23 August 2011 | Arkham Horror Fiction

Drawn into the Destruction

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

Welcome back to the second segment of our two-part interview with Dance of the Damned’s author Alan Bligh! The Ancient Ones are stirring...a novel filled with forbidden knowledge could be the key to their freedom; Dance of the Damned will unleash the Mythos when it is available in the fourth quarter of 2011!

In Dance of the Damned, bounty hunter Tony Morgan is forced into a contract with an untrustworthy corporation in exchange for his life. But his simple task of tracking down a thief will prove far more dangerous... Soon his search will collide with that of Miskatonic University librarian Daisy Walker. Plagued by the missing gap in her memory, Daisy is forced to delve into her dark past when an estranged friend reenters her life. Now as these characters attempt to uncover the awful truth, they 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.

Let the chaos ensue

FFG: Can you describe your approach to the Arkham Horror world? Why did you decide to write a trilogy? AB: Hey, that’s two questions! When FFG was kind enough to approach my friend and long-time collaborator, John French and I (he is in fact writing the second volume in The Lord of Nightmares Trilogy), with the opportunity to work on their new line of novels, we obviously leapt at the chance!

Almost immediately we took to discussing and pulling apart exactly what made Arkham Horror what it was, and as players, what made a great game — and just how we could translate those experiences into narrative fiction. What came out of this process was a large and detailed plot about the end of the world — and just what kind of people would be involved in such insanity. We also took as a starting point the idea that the characters in Arkham Horror are always drawn to Arkham through wider experiences and in pursuit of agendas of their own, as well as facing some very unpleasant opposition along the way. Delving into our story line quickly had us dealing with competing and disparate factions all drawn into a vortex of destruction created by the Ancient Ones, forgotten histories and mortal evil — and frankly, rather a lot to squeeze into a single book! Thus the idea of a trilogy was born, and it fell to me to open the curtain on the story.

FFG: How do you feel your experience writing a science fiction series like the Imperial Armour book series of wargaming expansions for Forge World affected your writing for Dance of the Damned? AB: Directly, not that much I suppose. But, indirectly perhaps in that my work for Forge World carries great expectations in terms of the detailed and (hopefully!) exciting exploration of a very particular fictional world which already lives in the minds of its fans, so to speak. The responsibility is always on me to fulfill those high expectations with something that seems at once familiar and interesting, but also brings something new to that world. Although the world of Arkham Horror is of course very different from the grim darkness of Warhammer 40,000’s far future, it has its own well-established and richly detailed milieu, with its own ardent fans I was very conscious that I didn’t want to disappoint!

FFG: What is your favorite section or aspect of Dance of the Damned? AB: Without a doubt it was the chance to wield the whole dark panoply of Arkham Horror’s monsters, mystery and alien magic in a story of my own. It was also huge fun to bring elements of the roaring twenties — a period of history I’ve always been interested in — into the story and set a rich and vivid scene for my characters to inhabit.

FFG: Who is your favorite character in Dance of the Damned? AB: Ah, that one may not be easy to answer without accidently spoiling the plot! But I have a soft spot for one character who comes to a particularly sticky end in the book, but who was an absolute pleasure to write.

FFG: Do you remember what the first piece you ever wrote was? Did you show it to anyone? AB: Yes. Many moons ago I wrote a two page story about a Vincent Price style magician who used a magic potion to make his chair sprout bat wings and fly off into a storm and showed it my mum. — Clearly I was doomed from a very early age.

FFG: How would you say your writing style has changed throughout the years? AB: Hopefully, I’ve gotten better! Less flippantly, I’ve always believed that in terms of the craft of writing you should always try to improve on the last thing you’ve done.

FFG: How do you think fans will relate to your characters? AB: Like any writer, I hope I have done my best to make my characters live in the minds of the readers, and make them interesting — each with their own stories and trajectories. I’ve very much tried to give them lives and motivations far beyond a set of game statistics, but also keep them true to their origins, somewhere in that space between the board game and the real world of the roaring twenties. I hope I’ve given the readers characters they can empathise with, root for and in some cases, outright hate!

Thanks, Alan! More previews of Dance of the Damned will appear in the coming weeks; keep your eyes on the darkening horizon and pre-order Dance of the Damned today!


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