Having given it a week or so, I figured it was about time I posted some answers to all the questions posed to me as a result of the previous posting. Nosy lot, aren’t you? Ha, ha – just kidding. Thanks for the great response, and I shall do my best to answer everything asked as fully as I can.
Okay then without further ado, here goes:
Q. When does the first book in the Circle of Fire trilogy get released? Does it have a title yet?
It’s still to be confirmed, especially as I’ve been slated to write two novels and a novella beforehand, but I plan to start writing Circle of Fire end of 2013/beginning of 2014 so that could be a late 2014 or early-mid 2015 release. Also yet to be confirmed, but my working title for book one is ‘Rebirth’.
Q. Vulkan Lives. Other than the obvious, what can we expect from this?
Without giving the story away, it’s a two pronged narrative in which a double storyline interweaves with the other. It features several primarchs, most prominently Vulkan and Konrad Kurze, and as such the story examines the relationship between these two characters, chipping away at the psyche of both. There’s the return of some classic characters from the series (not all mine, it has to be said) and very little of the story itself is set on Isstvan V, although the resonance of what happened there does inform e narrative to a large degree. ‘Vulkan Lives’, ‘Scorched Earth’ and ‘Promethean Sun’ all connect. And my final little reveal is that this novel leads in to Dan’s ‘Unremebered Empire’, which directly follows it on the schedule and sets up a major story thread in that book.
Q. Have you given any thought to some sort of a sequel to Fall of Damnos? Any chance of returning to Sicarius and Co?
That’s a definite. Although ‘Fall of Damnos’ was the story I wanted to tell and fulfilled its remit as describing a Space Marine Battle, it always niggled me a bit that there was no time or room to describe the desperate evacuation of the planet and the sacrifices the Second Company had to make when they did so. A return to Damnos is on the cards for the near future.
Q. After The Great Betrayal, what’s your next fantasy project?
That’s an easy one. For my next Warhammer novel, I’ll be returning to the War of Vengeance and following hot on the heels of ‘Master of Dragons’ by Chris Wraight with the third book in the series, currently titled ‘Elfdoom’.
Q. How do you come up with the names for your characters in the Tome of Fire trilogy? As which languages are the source?
I guessed asked this one quite a lot. The simple answer is: I just make them up. Basically, when I was about to write ‘Salamander’ I wanted to find a base I could build the culture around. As the Salamanders and the Nocturneans they live alongside are a tribal culture, I opted for an African naming convention and simply applied my search engine to the task. Knowing the lead characters in advance (I also researched African actors so I could put names to faces and still have their head shots on my old PC to remind me), I went down a massive alphabetical list and selected names that evoked the sense of the character then I 40k’d them up a bit by adding -ON or -EN or -US etc as a suffix to the name. I also plundered Ancient Greek and Roman names, anything from the Classical World, reasoning that the Salamanders Legion originated on Terra and as such they would still have Terran names in some instances. This is where I got characters such as Elysius and Iagon from (although the latter is simply a corruption of the character Iago from ‘Othello’ and was a deliberate homage). Use hard consonants is another technique that gave me some good, strong sounding names like the hard G in Tsu’gan or the hard K in Ba’ken. These characters wouldn’t have had the same resonance, I think, if I’d have opted for lighter consonants or combinations of consonants like TH or S. To my mind, it makes these characters more grounded and earthy, which is precisely what I was going for.
Q. How do you balance between being an editor and a writer? As in when you’re writing does the editor part of you come into the writing process with a greater authority than other writers who are not editors?
It’s that old answer of perfecting the art of wearing two hats. Although, I’d argue that most writers (if not all) have an editor in them, so it’s all part of the same beast. I think the challenge comes when you’re writing that you don’t self edit too soon or too often. I know a lot of writers who get hung up on every little detail, every word and sentence as they are writing and can’t move on to the next one until it’s perfect. This is a good way to drive yourself around the bend and miss deadlines because you’re over obsessing and allowing your internal editor to drive the writer. Best practice for me is to get the words down, the ideas out of my head and committed to the screen and then, when I start the next writing session, read my previous work and do a little editing. I know that I might revisit this passage or chapter several times throughout the writing of the book but that in tackling the edits this way I am still making progress and finessing as I go.
Q. How do you log an idea for yourself? I’m not a writer but often find my mind wondering and get an idea for a cool story, I think about how I should get that down somehow and then quite often I forget and then the idea passes and is lost… I assume this would happen even more for a writer!
Several ways. I have multiple note books of varying degrees of size that I jot ideas, synopses, even entire chapter breakdowns in as sometimes ‘going old skool’ is more conducive to creativity. I also use notes and notepad a lot on my iPad, which has the added advantage that I can email them, and cut and paste my notes directly into Pages or Word to form the basis on a synopsis or pitch etc. My advice: keep a pen and notepad on you at all times!
Q. Are you able to switch off the editor inside and enjoy reading? Are you reading anything for yourself at the moment?
Definitely. I actually don’t find the transition that hard as what I tend to read for pleasure is quite different from what I edit/read for my job (athough that is also a pleasure, just in a different way). Subconsciously, I am always analysing I think. I’m not sure any writer can read without doing this, logging the really nice turns of phrase or trying to figure out what a writer did to create a certain mood or emotional reaction, the way they structured their most memorable and striking characters etc. But, yes, I still enjoy reading. Very much. I’m reading John Connolly’s latest thriller at the moment, ‘Wrath of Angels’, which is excellent (if you scroll down to the bottom of the blog in the Culture Shocks section, I regularly update what I’m reading, gaming, writing, listening to etc). I’ve also got Scott Synder’s ‘Vodoo Heart’ and Danie Ware’s ‘Ecko Rising’ on my read next list/pile.
Q. Do you have a favourite Non-Superhero related comicbook series that you have read?
I don’t actually. All the comic book stuff I read is super hero-based. I am loving Scott Synder’s run on Batman and have been picking up that, the Death of the Family tie-ins and Geoff Johns run on Aquaman, as well as Justice League. I’ve got a few Marvel Now titles, including X-Men and Avengers but have yet to read them, they’re just on my iPad. I ‘enjoyed’ Preacher a few years back, which I suppose is non-super hero (though there are forces and beings in that which have powers not unlike super heroes) and I’ve read a bit of ‘The Boys’, which subverts (and perverts in some instances) the super hero genre. Any recommendations?
Q. Any news of a Salamander Omnibus and perhaps with maps and extra stuff?
An omnibus is on the cards. I’m keen for it not to include everything I’ve done thus far, but it will have the three novels and the stories that tie in directly to the Tome of Fire, so there’ll be some hold-overs from ‘Tome of Fire’, the anthology (but not all) and I want to write a long short story that pre-figures ‘Fires of War’ too. Current working title in my head for that is ‘Dragonborn’. I’d also like to include a Nocturne map and a glossary of names and terms, perhaps even a timeline that shows where the events sit in the 40k chronology.
Q. Vulkan lives : As the author can you choose, or decide what will be on the cover? (I hope of an official draw of Vulkan , even if I think he’s the more diffcult to be done.)
For the ‘Vulkan Lives’ cover I was very lucky in that Black Library has an incredible artist in the form of Neil Roberts who does all the cover work. Like with ‘Scorched Earth’, Neil and I discussed what should be on the cover, what scene it would depict and how it would interact with ‘Scorched Earth’ too, which is really a companion piece to the novel. There will be an illustration of Vulkan (the first ever, I believe). In fact, it’s already done and can say that it’s amazing.
Q. Can you talk about working with other author and using their stuff in your story? In the same way what’s your feelings when they use your material? Have you ever told to a collegue that he has a wrong viewpoint on your stuff?
As the Horus Heresy and, to a lesser extent, the 40k setting is a shared universe there are a lot of occasions when authors will be using the same characters, running with ideas set up by someone else in order to keep the story going. Until recently, I’ve not used characters created by other authors before, but I have written stories about Chapters (Ultramarines, spring to mind). In the case of characters, there’s an inherent pressure that you don’t want to undermine what another author has written and stay true to how they have potrayed a certain character, but you also don’t want to feel so inhibited that you can’t develop them and add to them. Research and the right amount of respect is important here, as well as regular communication and full disclosure to the other writer. Ultimately, it’s the call of the publisher who does what, with whom and when, but good working relationships and professionalism is predicated on courtesy I think. It’s certainly a fun challenge, but I think, ultimately, I prefer to use my own characters and work with the strands and story threads that I’ve developed personally. Fortunately, I work with an extremely talented and professional group of writers, so I’ve never needed to query why another author has developed one of my ideas in a way that I didn’t agree with.
Q. Finally what about working with your translator in foreign language? Especially the French translator.
I actually don’t get to interact with my translators much, which is a shame, as most of this is handled by Black Library’s French editor. I was fortunate enough to meet my translators recently at French GD and we were able to chat a little bit about their work, but contact is usually confined to the odd emailed question about a particular term or ocassionally my intent in a certain sentence or passage of text.
Q. Have you thought of doing a story ( or short ) on bray’arth ashmantle? He is a 1 of a kind dreadnaught, who got lost for 9 days…I think that’s more than enough time for stuff to go down and some really sick action to occur.
He’d be a great character to write about. I did pen a synopsis for a story involving Bray’arth but decided to shelve it for later, so I might revisit it at some point in the future.
Q. Are you wanting the new Rocksteady Batman game to be a prequel (like they’ve rumored) or are you itching for something bigger and better ?
Ha, ha – if it’s as good as the previous two games, I honestly don’t mind. Although, something like ‘Arkham Underworld’ would be cool that incorporates the entire Gotham City.
Q. Nick, i want to ask a question. Do you plan to write and publish new story about Primarch Vulkan? Prometean Sun was excellent, and can’t wait for new Vulkan stories
I sure do. Check out the first answer regards ‘Vulkan Lives’… (I’ve also already written another novella called ‘Scorched Earth’ too – Vulkan’s not it, but he’s an important presense in the story).
Q. Recently, I reread The Burning. And I wondered if N’Bel is ‘Vulkan’s N’Bel’ or just a guy named that way. And, is the Metalshaper in that story Vulkan? I could never decide.
Ah, ‘The Burning’. Well, this is of course a story about Dak’ir’s vision quest, his trial to see if he can control his newfound psychic powers, so a lot of what he sees and experiences is impression and the product of his subconscious mind. I can say that N’bel is Vulkan’s N’bel, his father but that the identity of the metal-shaper shall remain a mystery. What do you think? I take it you figured out the drygnirr was Pyriel?
Q. In your HH writing, will we ever see Vulkan wielding/planning/making/thinking about his relics? Or the Tome of Fire?
Possibly and yes.
Q. Can you tell us about Vulkan Lives a wee bit more please?
Q. Any idea when the first Circle of Fire novel will be out?
Same with this one…
Q. What is Ignea? Where is it? In what way are the Igneans different from the ‘normal’ Nocturneans? It seems Dak’ir is lighter skinned than the inhabitants of the Sanctuary Cities, is that because the Igneans are ethnically different?
Ignea is an underground realm of caves that runs throughout much of Nocturne. Given the planet’s volatile nature, areas of this vast cave system are periodically uninhabitable, hence the nomadic nature of Igneans. Dak’ir’s skin is lighter because he is not exposed to the sun like the Nocturneans that live above ground in the Sanctuary Cities, and, yes, Igneans are ethnically different, just as Nocturneans from the various Sanctuary Cities are too.
Q. I’ve been wondering about that for really long: what’s with the apostrophes in some of the Nocturnean names? Do they signify a sound like a glottal stop, or… (I’m probably over-thinking that.)
Also, more importantly, is Dak’ir Sailor Nocturne?
It’s partly affectation and because a lot of African root names have apostrophe’s in them so it helped convey the sense of tribal culture I was aiming for. The apostrophe’s are also intended to show where the emphasis of certain letters are in the Salamander’s names (but aren’t intended as a glottal stop). For instance, ‘Dak’ir’ is pronounced, ‘Dak-eer’ with a hard letter K and ‘Ba’ken’, ‘Ba-ken’ with a short A and a hard K. ‘Tsu’gan’ is ‘Soo-gan’ with a silent T, long U and a hard G. The apostrophes are really there to reinforce and aid with pronunciation.
As for the sailor thing… huh?
Okay, that’s everything. I hope that answers some of your questions and provides a little insight into my thoughts and ideas regards my work and the subjects thereof.