My Review: ****stars!
Oracus is the main character in this young adult fantasy. I loved it! Oracus is unaware of his destiny as a Lavorian Rider, but things change rather quickly. He had lived his entire life of 19 yrs. in the isolated little village of Thessly, so isolated that the inhabitants were unaware of anything that went on outside of it. Of course, there were tales, but these were largely regarded as myths, since no one had ever seen anything described in them around there. Overnight, Oracus’ life is turned upside down by something crashing to earth and hatching before his eyes– it looked like a little lion but covered with metal bristly armor. What in the world? But he began to bond with it, and while hunting for food to feed his new pet, his village is decimated by an evil king’s soldiers none of them had even known existed. Oracus is led on many eye-opening adventures, into Pharia, the fantastic land where lots of unusual creatures live, in a quest to try to defeat that same evil king and save Pharia from his cruel domination. Wow! I cannot wait to see what happens next in #2…. there was hints at maybe romance (Oracus definitely has a crush, and his crush seems to feel interest in him… but will it blossom?) Lots of twists, turns and unexpected happenings…. I wonder where the next installment will take Oracus?
Interview with author Paul Gaskill:
twogalsandabook: What has your writing life been like up until now?
Paul Gaskill: Believe it or not, I studied Mathematics at University. And it was DURING my course that I started writing Oracus. I learned about numbers, and I wrote words in my spare time.
I became a Financial Adviser, and I continued to write words in my spare time.
Now, I write words. Maybe I should have realised sooner that writing novels was what I was made for!
twogalsandabook: Do you read a lot? Is fantasy your favorite genre? Do you have any favorite books, authors or poets?
Paul Gaskill: I read as much as I can. A lot of authors will say “read EVERYTHING while you write”, but sometimes I find that difficult. If I read another fantasy novel then it can really disrupt my writing rhythm or influence my plot because I tend to sway towards the ideas that that author has already written down. That forces me to pick up crime or thriller novels. Also, I read the Hunger Games a few years ago and I found myself writing in first person by mistake for a few days. As I’ve become a better writer, these problems have faded, but I still try not to distract myself.
If the problems mentioned above are ignored, then my favourite genre is most definitely fantasy. There’s nothing better than leaving this world for another and forgetting about responsibilities. Everyone’s a sucker for Harry Potter, me included. It was one of the first fantasy series that I read and I could read it all again now and thoroughly enjoy it. Another favourite is Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Series. The third, and final, book hasn’t been completed yet but I really wish he’d hurry up!
twogalsandabook: What ambitions do you have for your writing career?
Paul Gaskill: Oracus was written out of sheer enjoyment until I realised that it had potential. Now I have a series that I think would make a great film! Lord of the Rings meets Marvel would send the world into a craze, and the fantasy mixed with superpowers in the Oracus series would create just that. So yes, I’d like for my ideas and creations to be witnessed by millions. In terms of writing, I expect great things of myself. Whether my work gains recognition or not, I strive to leave something behind that can be thoroughly enjoyed by people for years to come.
twogalsandabook: Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have any special writing rituals or atmosphere?
Paul Gaskill: I sit on my sofa at home with my laptop on my lap! That’s my favourite place. I do enjoy going into coffee shops with my headphones in too, but sometimes there can be too many distractions in a public place.
When at home, I usually work in silence or with melodic-dubstep on in my headphones. If I listen to songs with words then it causes me to make mistakes in my writing.
twogalsandabook: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Paul Gaskill: It’s not often that I get writer’s block. If I do, it’s usually because I’m hungry. If the mood takes me, I might write something random that will never be read by anyone but me. Otherwise I’ll read. Getting my thoughts buried into something else for a while helps to get the creativity flowing again. I certainly don’t hang upside down like Dan Brown apparently does!
twogalsandabook: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Paul Gaskill: Have a great idea and put it into practise, and then work on it in your spare time whilst you enjoy it. You will spend a HUGE amount of time completing a book so make sure that you’re patient. I’m a firm believer that for your reader to enjoy your work, you must have enjoyed writing it yourself, so if you’re driven by the money, don’t bother.
twogalsandabook: How do you deal with negative reviews or criticism?
Paul Gaskill: Negative criticism is a blessing because it’s a lesson in how I can improve. Negative reviews are a given because not everyone is going to like my work. Everyone doubts themselves, and if you don’t then you’re setting yourself up for a fall. But in the end, one or two terrible reviews isn’t the end of the world if you have plenty of good reviews to outweigh them.
twogalsandabook: Are you currently working on anything now?
Paul Gaskill: Yes, I’m pleased to say that I am. During the writing of Oracus, I had composed an idea for a new project. As soon as Oracus was completed, I began to put that idea into writing.
‘The Eleven’ will be an adult fantasy novel – a step away from the young-adult work that I have already had published. Originally, I had expected the project to be a series. Now, though, I’m considering publishing it as a solo epic novel. I hope this statement doesn’t set the bar of expectation too high, but ‘The Eleven’ will be phenomenal.
twogalsandabook: How was your experience of editing and getting a book cover as an Indie author?
Paul Gaskill: Since I began writing I’ve had a close relationship with my illustrator who lives in the same city. A fantasy series of books isn’t the easiest of projects to supply for, so I’ve been fortunate to have a magician on my side. Every suggestion I have thrown at him has been somehow created in a way that was beyond even what I’d imagined. It’s something I will never take for granted.
twogalsandabook: Is there any pre-existing mythology incorporated into Oracus: The Lavorian Rider?
Paul Gaskill: None whatsoever. Everything I write is completely original. Certain authors and their work have obviously influenced how and what I write, but I’m talking about people and places and creatures and races and cultures and politics and everything else. Whatever I create is the first of its kind. J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings created a foundation for Dwarves and Elves and Men, whilst J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter is full of cleverly adapted versions of creatures that we already know. But you’ve never before heard of an Ulatori, or a Sashtram, or a Hazin’al before. Everything is fresh (except Humans, I guess). Check out my website if you want to know more; my illustrator has brought these races to life!
Returning to the original question: I have nothing but respect for authors who research mythology and other legendary elements in huge detail and incorporate them, without flaws, into their work. But I excel at doing things in a slightly different way.
twogalsandabook: How did you create the land of Pharia?
Paul Gaskill: Oh, the building blocks of fake worlds – the craftsmanship I possess is very rare… I drew an amateurish map and stabbed it with a pen where there could be an interesting place to erect a city! Seriously though, there was obviously more work involved than that, but that’s more or less how I got the ball rolling. The finer details come through good ideas and the ability to write the correct words in the correct order.
twogalsandabook: Is Pharia part of a larger world? Will we see other kingdoms introduced in future books, or Oracus venture outside Pharia?
Paul Gaskill: There are no maps detailing other lands beyond Pharia, but in the second book you’ll encounter creatures that have voyaged from somewhere else. I’ll say nothing more here, though!
I have considered on a number of occasions the potential for future books in Pharia. But, for now, the single series will stand alone. There are obviously lots of story lines that could be created and there’s no end to how many Lavorians I could create and how many superpowers I could gift to their Riders.
twogalsandabook: Where did you get the idea of the Lavorians from?
Paul Gaskill: Lavorians are what started the Oracus Trilogy. They were the very first idea that began the whole process. I didn’t wake up one day and say “Hey, I’m gonna write a book!” I thought, “Ooh, these creatures have promise!” I’ve always been an animal lover and I’ve always been a fantasy reader. Lavorians definitely bring the two together. Who wouldn’t like to have a pet with incredible powers who answers to them, and to them alone?
(An interesting extra point: a Lavorian was originally called a Parnorius. Unfortunately, its plural quickly became a problem. Should it be Parnoriuses or Parnorii? My dilemma persisted for several chapters until I changed the race’s name to Lavorian (and I breathed a sigh of relief).)
twogalsandabook: Who would you recommend read Oracus: The Lavorian Rider?
Paul Gaskill: The Oracus Series is a Young-Adult series. Therefore the main audience would be anywhere from middle-teens to early-twenties. Despite that, readers of any age could read Oracus and enjoy it, and many have. So if you like fantasy, give it a try.
twogalsandabook: How did you create the mythical characters Sashtram, Grevlors, and Lisor, for example? Was it a difficult process to imagine their physical characteristics and mannerisms?
Paul Gaskill: I’d like to think that the creation of new creatures and races is a talent of mine, and their characteristics and mannerisms come fairly easily. I love creating monsters for the readers to hate but, equally, I enjoy creating cuddly beasts to make the reader laugh. I think the Grevlors and Lisors are typical examples of what are despicable, whereas the Sashtrams are adorable and funny. You can look forward to meeting brand new creatures with different characteristics in the rest of the series, too.
twogalsandabook: What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
Paul Gaskill: I was a beginner when I started writing Oracus so finding my writing style and discovering myself was a very tricky stage. As an accomplished writer, the toughest part was tying together the lose ends.
twogalsandabook: Were there any scenes that you had to delete or alter?
Paul Gaskill: None that I deleted but plenty that I had to alter. When Oracus starts to learn about Pharia, the reader learns with him, so trying to make everything clear without disrupting the rhythm of the story took plenty of adjusting and rethinking.
twogalsandabook: Quent is such a despicable person; maybe even a traitor or under Jowra’s influence? It would be nice to see something horrible happen to him– he seems dangerous. Can we look forward to something like that in future books (without spoiling it for us, of course!)?
Paul Gaskill: All I can say here is to read the second and third book. Your questions will be answered!
twogalsandabook: It seems there is a romance blossoming between Oracus and Kivali… can we look forward to developments there?
Paul Gaskill: I think Oracus has a lot of naivety when we first begin to understand him, and nothing proves that more than his crush for Kivali. Fortunately for him, I think she likes him too. The question is, will everything be as straightforward for them when Oracus’ naivety begins to disappear?
twogalsandabook: If Oracus: The Lavorian Rider were made into a movie or t.v. series, who would you like to see play the main characters?
Paul Gaskill: I was asked this fairly recently and it took quite a bit of consideration. Kivali is the easy one – I have a soft spot for Mila Kunis so I think she’d be an ideal candidate. As far as Oracus is concerned, I think Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who starred in The Maze Runner and Love Actually, would be a great fit. I initially said Chris Hemsworth, but maybe he’s too muscular to play a teenage boy. Perhaps he could play Karvan if we put a wig on him?
twogalsandabook: Is there anything you would like to discuss that we have not?
Paul Gaskill: The only thing left to discuss is where you can find out about Oracus. You can either search on Amazon, Goodreads or other online bookstores. Alternatively, head to www.oracus.co.uk and you can find out everything there is to know about the books!
twogalsandabook: Are there any social media sites or platforms that readers could connect with you on?
Paul Gaskill: I’m a user of Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads so you can find me and follow me on all of those. Just type in ‘Paul Gaskill’.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a Mathematician turned Author – I was never quite Albert Einstein, but I knew much more than the average person about numbers, equations and formulae. But if you’d asked me what a semi-colon was used for, I’d have shrugged at you. Now it seems to be the other way around.
I had a fairly normal childhood. I loved football (I still do) and I used to be out until dusk or beyond kicking a bag of air around a field or on a street. If it wasn’t football, then it was usually another sport of some kind. Unless it was sneakily searching for golf balls on the local 9-hole golf course with friends and then selling the balls that we’d found back to the golfers who had lost them in the first place. Mischievous, but entrepreneurial, at a young age.
I’ve been very lucky to grow up with loving parents who have helped me to become the person who I am. They’re both intelligent and driven, and it has laid the foundation for me to do what I enjoy doing, and that is to write.
Without this beginning to sound like a CV, I am ambitious about, and inspired by, creative writing (and I can work well in a team as well as efficiently by myself). Fantasy appeals so much to me because it is about creating something that nobody else has witnessed before. Worlds, lands, races, laws, politics, character personalities; everything is my own invention. In some ways it gives a sense of power, but also a sense of pride because I’ve built something that provides enjoyment to others.
Other Books In the Series:
Other Books by Paul Gaskill:
Giveaway for Oracus: The Lavorian Rider
Twogalsandabook would like to thank Paul Gaskill for allowing us to interview him and generously giving away a copy of his book, Oracus: The Lavorian Rider for our readers to enjoy!