11 August 2011 | Arkham Horror Fiction

The Shadows that Follow

Part one of an interview with Alan Bligh, author of Dance of the Damned

Ancient powers will awaken when Dance of the Damned is made available in the fourth quarter of 2011! This Arkham Horror novel is the first book in The Lord of Nightmares Trilogy. Today, author Alan Bligh shares his thoughts on writing Dance of the Damned in the first of a two-part interview to which he graciously agreed.

In Dance of the Damned, Miskatonic University librarian Daisy Walker is plagued by the missing gap in her memory. It is a memory better left lost, but when an estranged friend reenters her life, Daisy must delve into her dark past to find the awful truth. Her fate will soon intertwine with that of Tony Morgan, a bounty hunter faced with a contract with an untrustworthy corporation to find a thief. His seemingly simple job will prove far more dangerous. While Morgan’s shady employer works to cover its twisted agenda, these characters will travel through New York, Arkham, and Kingsport until their troubled journey leads them into the midst of horror...and face to face with living nightmares.

Unraveling the mystery

FFG: What is your favorite part of the Arkham Horror world? AB: Well, Arkham Horror is closely based on the imaginative worlds of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle, which have been a long term passion of mine, so it’s very difficult to pick out one part of that as a favourite above the rest. Above all though, it’s probably the whole aspect of a hidden and terrible reality lurking beyond what the world knows or admits to — it’s a very powerful idea and as a writer it conjures up a lot of possibilities for action, intrigue and revelation I can tap into and explore.

FFG: Who would you say your favorite character is in the Arkham Horror world? AB: Well, in terms of playing the game, I have to say I’ve personally had the most success with Sister Mary! Now, this is by no means anything to do with planning you understand; we have a bit of a tradition, my friends and I, when playing Arkham Horror of randomly drawing the characters we will play and letting the chaos ensue accordingly! And, it must be said, whenever I’ve ended up with the good sister, I’ve had a blast and it seems to have gone well, particularly if I can get hold of a Fire Axe…

FFG: What is your favorite aspect of translating the Arkham Horror world into a novel like Dance of the Damned? AB: I really enjoyed being able to employ a wider stage for the story, and build lives for the characters, and explore, in particular, twenties New York and then setting Arkham and Kingsport as part of that wider world. I also had a great time in delving deeper into Kingsport and its secrets, which I’ve always found to be a fascinating locale in Lovecraft’s fiction (and it’s where a good deal of Dance of the Damned is set).

FFG: What part of Dance of the Damned was the most exciting to write? AB: The challenge of shaping the narrative and plot was the thing I enjoyed the most I think; the chance to write a story unlike anything I’d really sunk my teeth into before — a story centred in a historical period of the real world which felt ‘real’, and yet which had to also deliver something of the experience of the Arkham Horror board game, as well as being a good old fashioned ‘thrill ride’ in terms of plot and action.

FFG: Who do you find your writing style to be inspired by? AB: That’s a tricky one, I have no doubt I’m something of an amalgam of everybody I’ve read who have sunk into my brain, but I’m told I err a little towards an old fashioned English (British) style somewhat (I like my dashes and italicised internal dialogue). I do read a lot for pleasure, and cover a lot of ground in terms of genre, although science fiction, fantasy and horror in particular are what have always interested me the most, and that literature I think has had a very strong influence on the way I write.

FFG: What advice do you have for aspiring writers? AB: I’m not sure I’m entirely qualified to answer that one, but I will echo the advice of a great many more established writers of grace and range than I; read — read lots, read what interests you and also read widely, both to expand what you know and to explore ways of writing. One definition I’ve heard of a good fiction writer is “somebody who knows a little about everything and a lot about people” and I think that’s not too far from the truth!

FFG: Finally, which of our games do you like playing the most, if any? AB: I am an unashamed player of games (and, I confess, a games designer as well as a writer by trade), and yes I do (or have) played lots of your games. And, oddly enough, Arkham Horror is my favourite and I’ve had many a fine evening of good company, wine, and ineptly attempting to defeat the machinations of the horrible things from beyond. Of course, I have a soft spot for Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and Deathwatch, as I was heavily involved in their genesis and writing in the past, and I also am very fond of both Twilight Imperium and Fury of Dracula which are very different kinds of fun.

The second segment of our exciting interview with Alan Bligh, author of Dance of the Damned, creeps ever closer. Prepare to hunt down the answers in the coming weeks and pre-order Dance of the Damned today!


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