This week Black Gate picks up where we left off in Part One of our interview with fantasy and science fiction author Nathan Long.
Last week we talked about your latest novel, Jane Carver of Waar. But most readers are more familiar with the work you’ve done in the Warhammer world, where you’ve published 11 novels to date. How familiar were you with Warhammer and Games Workshop before you began writing for them?
I had worked in a game store in the 80s, just when the first Warhammer Fantasy Role Play rulebook came out, and I had read it cover to cover, though I never played it, so I was pretty familiar with the setting and the mood of the game and the world. I still had a lot of homework to do once they hired me, however. I ended up owning and reading all the army books, all the supplements, etc. Homework should always be that fun.
Tell us a bit about the differences between working in an existing world, versus one entirely of your own creation.
In one way, it’s easier, as all your world building has been done for you. It’s like being hired to write for a TV show or a long-running comic book. Quite a lot of the world and sometimes the characters have been established, so all you have to worry about is the plot and character. I never really found this limiting. There are an infinite number of stories that can be told in any world, and it was a fun challenge to come up with ideas that fit the feel of the Warhammer setting.
It can be harder when you’re asked to put specific bits of the world into specific novels. For instance, when I wrote Tainted Blood, the third Blackhearts novel, my editors wanted it set in a specific city, because they wanted it to tie into a gaming supplement that was coming out for that city. That took a little more work, but it was still fun. Every challenge is an excuse to come up with a cool solution, and I have always loved that kind of game.
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Nathan Long is a novelist best known for his work in the Warhammer universe, most notably for his Black Hearts series and Ulrika the Vampire series, as well as penning the new adventures of the classic Warhammer duo, Gotrek & Felix. Recently, Nathan’s Jane Carver of Waar has been released to some great reviews, and is getting a lot of attention in light of the recent big budget movie adaptation of the Burroughs novel that inspired it.
Welcome, Nathan, and thanks for sitting down with Black Gate to talk about your latest novel.
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Jane Carver of Waar is a Barsoomesque adventure for the modern reader, and something that treads the line between loving homage and knowing send-up of classic pulp SF. Tell us a bit about the book, and do you think readers need to be familiar with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Barsoom, and other stories of that era to fully appreciate Jane Carver?
Jane Carver of Waar is what I used to call, before I knew any better, a “Sword and Raygun” adventure. Now I know I’m supposed to call it a Planetary Romance, but I still like mine better. It tells the story of Jane Carver, a hard-riding biker chick who gets herself on the wrong side of the law and ends up hiding in a cave that transports her to a world full of strange aliens with stranger customs. There she has a sequence of wild adventures while trying to help a not-very-heroic young alien noble rescue his kidnapped bride.
I really hope readers won’t need to be familiar with the Planetary Romance genre to enjoy the book. I did my best to make sure they wouldn’t, as that is one of my pet peeves. I dislike parodies and homages that require some knowledge of the thing being parodied. It is my belief that a book should stand on its own, even when commenting on another book or genre. A book should be a book first, thoroughly enjoyable by itself, and anything else the author wants to make it second.
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