Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Thirty Devilish Years of Azarius!

I waited with a bit of trepidation the year my novel Azarius was in development. I'd sold it myself with a query followed by a complete manuscript, "over the transom," as they used to say, after an agent failed.

I'd fumbled my way along with Writer's Market and Writer's Digest and observation of what was on the bookstore shelves. Edward Lee's Ghouls alerted me that Pinnacle Books was alive again after Mack Bolan jumped ship for Harlequin, so I addressed my letter To the Editor of Ghouls. I'd read Stephen King had once sent a query To The Editor of The Parallax View. That must have been for the novel Rage and not Carrie, but I'm not sure. 

As a newbie with just a few short stories published in literary and little magazines, I had little say in the cover art, and there'd been a good bit of negative buzz about crass paperback covers with skulls and demonic children.

The Postman Rings

When a packet arrived unexpectedly in the mail one morning with a stack of cover flats, I was relieved and elated. The lettering was foil embossed but in a cool way, and the image of an eye in a broken mirror, mined from the book's pages, seemed perfect and subdued at the same time.

It's hard to believe that was 30 years ago.

Early 2019's been hectic for me with a move to Virginia, so it took a phone conversation the other night with Wayne Allen Sallee, author of The Holy Terror, Rapid Transit and much more, to note the anniversary year had arrived. It's the 27th for Holy Terror. 

It seems long ago and like yesterday. 

It started with a bad dream on the heels of three private eye novels I'd never felt were quite good enough to ship out plus a coming of age novel with crime undertones.

Letting Go of I

I switched over to third person from first and found it freeing, and the words flowed. A hundred thousand or so hammered out on a Commodore 64 in the wee morning hours after working a 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift at the newspaper where I was a reporter. I've always said past midnight was a good time to be writing a horror-mystery.

I had to take vacation time to do the edits requested by Ann LaFarge, who'd found it in the slush pile. A New Orleans-area murder-for-hire trial had been relocated to Central Louisiana, and I drew the straw of covering it. It was interesting but also a distraction.

Azarius Lives!
Crossroad Press re-issued Azarius a couple of years ago as I was rolling up my sleeves and preparing to devote my writing time to literary short stories.

The ebook edition cover was designed by David Dodd who does most of the covers for Crossroad . I was really pleased when it arrived in my inbox, bypassing the postman.

David had found a different but equally intriguing way to represent the novel's central, deceptive presence, leader of a horde of fallen angels all eventually confronted by a young reporter.

It touched off what I've come to think of now as the Aimsley Cycle of novels, all set in the fictional Louisiana city Aimsley and its surroundings where events traditionally supernatural and otherwise abound.

Looking back, that led to an interesting life for me.

I'd have never taught without Azarius, I'd never have made as many friends as I have around the world, never have bounced around as much. It's all a blur of course.

And happily you can order here or via the Crossroad Press website.

1 comment:

Roland Mann said...

I think you should also talk about how the pronunciation of the book has changed over time, too!

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