The Malice by Peter Newman is available today! The author answered a few burning questions about the second installment in the Vagrant trilogy
Q. The Malice follows the story of Vesper, now a young woman. What was it like transitioning to such a different voice and character from The Vagrant? Did it affect your overall writing process?
A. Well, first off, it was an incredible relief having a main character that spoke! Life is so much easier that way, let me tell you. Otherwise, it didn’t change the way I wrote the book very much. The world and the writing style are the same.
However, the themes of the book are quite different. In The Vagrant, most of the characters are bruised by life and focused purely on survival, whereas in The Malice we have a new generation of characters who are looking at the world around them with fresh eyes, and are less willing to accept what they see as okay.
Q. What were your favorite parts about writing from The Vagrant’s perspective versus Vesper’s? What was the most challenging?
A. I love them both for different reasons. The challenge with writing the Vagrant is giving the reader enough clues to follow what he might be thinking or feeling, and to tell the story clearly. But he’s fun too, I enjoy the way he reacts to the world, and the fact that whatever happens, he just keeps going.
With Vesper, there are a different set of issues. Unlike the Vagrant, she’s not worldly, nor is she trained to battle infernals, which can be tricky in a world and story like this one. But she can talk (thank goodness!), and unlike most people, her ability to hope and dream has not yet been ground into the dust, which gives this book a different kind of energy. Vesper is an idealist which as we all know, makes for a tough life.
Q. You’ve built such a complex, masterpiece of a world…and we’re eager to gobble up any piece of it. What was the inspiration behind writing your novella The Hammer and The Goat? Are there any other one-off stories or characters in this world you’d like to explore?
A. Thank you! The Hammer and The Goat is set parallel to the events in The Vagrant. I’d suggest it’s best enjoyed after you’ve read that. I know a lot of people liked those two characters in particular and the way they played off each other in book one, and I wanted to tell the story of what they got up to while the main book was following the Vagrant. I also wanted to give the reader more of a sense of who the Hammer that Walks is, and her life before we meet her in book one.
Funnily enough, I’ve just had a second short come out! It’s called The Vagrant and The City, and it’s set about five years after The Malice (read The Malice first if you don’t like spoilers!). It follows the Vagrant and what he does in response to the events in book two. It also teases some of the tensions that will feature in The Seven (the third and final part of the trilogy).
Q. The goat has become quite a fan favorite! Is there a story behind creating this unique side-kick & avenue for comic relief?
A. Yes. When I was first writing The Vagrant, I needed to have a source of milk for the baby. I couldn’t imagine him taking a cow across the Blasted Lands, so I had to come up with an alternative. Animal companions often appear in fantasy, but noble horses, proud dragons, or loyal dogs didn’t fit the grim setting. Also, in my books many animals have been mutated into weird hybrids by the taint, so I tried to think about what creatures might be tough enough to survive unchanged in this world. The only things I could that came to mind were cockroaches and goats. I didn’t think I had it in me to write a cockroach as a main character (I’m not sure roach milk would fly either), and so the goat was born.
Q. The epic conclusion to your Vagrant trilogy releases this fall. In 4 words (no spoilers!), what can your anxiously awaiting fans expect?
A. Only 4? That’s really hard. How about this:
More Vagrant, Vesper, goats.
Q. Who are your favorite SFF authors? What are you reading now?
A. Now there’s a question that’s hard to answer quickly! My love for Robin Hobb’s work is eternal. Neil Gaiman’s books are fabulous (but you knew that already), and Roger Zelazny’s Amber books will always have a special place in my heart. But there are really cool new books coming out too: I enjoyed Ren Warom’s cyberweird debut, Escapology, last year, and Jay Kristoff’s ‘Harry Potter goes to killer’s school’ aka Nevernight. Oh, and After Atlas by *cough* Emma Newman is an astonishingly good Sci-fi crime. Right now I’m reading A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall, which is a subversive, character driven epic fantasy.
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. Twitter: @RunPeteWrite.