Bandit Book Bloggers: Chasing Azrael, by Hazel Butler

CHASING AZRAEL

by

Hazel Butler

cover2

Chasing Azrael: Gritty New Paranormal Mystery Series Raises Vital Awareness of Bipolar Disorder.

 

The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series uses gripping urban mystery and heaps of the paranormal to keep its readers on the edge of their seats. However, the series is also serving a vital dual-purpose by openly examining societal attitudes towards Bipolar Disorder and Depression. The first volume, ‘Chasing Azrael’, sees author Hazel Butler serve up the perfect start to what’s poised to be a best-selling series.

 

PURCHASE LINKS for CHASING AZRAEL

Amazon UK Paperback

Amazon UK eBook

Hazel Butler Website

Interview with Hazel Butler

Hazel is a twenty eight year old author, artist and archaeologist from Cheshire, England. She is currently in the final year of her PhD, which focuses on Gender Dynamics in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Britain. She studied archaeology at The University of Manchester, then Bangor University, and spent two years doing corporate archaeology and research excavations, both in Britain and Austria. She has had papers published in international journals and online.

Since 2010, she has been working on Chasing Azrael, a Gothic Literary novel and the first in the Deathly Insanity Series, a set of Paranormal Mystery/Urban Fantasy novels with overlapping character and plot-lines. Although these novels have a strong supernatural element they also explore themes of mental health, in particular Bipolar Disorder, which Hazel herself has suffered from since her early teens.

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Hi Hazel! Sooo, let’s start at the beginning. Tell me a little bit about Chasing Azrael. No spoilers, though!

Chasing Azrael is primarily a ghost story, following main character Andee Tilbrook as she attempts to recover from her husband James’s death. Andee has the ability to see ghosts, and as a result can still see and speak with James on a regular basis. At the start of the novel, two years have passed since his death, but for Andee the grief is still as fresh as the day he died, and she is contemplating suicide. Her personal problems take a slight backseat when Josh, one of her closest friends, is threatened by a very unstable ex-girlfriend. Andee has a gut reaction to this woman that tells her something is very wrong, and soon enough is proven correct, when it transpires she is wanted in connection to a string of murders. Andee gets dragged into the murder investigated by Robert, the same detective who investigated James’s death, and she ends up torn between James, Josh, and Robert, as she tries to puzzle out how she feels and use her abilities to solve the murders.

On a deeper level however, Chasing Azrael is more than simply a paranormal whodoneit. It examines depression, suicide, and mental illness, as well as societal attitudes to bipolar disorder and the effects those attitudes can have on people with the condition.

I like the cover, who designed it?

The cover has actually just changed, so I’m not sure which to talk about. The original cover was a digital painting done by myself. I was never entirely happy with it however, as I found the colour scheme a little dull, and the composition too busy. I have just changed it for a new design – this one a digital photo manipulation, also done by myself – which has a much brighter colour scheme and a far simpler composition. I am very pleased with the new cover, although it is very different.

You’re a very talented artist in your own right. Have you created any artwork to go with Chasing Azrael?

Yes I have, although I haven’t released any of it. I may at some point, but there are no plans to do so as of yet.

When it comes to writing, do you prefer to plan ahead or do you just write and write and write until you pass out?

It depends what I’m writing. Chasing Azrael was very cathartic for me. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010 and writing became a way for me to order my thoughts and feelings, come to terms with the diagnosis, and try to express in a way others – who had never suffered any form of mental illness – could understand, just what it was like to live a bipolar life, or live with someone who was bipolar. I had no idea where the book was going when I started writing. I just kept writing until suddenly I had the bones of a book. I then built it up from there. Other projects I plan meticulously. I’m currently working on the sequel to Chasing Azrael, the second book in the Deathly Insanity series, Death Becomes Me. That one has a very complicated plot, and has taken a great deal of time and effort to plan properly. The whole series gets complicated at this point, because the books have different bit overlapping characters and plotlines.

How long have you been writing?

Fiction? Since my very early teens, although it wasn’t particularly good back then. I wrote a few short pieces that impressed my English teachers at school and I think that encouraged me to continue, although to be honest I think I would have done whether I was any good or not. I wrote my first full length novel when I was about nineteen and kept working on that for a couple more years. I had started a second one but gave that up when I started Chasing Azrael. There have been numerous short stories, novellas, and novel plans done since then. I’ve also started two other novels, one of which is about half done.

Do you write full time or part time?

Erm… tricky question. I write fiction part time, but my full time job is as a freelance editor, proofreader, copywriter, researcher, and artist, so I generally spend most of my time writing or doing art work.

When you’re not writing, what keeps you busy?

More writing? Seriously the writing never ends. I spend a couple of afternoons/evenings a week with a writing group and that’s my main time off. I run my own business, so I don’t have a lot of free time. When I do, I walk my dog, who is very loyal and sits patiently under my desk as long as I’m working. I also do my own art work, and I play the piano. I have two god-daughters and a young niece and I spend as much time as I can with them. I’m also an avid reader, and a huge fan of a wide range of TV shows and films, so it all keeps me busy. Multi-tasking. I’ve found that’s the key.

What book/books are you reading at the moment?

I’m actually in the midst of my annual re-read of all my Robin Hobb books. I love Robin Hobb, she’s by far my favourite author (so much so that the Fantasy and Science Fiction imprint of my publishing house, Astrid Press, is named after her). Every year I re-read her books. I’m doing it a little earlier than usual this year, it’s usually an early winter thing, but I’m going to London on the 19th August to meet her and George R.R. Martin, and she has just released a new novel, so I’m doing it early. I’m delaying reading the new novel until I’ve finished and it’s agony – I treasure her books so much, having a new one I’ve never read before is the biggest treat imaginable.

And lastly, most importantly, do you prefer dragons or pancakes?

To eat? Or which do I prefer? I prefer dragons, but I would not like to eat one, so if the question was food related definitely pancakes.

 

The Force is strong with this one. We’ll keep her for a while.

 

Blessed be, my little pixies

RK )O(

RK’s Progression from Human to Author: 78% Complete.

Eliot, Hemingway, Tolkien, Twain, Yeats, Dickens, Gaiman… one thing I’ve noticed about authors; we all pretty much love cats. What is it about cats that attract authors? Or is it the other way around? Are cats naturally inclined to hang around with authors?

Is it the isolated lifestyle? Cats by nature are independent creatures. Authors, by trade, are alone most of the time. When we’re not surrounded by a dozen characters, all demanding to be the centre of attention in one particular chapter. Wait… is that just me?

Is it the smell of coffee? The warm keyboard? The stacks of books that make for excellent climbing frames?

What I’m basically building up to here is that, after years of not-so-subtle hinting and batted eyelashes and promises of chocolate cake, I’m finally getting a cat. Excuse me while I squee.

My new kitty, Luna

My new kitty, Luna

This is Luna, my lovely new kitty cat. She’s just had kittens so she’s all tired here, but sadly they’ve all gone on to new homes, so she’s coming home with us in a few weeks time. She’s still at the rescue home at the minute, so we’re busy making up her new home all cat-friendly. She’s going to be spoilt rotten, poor thing.

And I really won’t mind if she takes a liking to my hair and wants to tangle herself in it. It won’t be any weirder than the other things I’ve found in there. (Read: 6 leaves, 3 cherry blossom petals, 4 dandelion seeds, 3 twigs, 1 piece of straw, 2 spiders, 3 flies, 7 bits of fluff, and one fragment of a receipt for a bottle of lemonade. It wasn’t even mine.)

So, that’s my big announcement. I’m getting a cat. Which, according to my Facebook feed, is quite minor compared to the rest of the world, who all seem to be either getting married or having babies. Me? I’m getting a kitty.

 

In other news, Prince Oberyn died a horrible death by having the Mountain shove his thumbs into his eye sockets. I would have felt very sorry for him, had he not been prancing around his still living body and taunting him. Now that’s just dense.

Oh. Uhm. Spoilers?

Maleficent is magnificent. Heh. Lazy-rhyme. I really identified with the story. A beautiful faery queen with fantastic cheekbones who has an affinity with forests and earth magic gets her heart broken by an arrogant prince, then becomes a lot darker in nature and starts wearing a lot of purple and black, becomes close friends with a crow-like man and is associated with wolves– wait…

-_-

Were I a vengeful woman, I would wreak havoc upon the world. But I’m not bitter. Mab is a better faery queen. And Erlik is a more arrogant prince. And he’s a REAL prince, thank you very much. Not some peasant upstart.

Why yes, I am in complete control of the keyboard and I am in no way influenced by aforementioned prince nor the very large sword he happens to have upon his person.

(Send help. Quickly.)

 

Blessed be

RK )O(

Bandit Book Bloggers: Felinity, an Anthology by Kristell Ink

FELINITY, AN ANTHOLOGY

by

KRISTELL INK

felinity

 

Felinity, noun, plural fel-in-ities. 1. The quality of being cat-like. 2. A divine being, a cat.

Grimbold Books is proud to present our first Kristell Inkling, a collection of feline inspired flash fiction stories written by authors from all around the world.
This collection celebrates what we regard as the most important factor when writing: write foremost for pleasure. The stories showcased in this book are full of laughter, grit, odd contraptions and a lot of fur, with a loud purring nod to our beloved genres of science fiction and fantasy.
From A.F.E Smith’s unique twist on Schrödinger’s cat, to Joel Cornah’s world-jumping old queen, from Clare Neilson’s steampunk creation to Tina Closser’s dragon fighting dreaming kitty, these alternate feline worlds are bound to delight sci fi/fantasy readers and cat lovers alike.

PURCHASE LINKS for FELINITY, AN ANTHOLOGY

Amazon UK Ebook

Amazon UK Paperback

Kristell Ink Facebook

Grimbold Books Facebook

 

INTERVIEW WITH JOEL CORNAH

JOEL CORNAH hailing from a small isolated village in Lancashire, is the author responsible for The Sea-Stone Sword. He was awarded a degree in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moors University and spent seven years writing a comical newspaper for The Barrow Downs Tolkien discussion forum. Accompanying this paper was a comic strip series called The Phantom and Alien, a bizarre story of bus drivers, dead people, and a slime child bent on inconveniencing everyone around him.

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Hi Joel! Nice to chat to you. So, first things first, tell me a little bit about your short story. A spoiler-free version, if you please.

A cat as old as time itself, who can jump from world to world, faces the ultimate decision of her life. She’s been to ancient Egypt, to the edge of the universe, and has done things that most humans couldn’t even dream of. But her great choice could put an end to all of that.

It’s a pretty cool cover, who came up with that?

Hazel Butler, a wonderful artist who I happened to meet the other week at a book signing. She’s cool. She’s also drawing the map to my novel, The Sea-Stone Sword. I keep saying ‘more trees!’ and I think she wants to put me on a tree-free diet! Spoil sport!

*chuckles* I read that you’re a Tolkien fan. Does his work inspire you when you’re writing?

If you’re writing fantasy it’s hard to avoid JRRT. I’ve grown up with an online community of Tolkien fans and discussing and rereading his work a million times has definitely rubbed off on me. From obscure discussions about the linage of the Feanorians, to wether Balrogs have wings, it all builds your understanding of how to make an imaginary world that bit more deep and intriguing. Well, I hope so, anyway.

I’m guessing you’re a fan of cats. Do you own any?

Not now, but I used to. His name was Sammie and he was very fond of sitting on laptops.

Did Sammie inspire your story in any way?

Sammie was a one-eyed cat who was very, very old. We found him already living at our house when we first moved in. In the shed besides the house, anyway. He was sat there next to a brush with the name ‘Sam’ written on it, and that’s how he got his name. We nicknamed him Marcel, too, because he would jump up at the glass patio doors and paw along it like a mime artist trapped in a box.

We lost Sammie back in 2006, and ever since I’ve wanted to remember him in some way. I hope this story does his memory justice.

When it comes to writing, do you prefer to plan ahead or do you just write and write and write until you pass out? We won’t judge, don’t worry.

I tend to work in character arcs. I know roughly the kind of personal journey each character needs to go on and I build around a central theme. There are major events I try and steer them towards, but they don’t always get there. And that’s okay, if a character isn’t ready for that big confrontation, the trip into a volcano, or a meeting with a wizard, then they go to where they need to be at that time.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been telling stories since I was very young. I’ve had siblings all my life and we entertained ourselves with games and tales. Most of these revolved around a troupe of toy dinosaurs, penguins, dragons and bears who all had very odd adventures. I enjoyed writing stories in school, but was diagnosed with dyslexia at around 6 or 7 and felt distinctly discouraged from pursuing writing as a vocation.

It wasn’t until I was leaving collage that I realised that it was still very much what I wanted to do. So I wrote and wrote as if to make up for lost time. It’s been about eight years or so since I first wrote a complete book – a dreadful monstrosity called ‘The Dinosaur Prince’ which ended up being nearly 200,000 words long.

I think I’ve calmed down since then.

Phew, quite the feat for an eight-year-old! So do you write full time or part time?

Part time, I’m afraid. I have a day job that takes me away from it.

And when you’re not writing, what keeps you busy?

I manage a café in the village where I live, Parbold. But, aside from that I am also kept busy by all the Doctor Who memorabilia I have acquired over the years. (Aha! A Whovian!) I think I have a problem. But sometimes a new Peter Davison action figure comes out and he’s got a new hat and I just have to have it!

What book/books are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading God’s War by Kameron Hurley. It’s science fiction and is pretty kick ass. Also reading The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter at last! It’s been on my to-do list for a while.

And lastly, most importantly, do you prefer unicorns or waffles?

I am an animal lover, but I hear unicorns can be dangerous. So, I might go with the waffles. As long as they are potato waffles. I love those things. Good source of protein.

He’s clever, this one. We’ll let him stick around for a while.

 

Blessed be, my lovely pixies

RK )O(