As huge fans of Dan Abnett with the recent rerelease by Titan of Primeval: Extinction Event (reviewed a few days ago) we thought that it would be best to have a word with the master wordsmith.
So thanks to our Friends at Titan, here for your viewing pleasure is an interview with Dan. Here he talks about what he wish he's learned earlier as well as what to do when faced with critism, its an interview no writer can afford to miss...
Falcata Times: How would you say that your perspective has changed about selling your own work with multiple novels under your belt?
Dan Abnett: It’s given me a greater opportunity to do so. My published work helps me to get people to take me seriously when it’s a project of my own. Over all, there’s no great change. It’s very hard work, and the hardest part is persevering.
FT: How would you sell yourself as an author?
DA: I’d show someone what I’ve done and invite them to read a little. I talk to them about what I can do, and what they might like me to do. Actually, profile is increasingly important, so making myself available on blogs, Facebook, interviews like this one...
FT: How would you say that your experience of writing and publishing has changed your method's of writing?
DA: I lot of what I do is called tie-in or franchise fiction, and the same goes for comics, so I think I’ve developed a fairly decent skill-set when it comes to taking someone’s franchise apart so I can understand it and write in or about it effectively. It’s also taught me to be very dedicated and diligent. A deadline is a serious thing. I don’t just write ‘when the muse takes me’. It’s a proper job.
FT: With the experience that you've gained now, what do you wish you could have told yourself when you were starting out that you now know?
DA: Funnily enough, show don’t tell. So I’d rather have had the experiences to learn from rather than be told about them.
FT: What characteristics of your protagonists do you wish that you had yourself and why?
DA: A thirty-two inch waist and a chainsword?
FT: Which of your characters are most like you and why?
DA: They’ve all got to be a little bit like me, somewhere. There is a characte rint he Inquisition novels called harlon Nayl who I always joke is supposed to be me, but he’s far too heroic and tough. There’s a minor character in Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero, called William Beaver, who is the hero’s biographer. I think he’s probably more me.
FT: What of lifes little addictions could you not live without and why?
DA: Tea. Movies. Reading. I actually had to give up quite a few of life’s pleasures (like alcohol, coffee and driving) last year when I developed late onset epilepsy. I should be able to drive again soon, but the others are gone forever.
FT: With regular trips for book tours around the country as well as to various Conventions, what is an absolute travel essential that you couldn't do without?
DA: A book. A good book. And a notebook and pen.
FT: Previously you've had some problems when others have critised your work, how do you think you've changed to adapt to it or would you say that you're just the same?
DA: Not sure specifically what you’re referring to. I listen to criticism and try to take things into account. If you can do something that your readers will like more, you should try and do it. But I don’t listen to plain bad-mouthing. Criticism needs to be constructive.
FT: On long journey's, reading is often the pleasure of choice, who's work will you grab at the airport to ensure a good journey?
DA: Peter Temple, Stephen King, Kelly Link, John Buchan, Borges, Lovecraft...
FT: Out of all your novels, which is your favourite and why?
DA: I am very fond of my books, because I’ve spent a lot of time with each one, but the answer has to be it’s always the one I’m working on next...the one I’m most invested in.
FT: With everyone having thier own personal view as to who should be cast in a film version of their work, who do you think should play your principle protagonists and why?
DA: I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that. On my blog, readers regularly come up with their own cast lists and we play the casting game. It changes over time. Ibram Gaunt used to be James Coburn circa The Magnificent Seven, but I’m not sure who he is now.
FT: Authors are generally a superstitious lot and upon completion of novels follow a certain ritual, what is yours and how has it changed from the original?
DA: I don;t know. Does a good long lie-down count? Actually, I usually spend the first day or two after finishing a book tidying the office and the house, doing all the chores that have been put off by the deadline.
FT: What was your impression of an authors lifestyle and status and how has that interpretation changed since you've published a number of books?
DA: I’m not sure what I expected, really. A corona typewriter, an ascot, a villa in the Bahamas, and a cigarette holder. By the time I got there, it was PCs, a tee-shirt, my basement and there was a smoking ban.
FT: What are the best words of wisdom or tip that you'd give to a new or soon to be published author?
DA: Keep reading.