Thursday, June 16, 2016

Peter Newman

Peter Newman lives in Somerset with his wife and son. Growing up in and around London, Newman 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.

Newman's new novel is The Vagrant.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
Liveship Traders #1 -- Ship of Magic (Robin Hobb)

I’ve been an unashamed fanboy of Robin Hobb’s ever since I read her Farseer Trilogy last year. To me, her books are like really expensive chocolates, in that they deserve to be savoured.

For those of you who don’t know, Ship of Magic is a fantasy novel. As you might expect from the title, there are living, talking ships. There are also pirates, monsters, magic and all the kind of things you’d expect. What sets this apart are the characters (and yes, I’m including the ships here). Each is wonderfully observed, flawed and understandable. Even the unlikeable characters make utter sense. Robin Hobb makes me care about them all, deeply, which can be tricky as her characters don’t have very easy lives.

But, much as I loved it, I’ve been reading other things before jumping into book two, such as…

Copper Cat Trilogy #3 -- The Silver Tide (Jen Williams)

More fantasy! This is the third and final book in the Copper Cat trilogy by Jen Williams. Again we have dragons and gods and monsters and pirates but in a much more traditional adventure, where a group of rogues get together in search of booty but end up having to save the world, and each other.

As with Hobb, it’s the characters that draw me through these books. They’re archetypical but not stereotypical, and the warmth they have for each other and their personal growth (stubbornly slow in some cases!) is lovely to behold. They’re big books but feel like fast reads. A neat trick.

Escapology (Ren Warom)

Ren Warom’s debut novel is set in a very bleak future, where humanity has flooded most of the world and now crams itself onto what remains of the land. Like Waterworld but with skyscrapers, street culture, a super advanced internet, swearing, and a lot more neon. The prose is hard, stark and often beautiful. I haven’t read anything like it in a long time. Worth a look.

Matilda (Roald Dahl)

I also read with my son. At the moment we’re enjoying the final pages of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. This is a treat for me, as it’s one of the few of Dahl’s books I’ve never read before. It’s the story of an incredibly bright and gifted girl who has the misfortune to be born into a nasty and corrupt family, and who goes to a school where the biggest bully is the headmistress.

I love the creativity and fun that permeates, but there is real depth here too, and it has led to some great discussions with my son about the nature of parenthood, bullying, and what he would do if faced with Matilda’s problems.
Visit Peter Newman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Vagrant.

The Page 69 Test: The Vagrant.

--Marshal Zeringue