Warhammer Wednesday – An interview with Mike BrooksNovember 14, 2018
An interview with Mike Brooks
I had the opportunity and great pleasure to interview new Black Library writer and incredible talent Mike Brooks. His writing covers my absolute favourite parts of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. If you haven’t read his Novella and short stories get to the Black Library as soon as possible.
As a newcomer to Black Library how does it feel seeing your work alongside that of hobby legends and getting to define part of a universe 30 years in the making?
It feels great! I first got into Games Workshop when I was about 11 or 12 – round about ‘93/‘94 – and although I’ve dropped in and out of the hobby since it’s been a big part of my life. The opportunity to contribute to a little bit of the world-building is a marvellous one, and a thrill despite the fact that I’ve been published elsewhere with my own sci-fi.
What part of your ‘Wanted: Dead’ novella excites you most? What would you like to share with people about it?
I’m honestly pleased with all of it, I think it worked out very well in terms of plot, character and generally capturing the ‘feel’ of the Underhive. However, I think the thing I like most about it is the same-sex female relationship that underpins it: the main character Jarene is in a relationship with her fellow ganger Quinne.
This is, to the best of my knowledge, Black Library’s first queer main character, and I *think* certainly the first written by a queer author. And I’m also pleased at how open Black Library were to this; it wasn’t discussed in the synopsis, but no one seemed to blink when the manuscript landed. And no one objected to House Escher worshipping the God-Emperor as the God-Empress! Because I mean, why would they worship a *man*…?
House Escher has had some excellent characters and storytelling in previous editions of Necromunda but also some problematic moments. How does it feel having the opportunity to build and improve that legacy?
It feels good. Obviously, there are going to be issues: for better or for worse, House Escher are the most prominent female representation in Necromunda (female Van Saar models notwithstanding) and there are certain elements you’re not going to get away from. Also, since I’m not female, I need to be conscious of trying to avoid similar pitfalls. But I’ve tried to do what I can: the Escher I write about wear flak vests (unlike the somewhat questionable protection of the sports bras the models wear, which somehow count as flak armour!) and no one is described as wearing heels!
I’ve also tried to install a real sense of family and camaraderie in them. The fluff text in the rule books paint Escher as psychotic and cruel, which I suppose is to be expected if they’re talking about famous gang lords: certainly the descriptions are similar for the other Houses too. But I wanted to show that most of the gangers in Necromunda aren’t hyper-violent sociopaths so much as they’re just trying to protect what’s theirs, and their loved ones.
If you could make one significant change to the universe of the 41st Millennium, what would it be and why?
Female Space Marines. Belisarius Cawl has “improved” on the Emperor’s work and thrown a bunch of new stuff into the gene-mix so there’s not even an in-universe reason any more why women shouldn’t become Space Marines and join the foremost (brainwashed and overtly fascist) defenders of humanity.
With such a strong start, what can we expect from you in the future?
At the recent Black Library Weekender I was able to reveal that my forthcoming novel is called Rites Of Passage and is about Navigators. Specifically, the main character is Lady Chettamandey Brobantis, who crops up in my Inferno! short story A Common Ground.