ALEX EDWARDS: How many years would you say are left until the series reaches the year of the Siege of Terra? Because that is the kind of story best told over at least two novels, with an anthology to tell some of the really cool side-stories such as Imperial Army chappie-whose-name-I-forget saving the Emperor and becoming a patron saint of the Imperial Guard.
Graham: Yeah, we’ve a good format for the years in terms of Horus Heresy releases, and as we develop each medium, I think we’ll only do more of each. There’s a limit to what can be released each year, and though we’ve mapped out a (very) rough arc of ‘seasons’ leading to the Imperial Palace, how many books are in each of these seasons is a fluid figure. And as more ideas are sparked, the more stories – and kinds of stories – we want to tell. How many years is that? I have no idea. But we’re not going to just string it out needlessly, we have an ending in mind and a route to get there. It’s just that the map’s not to scale, so we don’t quite know how long it’ll take to get there. And, I think you’re right, the Siege of the Emperor’s Palace is going to be a mighty undertaking, spread across multiple formats.
DARK CHAPLAIN: We all know about the disgruntlement of the perceived timeline alteration in The Outcast Dead, which you answered in Wolf Hunt in a much more elegant way than expected. However, I do have an issue with one thing: The long gap between The Outcast Dead and Wolf Hunt’s release. Was there a specific reason for the long delay, like a full schedule on your end, problems with production, or anything of the sort? If you had to pick one topic/character for a return to Fantasy via the Heroes series, who and what would you pick? What are the chances of you writing Fantasy again over the next few years?
Graham: Yeah, there are times where a great idea gets scuppered by time and schedules. Life and things too boring to mention got in the way of me doing Wolf Hunt as soon after The Outcast Dead as it probably needed to be, so I agree that the time lag hurt it and led the Timeline mystery to fester. But Wolf Hunt is only the first of a few pieces of that particular puzzle. If I were to go back to Fantasy anytime soon, then I’d love to back to the Elves of Ulthuan and focus on Eltharion, as he’s always been one of my favourite characters to read (and write) about.
LEE MURPHY: Would you ever write a novel about a chaos space marine looking for redemption while being tracked down by the empire as well as his old squad? Also have you ever thought about writing a book about the founding of a new space marine chapter and how they begin, get their equipment, find a place to recruit and perhaps their first battle as the new chapter?
Graham:You never know, perhaps the arc for future Honsou stories…? Perhaps the founding of a Space Marine Chapter would be the start of a new arc of stories. It’s not on my radar for now, but would I ever consider it, yeah, of course. That would be a great way to introduce new readers to 40k.
DANIEL: 1) Arik Taranis, a surviving Thunder Warrior. Do you have any plans to continue his story either during the events of the Horus Heresy or *gasps* maybe in the 41st millennium? 2) WH40K novels almost exclusively feature the races that are available for play at tabletop. Nothing wrong with that, however, this does seem to limit the mystery of these novels. Does knowing that you have a “limited” number of races to choose from ever make you feel that you lack a certain level of freedom when writing your stories?
Graham: 1)We’ve talked about the Thunder Warriors in the Heresy meetings, and given the dramatic potential of them (in the wake of The Outcast Dead’s ending) I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see Arik and his boys again. 2) I’ve heard it said a few times that working within the confines of 40k must be limiting, but if any writer feels that way, then they’re just not trying hard enough. The playground and variety of interactions you can get with the available palate is immense, so no, I don’t ever feel limited in the kinds of stories we can tell.
JACK: I will preface my question by stating that I am both a 40k fan and a philosopher. Having read both your Horus Heresy books and some of the Fantasy books you’ve written I’ve noticed that in the former you are much more hostile to religion in the former than in the latter. Is there any reason for this? In Angel Exterminatus you allude to Hume’s argument against Miracles (the gradual healing of the crippled Iron Hands Captain) when (from my limited prospective of a reader) the plot didn’t really seem to require them. Also is “The Last Church” you make the cleric the Emperor is arguing with out to be a simpleton, trotting out of arguments for God’s existence that no self respecting philosophical defender of Theism has ever defended, and it kind of ruined that particular story for me. I get that the Emperor is supposed to be uber smart but that confrontation was the equivalent of a cheetah pouncing on a limbless gazelle.
Graham: In the Heresy books, the galaxy is an avowedly secular place (or at least it’s trying to be in a world where gods actually do exist) and if I come across as hostile to religion in my Heresy books, it’s because that’s the setting. In Warhammer Fantasy, the gods are very real and anyone who doesn’t believe in them is heading for a sticky end, so there’s clearly going to be a lot less atheism going on in the Warhammer world. With The Last Church, well, I have to say that I’m not a philosopher and neither is Uriah. He was a rake, a drunkard and the 30k equivalent of a jetsetting international playboy. He wasn’t a trained priest, he had no philosophical background and had only what he’d thought of in his lonely years at the church to fall back on. If it came across as a cheetah pouncing on a limbless gazelle, then good, that wass exactly the point. Full disclosure, though, I am very much of Revelation’s point of view than Uriah’s. That there wasn’t more depth to the discussions between the two was partly due to my own partial knowledge of the subject and the fact that I didn’t want the story to become a tool to ram a point home. It was a story that I hoped would be interesting and exciting, without necessarily having lots of bolters blazing.
ALEX EDWARDS: 1) So there is an obvious schedule to what you are writing and when. How long is the novel process from pitch to production? 2) Eventually there is going to be a return to the Ultramarines series correct? Will that novel be under the Ultramarines banner, or will it migrate to the Space Marine Battles or Apocalypse franchises? 3) Since Sentinels of Terra and Clan Raukaan are a thing, have you considered taking a trip back into games development to write an Ultramarines codex supplement? 4) Comparing Space Marine chapters to baked goods. I’d say Blood Angels are jam doughnut. The kind which always spill jam onto your t-shirt when you bite them for the first time. Y’know to tie-in with the frustration of trying to clean your shirt. Now James Swallow writes epic tales of jam doughnuts.
Graham: 1) There most definitely is a schedule. I regularly meet with the overlords of BL to talk about what’s coming next and one of the last times we got together and started planning stuff out, we got to around 2016 and thought…right, that’s far enough. Of course, what I’ll actually write will probably bear little resemblance to the initial plan, but having even a rough guide is a good start and lets you at least set aside the right amount of time per project. From pitch to production varies and is hard to quantify accurately because you often pitch a book many months (or even years) before you actually get round to writing it. But on average you’re looking at around five months or so from getting a synopsis together, then writing the book to it wending its way through editorial, proofing and final approval. 2) Yeah, the Ultramarines will return, though whether that’ll first be in the form of the 4th Company or as a Space Marine Battles is yet to be decided. Maybe both, back to back. 3) I’d love to go back and do an Ultramarines supplement of some description, as Once-A-Games-Developer-Always-A-Games-Developer… I suspect the odds are slim though of me getting the chance, so I wouldn’t hold your breath… 4) Space Marines as baked goods? Well, the Ultramarines are clearly Croissants. They look good, but are terribly bad for you.