Peter Newman is a new author about to be published by Harper Voyager, but you might already be more familiar with Peter than you think. You might know him in the guise of Latimer, Emma Newman’s slightly dangerous, well-mannered butler on Tea and Jeopardy. This Thursday, however, sees the publication of Peter’s debut novel The Vagrant, a novel which I think will make him a well-known name around the SFF scene as a writer of fine fiction. At the time of writing this I’m hip deep in the book and I’m enjoying it tremendously. Look for my more expansive thoughts tomorrow when I’ll post my review of the book. For now though, please enjoy this marvellous interview with Peter, which might possibly include some cake and mild peril.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Peter Newman?
Peter Newman lives in Somerset with his wife and son. Growing up in and around London, Peter studied Drama and Education at the Central School of Speech and Drama, going on to work as a secondary school drama teacher. He now works as a trainer and Firewalking Instructor. He sometimes pretends to be a butler for the Tea and Jeopardy podcast, which he co-writes, and which has been shortlisted for a Hugo Award.
How would you introduce people to the world of The Vagrant?
It’s a far future world that has recently suffered a demonic apocalypse. The old order is fast collapsing and humanity is fighting a losing battle to survive.
From the blurb, The Vagrant is set in a bleak, post-apocalyptic world. Is the book as grim as it seems?
The thing about the cover that immediately grabbed my attention is the fact that the hooded man is holding a baby. That’s not something you see every day! How difficult is it to incorporate a baby in a trek across a war-torn landscape, assuming the hooded figure is the Vagrant of course!
The hooded figure on the cover is indeed the Vagrant, and the presence of a baby makes his life very difficult indeed. Not only does it have standard baby needs (food, shelter, clean clothes, and regular interactions) but in this world normal babies are rare and highly sought after by the demons. On the other hand, the baby has not yet been worn down by life in the way the adults have which counts for a lot.
The Vagrant is your debut novel. What led you to writing fantasy? Do you have any short fiction online people could check out?
I’ve always loved fantasy. I grew up reading it and roleplaying in imaginary fantasy worlds. It’s where my creative brain tends to go. Also, fantasy has some of the best characters.
I had a very short audio story come out last Halloween on Pseudopod called The Biggest Candle of Them All. You’re welcome to listen to that and there are lots of other cool stories on there too. Here’s the link: http://pseudopod.org/2014/11/01/pseudopod-420-flash-on-the-borderlands-xxii-britshock/ [Editor’s Note: You can also find an extract for The Vagrant on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.]
Your alter ego is Tea and Jeopardy’s Latimer. In his honour, I can’t help but ask, any chance of tea and cake in The Vagrant or is there only peril available?
The further from the Breach (and the demons) you get, the more chance there is of cake. There’s no tea though. And if that’s not a sign of the apocalypse I don’t know what is.
More seriously though, You and Emma co-write the scripts for Tea and Jeopardy, which is quite humorous. Is writing humour harder than writing more straight fantasy? Or is the difference in format between audio scripts and novel writing so big that you can’t compare them?
Thanks! We certainly have a laugh writing them. It’s a very different process writing the Tea and Jeopardy scripts so it’s quite hard to compare the two. They have very different challenges. I should add that there are little bits of what I consider humour sprinkled throughout The Vagrant. It’s not laugh a minute but there are occasional breaks in the bleakness.
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
Next up is the sequel. The latest version of which is currently sitting with my (awesome) editor. Fingers crossed she likes it!
I’m going to be all over the place over the next few weeks (mentally and physically!). I’m at Super Relaxed Fantasy Club on the 31st March. At the start of April I’m at Dysprosium, then I’m at the Grim Gathering (with Peter V Brett, Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie). The book launches in London’s Forbidden Planet on the 23rd April and I’ve got a joint signing at FP in Bristol with Emma on the 30th.
I’ll also be at Nine Worlds, Octocon and BristolCon this year.
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
Roleplaying. I’ve recently started playing in a new D&D campaign. It’s lovely! I’m also a big fan of computer games, food, and running.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
I tend to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to finding new books. I’ve only just discovered the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb! But if you haven’t read it, do it now. You’re in for a treat. I’d heartily recommend The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams and The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig, both of which have just come out. As for things not out yet… Emma Newman’s sci-fi debut, Planetfall, is out at the end of the year. And yes, you may think I’m bound to say that but trust me, it’s a bloody good book!
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
We have lots of bookshelves in our house. They are arranged by various arcane systems such as: books by people we like, books we think look pretty, and books that were acquired in certain times of life. Roleplaying books have their own shelf. Some books move between the rooms depending on who has the best argument at the time for where they should live.
Bio: I write, I run, I sometimes pretend to be a butler…
Represented by Juliet Mushens of the Agency Group.
Debut novel The Vagrant being published by Harper Voyager 23rd April 2015.
Find me on Twitter: @runpetewrite
You can not just find Peter on Twitter, you can also find him at his website.