I’ve got two stories for you.
Here’s the first one: about ten years ago I wrote two novels for the Black Library, Mark of Damnation and Mark of Heresy, set in the world of Warhammer. Mark of Damnation was conceived as a single-volume story, but once it was finished my editor convinced me that it could be expanded into a quartet. I wrote Mark of Heresy, decided there wasn’t a quartet there after all, and that was that.
A couple of years ago Black Library reissued the two books in a single volume, Marks of Chaos, which I urge the Warhammer fans among you to buy because I get royalties on it, which is nice. I’ve not actually seen a copy of Marks of Chaos because it’s a print-on-demand title and therefore not in bookshops or eligible for author’s copies or something. So when I read that the Black Library had included a couple of my short stories in the volume I assumed that someone there was familiar with the work I’d done on Warhammer FRP and had been a bit clever.
Marks of Chaos is the story of Karl Hoche, a man dragged from a successful career in the Empire’s army, first into the shadowy world of a secret division of the Reiksguard, and from there into the darker and nastier world of cults and mutation. Karl has a mentor, Gottfried Braubach, who has been around a lot longer than Karl. Specifically he’s eight years older, having first appeared in 1995, in the preface and afterword I’d written for the Warhammer FRP supplement Apocrypha Now, published through my old company Hogshead.
So I assumed the Black Library had unearthed and reprinted the two short, linked stories that introduced Braubach and his world, and I gave them a mental pat on the back for it. It wasn’t until Stuart Kerrigan reviewed Marks of Chaos last month that I learned I was wrong. Instead of the Apocrypha Now stories they’d included my two Palisades stories—which are superficially similar, but while the Marks books were inspired by the dark, labyrinthine espionage stories of John Le Carre and Len Deighton, the Palisades shorts were an ill-fated attempt to recreate a light-hearted 70s-style Brian Clements action-adventure TV series in the Warhammer world. It was initially entertaining but after two shorts the schtick had worn thin: I didn’t write any more of them, and nobody has ever asked me why I stopped.
I contacted the Black Library to let them know they owned the copyright on two short stories that haven’t been in print since 2002. To date the Black Library have not replied.
So that’s the first of the stories I promised you. Here’s the second:
Written to open and close an anthology of RPG articles, ‘Fire and Earth’ is a crumb that will barely touch the appetite of those who still hunger for the two unwritten books of the Marks of Chaos quartet. But it fills in some of the background to the series and introduces two characters who appear in the first book. And it may be seventeen years old but it’s held up pretty well.
Seventeen years. Time goes so fast. I should write more stories.