Five years ago the first Black Library Live! event (the ! was essential back then) took place at Warhammer World at Games Workshop’s headquarters in Nottingham. This Saturday sees the latest such gathering, and a timely but brief look at why I really love these events.
For the general public it might be difficult to appreciate the importance of that first Black Library Live! For many previous years, Games Workshop events had been geared towards gaming and miniatures. There was always Games Day, a celebration of all things GW-related, but other events were tournaments, campaign weekends, painting competitions, modelling workshops and the like. When BL Live! came around, and sold out in good time, it showed that the fiction of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 could hold its own as part of the bigger Games Workshop offer.
That first BL Live! was something special. It had a very different feel to the Black Library stand at Games Day. There was a genuine sense of community, of creators and fans sharing and enjoying the event equally. I don’t think any of us had known what to expect, but the sincere enthusiasm of the fans gave us a day that flew by, leaving me with a warm glow by the time I headed home.
This social aspect has been the hallmark of Black Library events going forward. There are the pre-releases, the chapbooks, the special editions, the posters, t-shirts, underpants and whatever other exclusive materials are available; there’s the chance to get stuff signed and quiz your favourite authors. Most of all these events give readers of the Black Library the opportunity to come together with each other. The pre-event games and meets in Bugman’s, the conversations in the seminar queue and the debates over lunch, and the post-event wind down with a drink or two are every bit as important to many folks as the scheduled signings and seminars.
The Weekender and Horus Heresy Weekender have taken that one stage further by adding a residential aspect to the socialising. The Saturday night fun, and games and the chats in the wee hours of the morning, as well as bleary-eyed conversations over Sunday breakfast, are an essential component to the success of these gatherings.
And as an author I take great pleasure in meeting up with the other Black Library writers and artists and staff. The sense of community that pervades the fans is also there amongst us creative types. It is lovely to catch up with well-known acquaintances and to welcome new faces. The banter in the ‘green room’ is as lively as any badinage during the seminars, which while not wholly unique to Black Library is something different to other conventions I’ve attended. It feels as much like a family get together – especially when the some of the authors bring their next generation with them – as it does a work outing.
As usual the Black Library are keeping me busy all day, so here’s my schedule for those that want to do a bit of planning:
10:00 Guardian of the Unforgiven Q&A (Seminar 2 – 50 minutes)
Let’s talk Dark Angels, including perhaps a few titbits about what to expect from Master of Sanctity and the First Legion in the Horus Heresy. They’ve put me up against Graham McNeill’s one-on-one in this time slot, so I expect all of you to choose me over him. I will take it personally if you don’t. I mean, my reputation has already been tarred by being put in the smaller seminar room, but it’s limited to 40 tickets which you’ll have to pre-book on the day, so it’ll be more exclusive than McNeill’s free-for-all scrum.
11:00 The Sound and the Fury Audio Q&A (Seminar 2 – 50 minutes)~
Black Library audios are one of the biggest success stories in recent years, so come and see what we’ve got planned in the coming months. I think I’m doing this with a Smiley Frenchman. Did I hear that right?
Mmm, sandwiches and pop. You’ll have to get your own.
13:00 signing in Sales Area (50 minutes)
You bring it, I’ll sign it. This might be a good chance to talk about Warhammer-related reading.
14:00 The Remembrancers Speak (Seminar 1 – 50 minutes)
The Horus Heresy. To be honest, Dan Abnett is not around this year so the rest of us might get a chance to answer some of your questions… (Love you , Dan x)
15:00 signing in Sales Area (50 minutes)
Except live animals and children. Never work with children and animals.
17:00 Closing Ceremony
I suspect some kind of flag lowering and musical act will be involved.
And if you want to see more BL at events, check out their page here: http://www.blacklibrary.com/Events/events-calendar.html