Breaking down the ins and outs of Robert Allen Johnson’s latest novel Wraith.
The news broke amid smiles and cheers. “Finally! You’ve kept us waiting long enough!”
I wasn’t really sure how to proceed from there. Yes, a new book was definitely on the way for a Fall 2015 release. The only caveat? It wasn’t the one everyone was expecting. “Well, it’s not Foreign Shores. It’s something else. Something new.”
Needless to say, confusion owned the conversation. Why would I interrupt a successful, well-received series for something new and entirely different? It didn’t make much sense, especially when this new book wasn’t even centered on Ancient Rome at all. How could I forsake the genre which brought me fans and readers from all around the world for a detour through a new, unexplored genre? And now that we’re asking questions, what is this new book even about?
All good questions, but they only scratch the surface of the heart and soul which is Wraith and the books to come in the Empire and The Hand series. Here are some more questions with answers to help fill in the gaps:
Q: So….why the crazy detour?
A: There are several answers here, so I’ll try to make this brief: I was set alight by an incredible creative spark which haunted me for months on end. It was a spark I couldn’t ignore, as momentum is a rare, sacred, and special thing to grasp when it comes your way.
Q: What about Foreign Shores?
A: My hope is for a Summer-Fall 2016 release date.
Q: Wraith. How is it different and why should I care?
A: I’ll be honest: Wraith is my greatest endeavor to date, and it’s not even a close comparison. Many readers commented how much greater Triumphator was from Rising Sun. I personally feel there is an even greater leap in quality from Triumphator to Wraith.
Why? I did a lot of soul-searching between my second and third books and shifted my focus from the simple act of telling a story to inviting the reader into my world, my painting, my heart, and my emotions. Those who know me personally will read between many lines buried within Wraith. At its heart, it’s a story of failure, loss, regret, sin, and shame. It’s heart-breaking and sad, haunting and mysterious. It’s a fictional story centered around real-life emotions and struggles I’ve gone through myself.
Q: So it’s deep and philosophical?
A: I happen to think so, but it’s also meant to be engaging, exciting, and thrilling. It moves quickly and rarely slows down to let the reader catch his or her own breath. It’s more action-packed, spooky, and violent than my previous works. I felt those qualities were essential to the story as a whole and really needed to be in there.
Q: What is it about?
A: Wraith is the story of two men.
It opens with Tiro, a seventeen year old hot-headed kid who is bitter and angry at the world. I suppose he has that right, as his life has been turned upside down and shaken into a world of chaos. He is a skilled bowman with a singular goal in life: vengeance.
The other character is Arach, a lonely man traveling in a foreign land. We meet him in the middle of a mysterious errand. Although well-armed and experienced, he is helpless and powerless when an unwelcome visitor arrives in the dead of night to stalk his every step.
Wraith is the journey of these two men, how they deal with it, and where it leads them a few days later.
Q: Your influences in regards to the MAGNUS series were clearly defined in your previous books. What about this one? What or who were you influenced by?
A: Some of the books that influenced Wraith were the many works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori series, and my own personal experiences in life. Arach’s tale was very much influenced by an event which happened to my wife and I in 2007.
Q: Why should I buy and read it?
A: Aside from being my greatest work to date, it’s a very entertaining read. I believe it will truly touch your heart. You’re going to love each of these characters and sympathize with them. You’ll feel their pain, rejoice in their victories. You’re going to want to know what comes next when you turn that last page and it’s going to keep you up at night, just thinking about it.