Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 8 February 2013

There’s a First Time for Everything

It might be a relief to all concerned that my first Black Library Q and A panel happened overseas... A relief to all, that is, apart from messrs Wraight, McNeill, Thorpe, and, of course, Abnett.

I’ve got to admit, right here, right now, that it has not, previously, been my pleasure to watch the husband perform a question and answer session. I’ve rarely sat in on one of his seminars, either. For the most part, the husband’s quite happy for me to sit next to him at a signing table, and he’s pretty relaxed about public appearances, but, for whatever reasons, he prefers for me to be elsewhere when he’s ‘on’. I don’t know the reasons; it only matters to me that he has them. Heaven forfend I should ever discomfort the poor man more than I already do in our daily lives together.

Anyway... Some of you will know that a little troupe of us Black Library contributors flew off to Canada in October to take part in the Chestermere Expo. It was quite the success, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Sadly, at the last minute, a couple of staffers were unable to attend, and, since I was going anyway, and since I have worked as a sometime editor and proofreader and occasional writer for Black Library, I was asked if I wouldn’t mind stepping in and helping out with a panel or two. I didn’t mind. I thought it might be fun, just so long as the audience’s expectations weren’t too high.

I had very little to worry about. I was surrounded by professionals.

The professionals had something to worry about. They were surrounded by me.

Performing on a panel is not the easiest thing in the World. I know, I’ve done it. I did it four times in two days in Chestermere. I watched while the guys I was sitting with did it. I watched the husband do it alone.

Honest to goodness, having done it myself, watching the husband flying solo for an hour was like taking a masterclass. The man (and I’m talking about my husband, you understand, and have no bias whatsoever), is a genius... in more ways than one.

When hoisted up on a too-high stool, on a little platform with a mic in my hand and a little gathering of people seated in front of me, it turns out that I can find something to say whether I know the answer to a question or not. So that, I guess, is a blessing. There weren’t any awkward silences, at least... One or two gasps, and a nervous laugh or two (mostly from the other panel-members), but no drawn-out pauses.

It also turns out that I can find something to say that is totally unlike anything that any one else on the panel is going to say. It wasn’t that I contradicted anyone. How does one contradict a New York Times bestselling author, after all? It’s just that it turns out every perspective is unique, and it turns out that my perspective might just be a little more unique than most; here are a few reasons why:

I am the only Black Library contributor married to Dan Abnett, I am the least published contributor of longest standing, and I am in the minority of women writers working for the company. I am also a storyteller before I am anything else. I am a storyteller before I am a nerd or a gamer, or a painter of figures, or a man, or even a writer. When you ask me a question on a Q and A panel I want to tell you a story. I want to amuse you. I don’t want to lay out the facts, I don’t even, necessarily, want to answer your question; what I want to do is tell you a story.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is why it takes another writer dropping out of a foreign expo at the last minute, and a desperate but efficient event organiser to get me invited onto a Q and A panel. It was a great treat for me, even if it terrified several members of the public who happened to be in the audience for the event. 

I didn’t, as it happens, expect to be invited to work an event again, but, here we are, a couple of weeks away from BL Live 2013, with a lovely pair of books with my name on, and there I am, on the schedule! It’s fine, though, don’t fret, all will be well. I’m on at the same time as the husband; he’s doing his solo Q&A while I sit on a panel talking about Warhammer. I’m not expecting a huge audience for my little performance, but, just so you know, and if you should happen to need an enticement to support the other Abnett, if you should happen to want to ask me a question about the husband, I will consider answering it... candidly!

You can’t say fairer than that, now, can you?


  1. "but, here we are, a couple of weeks away from BL Live 2013, with a lovely pair of books with my name on"

    Ooh, does this mean the Gilead books will be making an early appearance in March?

  2. For the record, I wasn't desperate but I DID want you involved on the schedule as soon as you confirmed that you could come. The perfect excuse got handed to me so that I could guilt-trip you into taking part on the panels - and you were very popular with the attendees! Next time I'm making sure that I actually get to sit in on your panel discussions, since the feedback was excellent.

    Thank you for being awesome :-)

    1. See how very lovely you are! It'll be an absolute pleasure to come back x

  3. I think it was at FantasyCon 2010 when Jo Fletcher, then working at Gollancz, said something along the lines of "we have enough great writers". I'm pretty sure the situation hasn't changed. To get fiction traditionally published is hard enough, but only exceptional writers get to make a living at it.

    So teaching teenagers creative writing is about as useful as teaching them how to be a government minister, or how to deal with the media as a celebrity.