2018: A Year of Unexpected Changes

In many ways, 2018 has been a fantastic year.

Seeing Artifice published has been truly magical, plus having the opportunity to write for both the Black Library and for Rebellion/Judge Anderson has been a huge amount of fun. After a very long, fallow stretch, it’s been SO GOOD to be creative again.

I’ve gone away twice, caught up with long-unseen family, and taken my Mother back home. 2018 was the year I finally reached the Top of the Mountain, the End of the Quest, and was able to put the very last steps of the journey behind me….

For the first time in many years, I’m happy. I have no worries. I have a secure roof over my head. I have growing teen of whom I’m very proud. I have a good job, and we’ve had some fantastic events at the store. My writing is gathering pace, and going really well. And I’ve made a point, this year, of overcoming the inevitable (and slightly foolish) social reluctance and of going out – getting to the events, and the Cons. I’ve even started playing D&D again, after fifteen years.

But the year ended on a sour note, and one I’m still trying to understand.

I came down with a significant anxiety relapse in May, and it took me while to pick myself back up again – it was just so unexpected. (And seemed so utterly unfair). And as a part of trying to understand what had caused it, I took all sorts of tests – an MOT, more than anything else.

As we reach 50, we’re all getting to the point where we have to pay the piper, when those youthful excesses come back and catch us up. And I guess I was trying to brace myself for the worst. 

But the results were not what I expected – at the last, the year has thrown me a curveball. I don’t know where it’s come from – it may even be genetic – but I have an underactive (yes, underactive, that surprised me too) thyroid. I guess it explains why I’m so fucking TIRED all the time, why I get days of brain-fog so think that I can barely remember my name, and why – just sometimes – I find it almost impossible to get everything done. And it’s come with a couple of other complications, too, but I’m still working the kinks out of those.

It’s been a good year, and there will be many more. But the necessary sacrifices have been – and will be – very tough. ‘Fight Like A Girl’ is all very well on a battlefield.

This, though, may be a battle of a slightly different nature.

Three Conventions/Three Weekends

Not only knackered, and up to my ears in people, but three events that were all VERY different. I’m used to book Cons and to MCM, but I’ve never done the Black Library Weekender before, and seeing the BL juggernaut in full motion was quite the eye-opener.

But, anyway, from the top!

FantasyCon

Lovely to see old friends and make new ones, and to do the hanging out in the bar, the talking shop, and the sitting on the panels. Excellent RPG panel with Allen, Alasdair, Sara and Gavin, then an equally excellent Wring Warfare panel with Anna, Anna, Simon and Pete (doing a fabulous job of being Andy Remic). The last of the day’s talks could have gone better – but Con people are always family, even if you’ve never met them before. So thank you to those who checked in.

Chester was beautiful, and I spent rather too long exploring the town (not looking for Alleyne-Johsnon, honest) and the City Walls past the Cathedral.

The hotel was good, too – though it didn’t quite manage the craziness of the Radisson’s glass fish…

MCM

Say it with me, it’s a madhouse. A glorious, manic, (loud), colourful madhouse. It’s a feast of brand and license and costume and prop (and money). It’s half a million kids – and adults – allowed to express their fandoms/ships completely. It feels like a celebration in which everyone gets to let go, and to be whatever the hell they want.

And that’s awesome.

Was trading at this one, so very busy – but it was lovely to see the authors that came to our stand to sign, and to be a part of the MCM madness!

The Black Library Weekender

So, this was a first, and it had a whole different feel – and not just because I wasn’t behind the (truly colossal) trading table. I may be stand at the very corner of this vast and epic mythology, but the Weekender still felt like the ultimate in shared-world-RPG-experience – a place where its fans could come and celebrate their love of the creation, and where its creators could remain gatekeepers and gamesmasters, flying the flags of the fiction they’ve made.

Two excellent panels shared with Nick, Mike and Rachel, talking about the new line of novellas, and what it really feels like to be dipping that first foot (pen?) into the grim darkness of the far future.

And big cheers for the team at BL/GW for their ruthlessly efficient management!

More Nuns With Guns!

And there it is! Out on November 1st, the second (slightly longer) adventure of Sister Superior Augusta Santorus and her intrepid squad of butt-kicking nuns – and this time, it’s nastier things than Orks!

Seriously, tho – very chuffed to see this loosed out to the Imperium, and with such amazing support from the Black Library. The cover art is gorgeous – it shows Augusta’s age and experience, and the colour of her armour stands out perfectly. When I wrote Mercy, I made the choice to write about a different Order of Sisters, to step away from the inestimable Martyred Lady, and to create something slightly different, something that I could make my own… (well, kinda!)

The rest of the novella run looks absolutely superb, as well – check them out!

I will be talking about this novella, and about Mercy, at the Black Library weekender in November, and alongside a truly spectacular line-up. Please do come and say hello!

 

Orks Vs. Nuns with Guns – Writing for the Black Library!

Writing licensed fiction is a pain in the arse.

You have a great premise. You have a headful of imagery. You know your story and your characters and your bad guys and WHOOOOSH! – off you go…

But it’s difficult. There’s a lot to learn and there’s one HELL of a lot of canon (and cannon) in the 40k universe. Thanks to long years of gaming, I’m familiar with the basics, but even after all those rolling dice, I’d only touched the smallest corner of the Emperor’s cloak.

Writing for 40k has meant a lot of work, a lot of notes, and a LOT of reading. It’s meant highlighter pens in an assortment of colours, and a lot of learning from textbooks, old Schola. And it’s very much been an exercise in both confidence and patience. You write for a license, you can’t write five lines without stopping because you don’t know something. What’s this thing called? Where did it come from? How many rounds does it fire? What’s it made out of? And how do you say ‘this chickenshit outfit’ in High Gothic?

But: it’s also a LOT of fun – writing Orks vs. Nuns with Guns is about as close to pure self-indulgence as it gets. And, quite apart from all my years in armour, the skirmish tactics learned in the cadets and the TA, and the scatter of Latin (mostly choral, but hey) picked up at school, it’s given me the chance to write almost pure action. And an opportunity like that is just too good to pass up.

So: here’s ‘MERCY’, my tale of the Sisters of Battle. And it comes with a big thank you to Lottie and the Black Library for the chance, and to Sister Alec and Sister Superior Jim for their help. And hopefully, Sister Augusta and the Order of the Bloody Rose will have some more adventures after this one.

From the wrath of the editor, our Emperor, deliver us…

Da Orks by A-u-r-e-l on DeviantArt