This page covers my thoughts on Kim Newman's writings as Jack Yeovil. It should be noted that these are just that, MY THOUGHTS, and in no way should be taken as gospel as to how or why Kim wrote his Warhammer stories.
My introduction to Jack
When I first discovered Jack's book Drachenfels, I was going through a difficult time in my life. I suppose, looking back, it probably wasn't much different than so many other boys in their mid to late teens, but at the time I was at a crossroad.
I was still at High School, although my attendance was irregular, and I had no idea about what I actually wanted to do with myself once the school year had finished. I suppose, living as I did in a small 'retirement' town like I did, I was fortunate enough to have a part-time job at a local book-store to support my various 'hobbies' I had. The work here was pretty typical ranging from serving on the counter, cleaning shelves and moving stock, and for the most part I was left to my own devises. One job in particular I had was stock rotation, which involved taking novels from the back of their racks and repositioning them at the front (we had limited space in the store and often books would get lost in the various stacks!). This I did most late night Fridays, when the store was almost always empty and one could access to a till with no problem.
Anyway, it was during one of these late nights that I saw a couple of BoxTree Games Workshop novels on the shelves. I already knew about Games Workshop and their fantasy and sci-fi settings (a group of friends and I had been playing their wargames for as long as I could remember), and so thought that I'd give a novel a go. As it was, the first one I picked up was Drachenfels and I can still vividly remember sitting in the small cramped staff kitchen reading the first view pages.
And that was it, I was hooked. I'm unsure how long it took me to complete the novel, but by the time I had finished I had discovered my new favourite fantasy hero - Anton Veidt (yes I know he died, but he was a fantastic character), fell in love with Genevieve and very, very shocked by the twist ending. I just had to have more.
Fortunately, a couple of the anthologies were also on the shelf at work (along with David Ferring's Konrad novels) and these tided me over. I do remember, however, having to track down a copy of Beasts in Velvet, and I can still remember the excitement of finally having my hands on another complete Jack Yeovil novel!
Since this time I've read and reread this novels a number of times, each an all-to-brief return to my teenage years. I've also seen my wife read them - watching as she was as surprised by the twists as I was all those years ago, and hope that one day my son will read them as well.
Action packed and with a twist
I guess that is the reason I'm always like the style of Kim Newman as Jack Yeovil is due to the fact that all of his stories are short, sharp and to the point. Each has a nice twist and they all have interesting characters that you actually care about.
An opportunity lost
In some ways it is shame that this world, the universe of Drachenfels, Detlef Sierck, and Dirty Harald belongs to Games Workshop and wasn't the sole creation of Kim Newman. I have always felt that there were many more stories and relationships to be played out between his heroes and villains.
That said, one has to understand that this was a paying job for Mr Newman, something that is not all that common for freelance authors.
How official are the books?
It is always been unclear exactly how 'official' any of Jack's stories are in terms of Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy setting. In some ways they must been seen as having some legitimate standing in the Intellectual Property (IP) as they have now been published (including the Omnibus) a total of three times and has seen Kim commissioned with an additional story - The Ibby the Fish Factor. However, one does get the feeling that Jack Yeovil's Warhammer is a different beast than the other stories written since (although it should be noted that not has my perspective changed with age, but that the narrative world of Games Workshop's Warhammer is a lot less 'grim' with an increasing focus on younger readers and gamers).
My own writing
I don't really want to go into this too much, as I'm not really a published author (although I have been published as a poet and Role playing game contributor in the past). All I can say is that, I'm a great prescriber to Kim's theories on writing fantasy (at least in regards to my interpretation of what I've read of his work and the introduction he wrote for The Vampire Genevieve).
If you wish to contact me you can do so at marcus (dot) bone at xtra (dot) co (dot) nz.