Tuesday 22nd of January, 2013
Guy Haley is one of the new faces to Black Library, and after the success of his fantastic Horus Heresy audio Strike and Fade, we’re sure you’ll be seeing a lot more from him in the future. Today, Guy’s written a blog for us about why he likes writing for Black Library and the best part is that we didn’t even have to force him to do it!
I’ll let you in to a secret. For ages, I had a real downer on tie-in fiction. There. I said it. Yep, and now I write plenty of it for Black Library, ostensibly a tie-in range. Hypocrite? Hear me out before you judge me.
This is not me getting on a literary high horse, although even in the SF genre press, of which I am a long-standing member, there is a bias against tie-in fiction. Heaven knows, I've had enough of literary types looking down their noses at SF and fantasy to not want to do it to others. I'll stick my neck out and say that quite a lot of tie-in fiction isn't any good, but then neither is a lot of ‘original’ material, and some tie-in stuff is very good (Horus Heresy, New York Times bestseller list. Need I say more?). You’re unlikely to find any great insight in tie-in fiction, but so what? It’s entertainment, and entertaining people is among fiction’s principal reasons for being. I think critics sometimes forget this. Fiction doesn’t have to mean something profound. Good old fun is an aim as valid as dissecting the human condition, and tie-in fiction delivers said fun. On your bikes, snobs.
No, my reasons for not giving tie-in material much time are more personal than lines-in-the-sand snootiness. First up, as much as I love a franchise, I don't want to devote all my time to it; not when there are so many books in the world, fiction and non-fiction. You could spend an entire life consuming the surrounding products of some movie series and never read another word.
That’s not my main reason for giving tie-ins the old brush off. My down on spin-offs is because they never feel quite ‘real’. They’re like low-alcohol beer, a substitute for the genuine article. No matter how nifty a book’s interpretation of a popular TV character’s adventures might be, someone might come along – no, will come along – and make a film, a new TV show or a comic that consigns all you’ve just read and enjoyed to the dustbin of non-canonical works and expanded universe frippery. What’s the point of that?
Here’s where I go onto my knees and ask the Emperor’s forgiveness: I felt the same about Black Library books, too; that they were divorced from the ‘reality’ of my beloved hobby. That if I were to read a brilliant book about goblins (I love goblins), the Design Studio would write an army book or supplement that would render it non-real. There, I said it. Send in the Inquisition. But before you apply the branding irons, hear me repent! I realised some time ago that this is simply not true of Black Library’s output. Not true at all. You must understand that, going on past examples, why would I think anything different? Bear in mind that I was old enough to be around for the very first range of Warhammer books in the late 1980s. How was I to know how the future would develop?
When Gotrek and Felix started to make appearances in the games, I began to see the light. When Dan Abnett crossed the floor from comics to bring us his Gaunt’s Ghosts series, and phrases and terms and events from that cropped up in the gaming books, I looked again.
Now Black Library’s importance to the hobby as a whole is obvious: whole tracts of Warhammer 40,000’s history are being defined not in rulebooks, but in Black Library novels. And that’s really, really exciting to be involved with. It struck me as I was writing Skarsnik (I love goblins), that this was the definitive work on thewarlord of the Eight Peaks, that I was penning stuff that would probably crop up in the games I love to play, that this was the actual, real, one-and-only biography of Skarsnik himself, and not some flash-in-the-pan exercise that would be rendered irrelevant when the next edition of Warhammer came out. That’s why Black Library fiction is different; that’s why it excites me. In fact, you could say I’m not a hypocrite, just mistaken (mistaken, see? Have mercy!) because it has turned out that the Black Library’s books and short stories and audio dramas are not tie-ins at all, but one of Games Workshop’s great engines of creativity, propelling the universes of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 on to new heights of complexity and depth that everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, can enjoy. The material we Black Library authors write is as much a part of those universes as anything you’ll read in a rulebook and by golly, that is so massively exciting for a big fanboy like me.
So now I devour, as well as produce. My favoured mode of consumption is listening to audio dramas while I paint goblins (I love… Hang on, I said that already). What’s yours?
If you want to meet Guy and find out more about his seemingly obsessive love for goblins or what titles he’s working on for the future, come along to Black Library Live! on Saturday 2nd of March, where he’ll be signing advance copies of Baneblade and taking part in several different seminars and Q&As. Join us next Wednesday when we’ll be announcing some of the other exclusive products that will be available on the day. For at least one of these, it will be the First and Only time you’ll ever be able to get your hands on it. Tickets are available here, but be quick because they’re going fast.
Posted by The Black Library Team
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