An Interview with Sarah Cawkwell

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I truly love this blog and what I get to write about. Today is no exception as I have the very great pleasure on interviewing the awesome and extremely talented Sarah Cawkwell, author of The Gildar Rift, Silver Skull addict and all round lovely lady…

TSC: First of all, a massive thank you for agreeing to speak with me. The Gildar Rift has hit bookshelves up and down the country. For those who’ve not read it yet can you give us a run down of what it’s about?

SC: When the ancient warship Wolf of Fenris emerges from the warp, Imperial forces find that it has been overrun by the dreaded Red Corsairs. However, this is no mere raiding party – Huron Blackheart and his entire renegade fleet soon follow, intent on conquering the Gildar Rift and tightening their grip on the sector. Lance batteries and torpedo salvos burn fiery contrails through the void, and only Captain Arrun of the Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter can halt the renegades’ advance. The fate of the Rift will not be decided in the heavens but on the surface of Gildar Secundus below.

Or, it’s about big ships, big guns and big super-human soldiers having a scrap.

TSC: Hey, works for me. What got you into the 40k Universe in the first place?

SC: My husband constantly telling me I should read the Horus Heresy series. I eventually caved in out of a desperate need to shut him up. Before I’d reached the end of the first chapter of Horus Rising, I had fallen in love with the Adeptus Astartes completely and utterly.

TSC: The Heresy novels prevents Astartes in a very different way and it’s interesting to see how circumstances have driven the Astartes to ever more extreme views and practices from what was originally a family rather than a brotherhood. So, it’s fair to say that you’re a bit of a Space Marine fan?

SC: Just a bit. I love writing about the Space Marines; they’re so fascinating as characters. As I’ve said before, I dispute the claim that they are ‘two dimensional’. They are only what you put into them. I’m firmly of the belief that they are far more than cannon fodder and find the monastic warrior brotherhood lifestyle they lead to be great to write about.

TSC: I agree, anyone who accuses Space Marines of being mindless killers clearly doesn’t understand them. And just to spark arguments amongst my readers – which is your favourite Chapter and why?

SC: Silver Skulls, obviously! Although them aside (and they ARE my babies), I’m a Blood Angels girl through and through. As for the ‘why’, well, it’s because they’re massively flawed and I like that in my heroes.

TSC: More of a Ultramarines man myself…So what prompted you to put fingers to keyboard and write The Gildar Rift?

SC: I had already seen a couple of Silver Skulls short stories published in Hammer & Bolter and engaged in conversation with my editor about wanting to have a crack at writing a book. I found a single paragraph in the Space Marine codex about the Silver Skulls and said ‘hey! What about this.’ This was on the Saturday. ‘Brilliant,’ says he, ‘pitch me a full story by Tuesday’.

So I did. And they seemed to like it. And so it was born.

TSC: Three days? No pressure then… With The Gildar Rift under your belt and Accursed Eternity available to download, what’s next? And what are you allowed to tell us at this point?

SC: I have another short story (Silver Skulls, natch) due to appear in Hammer & Bolter 15, then there’s Bloodraven, which is my first WHF short story about Valkia the Bloody. That’s part of the Age of Legend anthology due out in  January. I’ve just finished editing the manuscript for Valkia the Bloody, which will be out in July next year. At this VERY moment, I’m working on Other Stuff which may or may not involve Silver Skulls. Maybe. Perhaps. Probably.

TSC: You really do love those silver skulled bastards don’t you? So, if you were given free rein to write what you wanted, what project would you love to take a stab at?

SC: I think every BL author would like a stab at writing something in the Horus Heresy era and I’m no exception to that rule. I’d love to do something set in that time period, even if it’s not one of the key events. Failing that, I’d like to just carry on developing the Silver Skulls.

TSC: What was it like going from a reader to writer of GW fiction, and the resulting shoulder rubbing with the likes of BL legends like Dan Abnett?

SC: It was and still is both a complete pleasure and absolutely surreal. There have been occasions when I’ve wondered when I’ll wake up. But they’re all such lovely guys and can’t do enough for you.

TSC: If I could sort my life out sufficiently I’d like to join those hallowed ranks myself one day. What advice can you give other blossoming writers?

SC: Sounds stupid, I know… but write. Write, write, write. Even if it’s on a blog, or just braindumping, write something every day. Plan out your story because even if you deviate – and believe you me, The Gildar Rift deviated quite a long way from the original plan – it helps to have that vision in mind.

Everyone finds their own way of working effectively. I’m of the ‘write now, edit later’ school and tap away until I have the story down. Then I go back and expand/rewrite. Other people edit as they go along. There is no right or wrong way – find what works for you and stick with it.

TSC: And finally, when can we expect Captain Cockwomble to feature in your work?

SC: Unfortunately, the Captain is away in the Wimbledon sector, collecting litter for the Imperium.

TSC: Dammit!

The Gildar Rift is available in Games Workshop hobby stores and all good book stores. So go buy it.

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3 thoughts on “An Interview with Sarah Cawkwell

  1. Anything that sets the record straight concerning the Wolf of Fenris is good in my book – and obviously Sarah’s book too!

    Interesting interview 🙂

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