William King’s Interview (from Realm Of Chaos Blog)



  • From http://realmofchaos80s.blogspot.gr.
  • Uploaded in 2015.
  • Note :
    • This post has only parts that have something to do with Gotrek & Felix, not necessarily all the interview.
  • Geheimnisnacht : An Interview with William King.
  • RoC80s: Please tell us about your early life? What were your first experiences with sci-fi/fantasy literature?
    • BK : I was born in Stranraer, Scotland many moons ago. I discovered wargaming in the late ’60s/early ’70s courtesy of Don Featherstone and Charles Grant books from the local library and Airfix. I got into RPGs via D&D during my first year at University in 1977. It changed my life! The earliest SF/Fantasy I can remember reading was Andre Norton and Ursula Le Guin in the kids section of the aforementioned library. I soon started spending my own pocket money on Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E Howard, Michael Moorcock and Tolkien. I was also fond of Frank Herbert and Roger Zelazny. I was fortunate to grow up during what was probably the first great boom in fantasy and SF. A lot of the old pulp writers were being rediscovered and a whole new generation of very good fantasy writers was emerging. I can still remember picking up the Mayflower Moorcocks, the Panther HP Lovecrafts and Clark Ashton Smiths in John Menzies. If I close my eyes I can picture the psychedelic covers of the Moorcock books and the brilliant Bruce Pnnington paintings on Lost Worlds and the Frank Herbert books.
  • RoC80s : At what point in your life did you first discover Warhammer and what was it about the game that caught your attention?
    • BK : RPGs were my thing in the 80s, mostly the Hero System. I did not really notice Warhammer all that much until the arrival of WFRP in 1986. I remember being blown away by the colour insert in White Dwarf which featured among other things a man being abducted by Skaven. When I got my hands on the huge hardcover it did not disappoint. What appealed was the combination of wild Moorcockian fantasy with a certain grubby realism. That, and the pretty brutal and distinctly casual attitude towards character death. When I read the books I had the feeling that it was written by people who knew their stuff historically speaking. It felt a lot different from most other fantasy games then available. I also think The Enemy Within campaign was probably the best campaign ever professionally published. That helped.
  • RoC80s : What were the earliest pieces of writing your produced for GW and were there really such tight restrictions about what you could write about?
    • BK : It was all a long time and many destroyed brain cells ago! I think the first thing I worked on at GW was Codex Titanicus. Then there was Waaargh, the Orks and Deathwing. Most of the fiction was commissioned to go into these books and I was given pretty tight briefs as to what was wanted. Understandable under the circumstances.
  • RoC80s : How did you end up joining GW in 1989 with a remit to produce fiction?
    • BK : Just after I had sold my first story to Interzone, I read an article somewhere — it might have been in a BSFA mag– saying that David Pringle, then the editor of Interzone, had got a job editing for a new Warhammer book line. I wrote to him saying I play this game. I know this world. I can write this. Give us a job! He said yes. The launch of Zenith, an anthology my second published story was in, was held in Nottingham. I saw Bryan Ansell in the dealer’s room. I recognized him from his picture in White Dwarf so I walked over, introduced myself and told him I was doing some work for his company. He asked me if I was interested in a full time job working for Games Workshop? I stuck around for an interview after the convention and that was it. I was in.
  • RoC80s : Did you spend a great deal of time within the Games Workshop studio when you were writing early fiction? If so, what can you recall about the atmosphere of the place in the late 80s/early 90s?
    • BK : I worked in the old Low Pavement Design Studio for a year or so starting in 1989. It was a pretty wild place. People would sleep on an old battered couch in the office and work late into the night. There was a buzz to it. Things were taking off. Warhammer was breaking out. People were excited by what they were doing and there were a lot of smart talented people about.
  • RoC80s : Please share with us the details behind the creation of Gotrek and Felix. Did they pre-date the development of Games Workshop Books or were the created as part of the range of anthologies?
    • BK : I noticed that among my WFRP players trollslayers were popular and I could see why. I mean what’s not to love about demented suicidal dwarves with big axes? When I sat down to write Gehmnisnacht, the first appearance of Gotrek and Felix I used the plot of a scenario I had run for my Warhammer campaign. I actually killed Gotrek at the end of the story, you can see the moment it happened in the story if you look closely. Then I thought wait a minute, what am I doing? These characters could have a whole series in them.
      Turns out I was right about that. I was just winging it for the most part. I always wanted to write a classic sword and sorcery series where the hero wanders around and has adventures– you know stuff like Conan and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. This was my chance to do it. I was still finding my way as a writer when I started. I had only sold about 3 short stories at this point. It took me about a decade to work my way up to being able to write novels competently.
      That said, Daemonslayer was a book I brooded on for five years. At the time no one knew whether Black Library was going to be around for long (GW Books had been a failure after all) and I wanted it to get in everything I could about the characters. I figured it was my one chance to do things right. That’s why it has our heroes facing the biggest toughest monster they are ever likely to. If I had been sensible I would have saved that for later.
  •  (As to Gotrek’s fate)
    • BK : My original plan was to have him run over by a bus or possibly a steamroller :). To be honest, I have no idea. Part of the problem of writing a series like this is coming up with a suitably epic ending. I always treated the whole glorious death thing as one of the central jokes of the books, kind of like whenever they are hired/forced to protect some place it usually ends up burned to the ground. Here you have this utterly suicidal demented warrior who is just too tough and too stubborn to die.
  • RoC80s: Did you ever contribute to actual games development (rules) or was your focus always fiction?
    • BK : I ended up as a developer during my next stint at the Design Studio– a couple of years in the early 90s. I did a fair amount of writing and testing on Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Man o’War. I contributed to a few of the early army books. I was the first person ever to lose to Jervis Johnson in a published battle report. (Now there’s a real claim to fame!)