Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:56 am

Greetings Duke Leto,

it's great to hear that there's a determined effort going on to restore the Bolthole to its former glory. I recall the days when BL still had its own forum, which obviously drew fans in more readily because it was right there. I only found out about the Bolthole because I was 'recruited' at the first (and so far only) BL Live event I attended (as an author at least...) It would be great if the Bolthole could get some official recognition - say a link from BL's site - but I understand why the company is cautious about that. Somehow you need to raise awareness and draw more fans in. I agree it's beneficial if authors engage on here so I'll try to do my part from time-to-time, even though I'm a fringe BL writer. Let me start by answering your question about juggling the demands of being a freelancer across different fields.

The concise version is that it's an awkward, frequently frustrating position because of conflicting deadlines and commitments. I'm afraid I don't have any great tips to offer for making it work. It really comes down to figuring out what's most important to you and balancing your creative aspirations with your practical life responsibilities. Since I've always striven passionately to steer clear of serious responsibilities I have some latitude for making...eccentric...decisions, but even then it's difficult. Bluntly, I've lost a lot of television clients - and income - because of the writing work. Do I regret that? Hell no! You only live once, right?

So the longer version...

You're correct, I'm a television editor by profession, specializing in trailers. These days I'm mostly engaged by BBC Worldwide so you won't see my work in this country, but a few years back I was across a lot of BBC One drama, including Doctor Who, which was damn awesome (for once a valid use of that much-abused term!) for an SF geek like myself. I might have had reservations about the direction, tone and format of the resurrected show, but it was still Doctor Who so I was thrilled to get close to it, even if I was only cutting the trailers.

Well, I backed off from that - and deflected a promising career trajectory - to write 'Fire Caste'. When the novel commission came through I quit my staff job - and with it the best work - and went freelance, essentially so I could edit part-time and focus on writing. From a professional point of view it was a reckless move, especially since I'd just turned forty, but I couldn't give both paths 100% and I knew which way the Dream lay. Forget Doctor Who - this was 40K, the mythos I loved about all others - the one I’ve followed avidly since Rogue Trader days even if I haven’t played the game since my twenties. No, I couldn't blow this chance...

In truth, despite the gamble I took, I haven't built on that opportunity the way I might have. In part this is because reality, no matter how staunchly one defies it, has an unsettling habit of intruding upon dreams. Secondly, I couldn't - and still can't - write reliably to a brief or stick rigorously to a synopsis. I keep on finding and then following peculiar tangents of plot and character that were never agreed upon with my commissioning editor. For me writing is an inherently unpredictable process. Intuitive rather than rational. One might even say chaotic. The Ultramarines are most definitely not my spiritual Space Marine chapter (now there's a fun question to put to each writer...)

While this instinctive approach is fascinating, it's also profoundly unwise for an aspiring writer, especially one seeking to break into a well-established and lore-rich shared universe like 40K. In fact, for those hoping to write professionally for BL I'd give this advice: Don't do it my way.

I've been very lucky to last this long. My editors have been patient despite the headaches I've given them, but if I’d been more disciplined and less individualistic I'd have a lot more stories out there. Naturally I’m completely incapable of taking my own advice on this.

Anyway, I hope this somewhat rambling reverie is of interest, or even use.

To briefly address the matter of my weaker story titles... 'Fire Caste' made me very worried. 'Vanguard' made me embarrassed, especially since it was sitting alongside other Mechanicus stories with classy titles like 'The Enigma of the Flesh' and ‘The Infinite Circuit’. 'Genestealer Cults' just made me sad. At least that book did what it said on the cover. Mostly. Then again, I got my way with 'Cast a Hungry Shadow' and many people couldn't make sense of that title, so what do I know?

As to your question about my name, 'Fehervari' is Hungarian. It translates to 'Of the White City', which is pleasingly dramatic. I speak the language so Hungarian words and names occasionally appear in my writing.

Lastly, please don't worry about picking up a second-hand copy of 'Fire Caste'. Throne damn it, the novel has been out of print for years and, being a collector, I also dislike ebooks (I get the logic, but…they’re not real!) I'm just glad people still remember and occasionally read that mad, dark story.

PF
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:47 pm

Greetings Xisor,

thanks for the enthusiastic words about 'The Walker in Fire'. Of all my stories it's the one that gave me the fewest headaches and was genuinely fun to write - something I honestly can't often say. For that reason above all else, I'm very fond of that one.

I was uncertain about being assigned a Salamander character because, like the Ultramarines, they're not an obvious fit for me. I'm all about dark, tormented individuals and philosophies, while the Salamanders, despite their penchant for self-branding, are pretty sane and reasonable by 40K standards. However, as it turned out, there was a seed darkness in Garran Branatar's psyche so I was good to go!

Moreover, having a relatively straight character at the heart of the story was a nice balance for a rather eccentric team. I'd been desperate to return to the Angels Penitent/Resplendent since 'Crown of Thorns' so this was a golden opportunity to pick up that thread. Malvoisin's tortured arc was actually more important to me than the Deathwatch mission, which was a fairly traditional action romp.

Unexpectedly the Brotherhood Of One Thousand character turned out to be my favourite. Paradoxically the sheer blandness of his chapter's name had always intrigued me. I mean every chapter is ideally meant to be a brotherhood of one thousand so why give your faction such a generic name? That's what got me thinking about their obsession with numbers...and then cybernetics. Before long they'd become deeply peculiar and I fell in love with them. Like the Penitent/Resplendent, I hope to return to them some day because there's a LOT more to say about those guys.

Lastly, you hit the nail on the head with the Skitarii. I found them immensely difficult to work with as protagonists, but wonderful as antagonists. While they're not big on angst or introspection, they're damned creepy and lethal in action. The Rust Stalkers and Infiltrators, who I didn't have access to when I wrote 'Vanguard', are particularly freaky so I jumped at the chance to write about them here.

'Walker' was also the first time I worked with Laurie, who was an absolute delight to collaborate with. Seriously, that man's knowledge and enthusiasm for 40K is boundless, but it was his readiness to trust my flights of eccentricity that I most appreciated.

Best,

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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Duke_Leto » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:56 am

I took a break from 40k in December after reading The Warmaster by Dan Abnett (which was awesome) in part because I needed to read something different (not sci fi) and in part because The Last Jedi came out and I went all Star Wars for a bit and needed to vent my mixed emotions about that film on theforce.net (first time I have ever joined a Star Wars forum).

Why am I saying all that here? Well after almost three months break I am back reading 40k and have kicked that off with Peter's Firecaste... Almost halfway through and wow, what a dark and twisted take it is. A wonderful way to pull me back into the universe I love so much.
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:07 pm

Greetings Duke,

thanks for the post and sorry for the late reply. I do check in on the Bolthole every so often, but have been struggling to meet a deadline, hence the tardiness. I am not...good...with...deadlines...but without them I guess I'd never finish a damn thing.

'Fire Caste' was a massively contentious book on its release (I will never rest easy with that misleading title) and there's still something of a tug-of-war going on for its soul to this day. It does elicit passionate hatred in some quarters, but it's great to hear that it's still read occasionally because I put a crazy amount of time, passion and sanity into that story. Looking back on it, there are probably far too many characters fighting for space and the pseudo-Confederate accents might be too broad, but hopefully it remains a...unique, if not always enjoyable read.

Thanks for taking that crazy, dark journey down the Dolorosa Coil!

PF
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Duke_Leto » Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:49 pm

Peter thanks for reply and for the great book that is Firecaste. Finished it today. That was slow for me but I confess to pausing the journey to read Dan Abnett's The Magos because, well just because really (been so long since Pariah I needed my fix).

Have to say I found Firecaste (I agree that again you suffered with "wrongtitleitis" as with GSC) harder going than GSC. That is not to say it wasn't a good book, far from it, but it is very complex and requires very close attention. There are so many characters and so many time shifts and focus shifts (often within a single chapter) that you cannot dip in and out.

I loved the whole Heart of Darkness vibe. Personally had no problem at all with the southern confederate accents, gave a different feel to anything else in 40k.

Man it is a very dark and twisted tail though (which is good).

So thanks for producing such a great story.

I will be honest with you...I preferred GSC (or should that now be CotSD which is much better) which for me ranks as one of my top five 40k books ever! Even though I read them the wrong way round, I do think it shows how you are evolving as a writer. Oh how I wish I could write half as good as you (having just finished my submission for BL).

I truly hope we get another novel from you.

On that note...if you could write about anything in 40k what would it be (assuming you are happy to share)?

One other question. Please could you remind me how Ambrose Templeton managed to get off Phaedra?
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Duke_Leto » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:55 pm

Peter - both myself and plenty of others are hoping you will be getting involved in the newly announced Warhammer Horror imprint/series. You writing style and stories would seem a really good fit.
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:51 pm

Greetings Duke,

the newly announced Warhorror (!) label is certainly exciting. There's always been a deep seam of darkness running through BL's range, but it'll be interesting to see it take centre stage tonally. I'm quite sure it will be horror in the best sense, with an emphasis on suspense and doom-laden mystery rather than an increase in brutality or gore. Hopefully there'll be a strong emphasis on (troubled!) characters with more opportunities to tell stories about the subtle yet insidious cracks running through the Imperium (or indeed the T'au Empire). Maybe a look into the shadows behind the frontlines, perhaps featuring protagonists of less heroic capabilities? The possibilities are endless and glorious!

And yes, this is indeed a natural fit for my writing, both stylistically and thematically, so hopefully I'll be part of it.
My third novel is most definitely a horror story!
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Duke_Leto » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:53 am

THIRD NOVEL - exciting news indeed (and now public). Any idea whether this novel will go out under the Warhammer Horror label/imprint?
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:56 pm

The novel's first draft is currently with my editor, but I haven't received feedback yet, so it's early days I'm afraid. These things tend to take a very long time for me. If it's accepted I'd be surprised if it doesn't go under the Horror imprint, but at the moment this is just an announcement of hope rather than fact.
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Xisor » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:27 am

Out of curiosity (and, to be honest, excitement), have you the same editor this time as your previous novels?

I ask only as it's been a few years now and there's been some shake-ups in the internal gubbins at BL, so there might be some room for a small hope of having a faster/easier turn around of these things. :)

Still, even if it is a long wait: I'm sure it'll be worthwhile.

How did you find preparing your third novel compared to the the first two for BL? Mostly a similar process? A bit easier, or even more effort?

And of course, the most vital detail: will we reCOIL in horror?

In any event, as said above: I'm rather excited for this!
"When my housemate puts his bike in the middle of the living room floor, I find that inordinately jarring, annoying and rude, but for me to refer to it as "genocide" would be incorrect." -Ath
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:48 pm

Greetings Xisor,

I've had a few different editors over the years, but the turn-around tends to depend on BL's priorities at the time.
For example, Genestealer Cults was written to a very tight schedule (at least by my standards) and published within months of sign-off to coincide with the codex release. Conversely Fire & Ice took about a year to be signed off, and another couple before release because it was such an odd story and didn't really fit with anything.

I'm thrilled to report that the first draft of the new novel was signed off with minimal changes on Monday! That's a major hurdle passed, but I have no idea when it will be published, or in what form, though I'd be surprised if it doesn't go on the Horror label. Let's just say it's a dark and twisty story...

In terms of difficulty, all three novels were challenging in different ways.

Fire Caste was extraordinarily difficult for many reasons - first novel stress...dangerously ambitious and tangled...difficult personal circumstances at the time... I felt like I was writing about the Coil from within and making that doomed river journey into hell along with the characters. Mad, dark times that I wouldn't care to relive, but in hindsight I think that's where much of the book's intensity came from.

Genestealer Cults was a smoother ride because it was more precisely planned and necessarily shorter, but I struggled with the tight deadline. While I like what's there and accept that it's more disciplined and focussed than F.C., I'll always be frustrated by the 100 pages that never happened. To my mind it's an incomplete story...in the wrong way.

The third novel (title still under consideration) was easier in terms of the deadline, but the damn thing still took over my life! I'll never attempt anything that intricate and ambitious again, but I feel it's my best work so hopefully it was worth it.

As always, thanks for the interest!

PF
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Lord of the Night » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:21 pm

O'Seishin wrote:The third novel (title still under consideration) was easier in terms of the deadline, but the damn thing still took over my life! I'll never attempt anything that intricate and ambitious again, but I feel it's my best work so hopefully it was worth it.

PF

Ooooo! You've a new novel in the works, one that's more intricate and ambitious than Fire Caste?! Can't wait to read it! :D :D


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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:42 pm

I promise to post something once it's 100% signed off and I have some kind of publication date.

In the meantime I can tell you I have a story coming up in the second volume of Inferno - one that finally returns to a faction I've wanted to follow up for a long time...

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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Xisor » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:42 am

It's not the Brotherhood of A Thousand, by any chance? 8-)

(Or the Salamanders [et al.], for what it's worth. Walker in Fire was excellent!)

I'm very keen for Inferno now. When it was last out, my tastes were just a bit too impatient and overbearing to appreciate short stories, but I've grown to love them in the last decade, so super excited to see Inferno back!
"When my housemate puts his bike in the middle of the living room floor, I find that inordinately jarring, annoying and rude, but for me to refer to it as "genocide" would be incorrect." -Ath
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby O'Seishin » Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:38 pm

[i]'Penitence and pain are the hammers and nails of devotion.'[/i]
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Re: Ask... PETER FEHERVARI

Postby Xisor » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:16 am

Image
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