1. Who Dan Abnett is? What are the most important things for him? What does he seem as less important things on the contrary to the common opinions?
A: I believe in good food, good manners and good company, and I have no desire to drive an expensive sports car.
2. What does Dan Abnett do, while not working? Does he jump with parachute or climbs in a caves? Does he watch TV or read books? Does he meet with friends or does he choose a single chair on the patio only by himself?
A: I read a lot and I watch movies and TV. I cook, I dance. Sometimes I play the guitar.
3. What did you do before you started writing?
A: I’ve always written. My first job out of University was working for Marvel UK in London, and I started freelancing as a writer while I was there. When I was a kid I used to write stories too.
4. In your opinion, who's the writer most worth of reading among British nowadays? What do you read in a spare time?
A: I read a great deal of fiction and an even greater amount of non-fiction. I don’t know who my favourite British writer is, but my favourite writer in the English language right now is the American short story fantasist, Kelly Link.
5. Did you know that Joseph Conrad was a polish? What do you know about names like Ryszard Kapuściński or Stanisław Lem? Do you know any polish writer or film director?
A: I think I’ve read just about every Conrad novel, my favourites are “The Secret Agent” and “Under Western Eyes”. Kapuscinski’s “Travels with Herodotus” was what made me go and read “Herodotus”, and anyone who knows anything about sci-fi must understand the legacy owed to Lem. Henrik Sienkiewicz’s “With Fire and Sword” was one of the main inspirations behind my Warhammer novel “Riders of the Dead”.
6. What are your ambitions as a writer? Would you like to write a book which would be found among the ones wrote by P.K. Dick or R. A. Heinleim?
A: I would indeed like to write a few of my ‘own’ novels at some point, and I may get the chance to soon. Of course, I would love it if one of my books achieved the sort of significance that the works of Dick and Heinlein possess.
7. What is your real love – comics or books? What was the comic which made the heavies impact on you?
A: I still write both, and I love both. It’s nice to change from one form to the other. I probably like writing novels most of all, but I get a huge kick out of writing comics, like the ones I’m writing for Marvel right now. The comics that had the biggest influence on me early on were early 2000AD, the Phoenix Saga in X-Men by Claremont and Byrne, and Roy Thomas and John Buscema working on Conan.
8. Do you remember when you first crossed your path with that of Games Workshop? Or the 40k millennium fluff?
A: I crossed paths with them professionally in the 1990s. They came looking for me because they were looking for comic book writers who could handle fantasy, and they’d just seen a couple of issues of Conan that I’d written. However, years before that, I used to play role-playing games and was an avid reader of “White Dwarf” in the early days. I was aware of Games Workshop and in particular Warhammer 40K long before I became a professional writer.
9. What are you preparations to write a book? Does anyone do a research of materials for you? When you start writing do you have a complete plan of the book and just fill it with words or does “the plan” evolve with every chapter you write?
A: I do all my own research, and sometimes it can be quite considerable. I work to a plan. A company like Games Workshop won’t commission a novel unless they have some idea what the author’s going to do. But the plan is loose, and over the three or four months it takes me to write a novel, I improvise wildly.
10. Where is the border between your freedom as a writer and the business? Is it completely up to you to develop the theme and characters of your books or there are some marketing guys saying “Hi Dan, we need you to write a book about five lesbian Death Cult Assassins, cause we will sell lots of copies”?
A: Games Workshop knows the sort of product they want and so we have a nice understanding that balances what I want to do and what they’d like to sell. In the early days, I was much more directed by them. When I wrote the Warhammer novel “Fell Cargo”, it came about because I rang them up and said I fancied writing some Warhammer for a change. What would they like it to be about? They told me they’d call me back. Someone rang back five minutes later and told me that they’d asked around the office and the popular vote was for pirates. on the other hand, they sent me advance photocopies of the Inquisitor rule book because they thought the sketches might inspire my work on “Gaunt’s Ghosts” and I liked what I saw so much I asked if I could write a novel about an Inquisitor. This became the first Eisenhorn novel, which was carefully timed to come out alongside the Inquisitor game so it looked like we’d planned it that way. Those advance photocopies led to the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies. And, indeed, may soon lead to the third and final Inquisitor trilogy, which I intend to call “the Bequin Trilogy”.
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11. The Warhammer 40k universe is already very precisely built and defined. Do you find it as a restraint or opposite, as you are the person who is seemed to write something evolving and surprising yet based on defined criteria of 40k universe?
A: I absolutely have to stay inside the rules and I have a lot of nice people at Games Workshop who help me do that. This is especially true of the Horus Heresy books. Before each one of those, I chat at length to Alan Merritt, who is very much the keeper of the flame and of continuity, and I work out what I can and cannot do. However, since day one, I have been keen to invent and expand. I’ve added a great deal to 40K inside the rule framework. Sometimes it might come as a surprise how many things are my own additions, words like vox and augmetic and data-slate for instance. I like to get hold of an aspect of 40K and see how I can bring it to life... or rather, bring it to even bigger life, by exploring and expanding the structure that already exists. “Titanicus” would be a great example of this process.
12. Have you been in the army? I ask this question as “Gaunt’s Ghost” are filled with lots of military logic, everyday life and its paradoxes. Or is it just the books, films or your own imagination?
A: I haven’t ever served in the military, so it’s all down to books, films and my imagination. I am constantly flattered by the number of times serving or veteran servicemen in many different countries ask me if I’m a veteran and tell me that I’ve got the feeling right. I’m also amazed that my books are read by members of the serving military. My books are out in Iraq and Afghanistan, for goodness sake. Some of the “Gaunt’s Ghosts” books have actually been read under fire. If I’m writing something that members of the military can find some gratification or pleasure in, then, I’m delighted. It’s bizarre and humbling and pretty cool.