Thursday, 12 May 2016

Star Dad interview - David Annandale

By no means would we introduce this as a 'new feature', but certainly something that us Dads would like to do is interview some of our hobby heroes who also happen to be dads, and see how they manage to combine the day job, the family and the hobby. Do they have the same difficulties as us mere mortals? Or do they live in a world of Space Marine milk and honey... we will find out for you!

The first person that agreed to answer some of our questions is someone I think you'll all know and love: David Annandale. Writer of amazing Horus Heresy fiction, and many other books (which I confess I should probably go and try seeing as I'm a big fan of horror fiction), sometime university lecturer and of course, dad.

David Annandale
(David, I took your photo from Twitter hope you don't mind. @David_Annandale)    

We know you firstly as an author of literature based in and around the worlds of Warhammer 40k and the Horus Heresy. Did you play these games before you started writing about them?

I came to the games via the books, though I also picked up the rule book around the same time I started reading them. I had been looking through my friend's copy, and I found it so beautiful, and the universe it described so enticing, that I wanted one for myself even though I didn't play yet. In the books I found a beguiling collision of all my favourite genres, and it resonated very strongly with me as a writer. Subsequently I started my collection of figures. Having said this, I do have a much longer connection with gaming, but more in the role-playing vein. I started playing AD&D first edition back in 1980, and still have my books from then.

Did you spend a lot of time hobbying before you had kids? What have been the biggest changes to your hobby time since they came along?
In some ways, I've done more since they came into my life. My wife's children were 13 and 8 when I met her, and so they already had pretty well-developed interests. So they were the ones, for example, that re-introduced me to video games (a field I hadn't really paid much attention to since high school, so my console history jumps from Telstar to Xbox). In recent years as they have entered adulthood and my wife and I have both spent more time modelling - more than I ever did as a child, and this has been a new discovery for her.

How do you find the time to do the day job, look after the family and still get a bit of hobby time in?

That's the tricky bit, since I'm effectively working two jobs between the writing and the University. I don't get as much hobby time as I would like, but it isn't infrequent that my wife and I will be at the same table and I write while she models. Since she's focussed on an ork army, and I've wound up writing about them a lot, I get a bit of vicarious hobby time then, as it were. Otherwise, I get to do a bit during the holidays.

Do your kids get involved with the hobby? Did you encourage them to? If so, what’s the best thing about their involvement from your point of view?

The kids aren't involved with 40K itself (though my stepdaughter has done a bit of Tau modelling), but they both love comics, SF, horror, figures, and so on. So we have a lot of overlapping interests. My stepson loved horror (my field of specialization) before we met, and my stepdaughter was the first among us to start building figures, so I would say we have a wonderful situation where we are all influencing each other's interests, and it's become increasingly difficult to say who has brought whom into a given area.

Why do you think we and our kids still love traditional wargames, considering the ever increasing popularity of electronic games? It’s not like 40k is ‘pick up and play’ when you have to buy, assemble and paint the miniatures before you can even play a game…

I think part of the appeal is the range of pleasures that are offered by the hobby. The modelling is a pleasure in and of itself -- one can spend hours beyond counting in the enjoyment of creation. Using what one has built in a game is then even more wonderful, but the assembly and painting is not so much something we have to do before playing, as it is its own joy.

As a teacher and now lecturer, do your students know much about your writing? Have you ever had them quote your own work back to you? Have you ever been tempted to set one of your own books as a topic for discussion?

Unless I'm teaching a creative writing class, where my experience as a writer matters to the course, I don't talk much about my own writing to my students. Some do know about that side of my life, and while I've never had any quote my work to me, they do sometimes talk to me about it. I've never been tempted to teach my own work, though I have been invited to other classes where it's been taught, and that is always a fun and slightly disorienting experience. I have occasionally, where relevant, assigned work by Black Library colleagues (such as Dan Abnett and Aaron Dembski-Bowden).

(Interview kindly provided by David Annandale to the Four Dads via email, May 2016)

Once again I'd like to thank David for taking the time to answer our questions (hopefully the quality of our questioning will improve as and when we get more practice...).

The Four Dads

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