Black Library Live! 2012 Round Up

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Like a clutch of authors tackling a collaborative project bringing forth a book containing four novellas; the Founding Fields team bring you their round-up of the event.

EJ DAVIES’ THOUGHTS

Well, it’s the morning after the day before. All the tiredness has been soothed from my aching leg muscles for the early queue, and the thankful relief of my brain for not having to absorb any more information. I concerned myself mostly with the seminars, and social aspects and spent most of my time considering the nature of what was happening at Black Library in the coming years. More on that in another post.

Writing for Black Library – after this year BL will be doing away with the novel pitches. It’s a simple decision since Josh Reynolds has been the only author to have a novel picked up from the submissions window – and he was asked to write a short story first; so after this next submissions window (April 1st to July 31st) novel pitches will no longer be accepted. Starting this year you will no longer have to submit a synopsis and summary; just the 1000 word sample in the body text of the email.

Many questions were asked regarding content of the submissions. In short – keep it sensible. For Warhammer Fantasy look at the 200-300 years prior to the Storm of Chaos, and nothing during; for Warhammer 40K look at the timeline between M36/37 up to the 13th Black Crusade. Avoid Heresy/Time of Legends pitched. Avoid audio drama pitches. Avoid slash fiction.

Some guidance was also offered on the number of submissions. Stopping short of saying ‘1 pitch per person’ (which would be Christian’s favourite) Laurie Golding (BL’s submissions editor) suggested that if you submit 5 pitches, and after reading the first 4 not seeing anything worthy of publishing, it’s unlikely that the last 5 will be read.

In short, make your pitch the best it can – focus on character, focus on drama, focus on writing the BEST 1000 you can. We also heard the BL will post on their blog when the submissions have all been read and that if BL have not entered into a dialogue with you by that point, you haven’t made it.

Audio Dramas – Plans are afoot to release an audio drama a month. Some of these will be full length audio dramas (the like of which we have already seen), some will be shorter ones (like Vulkan’s Shield), some will be audio books. The casts have been expanded to keep up with the accelerated release schedule, but also to vary the talent pool so we don’t end up with a hangover of some voices. Those of us who were BIG fans of Toby Longworth were pleased to here that in the upcoming Garro release (double CD at Christmas) he will return in a key role. BL are also currently awaiting a market decision as to which form of the HH audio books are more popular (abridged, or unabridged) as to whether they go ahead with the remainder of the series. Though it was hinted at that if the unabridged product becomes the most popular, that the first three titles would be redone.

There were also structural questions about scripting, sound effects, the move to Heavy Entertainment from Big Finish, and how an author approaches the audio dramas.

Horus Heresy – Nothing surprising here other than some authorial hints at things that could, may be, possibly, willing to happen. Naturally the same questions come out to a groan from the audience. There will be no squats (they’re not considered canon.) There will be no exploration of the II and XI ‘missing’ Legions (there’s nothing to explore anyway!) Graham’s next HH novel is Angels Exterminatus. Naturally Nick will be looking at what happened to the Salamanders, Gav at the Dark Angels, and there is a big White Scars shaped hole in the Heresy at the moment, which will be addressed. In fact, there were many many hints that there are White Scars coming, in fact one even showed up on a new cover art. Hmmm….

After Signus Prime we enter the seven years of the unknown – the Age of Darkness – prior to the Siege of Terra, so there may be many tales and many threads to pick up – what happens to the Iron Hands after the slaying of Ferrus Manus, the Ultramarines in the wake of Calth, the Space Wolves in the wake of Prospero, the rebuilding of the Raven Guard, the other legions that haven’t really been addressed yet. Although there are some wonderful possibilities to be told, it doesn’t look likely we’ll get to the Siege of Terra anytime soon. Some good news perhaps.

Also, there were some questions regarding the telling of certain stories – like the Lion and the Wolf. Gav answered this very well. It comes down to this:

“Does telling the story shed light on something that is important to the development of the Legion’s identity, and subsequently advance our understanding of that Legion; or does shining a light on that little piece of mystery take away what’s cool about the Legion.”

Finally, some questions were asked regarding the post-heresy events like the Scouring, the Second Founding, the Codex Astartes, the issue at Caliban; there is scope to tell the stories – Nick seemed very keen – but there’s a lot of time yet before we get there.

Now to let someone else take a turn:

BANE OF KINGS’ THOUGHTS

Well, I managed to make it back home after a fantastic day. It was my first time not only attending black library live but also Warhammer World, which took my breath away. The models were brilliant, especially the Space Wolf diorama that you’ll see when you arrive. But I’m not talking about what you can find in Warhammer World – I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you. However, what I am talking about is Black Library Live 2012.

I attended the following seminars: Writing for Black Library, Warhammer and Horus Heresy, and although I didn’t take notes, there’s one particularly amusing thing which I got from the first seminar, Writing for Black Library. No squig POV Slash Fiction. That seemed to get most of us laughing. Other than that though, EJ Davies has covered both the Writing for Black Library and the Horus Heresy seminars, (which were both fantastic, by the way), and I would tell you what went down in the Warhammer seminar but, sadly – I was too overwhelmed with everything else that happened during the event to remember everything off the top of my head, so my addition to this round up is basically going to be about me telling you what books I picked up.

I didn’t actually pick up that many, compared to the stuff that most people picked up. Anyway, in clockwise order, first we have Lord of the Night by Simon Spurrier, a classic Night Lords novel, that was one of the many Print-on-Demand novels that was available on the day, those that seemed to take up a high portion of novels that could be brought at the sales stands. On sale at £13, I picked it up as one of my first purchases and read it on the way back from the event (in fact, earlier today). I really enjoyed the novel, and my review will come, and it will be a positive one.

Next, is the Black Library Live 2012 chapbook, which you receive free upon entry to the event, with contributions from Andy Chambers, a Dark Eldar short story entitled Bellanthonis and the Shadow King, focusing on the Dark Eldar (A sneak peek of Path of the Renegade) and Sarah Cawkwell’s Reaper, a Warhammer Fantasy short story that is a prequel to her upcoming Valkia the Bloody. Both short stories were interesting, and if I had to pick a favourite, It would be Andy Chambers’ Bellanthonis and the Shadow King, because Dark Eldar action is just awesome. Both were very strong short stories, though, and when they’re released to the general public, they will be worth looking into. I also managed to get Sarah Cawkwell to sign this for me, so that’s always a plus.

Beneath that, you have The Primarchs, with tales by Graham McNeill, Gav Thorpe, Nick Kyme and Rob Sanders. McNeill wrote something Emperor’s Children releated, Thorpe wrote something Dark Angels releated, Kyme wrote something Iron Hands releated, and finally – Rob Sanders’ contribution was something releated to the Alpha Legion. Although I would receive The Primarchs anyway as per my advanced review scheme with Black Library, I craved in and brought it (not being able to wait until I received it in the post), and getting it signed (in this case, by Rob Sanders), is also a plus.

And, next to The Primarchs, we have The Dark King / The Lightning Tower by Graham McNeill and Dan Abnett respectively, and contained in an audiobook read by Danny Webb. Although this is available for general release, and has been for quite some time, I haven’t got around to picking it up, so I decided to buy it alongside The Primarchs and Lord of the Night. I’ll probably listen to it over the next few days, as it looks awesome. The Dark King by Graham McNeill focuses on Konrad Curze and the Night Lords, and their route to damnation, whilst The Lightning Tower by Dan Abnett focuses on Dorn as he must turn the Emperor’s Palace into a fortress to prepare for the incoming invasion of Horus.

And finally, we have my Black Library Live 2012 ticket. Although I didn’t get the 2013 ticket there, I’m probably going to be picking it up sometime soon when it’s available on Black Library’s website. I will certainly be going next year, as I really enjoyed my first time. I also managed to get Legion of the Damned by Rob Sanders, Knight of the Blazing Sun by Josh Reynolds and The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell signed there, (having already owned copies) which is another bonus.

In conclusion, a fantastic day and this will probably stay as one of my highlights of the year. I got to meet a couple of people at the event, and although I couldn’t stick around afterwards, It was fun to take part in. Until next year, folks!

EJ Davies

EJ Davies: reader, reviewer, writer; and an avid lover of Black LIbrary products since the release of the seminal Horus Rising. EJ is currently working through the massive back catalogue of Black Library titles, and plugging away at his own fiction-based efforts in the vain hope of cracking his way into the author pool.

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