Darius Hinks’ GhoulSlayer Interview from Track of Words (Rapid Fire)

Credits

  • From Track of Words, Rapid Fire (www.trackofwords.com).
  • Posted in September 2019.
  • Note :
    • This is all the interview.
  • Track of Words: What’s the elevator pitch summary for Ghoulslayer?
    • Darius Hinks: Gotrek’s back and he’s got an axe! The Slayer is hell-bent on revenge. He’s been spat out of the Realm of Chaos and denied the glorious doom he was promised by the gods of the World-That-Was. This novel sees him plunge into the underworlds of Shyish to take up his beef with Nagash, Lord of the Undead.
  • ToW: Without spoiling anything, who are the main characters and what do we need to know about them?
    • DH: Gotrek Gurnisson is the death-seeking Slayer who has somehow managed to survive the destruction of his entire world and now finds himself wandering the Mortal Realms seeking answers, long-dead friends and vengeance. He’s a walking powder keg with no regard for his own safety or the safety of anyone around him.
      • Maleneth is a Khainite assassin who has sworn allegiance to the Order of Azyr (agents of Sigmar, working in the Mortal Realms to thwart Sigmar’s enemies). She’s currently tasked with securing a phenomenally powerful Fyreslayer rune and transporting it back to Azyr. There’s just one problem: the rune is embedded in Gotrek’s chest. Maleneth has no love for the deranged Slayer but she needs to keep him alive until she can work out how to get her hands on the rune.
      • Trachos is an enigmatic Stormcast Eternal from the hard-line Celestial Vindicators Stormhost. He’s a battle-scarred veteran of several campaigns and has been reforged many times. This has left him with some serious issues. Like Maleneth, he knows the value of Gotrek’s rune so he’s also doing his best to keep the Slayer alive. The problem is, he’s teetering on the brink of mental and physical collapse. Over the course of the novel, Trachos and Maleneth both begin to suspect that the rune might not be the only thing that’s important about Gotrek.
  • ToW: Where and when is it set?
    • DH: The novel’s set in a region of Shyish called the Amethyst Princedoms, located to the north of the Prime Innerlands. The action takes place sometime after the events of the Realmslayer audios.
  • ToW: Do you think this would work as a starting point for readers keen to learn about these characters, or would you recommend checking out any of the previous Gotrek (& Felix) stories beforehand?
    • DH: This book works as a standalone so a new reader can start here. Part of my brief from BL was to ensure that prior knowledge of the characters was not required. That said, I intended this book to mesh with David Guymer’s Realmslayer audio dramas and Robbie MacNiven’s The Bone Desert novella, both of which focus on the adventures of Gotrek and Maleneth, so anyone who enjoys this book should totally check those stories out too. (They’re great fun.)
      • The idea with different authors writing Gotrek is that people can either enjoy the new stories as standalones or buy them all and follow a larger narrative. Obviously, Gotrek also has a huge backstory, covering his adventures with Felix in the World-That-Was and anyone who enjoys Ghoulslayer would probably enjoy learning about his past. Besides, those books are BL classics and well-worth digging out. Trollslayer was one of the first Warhammer novels I read and I really enjoyed going back through the old novels in preparation for writing this one.
  • ToW: What appealed to you about writing a new ‘Nounslayer’ novel? Was it daunting contributing to such a long-running series?
    • DH: I had a wobble at the start, when I re-read some of the existing fiction, but mostly it was just great fun. David Guymer did such a great job of positioning Gotrek in the Mortal Realms that I had a really clear sense of where the Slayer is headed. Mr Guymer was also super helpful, patiently answering all my daft questions. (‘What kind of hairspray does a Slayer use?’ etc.)
  • ToW: Of all the authors who have written about Gotrek so far, you’ve got the greatest number of previous interpretations to draw upon. How have you been able to put your own take on Gotrek? What do you think sets your version of him apart from the others?
    • DH: It was very useful having those old books for reference but it’s inevitable that I’d give him a slightly different flavour. I wanted to show more than just the comedic, bellowing aspect of Gotrek. That’s a key part of him, of course, but he’s also a tragic figure, severed from his people and home. And he’s also someone who carries a great destiny and purpose on his shoulders, whether he sees it or not. He survived the death of a world and the Realm of Chaos. These things haven’t just happened by chance. Gotrek is a unique character with a large role to play in the Age of Sigmar.
  • ToW: Of all the possible stories you could have written about Gotrek and co, what made you go for this one?
    • DH: I tried to imagine what Gotrek would do after being robbed of his glorious death and spewed into the Mortal Realms. I just couldn’t imagine him piddling about with small fry – he’d want to go toe-toe with the gods that he believed betrayed him. I also had a hankering to write some gory, Technicolor horror, so Nagash and the Realm of Death seemed the obvious choice.
  • ToW: How does this story compare to the rest of your work? Did you take a similar approach to how you’ve written other books, or has it been a departure for you?
    • DH: The scope of the Mortal Realms allowed me to indulge my love of world building, inventing an entire princedom, its people and its culture so, in that sense, this book bears some similarities to the novel I wrote directly before it, The Ingenious. Gotrek as a character, though, is unlike anyone I’ve ever written about before. He’s so gloriously headstrong and belligerent and it was great fun for a polite old geek like me to live vicariously through him for a while, tearing through every situation with little thought, trusting in momentum, luck and sheer brute force to carry him through.
  • ToW: What do you hope Age of Sigmar fans will get out of this by the time they’ve finished it?
    • DH: Gotrek’s an outsider in the Mortal Realms so he’s the perfect window on the Age of Sigmar. My hope would be that this book gives readers a sense of how important Gotrek is to the bigger AoS story, but also shows a revealing, ground-level view of life in the Mortal Realms.
  • ToW: For the first time ever, multiple authors are now working on Gotrek stories concurrently (with David Guymer writing the Realmslayer audios). What do you think the future looks like for Gotrek, with different authors telling stories at the same time? Have you got further plans for him yourself?
    • DH: As far as I understand it, BL’s ongoing plan is for lots of different authors to tackle Gotrek and I love that idea. It’ll be really interesting to read all the different takes on his character and I know the BL editors will ensure the disparate threads pull together to make a story that grows with each book. Before I started this book, David had already put a lot of thought into where Gotrek’s story will take him and who’s behind his continued, unexpected survival. I think Gotrek fans will get a big kick out of watching his story unfold over the next few years. I’d love to write more about these characters but hopefully there will be a whole host of amazing authors tackling him before my turn comes round again.