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 Josh Reynolds about his new novel Fabius Bile: Clonelord, the sequel to the excellent Primogenitor, which is available to buy now.
Let’s crack on with the interview – over to Josh.
Track of Words: What’s the elevator pitch summary for Clonelord?
Josh Reynolds. Fabius Bile pays a visit to Trazyn the Infinite.
ToW: Without spoiling anything, who are the main characters and what do we need to know about them?
JR: Well, all of the main characters from Primogenitor (who survived) get some screen-time in this, plus a new batch of Third Legion antagonists, including a very familiar Lord Commander, play a role. But, as ever, the main character is Fabius Bile. The book will hopefully shed a new light on his oft-stated desire to create a new humanity to replace the old, as well as his own inevitable physical deterioration.
ToW: Where and when is it set?
JR: Around a century or so after Primogenitor. The chronology of this one is a bit looser than the previous book, so I don’t really have an exact date in mind. It’s set mainly in the Eastern Fringe, though there are stopovers in the Webway, the daemon world of Harmony, and the Maelstrom, as well as – eventually – Solemnace.
ToW: Why this story? What made you want to write this in particular?
JR: Mostly so I could write that one scene at the climax, between Fabius and Trazyn. Originally, I was thinking it would just be a short story, but the editors convinced me to hang a book around it.
ToW: Is there anything that you’d recommend readers check out before reading this?
JR: Well, Primogenitor, obviously. My short story, Prodigal, might also be helpful. Also, Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix might add some depth to the relationship between Fabius and another character in the book.
ToW: This is second time around for Fabius, after Primogenitor – how did you set out to make sure this felt fresh and different, but still recognisably Fabius?
JR: Really I just built off of themes and characters I set up in the previous book. The hardest thing is coming up with a good reason why Fabius would risk his own skin to go on a cruise across the galaxy – but I think I managed it.
ToW: What were your main influences when writing it? Did you draw upon any real-life experience to help you plan or write it?
JR: My influences are better books, by better writers. Aaron’s Talon of Horus and John’s Ahriman series are big touchstones for me, in regards to writing this series. They showed what can be done – what ought to be done – in regards to stories about characters like Fabius. Also, I watched a lot of Hammer Frankenstein films. Fabius is basically just a taller Peter Cushing, so it counts as research!
ToW: How does the final product compare to your original concept? Has anything changed much from your first ideas?
JR: Not with this one, no. Mostly, it’s longer. The ending was tough to get right, because I was consciously aiming to close the book with a whimper, rather than a bang – I wanted it to be an anti-climax, of sorts, a very low-key, downer ending. We had a big fight scene to end Primogenitor, and I wanted to avoid that, this time around. Too, where Primogenitor is all about building Fabius up, I wanted to use Clonelord to remind readers that he’s still kind of a piece of crap, and not a good guy in the least. So it was all about building up the house so I could knock the foundation out, you might say.
ToW: How does this story compare to the rest of your work? Is it a familiar style, or a departure?
JR: I think if you liked my other stuff, you’ll like this. If you didn’t like my other stuff, this ain’t gonna change your mind. I got a wheelhouse, and I pretty much stick to it.
ToW: Do you have plans to write more about Fabius Bile after this?
JR: I’d certainly like to, but we’ll have to see what the future holds.
Thanks as always to Josh for taking the time to answer these questions. You can find my review of Clonelord right here! If you fancy taking a look at some other Rapid Fire interviews, just click here.
Has this tempted you to go ahead and buy Clonelord? If so, you can click here to check it out on Amazon, and support Track of Words while you’re at it. Alternatively, if you fancy the audiobook then click here to check it out on Audible.