Welcome to this instalment of Rapid Fire, my ongoing series of quick interviews with Black Library authors talking about their releases. These are short and sweet interviews, with the idea being that each author will answer (more or less) the same questions – by the end of each interview I hope you will have a good idea of what the new book (or audio drama) is about, what inspired it and why you might want to read it.
In this instalment I spoke to legendary Black Library author Dan Abnett about his new novel The Warmaster, the long-awaited fourteenth novel in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, which is available to buy now.
Let’s crack on with the interview – over to Dan.
Track of Words: What’s the elevator pitch summary for The Warmaster?
Dan Abnett: Another massive helping of traumatic shooty-death-kill-in-space with splashes of human interest and blood. Actually, this is the fourteenth volume of the Gaunt’s Ghosts saga, following directly on from the previous novel Salvation’s Reach.
Gaunt and his regiment are returning from their secret raid on the Salvation’s Reach chaos-weapon depot, and rejoin the Crusade main force on the forge world Urdesh, beside the Crusade Warmaster himself. They’re up against Sek, the Anarch, one of the archenemy’s most able commanders…and all is not right on the Imperial side of things either. Battle, intrigue, shocks, revelations, lots of character storylines it’s all building to a very big climatic moment as the Crusade enters what should be its final phase.
ToW: Without spoiling anything, who are the main characters and what do we need to know about them?
DA: All of the Ghosts! This is probably a very Gaunt-orientated book, but it’s an ensemble, with very strong storylines for Kolea, Mkoll, Rawne, Criid and Curth. There are a lot of twists and surprises in this one – and, just for a change, not all of them are horrible. Not ALL of them…
ToW: Is there anything that you’d recommend readers check out before reading this?
DA: The Gaunt series is a big, ongoing saga, so it couldn’t hurt to be up to speed, or at least to have read the previous novel, Salvation’s Reach. Real die-hard readers will be aware that The Warmaster is book three of a four-book arc called The Victory, and will probably want to check out the Ghosts stories in the last Sabbat Worlds anthology, and also the new e-short Killbox (on line now) all of which fit between Salvation’s Reach and this epic.
ToW: Why this story? What made you want to write this in particular?
DA: Well, the story is pretty much dictated by what I’ve been building up to over the years through the novels – both in terms of character threads and the overall campaign. But with this especially, I thought it was time we took a look at the workings of High Command.
ToW: What were your main influences when writing it? Did you draw upon any real-life experience to help you plan or write it?
DA: Yes, because I crusade against Chaos most weekends…. 😉 Seriously, there’s the usual level of real-world military research, trying to capture – in 40K terms – the authenticity of military operations, and the feel of combat life.
ToW: After fourteen books in the series, how do you make sure that things remain fresh and varied?
DA: I am very engaged with the characters and I want to see this story through. I guess, all the while the characters are active and have stories to tell, I’ll keep writing. The moment I start feeling jaded, I’ll know it’s time to stop. And I did take a notoriously long pause before writing this one – partly (though not entirely) to get my Ghost mojo back.
ToW: How does the final product compare to your original concept? Has anything changed much from your first ideas?
DA: The basic story is there, but a few of the character twists took even me by surprise.
ToW: How does this story compare to the rest of your work? Is it a familiar style, or a departure?
DA: I’ve tried to maintain the narrative style of the series as a whole, which has it’s own tone and rather different to, say, the Eisenhorn books or the Heresy series.
ToW: What are your plans for the Gaunt’s Ghosts series after this?
DA: I’m already at work on the next volume – The Anarch – which, while not the last Gaunt book, is the last in this arc and a very major piece of punctuation.
Massive thanks to Dan for taking the time to answer these questions. You can check out my review of The Warmaster right here, or if you fancy taking a look at some other Rapid Fire interviews, just click here.