Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

A place for you to ask questions of some of the Black Library authors themselves.

Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:25 am

Address all your questions to SARAH CAWKWELL here.

PLEASE AVOID ANSWERING A QUESTION UNLESS THE AUTHOR HAS HAD A CHANCE TO DO IT FIRST!

Also, please note these are not general discussion threads. The clue's in the name.

Thanks.

Sarah Cawkwell's official Black Library page can be found here.
Shadowhawk's Shade My 40k/writing/review blog. You can check out all my reviews here.

My current fiction projects - Veergati: The Scarlet Records, an Indian space opera inspired by Star Trek.
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Re: Ask... Sarah 'Pyroriffic' Cawkwell

Postby Phalanx » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:38 am

Hi Sarah,

w000, first question! This thread means "You've made it!" :D

Is there any work being done by yourself on anything non-SM related at present? Or are you a SM-only gurlie still, as you've mentioned before :)
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Re: Ask... Sarah 'Pyroriffic' Cawkwell

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:46 am

Let's see. I first came across TGR and you on warseer in the BL section. Then I found my way to the old Bolthole and I was surprised to find you were an admin there! My surprise had to do with a little bit of naivete regarding things but it was a good surprise!

Anyways, I don't really have a question at the moment, mostly because I already talked with you elsewhere regarding Shoehorn :)

Just want to thank you for your work on the Bolthole. I found this place and all the people here at exactly the right time and it's been quite fun so far. ;)

/cheers
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Re: Ask... SARAH 'Pyroriffic' CAWKWELL

Postby Raziel4707 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:27 am

A really general and fluffy question I know, but speaking as someone who has come from similar beginnings as us, is there any key piece of advice you can give us towards succeeding as writers?
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Re: Ask... Sarah 'Pyroriffic' Cawkwell

Postby Pyroriffic » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:26 pm

Phalanx wrote:Hi Sarah,

w000, first question! This thread means "You've made it!" :D

Is there any work being done by yourself on anything non-SM related at present? Or are you a SM-only gurlie still, as you've mentioned before :)


There is a lot of work being done by myself on some non-Space Marines related stuff at the moment. I'm almost at the end of Project Shoehorn (which as I now have the paperwork for I can tell you about, if I so desire...)

But I'll just tell you it's a WHF piece.

;)
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Re: Ask... Sarah 'Pyroriffic' Cawkwell

Postby Pyroriffic » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:27 pm

shadowhawk2008 wrote:Just want to thank you for your work on the Bolthole. I found this place and all the people here at exactly the right time and it's been quite fun so far. ;)

/cheers


You're welcome.

Long may it continue.
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Re: Ask... SARAH 'Pyroriffic' CAWKWELL

Postby Pyroriffic » Thu Jun 09, 2011 6:30 pm

Raziel4707 wrote:A really general and fluffy question I know, but speaking as someone who has come from similar beginnings as us, is there any key piece of advice you can give us towards succeeding as writers?


Hey, Raz.

It's the same advice as I think most of the other authors would give. Write, write some more, keep writing and then do a bit of writing for good measure. Read like it's going out of fashion. If you're not writing a story, write a blog. Try to write as much as you can because the more you do it, the better you get at it.

When it comes to actually writing a story... my advice is, and always has been, do. Don't think about it, do it. I know that everyone has their own style when it comes to constructing their stories, but my preferred method is to get the skeleton of the story down and then flesh it out afterwards. Otherwise if you're like me, you spend forever chewing over the tiniest details.
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Re: Ask... SARAH 'Pyroriffic' CAWKWELL

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:05 pm

Hehe, I do both of those. Get a skeleton down while chewing over details. Put the garnish on top while chewing over details :)
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:41 pm

Can I ask stuff here?

Assuming that answer was a yes. Are you tempted now that you are purple to wear lifts in your shoes in order to become taller and thus more dinosaur sensational?
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby Pyroriffic » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:02 pm

schaferwhat‽ wrote:Can I ask stuff here?

Assuming that answer was a yes. Are you tempted now that you are purple to wear lifts in your shoes in order to become taller and thus more dinosaur sensational?


It goes without saying that anybody who doesn't hanker after being more dinosaur like is clearly Wrong.
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 pm

true but some of us would want to be "Dinosaur Mundane"

Some of us know that the Silver Skulls have tweaks away from being Vanilla Marines. Prognistcars and Tattoo cultures and what not (much of which has it's origins in the Boltholes own workings everybody congratulate yourselves and remember not to credit too much to Pyro). Do you find it helps to have elements of identity for a chapter existing and down to set the tone and find the voice of the chapter?

Simularly when doing the fateweaver novella (I forget it's name apologies) did you research/invent elements of unique identifiablity for your space marines in order to bring them alive more?
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby Pyroriffic » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:10 am

schaferwhat‽ wrote:Some of us know that the Silver Skulls have tweaks away from being Vanilla Marines. Prognistcars and Tattoo cultures and what not (much of which has it's origins in the Boltholes own workings everybody congratulate yourselves and remember not to credit too much to Pyro). Do you find it helps to have elements of identity for a chapter existing and down to set the tone and find the voice of the chapter?


Yes... although admittedly, much of the way the Skullies have evolved has moved away from the stuff we thrashed out here so long ago. It's a necessity really; if the Chapter is showing too many signs of deviating from the norm, the rest of the Space Marines would be down on them like a ton of bricks. Although a ton of bricks would be like a feathery shower of sparkles compared to other Space Marines.

One of the earliest bits of input I had into the Skullies was the 'north/south divide' and that for me has very much been the starting point for fleshing the Boys in Silver out. So yes. The Skullies are tribal in root and even a little shamanistic. Very much about their rituals and traditions and with a rather disturbing abhorrence of change.

schaferwhat‽ wrote:Simularly when doing the fateweaver novella (I forget it's name apologies) did you research/invent elements of unique identifiablity for your space marines in order to bring them alive more?


Accursed Eternity (for t'is it's name) features the Blood Swords and the Star Dragons, although certainly not in equal measure. There is some existing background on the Blood Swords, so I focused more on the Star Dragons who don't exist beyond a brief mention in the Insignium Astartes. They are pretty much a down-the-line Space Marine Chapter, but the Chaplain who is the core character had a particular 'thing' that for me, totally defined his character. And it wasn't a belief, or a way of thinking... it was his cloak. The minute that cloak came into being, I knew everything there was to know about him.

That sounds most peculiar, I know; but I tend to find that my characters don't come to life until they get personal quirks. Gileas has his hair and his temper, Bast and Bhehan have their SUPER AWESOME POWERS OF BEING AWESOME and Huron Blackheart is a son of a camel dealer's daughter. With a really big power claw.
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:21 am

ABOUT TIME!

For this thread, I mean.

Wait, it's a questions thread. Erm, don't you think it's about time?
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:59 am

Shadowhawk's Shade My 40k/writing/review blog. You can check out all my reviews here.

My current fiction projects - Veergati: The Scarlet Records, an Indian space opera inspired by Star Trek.
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby xrayex » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:23 pm

Bast and Bhehan have their SUPER AWESOME POWERS OF BEING AWESOME


Not to mention Bhehan also has some other rather delightful traits.

*falls over*
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby Pyroriffic » Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:06 pm

xrayex wrote:
Bast and Bhehan have their SUPER AWESOME POWERS OF BEING AWESOME


Not to mention Bhehan also has some other rather delightful traits.

*falls over*


Steady on there, RayeRaye...

:)
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby Jelboy » Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:29 pm

Couple of questions for you, Sarah.

A) How different do you find writing for BL, than writing fan fic? Tougher deadlines, tougher critiques? or, pretty much the same?

B) Do you work on multiple projects simultaneously with BL, or one after the other? if simultaneously, when you jump between stories does it take a little while to get 'back into character' as it were... to get the vibe for the plot-line you've just jumped too?

C) Are you thinking of going to pro hours with the writing, and dropping out of the day job?
Last edited by Jelboy on Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby Pyroriffic » Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:22 pm

Jelboy wrote:A) How different do you find writing for BL, than writing fan fic? Tougher deadlines, tougher critiques? or, pretty much the same?


It's very different and I'm yet to really put my finger on exactly why that is. In part, I think it's because fanfiction is a selfish thing. You write for your own pleasure (although it's always nice when other people enjoy it!) and aren't really massively concerned with perhaps breaking canon a little for the Greater Good (see what I did there?) Doing the gig professionally... you have to be professional. My desk is a swamp of photocopies, codices, books and copious notes that I'm constantly referring back to.

The deadlines make a difference too, but for me, it's in a positive way. I'm lucky that I'm reasonably prolific and having goals and set deadlines really focuses me.

In terms of critique... the toughest critic I have to deal with is myself.

Jelboy wrote:B) Do you work on multiple projects simultaneously with BL, or one after the other? if simultaneously, when you jump between stories does it take a little while to get 'back into character' as it were... to get the vibe for the plot-line you've just jumped too?


I've switched and changed between a couple of stories, but mostly I've gone story one - done. Story two - done. And so on. Just after I finished The Gildar Rift, I was in the middle of pitching something else when I was asked if I could write a short story. So I switched out to do that, then came back to my pitch. I was just starting something new a couple of weeks ago when Christian emailed me with a 'drop everything and do this' style message. Being the obedient soul that I am...

It can be hard to pick up a thread when you've lost it, but after a while, I get back into it.

Jelboy wrote:C) Are you thinking of going to pro hours with the writing, and dropping out of the day job?


If only. Right now, I wouldn't dare give up the day job. I have too many major financial commitments to take the risk of not having a roof over mine and my family's head. I have a short-term plan though, which is where I hope to be making enough money from the writing to drop to part-time work instead of full time.

Fingers crossed on that one.
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby Jelboy » Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:28 pm

cool - thanks for the replies.
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Re: Ask... SARAH CAWKWELL

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:37 pm

Pyroriffic wrote:It's very different and I'm yet to really put my finger on exactly why that is. In part, I think it's because fanfiction is a selfish thing. You write for your own pleasure (although it's always nice when other people enjoy it!) and aren't really massively concerned with perhaps breaking canon a little for the Greater Good (see what I did there?) Doing the gig professionally... you have to be professional. My desk is a swamp of photocopies, codices, books and copious notes that I'm constantly referring back to.

The deadlines make a difference too, but for me, it's in a positive way. I'm lucky that I'm reasonably prolific and having goals and set deadlines really focuses me.


Canon. Such a pain. I can definitely sympathize with notes part. Its more frustrating for me since I lack any easy access to much of the source material, more so when I have an idea but I don't have any available material and so the idea goes into the 'shall see light one day' pile. That said, one of the ideas I am pitching is like this, and I have had to rely on the unfortunately incomplete information from Lexi on it. However, I have refrained from talking of the event itself but focus on something else that is related to another event that is I do have the only available material on :D /fingers crossed.

Following you on twitter/facebook etc, I have seen that you are indeed quite prolific and have almost consistently been churning out stuff. So I wanted to ask:

Q: What are your deadlines like for the short stories? Length-wise that is.
Q: Are you given a topic and then asked to write about it? How much freedom do you get with regards to how you approach it? Do your editors have any specific avenues of approach they want you to explore?
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