Nathan Long’s Interview(notes) about Gotrek & Felix saga from Track of Words (Rapid Fire)

Credits

References

  • From Track of Words, Rapid Fire (www.trackofwords.com).
  • Posted in June 2020.
  • Note :
    • This is not an direct interview, but for reading purposes this post is like an interview and in a ‘format’ that is more or less the same with each author’s post. So, here you can read Nathan Long’s thoughts about Gotrek & Felix saga.
  • Track of Words: Who is Gotrek Gurnisson?
    • Nathan Long : There is something in all of us, I think, that wants to be as badass and untouchable as Gotrek – that wants to be able to solve all our problems with the swipe of an axe, and keep our emotions at bay through sheer rage.
  • ToW: What about Felix(and his point of view in the series) ?
    • NL : To change that dynamic would break the series. You couldn’t make Gotrek the point of view character, because to know his thoughts would ruin his mystery.
  • ToW: What about the other companions of the duo?
    • NL: They all serve as the way into the stories. They are the relatable characters – the ones who react positively or negatively to Gotrek’s exploits and who are emotionally affected by the situations Gotrek thrusts them into. They are the ones who are put in peril, or have a personal stake in the conflict. They let us know the human cost of the villain’s plan. Gotrek is an inherently tragic figure who wants to die but is never allowed to, but that’s not generally the focus of the story, and his taciturn nature means that moments when he reflects on it are few and fleeting. Instead, I drew emotion from the fates of the victims of the villains, and from the characters in his orbit, such as Felix, Snorri, Ulrika, and Max, and their unresolved conflicts and relationships.
  • ToW: What about the longest-serving and most-loved villain of the series who unquestionably is Grey Seer Thanquol who first appeared in Skavenslayer?
    • NL: How can it be anybody other than Thanquol? I didn’t get to do much with him, but he is so much fun to read and write. The perfect comic villain.
  • ToW: The history of writing Gotrek & Felix.
    • NL: At the time Marc Gascoigne [Black Library’s head honcho back then] asked me if I wanted to write Orcslayer, I had only one series under my belt – the Blackhearts – and Gotrek and Felix were the top of the fantasy line. I was flabbergasted. It was an opportunity to explore and expand the relationship between Gotrek and Felix, and then through them, explore the world of the Empire and beyond. Those guys went everywhere, which meant I got to too.
  • ToW: Why Orcslayer moved the timeline of the series, on by 20 years?
    • NL: That was a decision dictated to me by my editors, because they wanted the books I was writing to take place at the same time as the Storm of Chaos campaign that Games Workshop was selling that year. I didn’t mind that much, because it allowed there to be a clean break between Bill King’s books and mine, and it allowed me to make Gotrek and Felix slightly older, wearier characters.
  • ToW: What the advancement of the timeline did?
    • NL: That advancement of the timeline did more than just age the characters though – it fundamentally changed their dynamic. I think it made Gotrek even more bitter, as he expected to be dead long ago, and he’s come to believe that he’s cursed never to achieve his doom. For Felix, coming back to the Empire after 20 years sparks a reassessment of his life. While he was off traipsing the world with Gotrek, he was wrapped up in the adventure and didn’t think about it much, but once he’s back where he grew up, he starts to think about what he’s done with his life, and if he wants to keep doing it, which is a thread I kept weaving through the story.
  • ToW: Some favorites of your run in the series?
    • NL: I think, as a pure story, I like Shamanslayer best –in which Gotrek and Felix brave the Drakwald in search of the Order of the Fiery Heart, linking this back to events in Trollslayer. I felt like I was able to create some compelling characters and situations in that book, and get a lot of emotion out of them. As for setting, I think the Black Ark in Elfslayer was my favorite. It was a lot of work figuring it all out. I drew maps and everything! But making it feel like a believable, workable city, and then setting Gotrek and Felix loose in it to wreck it was a lot of fun.
  • ToW: What about the most-loved, favorite companion of the duo in the series?
    • NL: It’s probably no surprise that it’s Ulrika [who first appears in King’s Daemonslayer], since I wrote a trilogy about her. I’ve always loved tough women characters, and I thought she made a great foil for Felix. That made it a lot of fun for me to bring her back in Manslayer and torment him with her again.
  • ToW: Of course, with multiple people working with the same character, it’s arguably going to be harder than ever to keep readers interested in a character who’s generally thrown head-first into ever-escalating enemies and dangers. It’s a challenge faced by every author.
    • NL: It was a real challenge, and there were many times when I wanted to try smaller and more personal conflicts just for a change of pace. One thing that saved me was that each book had to be about a different enemy type, so by default the settings and details of the plot were going to be different. I think I may have gone over the top with the Harp of Ruin in Elfslayer, but the bosses bought it, so why not?
  • ToW: The challenges of writing Gotrek?
    • NL: Gotrek’s a weird character in that regard. He doesn’t change much, and his function in the story is always the same, to keep driving relentlessly toward evil without regard to personal safety, and to kill the big bad in the end. And you can’t change that formula or you wreck the series.
  • ToW: As a character who has been around for a long time and changed authorial hands several times, writing about Gotrek must therefore be an interesting challenge. How do you make him your own and tell exciting new stories about him without changing things up so much that you take away from what makes a Gotrek story?
    • NL: Try to make sure the characters feel like the same characters the previous writer created, there’s also the challenge of trying to come up with new and different plots and situations so the stories don’t feel repetitive. Then there’s the problem of the relationships. Do you allow them to grow? Do you keep them in stasis? How many times in a series can a character have the same epiphanies? How can the characters evolve from book to book, and at the same time stay enough the same that they remain together and have the same kinds of adventures. Maybe that’s the reason the Spiderman series keeps restarting. Each took slightly different approaches when they started to tackle Gotrek, they all wanted to add depth to his character rather than fundamentally changing anything. I did try to expand him a bit, I gave him some history with Hamnir in Orcslayer, and reminded readers that he’d been an engineer before he was a slayer in Elfslayer. But in general he’s a force of nature, and the stories come more from how those around him deal with his recklessness and unbending personal code than with exploring his psyche. He’s immutable, and I did my best to keep the characterization as close to Bill King’s as I could. Instead, I concentrated on detailing how the world and the people around him reflected him and reacted to him. What would it be like to be the companion of someone so driven? How would a villain try to contain or divert him? I also tried to give him situations that required cleverness as well as axe swinging to show that he wasn’t just a killer, he was smart too.
  • ToW: So what does it feel like to pick up a character like this and add to the series with brand new stories?
    • NL: Don’t f**k it up. Seriously, that was pretty much it. William King’s books were so loved, Gotrek and Felix were so loved, that I was terrified I wasn’t going to be able to live up to his legacy. I also wanted to explore a bit more of Gotrek’s history and his relationship to dwarfish society.
  • ToW: What will readers get out of these stories?
    • NL: I hope they deliver a thrilling ride, some intrigue, some honest emotion, and a satisfying payoff at the end.
  • ToW: Of course, given that Gotrek somehow managed to survive the End Times, the question still remains of whether he will – or indeed should – ever find his doom?
    • NL: I was actually building toward writing an end to the series – I had a three-book arc worked out that would start after Zombieslayer. But then Black Library decided they didn’t want to do that and the series passed on to the other authors.