I recently did an interview with Kenny Lull on the Combat Phase podcast, but we didn’t get around to answering all the questions the listeners had sent in. So, rather than leave them to forever go unanswered…I penned replies to them all and now publish them here for your reading pleasure…
Needless to say, SPOILERS ABOUND for The Crimson King and the various interconnected stories that link to it…
1 – In your coda, you mention returning to the material after many years where other authors had worked on the heresy characters, or two series had sprung up post-heresy which substantially advanced ideas about Heresy-era Thousand Sons, namely French’s Ahriman books and ADB’s Khayon book. Why did you make the choices you made to include characters from the former – were these additions that came with the ‘return’, or had you included them in the first writing phase when they were also still new and unestablished characters in French’s texts (esp. Tolbek and Ignis)? How did you view John’s work with Amon, whom you gave substantial (and needed) development of in this book, influence your own work? And what do you think of Khayon et al., and of Inferno? Why no Khayon or Asher-Kai, or sense of the greater legion who might not have cared for the esoteric pursuit of shards?
GM: I’d spoken with John French and Chris Wraight at length during the initial stages of The Crimson King, and we came to a place where we found great ways we could all include aspects of the shards of Magnus, and build that connective tissue between the books in terms of what characters could span between them. I always intended to use some of the characters from John’s stories because I thought they were great characters and thought they were ripe for exploration – in terms of how they became the characters they are in his books. I also saw some interesting avenues to explore in how they might have shaped the events that came before them. Knowing how those characters came to be allied or at odds with one another was fertile ground in The Crimson King and gave me lots of opportunities to plant the seeds that would become future resentments. As to the other characters you mention, I didn’t really feel there was a place for them; after all why include characters who don’t have an interest in the book’s preoccupation? Sure, they could be rivals, but I felt the protagonists had rivals enough, and those particular characters didn’t interest me as much as the others to want to find a way to include them.
2 – The original pair of A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns – did you view these as working together? What do you appreciate in Dan’s book, and what Dan did to both legions, compared to what you did in your own books about Wolves and Sons. PS love the Kasper cameo!
GM: Yeah, those two books were very definitely written as a pair. Dan and I were in close contact all through the writing of them. To my mind, they function best as a pair, where the order you read them in will colour the way you feel about each legion at the end. We wanted them to be read and have the readers go away somewhat conflicted about the outcome, feeling that both Legions were wrong and right at the same time. We engineered both books so that both would appear amazing in their own light, as well as incidences where one appeared to – deliberately – contradict the other in a few key details so as to reinforce the idea that each book was from that Legion’s perspective. I loved writing the Kasper cameo, as it was fun imagining the ways where the dialogue (which I couldn’t change) would still work with the characters I had in the book at that point.
3 – How do you find it being in America now – do you feel cut off from what happens at BL, GW & FW, as well as your fellow writers?
GM: I love living in the US, though it’s not without its challenges. Relocating your family to move to a different continent is hard, the early months exponentially so. We were cut off from all our normal support mechanisms of family and friends. We had none of our stuff here and we didn’t know the place, the people or how any of the bureaucracy functioned. But it worked out, and we’ve made our home here, which isn’t to say we don’t greatly miss the greenery of home, the familiarity of surroundings and faces. As to work, yeah, it was really handy living within a couple of miles of GW, and having easy access to my fellow scriveners. Not being able to nip into Warhammer World and chat with the guys and gals working there, the players and staff, is something I miss. The BL writers were – and continue to be – a grand group of writers who I’m privileged to be part of, and I loved hanging out with them at events and signings. I hope to do so again, soon, and swap war stories with them once more.
4 – Why did you choose to continue to focus on shards, when John’s trilogy, or at least Unchanged, had so focused on the shards too? Was this something which happened after the initial drafting, and you choose to continue with it, or was it inspired by Unchanged to an extent?
GM: Unchanged is the only one of John’s trilogy I’ve not read yet. But the idea of the shards was long a part of The Crimson King (indeed, my book had been planned out long before Sorcerer and Unchanged were written, so blame my long gestation period for those books coming out first!
5 – <SPOILER!> Why does Bjarki kill Dio, one executioner killing another executioner? Surely the former would understand the latter.
GM: <SPOILER!> He kills Dio because he admits to having killed loyalist marines. Bjarki is an executioner, yes, but he’s here to kill traitors, those who have renounced their oaths. By his own admission, Dio has killed men loyal to the Emperor, and that makes him a traitor by Bjarki’s standards of measurement.
6 – What kind of research or reading do you do for each project – what did you use when creating his heresy Sons, from history, other writings, etc.?
GM: I re-read A Thousand Sons, and dived back into The Book of English Magic once more. I also read a bunch of BL books with Thousand Sons in them. A lot of my reading was to do with magical orders, such as The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Rosicrucians, etc. Books on the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials and the activities of Matthew Hopkins were also good touchstones.
7 – Finally, is there anything you disagree with in how the heresy or the Thousand Sons have been developed over the years?
GM: Being away from writing for BL for a couple of years has meant there’s been some story choices I think I’d have done differently, sure, but there’s nothing that’s made me throw my hands up in horror, no. Most of what’s being told now is stuff we had in the works even when I was still living in the UK, so none of the big strokes are coming as much of a surprise.
8 – Are we still yet to see Magnus’s transition into a daemon prince, or is that basically what he is now? It’s still hard to tell for me, but I get the impression that he hasn’t quite made that leap yet. If Magnus is a daemon now, am I right in thinking that the Thousand Sons at this point don’t perceive him as such, yet?
GM: Yeah, I think, physically at least, Magnus is basically a deamon prince, but I don’t know that he’s accepted that yet and made the mental step of embracing. Magnus knows, better than anyone, the danger in letting his power get away from him and still exerts a monumental act of will every second to hold onto who and what he is. It’s when that control inevitably slips is when we’ll see Magnus go full daemon prince. Like maybe when he sees what’s become of Revuel Arvida… As to what his sons see? Well, I guess they see him as transitioning to a state of higher being, transcending his mortal flesh to become something greater, but as time goes on, the harder and harder it’s going to get for them to deal with the cognitive dissonance of seeing what’s going to be all around them and what’s leading them.