Author Archives: Peter Newman

Nine Worlds 2015 & Fantasy in the Court: Where I'll be

Nine Wolrds 2105

I’m attending Nine Worlds again this year and I’ll also be at Fantasy in the Court, read on for details for what I’m doing and a chance to win a signed hardback of The Vagrant.

 

 

Fantasy in the Court – Thursday 6th August (6pm-9pm)

Hosted by Goldsboro books and Hodderscape, it’s packed to the gills with fabulous and mostly friendly fantasy and science fiction authors. It’s also our tenth wedding anniversary so Emma and I will be planning to make merry!

Further details are on the Goldsboro website.

 

Nine Worlds Geekfest

For those who don’t know, it’s a super inclusive celebration of all things geeky and I thoroughly enjoyed the last two times I went. Here’s where to find me:

Friday 7th August

You’re in our world now – The invention of myths for a modern audience.* Country C&D, 11.45am – 1.00pm

Newbie Meetup. Country A, 1.30pm – 2.45pm

If you’re new to Nine Worlds, come along and have a cup of tea with me and Em. Chat, ask all your questions, meet other people who have no idea what’s going on! I guarantee by the time you’ve finished, you’ll feel right as rain.

Saturday 8th August

Newbie Meetup. Commonwealth East, 1.30pm – 2.45pm

See above.

New Voices. Royal C&D, 10.15pm – 11.30pm

I’ll be joining some other late night warriors to do a short reading from something new and never before heard by mortal ears.

Sunday 9th August

TV vs Books vs Comics vs Games: FIGHT!** Commonwealth West, 11.45am – 1.00pm

Competition time!

If you’re going to Nine Worlds and want to win a signed hardback of The Vagrant all you have to do is go attend any of the programme items above and ask me the question: “Am I the First?” If you’re the first person to ask me that, you win. Simple!***

 

 

*In which I’ll mostly be agreeing with everything Joanne Harris says

**I’ll be championing books.

***Bonus points if you do it in the questions section of one of my panels.

Tea and Jeopardy 40 – A chat with Peter V Brett

teaandjeopardy_geekplanet-300x300The lovely Peter V Brett comes to the Tea Lair to talk books, knives and post apocalyptic cloning.

You can listen to the episode on Geek Planet Online here.

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.

Enjoy!

I'm writing for Albion Online!

 

Albion logo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

*NEWS KLAXON*

I’m going to be writing a book for Albion Online.

For those of you who don’t know, Albion Online is a new fantasy MMO* coming out in early 2016 that puts the economy, the territory, pretty much everything actually, in the hands of the players.

It also features: Demons! Donkeys!** No character classes!*** Farming! The cutest rabbits ever digitised!**** Customisable housing! Cross platform play!*****

They’ve brought me in to do two things:

  1. to fill out the world, providing history and motivation to the various groups and to put names and faces to key characters.
  2. to write the tie-in novel.

In many ways this is my dream job as it combines most of my favourite things, namely: GMing, writing and gaming. Yes, for the first time in my life I can legitimately play a computer game for research purposes. 😀

More news coming soon!

If you’re interested in the game, you can check out their website for videos, forums and further info. You can even become a founder to get beta access and exclusive in game specials.

*Massively Multiplayer Online

**As mounts. There are lots of other options including (but not limited to) horses, oxen and giant wolves.

***In Albion you are what you wear, literally. This means you can switch between class on the fly, providing you have the kit. You can also mix and match: So you can be a wizard in plate or a warrior in robes, whatever you fancy.

****Probably

*****Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android all playing on the same server.

Tea and Jeopardy 39 – A chat with Victoria Schwab

teaandjeopardy_geekplanet-300x300In this episode, the wonderful Victoria Schwab comes to the tea lair to talk writing for different age groups, magic coats and the power of stickers.

You can listen to the episode on Geek Planet Online by clicking here.

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.

Good Things – Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon_Age_Inquisition_I love Bioware. They don’t always get it right (who does) but I love what they try to achieve. From Baldur’s Gate, to Knights of the Old Republic, to Mass Effect, they’ve been one of the top names when it comes to story and character driven games.

I’ve been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition on and off for about six months now and feel it’s time to write a part-review, part-enthuse about it. I will do my best to avoid spoilers.

For those of you who don’t know, Dragon Age is a roleplaying game series that involves pauseable real time combat, detailed character creation, multiple story and dialogue choices and some of the most nuanced party members you’re likely to find on a computer or console.

This is the third in the series. Dragon Age: Origins came first. It did epic really well, had some fantastic characters (yes, Alistair and Morrigan, I’m looking at you), and did an excellent line in genuinely tough moral dilemmas. The only problem was that the protagonist (you) wasn’t voiced, and sometimes seemed a bit flat compared to the vibrant company you keep over the game.

Then came Dragon Age 2. They tried to fix the problem of the first game by simplifying game mechanics and providing a character for you to play called Hawke, I imagine hoping to replicate the success of Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard. Unfortunately, where Shepard seems to be near universally loved*, Hawke was quite divisive, turning away some players immediately. Also, where the first game felt epic, the second game seemed much more narrow in its focus (and the Deep Roads are sooooooo boring visually). However my biggest complaint with it was that the choices that you had were only poor illusions. I often like to play these games more than once to see how things would have been if I’d taken the other path and was sad to discover that even the biggest game choices had very little impact on the story.

That’s not to say that Dragon Age 2 wasn’t fun, it just didn’t work as well as the first game in my opinion. But, while it may not have worked, it was clear that Hawke was an attempt to fix a problem and that the Bioware team were aware of past criticisms.

Dragon Age: Inquisition strikes a much better balance. There’s a really in-depth character creation engine which gives you a great deal of control over how your character looks and you have two voice options per gender. This means that the character feels like yours but also has a presence in the game.

Quick Tip: When creating your character, there’s an option to control how shiny their lips are. I’d suggest turning that down to zero.

In terms of the actual game, it feels a lot like Skyrim but with better story and proper characters. Each of the game’s areas is beautifully designed and feels fully realised, with lots of interesting things to find. You’ll spend a lot of your time running about and fighting things but there’s much more to the game than that, including:

Resource Collecting

This is largely optional but by collecting the various plants and materials across Thedas, you open up all sorts of crafting options. In addition to getting swanky new kit, you can also craft things to help in certain missions or to help the people you’re trying to protect.

Making kit

And naming kit too! If you’ve always wanted your very own helmet of badassitude, your time has come! As in most games, taking the time to make your own stuff tends to mean you’re much stronger than you’d be relying on in-game loot. Also, when you make additions to your kit it’s visually represented (which I love).

The War table

This feature enables you to make bigger decisions for the Inquisition. It allows you to open up new areas of the map, make alterations to existing areas (like building watchtowers or bridges to get to previous unaccessible regions) and deal with other factions. You have three advisors to aid you in this and they will each suggest different solutions to the many problems you face. It’s all too easy to simply look at the time each solution takes and go with the quickest but it’s well worth looking carefully at the text as sometimes your decisions can come back on you and some advisors are more bloodthirsty than others.

Judgment

Sometimes you get to decide the fate of fallen enemies. More often than not, the options all have a little bit of grey mixed in.

Talking to people

This is a Bioware game after all. In terms of tone, you usually have three options: to be earnest and good, to be sarcastic and good, to be blunt or aggressive. It’s rare that the third options feels right, limiting responses somewhat. I still feel like Mass Effect had the right of it when they used the Paragon / Renegade model. Where Renegade options were ruthless rather than evil and felt like a valid approach.

That said, the voice acting is top notch and Bioware have done an excellent job of animating faces to the extent that I grew genuinely fond of the people of Thedas.

Cassandra is the best. Deal. With. It.

Cassandra is the best. Deal. With. It.

Romance

You can fall in love with your companions and try to win them over. Some characters are much harder to please than others. As far as I can tell, Iron Bull is easy and will take pretty much any inquisitor. Cassandra on the other hand is much trickier to impress. Each party member has their own sexual preferences and opinions on things, so if you have your heart set on a particular romance, it might be worth checking before you generate your character.

Collecting things

There are lots of things to find! Magical shards, mosaic pieces, bits of old lore, bottle of wine. They’re all optional but most reward you in some way if you pursue them.

Puzzles

Every so often you are presented with a puzzle. Some are trickier than others but if (like me) your ability to think at the end of the day is limited, don’t worry. Most of them are optional.

One of the things I like most about about the game is that it supports different play styles. You can play in normal mode, auto level your party and just run about fighting things in real time, or you can play on a harder difficulty and carefully build your party, micromanaging them through tough fights via tactical menus.

If I was being super picky, I still don’t think that the dilemmas in the side quests are as complex as those in Dragon Age: Origins and the tone is generally lighter (not a criticism). I’d also say that I’d liked to have had more made out of the issue of whether your character is religious icon or not, but that might just be me.

However, what Bioware has pulled off here is excellent. Dragon Age: Inquisition has a vibrant world that changes constantly as you start to take action. They’ve created party members that have relationships that develop both with you and with each other. It looks great too. I’m already on a second play through and really appreciating how much foreshadowing is in the dialogue.

One last thing. They’ve made a genuine attempt to present a broad range of characters. I’m talking here about sexuality, gender, and how they identify themselves. It’s really good to see. So bravo Bioware! I’m looking forward to the DLC hitting the UK soon.

*In my corner of the internet at least.

 

 

Tea and Jeopardy 38 – Patrick Rothfuss, Worldbuilders and t-shirts!

teaandjeopardy_geekplanet-300x300In this special extended episode, NYT bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss comes to the Tea Lair to talk roleplaying, how to pacify hungry dragons and about the new Worldbuilders fundraiser running from the 1st to the 8th of June.

You can listen to the episode here.

And we’re delighted to announce that you can now get your very own Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt as part of the fundraiser, allowing you to raise money for Hiefer International and look marvellous at the same time. (See below for details about the campaign and how to get your hands on a t-shirt.)

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.

As the irresponsible member of the Tea and Jeopardy team, I’m going to hand over to Emma to explain all the details about Worldbuilders, Heifer International, IndieGoGo and how you get the t-shirt. Over to you Em!

What is Worldbuilders?

Worldbuilders is a nonprofit organization founded by New York Times bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss to raise money for Heifer International. Every year, a small team of Worldbuilders employees and Rothfuss himself gather collectibles and coolness that focus on the “geek community”–fans of fantasy, science fiction, art, and games. They run two fundraisers each year, one in summer and one at the end of the year, presenting their fans with chances to win or buy cool geeky items. Proceeds from the fundraisers are then donated to Heifer International. In the past seven years, Worldbuilders has raised over $3.5 million for Heifer International.

Ours is the one on the right! (And a special thanks to Dom Camus for the marvellous design)

Ours is the one on the right! (And a special thanks to Dom Camus for the marvellous design)

How do I get a Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt?

Go to the fundraiser page on IndieGoGo and scroll down until you see the ‘perk’ at the $25 level which is titled ‘Tea and Jeopardy podcast t-shirt’ and click on it.

What about shipping/ postage and packaging?

If you live in the States, the postage is included in the perk, so you don’t need to worry. If, like me, you live in the UK, or anywhere else in the world, it would be splendid if you added $15 to your contribution when you make your pledge (you get the option to do that on the first page you get after clicking on the perk and it’s called ‘Additional gift’ – click on the far right of that bar on “custom” and enter the amount).

What if I want to order more than one t-shirt?

This is the situation in our household! On IndieGoGo there is no shopping cart system, you have to choose and pay for each order separately – even if you are just getting multiples of the same perk. The way I am handling it is this:

I’ll choose the t-shirt perk and add $20 as an additional gift to comfortably cover postage for two t-shirts. Then I’ll pay.

Then I will go back and choose the same t-shirt perk again and just pay without adding the additional gift.

Is it only available in powder blue?

Yes. It keeps costs down so more money can go to the charity. We chose blue because it looks nice with the logo. It has nothing to do with the fact that blue is my favourite colour. Nothing. At. All. (Well, maybe a tiny bit.)

But what about sizing?!

That freaked me out too, but don’t worry. At this stage it’s all about the pledge. Once the fundraiser is over the lovely Worldbuilders team will email you to get your sizing details, so make sure you use an email address you have easy access to when you make your order.

When the email goes out, I’ll also tweet about it to remind people to check their junk folders.

Please note this from the Worldbuilders team:

“There are a lot of pre-orders involved here, and we’ll be sending things out after the campaign as they come back from production, or arrive in the office from the awesome people who are donating them. If we need to collect information from you (like your t-shirt size), we’ll contact you for it once the campaign has ended. We’ll keep you updated with the progress of things as the fundraiser goes on, and afterward.

We’re confident that all perks will be delivered before our annual fundraiser in November, and definitely in time for the holidays.”

But Em, IndieGoGo only lets you pay by credit card and I don’t have one.

Yeah, that’s something beyond anyone’s control here. If you are in this situation and really want a Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt, drop me a line to that fact in the comments below, including your country of residence. I can’t promise anything, but if there are lots of you, I may be able to work something out with the Worldbuilders team.

Any other questions?

There’s an FAQ on the Worldbuilders website. You can also follow Worldbuilders on Twitter (@worldbuilders_)as they may well tweet updates. It’s best to get in touch with either them or IndieGoGo if you have any issues other than the lack of credit card one, as I am very unlikely to be able to solve it myself.

Now go! Go and get a Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt and raise money for charity and be splendid! You’ve only got until June 8th 2015 to do it!

Tea and Jeopardy 37 – A chat with Kameron Hurley

teaandjeopardy_geekplanet-300x300In this episode Kameron Hurley comes to the tea lair to talk blogging, South African resistance movements, strong female protagonists, and Emma reveals what it was about me that first attracted her.

You can listen to the episode here.

 

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.

 

Good Things – Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb

Assassin's Quest coverI’m not even going to pretend that this is anything other than a love letter to the glory of Robin Hobb’s writing.

Having read Assassin’s Apprentice and loved it, and then having read Royal Assassin and loved it even more, I was fairly confident coming to Assassin’s Quest.

It had me by the unmentionables from pretty much the first page.

So, all the things I loved in the previous books are present here. Fantastic writing, good twists and an ever-present sense of tension that you occasionally get spared from but are never allowed to completely forget.

But above all else, it’s the characters. Robin Hobb’s characters are things of beauty. Nuanced, flawed, and so utterly believable. She made me love them all, except for the ones I was supposed to hate, and even then, they were painted as real, three dimensional things.

Even Robin Hobb’s animals have more personality than most other Fantasy protagonists.

*takes a moment to quietly contemplate Nighteyes*

It’s also epic in length, about twice the size of the book 1 and I never once felt like things were dragging. There’s also a real sense that things are earned in this series. Wounds persist, psychological scars become permanent character features and things lost are rarely recovered. In fact, far more often than not, terrible things happen but when there is a victory for the Fitz or his allies it is all the sweeter for it.

Robin Hobb is now, without doubt, my favourite fantasy writer. The writing is so good and the characters so compelling that they could be washing the dishes and I’d still be glued to the page.

Next stop: Liveship Traders.

Tea and Jeopardy 36 – A chat with Peter Newman

teaandjeopardy_geekplanet-300x300In this episode, our guest is… me! After escaping from the basement, I chat with Em about waiting, Spartacus, a very profound question relating to the chickens, and why Latimer hates me so much.

You can listen to the episode here.

If you’re interested in supporting Tea and Jeopardy and would like to join the Order of the Sacred Teacup, our Patreon page is here.

If you’d like to catch up on old episodes, there’s a full index here.

Post-launch feels and The Vagrant's first fan art!

And I loved signing them all.

And I loved signing them all. (Photo by Juliet Mushens)

The last few weeks have been pretty great. The Vagrant is now out in the world and entirely out of my hands! This is both amazing and terrifying. It feels a bit like the book is crowdsurfing. It may sail majestically across a sea of supportive hands into a glorious sunset, or it may be dropped and left to languish on the floor, out of sight, trampled by a thousand feet.

Either way I have no control of it anymore.

And while this has scared the pants off me, I’ve been blown away by the general warmth and loveliness of friends, family and the internet in general.

My first cocktail of the night and I'm already leaning. (Photo by Jim Purbrick)

My first cocktail of the night and I'm already leaning.
(Photo by Jim Purbrick)

 

The London launch at Forbidden Planet went well*. Highlights included: lots of smiley people, some incredible cocktails (Apple Pies and Fallen Angels FTW!) and a ridiculously beautiful barman. And, thanks to magic beyond my comprehension**, I awoke the next day without hangover!

 

 

Since then, the warm and fuzzy feelings have been kept alive by various people checking in. It’s hard to describe what it’s like when someone else reads your book and then gets in touch to say nice things about it. But it’s a real gift.

I love the goat here too.

I love the goat here too.

 

 

 

And I’ve had my first piece of fan art! 'The Hammer that Walks.' Drawn by the wonderful Kareem Mahfouz***.

 

 

So, now that the launch is over and I’ve (mostly) recovered, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate all of the people now taking The Vagrant out into the wider world. Massive thanks to everyone who went and bought a copy. And to all who tweet about it, post about it, email, message, shout, sing, review or otherwise help spread the word:

YOU ARE AWESOME!

 

*As far as I can remember.

**I’m pretty sure some dirty chicken was involved.

***AKA the other guy that doesn't like Tasslehoff Burrfoot.