Tuesday, 20 May 2014

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.


 Whilst many authors write for fame and profit, Hazel Butler is publishing books to garner attention of a very different sort – attention for Bipolar Disorder. Because many either misunderstand this condition or shun it completely, Butler uses a unique fusion of urban mystery, the paranormal, and a hint of romance, to study exactly how society perceives mental illness and what it is like to live with such conditions, both for patients and their loved ones.

 The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series will delight fans of Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton – or just about anyone else enjoying adult-geared fiction with a twist of the unexpected. A Paranormal Mystery series set to delve into the darkest aspect of human (and inhuman) nature, the series’ first volume is ‘Chasing Azrael’.


 When Andee Tilbrook's husband died, her preoccupation with death turned to obsession. Thanks to her unique ability to commune with the dead, her husband remains all too close, yet never close enough. Mired in grief, she clings to James's spirit, slowly losing touch with the world, her friends, and any desire to continue living.

But when her friend Josh becomes the target of Natalya, a jealous, capricious and violent Russian beauty, Andee somehow finds the strength to free herself from her misery long enough to help him. They soon discover that Natalya is wanted by the police for her involvement in a series of grisly murders, and Andee is dragged into the inquiry by the same man who investigated her own husband's death.

Torn between new feelings for Josh and fear that he might be involved in the murders that seem to threaten anyone who comes close, Andee must face the realities of her life, her past, and her very nature—and do it all in time to save her own life.

“Andee is a petite Gothic Lolita; an archaeologist who lectures at Draethen University – so she’s certainly a quirky character who keeps readers engaged as they explore the many themes throughout the narrative. Chasing Azrael is most definitely a ghost story, however future books look at different aspects of the supernatural. The rest of the series will expand on the themes of book one to include a myriad of different paranormal characters, as well as thought-provoking issues,” says Butler, also an archaeologist.

 Continuing, “They won’t all be told from Andee’s perspective, so readers can expect a cocktail of urban mystery where anything is possible.”

 Of course, above all, Butler hopes her books will contribute in some way toward a better understanding of mental health issues in society.

 “Bipolar Disorder is a daily struggle, and one many people just don’t understand. There’s a lot of stigma and blame for being a sufferer –so I’ve worked diligently to ensure that Andee and my future protagonists can quash any stereotypes and foster a greater culture of empathy,” she adds.

 ‘Chasing Azrael’, published by Aädedian Ink, is due for release on April 26th 2014 and is available for pre-order now: http://amzn.to/1l0IGVl.

For more information, visit: http://hazel-butler.com.


About the Author:

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.


I knew nothing but the rhythmic slap of my feet on wet tarmac. It was the only thing I could focus on, and my focus was slipping.

I’m still running, I thought fuzzily, I have to keep running.

The back of my skull throbbed. Thick, cloying blood oozed into my hair, mingling with the rain, cherry streams running down goose-pimpled flesh. One bare, frozen foot landed badly. I tripped, knee slamming into the kerb. A car hurtled by, horn howling at my presence in its path, the glaring lights of its eyes forcing my own shut. When I opened them again, I was transfixed by the sight of my arms, waxen and tinged red in the fading glare of tail lights. I watched intently as bloodied rain dripped down them and into the gutter.

“James!” I screamed, but the night swallowed his name.

The injured leg dragged behind as I ran on, a dead weight, more blood now seeping between my numb toes. Rain pounded in my ears, the taste of blood biting at the back of my throat. Again I stumbled as more lights flashed in my eyes, stationary this time. Clustered before me stood a crowd of cars branded with words that should have offered comfort, but instead only confirmed my worst fears: Police, Paramedic. Squinting against the onslaught of headlights, I lurched past them. Voices added their cries to the night, but they were not my own, and they were not his, so I ignored them, the world twisting around me as my head grew ever lighter and the lights grew ever brighter.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Today I'm featuring a new release from one of my favourite publishers, Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books. The theme is... well, the clue is in the title. It's choc-a-bloc with stories and artwork from some really terrific authors.

Here's the blurb - 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.

A.F.E SMITH is an academic editor who lives in the south east of England with her husband, her young son, and thousands of books. When she’s not writing speculative fiction of various kinds, she enjoys the usual things: watching films, eating snacks, solving complex mathematical equations. She has never owned a cat, mainly because she knows she’d end up a pawn in its bid for world domination.
C.N LESLEY lives in Alberta with her husband and cats. Her three daughters live close by. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth likes to read and to paint watercolors. She is also a keen gardener, despite the very short summers and now has a mature shade garden. Once a worker in the communications sector, mostly concentrating on local news and events, she now writes full time.
RACHAEL BROWN is a fourteen-year-old student from Norfolk. Her interests include art, animation, gaming, history, reading, seventies rock music, drama, and of course writing. She is intensely passionate about English and writing, and thinks it is a real pleasure to be included in this anthology, especially since her stories (whether short or long) tend to be rather bizarre and odd with a zany feel.
PAIGE CLOSSER attends school in small town in the American Midwest. She loves to read Percy Jackson novels and make loom band charms. When she’s not busy with those pursuits, or practicing violin, she likes to think of stories. The story in this book may or may not be based on her two cats.
CHRISTIE RAMPERSAD is a medical student who began her writing in poetry, with selected works appearing in Danse Macabre and Pens on Fire. Now, as she transitions to fiction, she is thrilled that Nine Lives Later has placed joint- third in the Kristell Ink Feline Flash Fiction Competition and found a home in this anthology.
DAVE CROSBY is an affable gentleman, as much as any American can be “affable” (or “gentle”, for that matter), living in a Heaven-forsaken area of California known as Fresno. He has a humanities heart and mind, living in an ex-banker’s body, so he has made a living with bankerly number-crunching all his life, but has lived with reading, writing and music. He published a short story in 2013, Rain Over Ghaidhealtachd, set in Ancient Scotland, in the anthology Magic Creatures from Celtic Mists, has written another tale set within a moonlit night in Jamaica, Last Touch, and hopes to publish his first novel next year, an exciting thriller set in San Francisco, called Bringing Home the Good War. He thinks kindly of his two sons, Glen and Ted, who have given him much inspiration in his work, especially the novel.
JESSICA FROST is a medical student with a love for literature. For her, writing is a much-needed break away from science and studying! She can be found on Twitter: @ MissInkweaver
CLAIRE NEILSON was always very good at stories in school, but her spelling was awful. She thanks the gods and goddesses of word processors for the little red lines of spelling correction. Now age 30 she lives in Manchester and spends her days baking for a living and reading for leisure.
BRIAN TALGO was born in the Deep South of the US in 1954, and later spent his formative years in Westchester County, a northern suburb of New York City. As a young man he wandered restlessly about the US for several years, working mainly as a carpenter and stonemason, until he eventually got in touch with his inner Viking and relocated to Norway in 1981. After many years abroad he has grown comfortable with his expat status.
Currently working with international admissions at the University of Oslo, Brian writes and indulges in other creative endeavors in his spare time. He presently lives on the outskirts of Oslo, together with his wife, son, two insubordinate cats, and a miniature forest of plants. A daughter has wisely flown the coop.
Website: sonsrevenge.blogspot.no
IAN RICHARDSON lives by the sea, on the East Coast of Scotland, with his cat, Purry Murray.
The first story Ian ever wrote was published, but he hasn’t been able to keep up that 100% record. However, several short stories, articles and micro fictions have escaped the red pen recently and his steampunk serial was e-published in 2013.
ROB BAYLISS lives with his wife, two children and dog in Somerset. A keen scholar of history and lover of fantasy, only recently has he discovered the joyful escapism of sitting down to write a story.
LANCE CROSS writes short stories when he gets stuck writing his novel, so he writes more short stories than he should.
When he’s not writing, he spends too much time telling his cat he’s “sooooo cute”, and trying to keep him away from the computer keyboard, as he knows what buttons to push to delete stuff. Lance really shouldn’t let him jump on the desk in the first place, but as mentioned, he’s sooooo cute.
JOSHUA CORNAH is a 22 year old café assistant at a local coffee shop who loves to draw, for himself and others. In his free time, he’s an illustrator and cartoonist, and the influences for his drawings come from Japanese anime, manga, and Nintendo video games. He is also very polite.
STEVEN J GUSCOTT or Steven, Steve, Steve-o, Stevie, Stevie Gee, Moral Steve, Uncle Steven...the list goes on . . . but the name he has chosen for writing is Steven J. Guscott. Like some of the other names, there’s a random story behind it, and obviously his middle name starts with a J, but he’s not going to bore you with that story just now. What he will bore you with is telling you how much he loves creating fantasy/sci fi stories. He’s twenty six and lives in Scotland, and nearly three years ago he discovered an unhealthy obsession with writing. He’s written a few stories in this time, and has quite a number still to write. If you want to learn more about Steven and his writing journey, he’s kept a record in the form of a blog that can be found at:
VICTORIA ROBINSON lives a safe and comfortable existence in home county suburbia, where shadows lurk not in dark, smoking alleys but behind neatly trimmed hedges and carefully erected fences.
DAVID COHEN lives in the university town of Dunedin, a gateway to New Zealand’s Lord-of-the-Rings-set Southern landscapes. His background is in the high-technology electronic industries, but considers writing the most fun you can have sitting down with a pen and paper, so is pursuing that – as well as other interests such as photography, object- making and volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. He cites Annie Proulx, Spike Milligan, Arthur C. Clarke, Patrick Süskind, and Terry Pratchett as current influences, but that will almost certainly change.
HONOR THOMPSON spends most of her time with her head in a book and a pen in her hand. She looks to her friends and family for inspiration, and as such all her writing characters hold a special place in her heart. Without her grandparents, she wouldn’t be where she is today, for they taught her that nothing is impossible; you just have to believe.
SOPHIE TALLIS is a Bristol born gal who grew up in a sleepy village dreaming of dragons and wild adventures. She hasn’t grown up much, and sincerely hopes she never does. She lives in the Cotswolds with her family, two enormous white wolves, and a load of wild ducks that basically run the place; she has just added two Alaskan Malamutes into the mix! Sophie is a full-time teacher and has been dulling young minds . . . ahem . . . inspiring young minds for the past fifteen years. She is a painter, artist and illustrator, and has a BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art, photography and sculpture. But her first passion has always been writing stories and poetry. Her first novel, an epic fantasy for children and adults, was published in September 2012 to great reviews and high sales, and she’s currently working on the sequels, due out later in 2014 and 2015, as well as a host of other projects.
WILL MACMILLAN-JONES is a fifty-something lover of blues, rock and jazz. He presently lives in Wales, a beautiful verdant land of myth with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking local beers and shouting loud encouragement at the TV whenever Wales is playing international rugby.
He has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his study with bookcases, and then (over)filling the bookcases. When not drinking beer and watching rugby, he remembers to write the occasional horror book or to add to his comic fantasy series, The Banned Underground. Links to all his work can be found on his website:
JANE DOUGHTERY is a product of the Irish diaspora. She was brought up in Yorkshire, educated at Manchester and London, then moved to Paris to work in the wine trade. She now lives in Bordeaux with her family, a Spanish greyhound, and a posse of cats. Her first published work is a YA fantasy series, The Green Woman. She also writes poetry and has been published in Poetry Nook Magazine and The Bamboo Hut.
As a Role Player, MIKE HARGREAVES’ main outlet for creative writing is in the plotting out of tabletop gaming scenarios for the RPG players in his social circle. The rest of the time he’s fighting to keep a healthy ratio between idea and completed projects. It’s a fight he keeps losing.
When she isn’t busy with her nine-to-five job as an electrical engineer, TINA CLOSSER helps her husband with a small hobby farm, complete with a mini horse, donkey, cows, and sheep. In between farm duties and running the kids to gymnastics, she likes to write.
KIERAN MATHERS is a freelance writer based in Sheffield, UK, and is very much inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire, The Farseer Trilogy and other great works of fantasy. While not hunched over a keyboard creating worlds in his head, he goes cycling in the Yorkshire Dales and writes poetry.
EVELINN ENOKSEN lives in Norway with her husband and children. She finds inspiration in everything, and has always been interested in art and writing. She says there are few things more fun in life than being able to create.
SELINA CARR is a writer, collector and lover of folk and fairy tales. She is inspired by, and drawn to, the deceptive simplicity of these sometimes poignant—and often gruesome—stories. Much of her writing is heavily influenced by her life-long relationship with the tales penned by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault and Oscar Wilde.
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.
Sample Story. Previously published on the KI website and opening story of the collection. Winner of the Flash Fiction competition
Nein Lives
A.F.E. Smith
My name is Nein. I have had other names, but Nein will do for now.
I sit with my attendant whilst he wrestles with the nature of reality. He thinks he owns me. I let him keep thinking that.
“Nein, Nein,” he mutters, taking his glasses off and polishing them with vigour. “I am convinced they are looking at this in the wrong way. How can this superposition represent what truly happens in the world?”
He is talking to me. I get up and stretch, then step delicately onto the desk. To start with his touch is absent-minded, but my claws kneading his sleeve recall him to a full sense of his obligations.
I knew a man like you once before, I tell him as he runs his fingers down my spine in the way I like. He longed to know how birds and trees and tortoises came to be. How they could change to fit their surroundings. I showed him a mouse, and then he understood. The mouse was uniquely adapted to run away, and I was uniquely adapted to catch it.
He frowns at me. He often frowns when I speak. All my attendants have been the same: so focused on the weighty questions in their minds that they fail to understand what is before their eyes. Perhaps that is what it means to be human.
Did I ever tell you about the man with the apple tree? I ask, butting my head into the palm of his hand. He used to sit in its dappled shade every day, thinking about the laws that keep all of us moving along our preordained paths. I would stretch out on the branch above him and enjoy the heat of summer. But when he started forgetting to provide me with fish scraps, I decided enough was enough. I knocked an apple down onto his head, and understanding with it.
He is looking blank. I will try once more.
A long time ago, in China, an alchemist was seeking immortality. He mixed this ingredient and that, to no avail. Just as he was about to give up, I knocked a candle into his mixing dish. The explosion took off his eyebrows, but he was ecstatic. He had sought to live forever, but instead he had found a way to bring others death.
I wait for any sign of comprehension, but my attendant’s mind is still off in its narrow little orbit. Disgruntled, I turn to groom myself. Of course, that is one discovery I would not choose to make again. My fur was singed just here, above the tail, and it has never been the same since.
“Down, now,” he says, with fine disregard for the sorrow of that memory, and I allow him to lower me to the floor. “I must make sense of this tonight.”
Ah, poor Schrödinger. Just like the others, he needs my help. One day, soon, I will walk into a box and really make him think.
Buy the book HERE