Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Warhammer Wednesday: Dark Heart

Here's one from the archives (a.k.a. my old blog Unnatural History) but strangely pertinent, given my current project...
Having created the Kislevite mercenary Torben Badenov and his hard-bitten band of mercenaries for the story ‘The Hounds of Winter’ I decided that there could be some mileage in the characters, and so set about pitching further ideas to the editors of ‘Inferno!’ magazine.

The next to be taken up was ‘Dark Heart’ (although I originally proposed it as ‘Red Sky in the East’, which no-one really got), my first attempt at some vampire fiction. In the story, Torben and his friends have to prevent the resurrection of an evil vampire lord and meet a new companion along the way.

For this story I employed a conceit which I thought worked rather well. Throughout the tale (which is otherwise told in the third person past tense) I inserted brief passages of first person present tense text. These helped form one of the twists of the tale.

I also tied ‘Dark Heart’ to the first Badenov story in terms of how the two tales began. ‘The Hounds of Winter’ begins: ‘Running. He had to keep running.’ And ‘Dark Heart’ starts off with the line: ‘The wolves are running again.’

‘Dark Heart’ later formed one of the chapters of my first novel ‘The Dead and the Damned’ (as did ‘The Hounds of Winter’) but was re-written in the process, which saw the first person present tense passages changed into the third person past tense like everything else, and reduced their effectiveness considerably.

I always planned for one of the characters from the story, the Countess Isolde, to return in a later Badenov novel which, as yet, is still unwritten (and unlikely to be). However, she has lived again since (as it were) in my most recent Fighting Fantasy gamebook ‘Howl of the Werewolf’, just as the reading public has yet to hear the last of another popular creation of mine, Nathan Creed. (But more on that one another time...)

‘Dark Heart’ first saw print in Issue #5 of ‘Inferno!’ and was then re-printed in the anthology ‘Realm of Chaos’ (2000), as well as appearing in a slightly altered form in ‘The Dead and the Damned’ (2002).

Little did I know it at the time, but after the publication of ‘Dark Heart’ I was to enter my own long dark teatime of the soul, with nothing else of mine appearing in ‘Inferno!’ for over two years. In that time I remained in print with various magazine articles and the like being published, but, for the time being at least, there was a prolonged hiatus in my fiction writing. Fortunately, this uncreative time in my life came to an end when another Badenov story saw print in ‘Inferno!’ Issue #20. (But more about that another time too...)

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