Y’all. I am SO excited to welcome Taran Matharu, author of The Outcast and the rest of the Summoner series to NovelKnight for an exclusive interview! We’re kicking off the Fantastic Flying Book Club blog tour here so make sure to check out Taran’s dream cast for The Outcast, which of his characters would win in the Hunger Games, and his advice for aspiring authors!
All About Taran
You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired The Outcast and the rest of the Summoner series?
I have always loved history, even as a subject at school. Historical fiction was one of my preferred genres, with Bernard Cornwell and Wilbur Smith’s books stacking my shelves.
Medieval times, with their great battles, political intrigue and the importance of family, heritage and succession, had a great influence on the nobility in The Novice. In the world of Summoner, only first-born children inherit the ability to summon, and the nobles form the greater part of the officers in the empire’s military.
The 18th century was an age of great empires, rampant piracy and a mad mix of modern and early weapons, with gunpowder muskets, pistols and cannons being used alongside cavalry, sabres and lances. It was a time of scientific advancement and technological disparities, great clashes of cultures and racial discrimination. All of the above featured in the Summoner series; with dwarves, elves, orcs and humans at each other’s throats.
When creating my “Demonology” and designing my demons, I wanted a mix of the familiar and the new. From the world’s legends, I adapted Griffins, Salamanders, Minotaurs, Golems and Hydras, to name but a few, all of which would be familiar creatures to the well read.
Then there were the lesser-known creatures, such as the cannibalistic Wendigo from Native American mythology, or the Raiju, a lightning-powered mammal from Japan. Another favourite was the Persian Chamrosh, a griffin-like mix between bird and dog. Of course, I designed my own unique demons as well, but my love for mythological creatures around the world had a huge influence on it all.
One of my passions is travel. All over the world, I’ve encountered fascinating cultures, from the aboriginals of Australia to the native tribes of the Amazon. I have been in deserts and rainforests, deep sea and mountaintops, snowy wastelands and the hilly English countryside. These inspired the geography of Hominum, as well as the cultures and histories of my fantasy races.
For example, the orcs sacrifice on the altars of great pyramids, rather like the Aztecs, while the elves are a pastoral people, following their great herds of deer in the same way that Mongols once did.
During my school days, I saw how class divisions could cause great rifts and shape the people within them. I have also experienced racism as a minority, something that featured heavily in my life when I was younger. From here, the discrimination, classism and personalities in Vocans Academy and the wider Hominum Empire were conceived.
I love science fiction and fantasy in films, books, comics and video games. The magical schools of Earthsea, Harry Potter and Discworld inspired Summoner’s Vocans Academy. The multiple races of Lord of the Rings, Skyrim and Redwall inspired Summoner’s elves, orcs, dwarves, goblins and gremlins. Even the portals to another world in the Chronicles of Narnia and Stargate were the catalysts for my own portals to the demon world, and my demons are similar to the creature companions in my favourite video game series – Pokémon.
Introduce us to your main character!
Arcturus is the a common stable boy, whose life is worth less than the clothes on his back. But when he accidentally discovers he has the ability to summon, he becomes the first commoner to attend Vocans Academy, throwing the Kingdom into political turmoil.
Walk us through a day in the life of Taran Matharu.
Honestly, it mostly involves sleeping in, watching far to much netflix, playing video games, working out and writing.
Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?
Read good books. When you read them, learn from them. How did the author transition from this day to the next? How did they introduce this character’s backstory? These techniques can only be learned by seeing the way others do them.
I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?
Ready Player One. As a fan of gaming and classic movies, this one was a winner for me.
Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?
If you’d like to read a book that’s like a mix of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Pokemon, you may just enjoy the Summoner series.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Creative, Curious, Ambitious
What is your most embarrassing memory?
When I was 13, I was trampled by a horse and my mother pulled my pants down to see if I’d injured my back. She did this in front of my girlfriend and her entire family.
What is your Hogwarts house?
Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
Sylva, she’s deadly.
A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters. Which actors/actresses make the cut?
You just won America’s Got Talent. What’s your talent?
Hmmmm. Archery might be a cool talent to have.
Radioactive space rock fell from the sky and turned you into a superhero/villain. Tell us your new name, describe your powers, and what does your costume look like?
Taranis, immortal vampire whose costume is whatever’s trendy for that time period :P.
This morning you woke up with the ability to time travel to only one time period. Where (or more accurately “when”) would you go?
Not far at all! I’d like to have a nice life expectancy and that used to suck. But I do wish I could just have a window into the past, so I could see what really happened. Then I’d like to follow the life of Julius Caesar.
Coffee or tea?
Tea – I’m British!
Best ice cream flavor ever?
Your theme song/personal anthem?
Woodkid – Run Boy Run
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke
What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?
Pursue at least one passion in life, even if it’s a hobby instead of a career. We should all spend time doing something we love.
About the Book
The Outcast (Summoner #4) by Taran Matharu
Published on May 1, 2018 by Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the Book!
Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Indiebound / Wordery
The thrilling prequel to the New York Times-bestselling Summoner series!
When stable boy Arcturus accidentally summons a demon and becomes Hominum’s first common summoner, he becomes the key to a secret that the powerful overlords would do anything to keep hidden.
Whisked away to Vocans Academy so he can be kept watch over, Arcturus finds himself surrounded by enemies. But he has little time to settle in before his life is turned upside down once again, for Hominum Empire is in turmoil.
Rebellious intent simmers among the masses, and it will not be long before it boils over. Arcturus must choose a side . . . or watch an Empire crumble.
1 winner will receive the ENTIRE SUMMONER SERIES
US/CAN only, ends May 8, 2018