New book puts the "fun back in children's lives" - Eastbourne author
Victor, aged 77, said: “Oily was born in Eastbourne in 2014. At that time, I was still living in London and had come to Eastbourne for what was then their literary festival, sadly no longer running. I was hoping to read an extract from my first published novel The Pentacle of Northumbria (the first of a trilogy), but the lady organising the event requested a younger children’s story. So I began to write the opening chapter of the current book on the train, but never got the chance to read any of it!
“I thought about discarding it, then changed my mind. Once I began writing and my characters began to grow and dare, I say blossom, I thought I had something special, if not unique on my hands. This was different, and perhaps a throw-back to the past, although written in the present.
“Once I had finished writing the first book, I knew Oily was destined for a series which would take him and his friends and enemies on trips to most of Western Europe’s capital cities.
"The significance of it is that it is first and foremost funny. It puts magical creatures in place of human beings in real places, apart from England. Oily Gasbag is a classic sort of anti-hero. Perhaps there are streaks of long-lost fictional characters like Just William and Billy Bunter about him. He is large, greedy, rather stupid, ignorant and self-important. He is not evil, nor especially nasty but I believe he has a kind of roguish old charm that definitely will appeal to all ages. Having added a pompous French faeire, two rather snobby Austrian sisters who are witches and hail from Vienna, plus a range of real quirky folk and dancing and eventually singing competitions in World Cups with shades of Strictly, I believe I have a delightful mix of both entertaining plots and educative elements. I have introduced French and German with English translations adjacent to the text and also as a glossary at the end of the book. In the further episodes I treat my young audience to trips around Vienna, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. None of this would have been possible without the amazing pictures drawn by my illustrator Caroline Fox who breathed life into all of my characters.”
Victor added: “I wanted to write a story for younger readers which put fun firmly back into their lives. We live in difficult times with humour in short supply. That is not to say we don’t have many serious issues to deal with – climate change, Covid, Ukraine-Russia, all of which have significantly affected each of us, but we need to learn to laugh again for the right reasons, and this book will light up the lives for everyone who reads it. My main target is the children aged approximately seven to ten.”
Victor is offering a book signing on Sunday, December 10 at Sicilia Qui Cafe, The Enterprise Shopping Centre, Station Parade, Eastbourne, BN21 1BD from 11am onwards, with £3 discount on each copy sold from £9.99 to £7.