This week is a great week! I’ve got another author who has been tricked into sitting in my interrogation room–living room, I mean–to be tortured for information–that is coherced to share her deepest darkest secrets–er, uh, what I meant to say is visit about herself and her newest book!
Hazel B. West sat down for a email version of a face to face and answered all my questions! She’s as interesting as her characters and sweeter still!
Her new book is the one I posted my review of yesterday, and with the release there is a blog tour with more fun stuff to be had! check that all out here:
Now, without further ado, let’s get to know Hazel of the B. of the West, where B obvious means Beautimous-Bella- of-Bodaciousness.
Rachael: Hello, Hazel! Thank you so much for coming by today. Please, tell us a little about yourself as an author. What convinced you to make your stories come to life?
Hazel: I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, or at least coming up with them. I’ve always loved books, too, and I guess somewhere along the line, I decided I wanted to write my own.
Rachael: It seems like that is a common thread among writers, so you are in good company! Do you have any special rituals that you go through before you write?
Hazel: My muse is powered by caffeine, so typically, I don’t write without a cup.
Rachael: Pets? No Pets? Cats over dogs any day?
Hazel: No pets currently. The last pet I had was a hedgehog (Horatio). And I do like dogs, but I have realized I am definitely a cat person. There’s just a nice feeling to have a purring cat on your lap (also scientifically proven to reduce anxiety!)
Rachael: We are currently without a pet as well, to my great sorrow. I miss my dog, but I do see the allure of cats! Since you have no pet, your company must come in the form of a favorite drink. Tea, coffee, cocoa, nothing hot?
Hazel: Coffee daily, tea or cocoa when I’m cold. If I want a cold drink, I’m obsessed with Snapple. XD
Rachael: You’re not too picky, then! haha Every once in a while, a nice cold Snapple hits the spot. I think my favorite for cold drinks is iced tea. Speaking of favorites, who are your favorite authors to read?
Hazel: I have a lot of favorites. Brian Jacques was one of my favorites growing up, and I love the ease with which Jim Butcher can craft a story and characters. I have also become more and more fond of Neil Gaiman the more of his books I read.
Rachael: After reading The Emperor’s New Concerto (TENC 🙂 ), I’m no super surpised by those revelations! You can see their superb influence in your writing. What inspired the style of TENC?
Hazel: Definitely Terry Pratchett, which is not a secret, as it was kind of pointed to in the book itself. I had a really good time using a sort of more whimsical style of writing with this one, and I especially loved writing in the footnotes.
Rachael: Oh yes, there’s no doubt Good Omens might have been mentioned once or twice! The characters Terry Pratchett writes are realistic enough to be personally identifiable and yet they are out of this world. Are there any real-life people who have inspired any particular quirks in any of your characters?
Hazel: I’m sure there have been on occasion, though I think in a way, I don’t try to think too much about that as it would be all I could think about while writing the characters. Flynn and Lysander both have some bits of myself in them. I tend to be inspired more by events or things I’ve experienced than by actual people. Which is probably why my books suffer from an influx of inside jokes on occasion.
Rachael: Inside jokes probably went right over my head in the reading, but there were plenty of jokes I got! You have some amusing side characters and some annoying ones. What quirk IRL do you like or dislike enough to write it into a character?
Hazel: I will say I have probably written a couple annoying co-workers into books before. It makes for a good way to relieve frustration.
Rachael: How did you come up with the idea of a loyal special agent to the king vs a complicated sneak thief whose views on life and themselves would be so challenged?
Hazel: The funny thing about Lysander and Flynn was that they kind of came to me fully formed. The only thing I knew before that was that I wanted to write a book with a hero/villain team up. They were originally going to be super heroes but I hate writing super powers, so I thought of the next best thing—just genuinely skilled humans. I knew one of them was going to be a sort of James Bond, King and Country sort of person, and the other was going to be the opposite of that. I was surprised myself at the characters they presented, but overall very pleased.
Rachael: That’s great! They really are a dynamic pair, between the bickering and reluctant respect. I enjoy their banter and they got to know each other better. What, if anything, did you learn about yourself while writing this book?
Hazel: This book really wasn’t all that soul-searching as I mostly wrote it for good fun. I can definitely empathize with both Lysander and Flynn and the situations they were put into regarding loyalty and such. One reason I enjoyed writing them so much was that you had that feeling of doing things for the greater good and figuring out what loyalty really meant and where to put it.
Rachael: Yes, that’s definitely shows through in the book! Besides introspective learning, was there any cool future tech or historically interesting stuff you learned during the writing of TENC?
Hazel: I did learn that it is technically possible to make a plasma sword, which I think is really neat. I had to pick my younger brother’s brain to figure out all the cool tech stuff and the practical application of it in this story.
Rachael: Yay for siblings with broad interests and pickable brains! It’s nice to have people around with common interests. That leads me into our next question: what authors would you say your readership is likely to have been reading?
Hazel: I know most people who read my stuff have also read a lot of things I read, so probably Tolkien, maybe Brian Jacques and Terry Pratchett as well? I would like to think this book would appeal to anyone who likes very British sort of books.
Rachael: I could see that. Science Fiction, British, a little Snark, a lot of humor, some good old frenemies, and a punch of action. Let’s find out some more specific stuff about this book. If you could reveal one secret about Lysander and/or Eidolon, what would it be (and it doesn’t have to be a spoiler from the book)?
Hazel: Well, for Lysander, this was already kind of hinted at, but he is seriously a very big nerd. He’s particularly a fan of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and all that. He would probably enjoy playing fantasy video games if he had more time.
Eidolon’s secret is actually something that will be revealed later but it’s not really a spoiler—he’s a natural redhead.
Rachael: Oh that’s great! I hope the second book had more of that nerdiness show through for Lysander, and I had no idea Eidolon was a rehead! That should be a fun reveal. His hair being white on the cover of the book, we are left to speculate his true hair color. haha Oh, speaking of speculation, was it difficult to incorporate clues throughout the book leading up to the big reveal of the true leader of the anarchist group?
Hazel: The funny thing about this book is that I wrote it in pieces, so in a way I kind of wrote it backwards. I did a bunch of the scenes I had in mind, and then wrote out a synopsis around it and filled in the rest. Somehow, that worked to make it very easy not to reveal anything too early.
Rachael: I thought you might have had a clever plot(line) for that! 🙂 How many more novels are planned for this series?
Hazel: So far, I have three more books planned and one probably novella length story about Flynn’s backstory at University. The next book will actually be following some different characters, a gang family from Birmingham, (though will also feature Lysander and Flynn).
Rachael: Oh good! I’d be sad if they weren’t in it at least a little. I know I’ve taken up a lot of your time, but I’m so glad you came today! One more quirky questions for you: if you were offered the chanced to visit the future at the cost of giving up your pet cat (we’ll pretend you have one) and never having a pet again, would you do it? Why or why not?
Hazel: I’m not really into the idea of traveling to the future anyway, so probably no XD
Rachael: haha I feel you. We’re traveling into the future quite fast enough, day by day! Thank you again, Hazel, and congrats on your new book!
Don’t miss the giveaway for the Blog Tour this week:
About the Author
Hailing from Purgatory (aka, Florida) Hazel is an indie author, book wyrm, and coffee connoisseur. She typically enjoys writing books with an unconventional flair, probably with a bit of folklore and mythology, most definitely with a lot of siblings or brothers-in-arms. When she’s not writing, she manages an Etsy shop, drinks a lot of coffee, listens to music, haunts conventions, or just holes up like an eldritch horror and binges her favorite shows—for inspiration. If you meet this rare creature on the street, she has been known to respond to the offer of coffee and old bookstores. But it’s probably best you try to contact her online first.
Concerto on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49094755-the-new-emperor-s-concerto
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5289626.Hazel_B_West
Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/hazelwest (anyone who donates or subscribes to Hazel’s ko-fi this month will be able to see an exclusive sneak peek of the next book in the Concerto universe, Requiem in Red.)
An excerpt from The Emperor’s New Concerto
Lysander came to slowly, groggily. His training kept him from making a move, from tipping off his captor that he was conscious. Simply continuing to put on the façade of unconsciousness as he tried his best to make sense of his surroundings in his current state.
The first thing he noticed was the rustle of paper as if someone were turning the pages of a book and identified the familiar scent of English breakfast tea. The clink of china confirmed that fact. Was the knave really sitting there reading and drinking tea while he was lying there captive?
He tried to ease his eyes open, staring out through his lashes when he realized something else. Something moving against his side. He froze, his breathing hitching in surprise before the thing seemed to simply leap onto his chest, digging something sharp into him. Lysander tensed, almost not wanting to look.
“Unless you want to keep pretending, I know you’re awake, so you may as well get up and have a cup of tea. I’m sure it will help your head,” a familiar voice said.
Lysander opened his eyes and found himself staring face to face with his attacker: A black cat with green eyes, staring at him reproachfully, flipping its tail, claws digging through Lysander’s clothing and into his chest. He turned his head, confused, to see Eidolon. The other man was sitting comfortably in a chair to the right of the sofa Lysander was lying on, a pair of reading glasses perched on his nose, a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other, balanced across his knee to hold his place.
“What is this?” was all Lysander could ask, still muzzy from the drug.
“My flat, which you broke into, in case you don’t remember,” came the rather defensive reply.
Lysander huffed indignantly, reaching up to feel the side of his neck, which smarted from the dart. “You drugged me.”
“You should have knocked like a civilized person,” Eidolon replied. “It’s quite rude to just go breaking into people’s residences willy-nilly, King’s Righteous Man or not.”
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking a moment to enjoy this interview with Hazel B. West! Have a great day and stay well, my friend.