Y is for Yanvar

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Philip Reeve tells us about Yanvar:

Y is for Yanvar

…which is the Russian word for ‘January’, and seemed like an appropriate first name for Yanvar Malik, the dogged Railforce officer who is tracking Zen’s employer, Raven. I wasn’t aiming to recreate Mortal Engines when I started writing Railhead - in fact, I was mainly trying not to - but inevitably there are some echoes. I guess the role Malik plays in this one is a little like the role played by Shrike in Mortal Engines: he doesn’t appear often, but we know he’s out there somewhere, relentlessly tracking our heroes, which hopefully helps to add a note of unease.

But Shrike had superhuman powers, and Malik is rather down-at-heel; a burned out cop, chasing a criminal who his superiors believe died long ago. He’s getting old, too; one of the things that makes him pursue Raven so singlemindedly is the sense that Raven has somehow cheated in the game of life; he got more chances he deserved, while Malik, like most of us, had only one, and is starting to feel he wasted it. It’s a hard, lonely quest. By the middle of the book Malik is down to almost nothing; just a shabby blue coat and a service handgun, but the energy of his long-held grudge keeps him going.

I several times considered telling the whole of Railhead in Zen’s voice - it’s almost all seen from his point of view - but I didn’t, and part of the reason was that I liked being able to cut away to Yanvar Malik at odd moments. There’s no point making your hero a thief unless someone is out to catch him.

You can find more about the A-z on Philip Reeve's Facebook page.