. That’s where it stopped, right before that meeting. So, although there were great character bits along the way, and lots of interesting stories within the story, after five hundred pages, nothing of consequence had happened. The main plot will start – at least I hope it will – in the next book.

This, as I said, bugs me. But it also got me thinking about what I like to read, and how I want to write.

I love series fiction. Some of my favorite books are ‘The Continuing Aventures Of…” of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, of Harry Flashman, of Conan the Barabarian, of Travis McGee. But there’s a difference between continuing adventures and books with no end. In each of those series I mentioned, the individual books stand on their own. Each is its own separate story, and though earlier adventures impact later adventures, each one has its own beginning, middle and end, its own plot that pays off before the book is over. Even if there’s a cliff hanger, it is generally the beginning of a new adventure, after the main story has been tied up – a little peek at tomorrow’s menu after you’ve had a full meal.

That’s the way I like series’ to work, and that’s the way I like to write the ones I work on. I feel cheated if the whole story isn’t in one complete volume, and I would feel I’m cheating the reader if I did anything like that myself.

So far I think I’ve done pretty well. The Blackhearts trilogy had a few overarching story lines and cliff hangers that carried the series from one book to the next, but each was a self-contained story. The mission set up at the beginning was resolved at the end. And I think I’ve managed to do the same with the Gotrek and Felix books. Whatever menace rears its ugly head at the beginning, is dealt with by the end.

This insistence on completion goes back, I think, to my love of structure, which I mentioned in an earlier post. Part of what makes reading a novel a satisfying experience to me is the emotional payoff at the end, whether that emotion is joy, heartbreak, triumph, bemusement or anger. A joke isn’t  joke without a punchline. A novel isn’t a novel without an ending. So, a novel which is only a first chapter, in which the plot doesn’t pay off and the main characters have only just met each other might be a book – as it’s got the right length – but it isn’t a novel.

This then is my promise to you for all my future writing. I will do unto you as I would have others do unto me. If you read a novel of mine, you will get a complete story in one volume, with a satisfying pay-off and a proper ending. I may drop a cliff hanger on you, I may hold some things out for the next book, but the main plot will begin and end in the book you hold in your hands.

Unless, of course, someone has torn out the last three pages. Then you’re screwed.

Category:Writing | Comments (3) | Author:

Spam, spam, spam, baked beans and spam.

Tuesday, 26. January 2010 9:50

The site has been deluged with spam since last night. Usually I get one or two spam messages a week. Over the past 24 hours I’ve had about 30. So, for all the bots out there, a little something to make them feel at home.

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Interview with a Vampire…. author

Thursday, 21. January 2010 10:48

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be doing another promo video for the Black Library. This one will be for Bloodborn, my upcoming Gotrek and Felix spin-off novel about Ulrika the Vampire, and this time I thought I’d do a little Q+A. So, if you have any questions about Bloodborn, Ulrika, my other Warhammer books, or what I think about vampires who sparkle, reply here and I will compile them and do my best to answer them. I think Black Library is going to be collecting questions on their FB page too, so hopefully there will be a bunch when we get them all together.

The cover of my next Warhammer novel. I can't wait for this one to come out. It looks so cool!

The cover of my next Warhammer novel. I can't wait for this one to come out. It looks so cool!

Category:Warhammer, Writing | Comments (12) | Author:

My Writing Process

Friday, 15. January 2010 10:23

Some of you may have seen this before, but I haven’t posted it here yet, so I thought would. This is officially a promo video for Shamanslayer, the latest Gotrek and Felix book, but since I didn’t know how to talk about that without spoilers, I decided to talk about my writing process instead. Have a look!

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Gotrek and Felix get snowed in!

Saturday, 9. January 2010 13:52


I just got a preview copy of Death and Dishonour, my latest book from Black Library. I didn’t write the whole thing – it’s an anthology of sword and sorcery stories set in the Warhammer world, but I do have the honour of leading it off with a tale of Gotrek and Felix entitled Red Snow, in which the poet and the slayer find themselves trapped in a blizzard in the Mountains of Mourn.

Here, check out the cover, and click through it to Amazon if you want to pre-order. death-and-dishonour

Category:Warhammer, Writing | Comments (6) | Author:

The Art Department

Tuesday, 5. January 2010 16:37

A cool blog I check out from time to time is The Art Department, which is the personal blog of Irene Gallo, who is an art director for Tor. She posts art for upcoming books, as well as the art of her friends and artists she admires – and the occasion post about her dogs. Here’s a recent pic from a Cthulu contest she sponsored.


Click on the picture to go to her site and look at all the goodies.

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Daniel Robbins

Monday, 4. January 2010 17:53

Here’s another guy with a seemingly abandoned portfolio site. It looks like he started off as an illustrator, and a great one (some of his stuff reminds me of the early work of Dean Cornwell) but he appears to have since gone completely over to fine art. Clicking on the first two paintings will take you to his portfolio site. The third will take you to the galley that is representing him now. Illustrator or fine artist, he is an amazing painter, with incredible control over his brush strokes and his color.




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Edouard Guiton

Saturday, 2. January 2010 15:12

I wish this guy had more finished stuff, but his pencils are fantastic – great shapes, great silhouettes, bizarre ideas. I am in love with his line. He is a concept artist and character designer in France, and does a lot of work for RPGs and miniature makers. Click on the pictures to go to his site, but be warned, there is some rough stuff on there. Some of it ain’t for kiddies.




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Happy New Year!

Friday, 1. January 2010 9:58

I posted this last year on the first day of the year, and I guess I’ll keep up that tradition until it comes true. This is the Zombies, singing one of my favorite songs, “This Will Be Our Year.”

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