INTERVIEW: Black Library’s Josh Reynolds
Black Library’s pool of authors is constantly growing. One of its rising stars is Josh Reynolds, best known for his Blood of Nagash series and The Returns of Nagash. Today I was able to sit down with him and see what goes into the process of bringing some of the Warhammer world’s most infamous villains to life.
Tyler: Lets start from the beginning, how did you first start working for Black Library?
Josh: My super-secret origin story is pretty boring…I submitted a novel pitch to them on a whim, during one of their open submission periods. I was submitting a lot of things then, so it was one among a multitude, but they liked it, and several years later, here we are.
Tyler: Can you explain the process that starts off a book? Do you approach BL with a completely new idea of your own, or do they give you the basic premise (for example, a book focusing on Imperial Fists) and let you come up with the rest?
Josh: Both. Sometimes I pitch something, sometimes they come to me with a concept that needs fleshing out. I prefer the latter, if only because it’s a lot easier to get something commissioned when there’s already a need for it. In both cases, however, there’s a lot of back and forth with the editors as the book’s plot and characters are hashed out.
Tyler: What has been the most rewarding story for you to write?
Josh: I…have no idea. I’ve never thought about it, honestly. I tend not to compare stories; each one is a thing unto itself. Which one just came out? That one, whatever it is.
Tyler: What other Black Library novel, series or author inspires you most right now?
Josh: Chris Wraight. Love that guy. Also, I would like to be Jim Swallow when I grow up. Dude writes Star Trek stuff. How cool is that?
Tyler: One thing I hear a lot is how important it is as an author to continually read other people’s works, what are you reading now and what are your all time favorite books? (from any genre)
Josh: I have a lot of favorite books–way too many to list. I often head back to the stories and novels of Manly Wade Wellman, PG Wodehouse and Dorothy Sayers when I need some inspiration. At the moment, however, I’m reading The Black Death, by Marion Polk Angellotti–a collection of adventure stories loosely based on the career of the condottieri, Sir John Hawkwood.
Tyler: You seem to have a special affinity for vampires and the undead. What draws you to them?
Josh: Can I say money? I probably shouldn’t say money. No, but seriously, I’ve always been fascinated by vampires, from Stoker’s Dracula, to Benson’s Mrs. Amworth. I like smart monsters…ones that you can’t be put down with a well-timed silver bullet or a cleverly placed mirror. Vampires tend to be the smartest monsters around, at least in popular fiction.
Tyler: Was the Blood of Nagash series something you pitched or did Black Library approach you with the idea?
Josh: Black Library approached me, actually. Still not sure why, mind, but I’m glad they did. I had a lot of fun with those characters.
Tyler: You are now involved with the novelization of the End Times, kicking off the series with The Return of Nagash, what is it like being involved with something so monumental and game changing?
Josh: Mostly, I was a little puzzled as to why I was included. When you’ve got heavy hitters like Gav Thorpe and Chris Wraight, why do you need a guy like me? At any rate, I try not to think in terms like ‘game-changing’. That way madness lies. A job is a job is a job. All you can do is write the best book possible, at the moment you’re writing it.
Tyler: You have yet to write a feature length novel for Warhammer 40,000, is this something you hope to do in the future?
Josh: Sure. I’d love to try my hand at the grim darkness of the far future for two hundred pages or so.
Tyler: Which setting inspires you more, 40k or Fantasy?
Josh: Honestly? Whichever one I happen to be working in at a given moment.
Tyler: You have written several short stories and one full novel for the Gotrek and Felix series. What challenges do you face as an author writing a pair of characters who have been around for so long and been predominantly handled by only two authors?
Josh: Very carefully. You have to balance what’s come before, with your own way of doing things. With Gotrek and Felix, I wasn’t being paid to write a straight pastiche of Bill King or Nathan Long, so it was a matter of presenting the characters in the style I was most comfortable with. So…more humor, more dialogue, etc.
Tyler: There is one book left in the Blood of Nagash series, what do you hope to tackle after it’s completed? Can we expect to see more of the Master of Undeath and his followers from you?
Josh: Probably not. I’ve written all I’m going to write about Nagash and his cronies, I think.
Tyler: Now some lighter questions; Khalida or Neferata?
Josh: Neferata, definitely.
Tyler: Arkhan or Mannfred?
Josh: Still Neferata.
Tyler: Any final thoughts?
Josh: Buy Ovaltine. Also, why not buy my books? I have many to choose from, all of which you can see on my website.
What’s your favorite story by Josh Reynolds? Mine is definitely Neferata.