Tie-in fiction can be a curious beast. For those unfamiliar with the phrase itself, “tie-in” involves authors writing in a shared fictional universe, nearly always scifi or fantasy in nature. So, for example, Star Wars novels are works of tie-in fiction – they’re written by a range of different authors, but they all adhere to the setting and style of the Star Wars universe.
Generally speaking there are two sorts of tie-in authors. Most common are those established writers who approach the publishers of tie-in fiction and ask to write stories for them, or are specifically head-hunted by the publishers themselves. They frequently have a general grasp of how the universe they’re writing for works, but plenty also come to it cold and have to learn it from scratch. The other type are what I call “fan-authors.” They’re the minority, the ones who’ve always followed the setting in question, and come to writing having already been immersed in it for years.
Getting my first miniatures at the age of seven, and entering my first writing competition for them aged thirteen, I think it’s safe to say when it comes to Games Workshop’s fantasy and scifi universes (Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000) that I’m a fan-author. Getting accepted onto their writing team last year was a dream come true.
Now, it’s one thing getting to write stories set in your favourite made-up worlds. It’s entirely another to be chosen to be a part of a series of events designed to shake up said worlds forever. That’s the position I found myself in recently when I was asked to write the sequel to Curse of the Wulfen, entitled Legacy of Russ. The primary focus of these stories are (very, very arguably) the single most popular Space Marine Chapter in existence, the Space Wolves. The specific characters I was tasked to write about were almost all long-standing players in the wider Warhammer 40,000 background lore.
Names like Logan Grimnar, Azrael, Ragnar Blackmane and the Changeling will be familiar to almost every 40k player. Grimnar, for example, appeared in the first Space Wolves supplement in 1994 – he’s only two years younger than me! They’ve been immortalised in hundreds of pieces of art, stories and video games already, and are owned in miniature form by tens of thousands of hobbyists worldwide. To be the one writing their officially-accepted words and actions has been a huge honour.
I only hope I have completed the next stage of their individual lore-legacies in a way that will satisfy my fellow fans and hobbyists.