Q&A with Peter Newman — author of THE VAGRANT
Peter Newman answers a few questions about his new epic fantasy novel The Vagrant, available now.
Q. Worldbuilding is incredibly important to epic fantasy like The Vagrant. How did you go about mapping out the landscapes (and seascapes)? Did you build the world to fit The Vagrant or did you create The Vagrant to live in this world?
In broad terms, the Vagrant and the world arrived as a package, fully formed. He was very clearly defined in my mind from the start, as was New Horizon, the Shining City and various things to do with the infernals. Everything else I excavated as I went. It was a strange writing experience, actually. I always knew where I was headed but were lots of parts I had to slow down to feel my way through. I knew what was right when I saw it on the page but sometimes it took a few tries (and a long time!) to find.
Q. Your protagonist, the Vagrant, never speaks a word. What made you take on such a demanding writing challenge, especially in your debut novel?
In previous manuscripts I’d become over reliant on dialogue, and this forced me away from that. I didn’t realise I was writing a novel at first but the world kept pulling at me, and growing. In fact, I was a good twenty five thousand words down before I realised I was actually writing a novel! As for the challenge, there were certainly times I wished I’d picked something easier. Having said that, I didn’t think about it in terms of making things hard for myself, it was just the story I wanted to tell.
Q. The Vagrant lives in a very grim world but his traveling companions, a baby and a goat, bring comic relief at times. Can you talk about how they impact the Vagrant’s dark demeanor and the overall story?
I think it’s important to vary the tone, and the baby and the goat allow me to show other sides to the characters too.
The baby is an essential part of the story, bringing tension in the scenes where it’s under threat, moments of humour and, above all, hope. Also, we don’t get enough babies in SFF stories.
The thing with the goat is that she doesn’t really like the Vagrant all that much, and she certainly doesn’t care for his troubles. It doesn’t matter how nobly the Vagrant is behaving or how high the stakes are, the goat will give him just as hard a time, bringing him and the reader back down to earth. The goat is also stubborn, allowing her to survive and thrive in a climate where the human characters (who tend to worry about things like the bigger picture and what will happen tomorrow) struggle.
Q. When you began to realize you would be a writer, was it always going to be SFF? What/who were your influences in the genre?
I think I was always going to start somewhere on the SFF spectrum, it’s where I feel most comfortable. Growing up, my influences were varied and, with the caveat that I’ll have missed off hundreds of things, the following have all had an impact on my fragile little mind: a lifetime of playing RPG’s (White Wolf’s Vampire: the Masquerade, Amber, Dungeons & Dragons,Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, various superhero rpgs), reading books (Zelazny’s Chronicle’s of Amber, Gaiman’s Sandman, Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance stories, and China Miéville’sPerdido Street Station to name a few), and playing computer games (I could write a long, long list but will stick with Final Fantasy 7, Planescape: Torment, and Mass Effect for now).
About The Vagrant
Mad Max meets The Gunslinger and The Book of Eli in this tremendous debut from Peter Newman.
“A must-read” –SciFiNow
The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.
Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape. As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.
His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.
What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defenses of a once great civilization are crumbling into dust. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place…
Riveting, powerful, and gritty, The Vagrant blends epic world-building and addictive adventure into a post-apocalyptic masterpiece.