Tag Archives: coburn

And so I’m back… from outer space… I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face. Presumably because you’re in my house and shouldn’t be. Now… get out…

So… it’s been a while. How are you? How are the kids? How’s the WEATHER?

I think that’s still how people speak to each other, but hey, I’m no expert.

Anyhoo…

I’ve been busy. I’ve had exams of the HOLY FUCK I REALLY HAVE TO PASS THIS variety. I’ve had a lot on writing-wise and that’s only going to get worse. Well, better, depending on how you look at it. There’s going to be more of it, put it that way.

Currently:

Spares (in novella form) was submitted to and then rejected by a very nice publishers who liked the idea, liked the writing and are keen for me to submit further writing to them. Super! It’s a rejection of the very best kind so I’m feeling highly confident and happy at the moment and it’s really spurred me on. Not bad at all for a “thanks, but fuck off” letter!

My magnum opus (Coburn: The Black Saint cycle) is in the planning stages and will remain so for “some time.” I’m not rushing this one and it will be going on in the background for as long as it takes to do it right and get it finished. It will be a trilogy and, once I’m done writing it, I will start to pimp out the first book. This is going to take YEARS, so I may be boring you with updates on it infrequently but for a long time. Haha.

I have three short stories in with publishers and am waiting with baited wotsits for news on those. One of which I would have expected to hear about if it had been accepted, so I’m writing it off as a dead ‘un. One I should hear about this month at some point, probably, and the third I’ll hear about sometime in September, probably. I’ve got one more to write for one of these publishers and will then be off

One other short story I have written was done to spec, so that’s in with the editors at the moment and there’ll be a proper announcement for the anthology once we’ve got dates and artwork to bandy about. The anthology is going to be called “The Night Wind’s Whispers” and features myself and several others writers from the Black Library Bolthole, talented bastards all. More on that soon…..

Now; current project. I can hammer out short stories pretty fast and novellas with reasonable alacrity, so I’m going full-bore to write a novel as quickly as possible. There will be semi-regular updates on this one (semi-regular like someone who eats only bananas and prunes, presumably) and this one will be a little… erm… it’ll be odd.

Expect to hear about the completed “Gumptions Follies” in the next four months. I aim to have it done (first draft form of course) by the end October. Why? Well, it’s fun writing to a deadline and the anthology I’m to be a part of is to be released in time for Halloween, so I’ll be racing alongside. This gives me four months to complete the project and, hopefully, that will be plenty.

Watch this space for a sample in the next couple of weeks!

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Characters – an endless parade of bastards.

Prior warning: Today’s blog entry is brought to you by a tired, irrational and somewhat exhausted Alec. He may bite if startled.

Ever heard of a Mary-Sue character? If you have, well, tough. Go on, smart ass, fuck off to Wikipedia and read about Latvian Gorilla-Llamas for a few minutes while the adults are talking.

Basically a Mary-Sue character is an idealised version of the writer, with all the strengths they lack and without their weaknesses, or something. There’s some debate about precisely what makes a character a Mary-Sue as opposed to a boring, overpowered cretin of some other creed, but frankly this is the definition that suits my current aims. If there was a door, I’d be directing the disgruntled towards it at this moment. Just poke yourself in the eye and kick yourself firmly up the arse and we’ll pretend I’ve just evicted you from the blog, ok?

The point is, don’t write a Mary-Sue. Unless you’re including one for a good reason other than polishing your own cock (or lady cock) they’re a dull, lazy way to write a character that smacks far more of self-indulgence than it does of creativity. Filling the pages of a book with a Mary-Sue is almost rude, it’s almost a form of masturbation and frankly I don’t want you flopping your wedding tackle out where I am forced to look at it.

What we need, or at least what I need, are flaws. That doesn’t mean Kryptonite, before any rabid Superman fan-boys approach, flapping their limp-wristed, clammy little hands in my general direction. Look to the mundane and go from there. Is your character unspeakably badass? Are they the sort of person who could kick the asses of 90% of the population unarmed? Fine! That’s cool, just hamper them enough to make them interesting.

For example:

Meet Jimmerz. Jimmerz is a boxing champion, billionaire, super-genius philanthropist who is capable of anything. Sound interesting? Maybe, at first, but now imagine meeting him. He’s tougher than you, better looking than you, smarter and funnier than you. Though your wife would swear different if she’d had to choose her partner from what’s on paper, she’d be doing him now and not you. And yeah, he’s bigger than you too. In that way.

You would HATE him. Or become his Igor or something, if you swing that way. Loser.

Add any flaw, any flaw at all to the above, and it will make him more interesting. Again, for example;

Meet Jimmerz. Jimmerz is a boxing champion, billionaire, super-genius philanthropist who is capable of anything. Sound interesting? Maybe, at first, but now imagine meeting him. He’s tougher than you, better looking than you, smarter and funnier than you. Though your wife would swear different if she’d had to choose her partner from what’s on paper, she’d be doing him now and not you. And yeah, he’s bigger than you too. In that way. But his left nut is haunted by a former chancellor of the exchequer who constantly screams his latest budget ideas at the top of his lungs.

Or he’s got a radioactive nipple. Or no elbows. Or an ostrich growing out of his ass.

ANYTHING is more interesting than a god made flesh, so for the love of crap don’t make one. There’s no need to just write someone incredible and insert a dark past or something obvious, but remember that characters are people, and people suck. We’ve all got something wrong with us, from the mundane to the harrowingly dreadful, and it is often what is wrong with us that makes us interesting. Sometimes, like it or not, it’s the presence of flaws that make people comfortable in our presence. They equalise us and provide us with opportunities to improve and to learn. They inform and direct us as people and they are essential to your stories.

Without flaws, what are your characters overcoming? Nothing. What are they learning? Very little. Why should we care? We shouldn’t, not even for a moment.

Now, bugger off and write something. I’m going back to sleep.


Warhammer 40K flash-fiction piece: The Audacity of Hope.

Written for the Black Library Bolthole’s monthly “Read in a Rush” competition. Give it a read and then go give them a look. They’re a friendly bunch and there are some bloody talented writers on the roster, so head on over to http://www.thebolthole.org/forum if Warhammer, 40K and fan-fiction are your bag?

The Audacity of Hope – 1150 including title.

‘This could… it could change everything…’

Four pairs of red eye lenses gazed up at the monolith. Its surface was black and polished to mirror smoothness, its thousand tonne bulk resting on a lintel wrought of alloy the colour of weathered bone. Sergeant Geritsson scanned the atmospheric data as it flashed before his eyes and smiled thinly, noting that in spite of the calm there was a faint, but very real, trace signature coming from within the relic. Somewhere within the seamless, faultless construct, a power source was still active after countless millennia. The Standard Template Construct was still functioning.

‘The Forge Master will be here soon,’ murmured Captain Rasmusson, his enormous arms hanging by his sides as he tried and failed to give voice to the awe he felt. ‘He alone of us could discern its true function. Let alone the proper method of its activation. If our intelligence is correct … If the secrets lost to us can be revealed…’

The intelligence to which he referred had been taken from a fallen brother; a Relictor captured by pure chance as he attempted to land his damaged Storm Raven on a planet where the Ursus Gallack were engaged against the greenskins. It had been a training mission, the best and brightest of the chapter formed into a small strike force, tasked to assassinate a potential warlord before he could gain the support and momentum to begin a new Waaaaagh through the Ultima Segmentum. Brother Geritsson had torn the beast to ribbons with his lightning claws and cast its severed head into the dust, and for the chapter master and the Inquisition both this had been victory enough. But as the Storm Raven careered into the atmosphere a new prize had been theirs for the taking, ripped forcibly from the Relictor’s mind by Inquisitor Vheilan. On his travels he had happened upon the location of an STC, one containing the specifications for a form of shield generator far superior to any currently known to the Priests of Mars. If the Relictor’s beliefs proved to be true this reclaimed technology would render the ships of the Imperial Navy and the Adeptus Astartes nearly impervious to all known hostile weaponry, combining a series of overlapping Gellar Fields and reactive barriers that bolstered the shield strength by drawing directly on the diffused energy of the attack. If this was true the implications for warp travel alone were immense, not to mention the possibility of finally taking the fight to the Hive Fleets and Craft Worlds, the daemon-seeded wastelands of the Occulus Terribus and the upstart empires of the eastern fringe.

No longer would mankind’s fight be one of furious preservation. The Great Crusade could begin anew and could be completed some ten thousand years after it began. Mankind’s manifest destiny could once more be within its grasp. For the first time in ten increasingly darkening millennia, mankind could permit itself the audacity of hope.

A deep rumble drew Geritsson from his thoughts, denoting the arrival of the Thunderhawk gunship that carried Forge Master Samuelsson and his tech-marine retinue. Within a few minutes the vast, many-armed silhouettes of the chapter’s finest technical minds appeared in the cave entrance, flanked by a half-dozen gun servitors on either side. The new arrivals stopped as they reached the advance party, all except Forge Master Samuelsson who strode forward to stand beside his captain.

‘I take your silence as a positive sign, brother?’ Rasmusson growled. ‘I trust you are suitably impressed?’

It took a moment for Samuelsson to reply, his communications with his cadre of servitors and tech-marines being carried out usually in hissing streams of binary code. ‘A still tongue denotes a virtuous soul, my brother, but yes. I feel the weight of all that was lost to us lifting from my shoulders in its presence. And still…’

There was a keen note of sadness in that tone, an edge of remorse inexpertly conveyed by a mouth unused to the crude nuances of High Gothic. Rasmusson made to question him but the words died in his mouth as a tingle ran the length of his spine, a chill he felt only in the presence of one man.

Inquisitor Vheilan had come unannounced, but not alone. Behind his hooded frame stood a figure clad in matt-black armour, its head concealed within a death-masked helmet etched with intricately designed patterns chased out in hardened lacquer that caught the light as he moved.

‘My Lord,’ Geritsson gasped, taking immediately to one knee as the Black Saint approached. ‘We did not know that you would be joining us.’

The death mask turned to regard him slowly, its head level with the enormous assault sergeant’s own even as he knelt. For a moment it seemed that he might speak, that something human remained of the creature within its inherited carapace, but as every figure save Vheilan followed Geritsson’s example he turned away and walked to the base of the monolith, placing one hand on its surface and becoming perfectly still.

‘For the love of the Emperor, rise,’ Vheilan hissed. ‘You know how your father would have hated to see you kneel.’

There was sadness in Vheilan’s words. Something had clearly shaken the usually callous Inquisitor and the effect was disturbing. All eyes but Geritsson’s turned to the Black Saint as he reached deep into the STC with his mind, seeking out its history from the dormant spirits within and bending his own extraordinary talents to the extrapolation of its future. For almost an hour he was still, the chamber silent as the assembled Imperial servants awaited his judgement. As he finally removed his hand and turned to Vheilan, shaking his head slowly before walking away and out of the cave, the Inquisitor gave out a deep sigh of resignation.

‘Forge Master, place the beacon and return to the ship. The rest of you would be well advised to do the same.’

-x-

Geritsson watched from orbit as the bombardment began, three Black Ships and two Strike Cruisers lending their firepower to the utter destruction of the STC and the planet on which it resided. He remained there until the guns fell silent and the planet’s crust broke apart, its molten core bursting forth as the broken sphere consumed itself in a firestorm of superheated rock.

With a heavy heart he turned away, knowing that the Saint must have had good reason to deny the human race this chance at vitality, this knowledge with which to finally take its rightful place as undisputed master of all. He returned to his arming chamber to meditate in the hope that the Emperor might grant him the serenity to understand, the insight to see anything but a mighty blow to the hopes for mankind’s future.

Hidden in the shadows beneath a vast statue of the Emperor, the Black Saint watched him go.