Monday, 26 September 2011

Games Day 2011

So, here I sit at the keyboard absolutely knackered after UK Games Day 2011. Part of the exhaustion was due to my decision to drive there with a couple of friends rather than take the shop coach and face the awful traffic after a long day.

Overall I had a great day and had the opportunity to chat with many of the authors including three I'd never had the chance to speak to in person. Sarah Cawkwell was there for the release of her first novel, Gildar Rift, starring her very own Silver Skulls Space Marines and believe me when I tell you that the energy of this woman needs to be seen to be believed. It was such a pleasure to meet her face-to-face and to see her in her rightful place meeting her adoring public as she signed book after book for hours at a time, greeting each and every fan with genuine warmth. A veteran performance from this talented rookie. I'm delighted to announce that Sarah has agreed to be on my hit-list for an interview, Skype style.

Sarah Cawkwell strikes a pensive pose for my camera.

I also had the great pleasure of speaking with author Sandy Mitchell whose Ciaphas Cain novels have grabbed me by the throat and won't let go. I recently reviewed Mitchell's latest Cain novel on the newly revived Book Spot Central and I had the chance to talk with the man about what's next. February 2012 will see the release of the next in the Ciaphas Cain series, The Last Ditch, after which Mitchell is hoping to alternate the Cain titles with other Black Library work which can only mean more Mitchelly goodness for us fans.

My abiding impression of Sandy Mitchell was of a real gentleman of the old school, who - while clearly a very experienced and profoundly talented writer - presents with a disarming humility. He has graciously agreed to a Skype interview for Book Spot Central though in his case he's told me that it will involve getting a tech savvy friend to set Skype up for him.

Sandy Mitchell in all his glory.

Last of the previously unmets was personal favourite Graham McNeill who was very keen to do an interview over Skype and we had the chance to chat a little about his upcoming Horus Heresy novel The Outcast Dead, a review of which I hope to publish in the next two weeks on Book Spot Central. Hopefully the interview will follow soon after.

It was great to reconnect with Chris Wraight, who as I've remarked in my reviews of his work, is a world class teller of tales and it has long been my feeling that he hasn't been given the exposure that someone of his talent deserves, something I hope to rectify in my own small way with a...yeah, you guessed it, a skype interview.

Chris Wraight and his appropriately adoring fans

During one of our quick chats during the day, when he was kind enough to spare me a few minutes between seminars/signings, he mentioned that one of his upcoming 40k releases will be a novel about the Iron Hands! They haven't had the Black Library treatment since Jonathan Green's Iron Hands novel that was last published back in 2004 and I'm really pleased that they've chosen a writer of Chris Wraight's calibre to expand the Iron Hands' mythos. We briefly discussed the challenge of writing what are effectively a bunch of inhuman bastards who stretch the definition of 'good guys' to beyond breaking point. Definitely a novel to watch out for.

My experience with Dan Abnett in our recent skype interview has put me off the written interview format for good I think. There's nothing like a real time conversation to open things up and now that my squeaky chair has been destroyed future interviews will be bereft of its high pitched interruptions.

Though I didn't have the nerve to ask him for any kind of interview I did have the chance to foam at mouth in the presence of William King. I was, and in truth remain, a big fan of his writing and the Gotrek and Felix series he penned are still personal favourites to which I return even now. He took a long leave of absence from Black Library but I'm chuffed to say that he's back, with a series of High Elf themed novels coming to a  store near you soon.

William King, Back in Black...Library! (see what I did there?) :)
Also there was the mild mannered alter-ego of author Mark Charan Newton in his day job for Games Workshop. I know he likes to keep the two worlds separate but I was so pleased to have the chance to catch up with him and talk about his work. In June this year he released the third of his Red Sun series, The Book of Transformations, and told me that the fourth and final novel in the series has already been sent to his editor and is slated for release in June next year. After this series is over he hopes to write a mystery novel set in another fantasy world of his own creation. Having read the first two books of his current series, I really loved his character Investigator Rumex Jeryd and for me he has already established his credentials as a crime/mystery writer so I'm really excited about this future project.

Author Mark Charan Newton

Next up is Aaron Dembski-Bowden who though he wasn't officially there actually sat down to sign stuff for his growing army of fans including this guy, Adam Cleveland, who, having run out of stuff to sign, just got him to sign his face! (Thanks @morbius_sire for his name!)

Adam Cleveland knows he can never wash his face again!
Aaron and I had a chance to chat and I floated the idea of us doing a skype thang which he seemed really enthusiastic about. I mentioned that we might time the chat to coincide with the release of the last in the Night Lords trilogy, Void Stalker, which he liked and that we can talk more about his work and upcoming projects which he suggested was boring...he really doesn't like the whole self-promotion thing. I'm going to have to come up with topics we can talk about that take advantage of his encyclopaedic knowledge of, and passion for, the 40K universe. Can't think of a better guy to talk 40K with! I also had the chance to chat with and congratulate Katie, Aaron's brand new wife who was both thoroughly charming and very patient with the weird guy (me) that was asking where her husband was.

Aaron and Katie Dembski-Bowden
For some reason I never got around to congratulating Aaron...I think I was too busy frothing and trying to cram all the ideas for interviews/articles (we both write for Spot Central) that I've wanted to run by him for a year into a few minutes. So, Congratulations Aaron! He won't read this post so I'll just have to email him; yup, I have his email address...MUAHAHAHA! It's just so unsatisfying sending him 'heavy-breathing-in-the-wee-hours-of-the-night' by email. But such is life.

There was one very pleasant surprise for me at Games Day today. My old chum and former Games Workshop colleague Neil Wylie (have I spelled your surname right Neil?) has moved on from his post at Black Library and is now a games designer and background writer for the new and very shiny Forgeworld spin-off, Warhammer Forge! Neil was a great pleasure to work with and I'm so chuffed that his great talent has at last been given an appropriate outlet. It was so damn cool to see him at the table answering people's questions about the stuff he's working on as a member of a very select group, the design team. Neil I wish you the very best of luck in your new role and hope it's the first step towards fame, fortune and shiny new toys.

Neil Wylie, games designer extraordinaire.

And now, last in deed but first in thought, is Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent, the first family of Black Library as far as I'm concerned. Dan's timetable during the day was...relentless, though he seemed to handle it all with his usual verve and charm. I never got the chance to speak to him though I'm so pleased I got to speak to Nik Vincent (aka Mrs. Abnett) who showed me the all the warmth (and did I mention patience?) that she is so well known for. It is always a great pleasure to speak to either of them and I sincerely hope to have to the opportunity to speak to Dan very soon. In fact when I mentioned to Nik that I hadn't had the chance to speak to Dan she said that I had all their details and should feel free to get in touch. Call me a girl's blouse if you must but I was really touched by that. Thank you Nik, that was so very kind of you.

I was also very pleased to hear that Nik is bringing Gilead back! Any longtime Warhammer Fantasy fans will know who I'm talking about and for those who don't...well that should clear that up. Gilead is set to return in around 10 short stories published in Hammer and Bolter with a novel to follow the year after. Very exciting news!

Dan Abnett

Dan waxes lyrical to a capacity audience during his seminar

Can't wait for next year's Games Day! And in the meanwhile, watch this space for news of upcoming reviews and interviews.

That's it, I'm spent! (throws down pen and minces off stage left)