Azalea Forrest is a fantasy author living with her partner, two cats, and leopard gecko in sunny Florida. Her stories focus on hope and adventure, being a better person, coping with mental illness, and doing your best. She loves getting inside a character’s head to learn who they are.
Aside from writing, she is also a photographer, editor, and gamer. Described as a “living Ghibli character”, Forrest wants to spread a little more light in the world. She is affiliated with Mathematician Records, where you can buy her books directly.
Welcome to the section where we talk with the authors. Today, we are accompanied by Azalea Forrest, author of The Underground, A Bitter Drink, and Witch in the Lighthouse. Also described as a living Ghibli Studio character.
Let’s dive in!
1.- First of all, what made you decide on self-publishing route?
A friend of mine was writing books and introduced me to self-publishing. I was encouraged & excited at the prospect of self-pubbing, too, and so after I wrote Witch in the Lighthouse, I just went forward with it to see where that path would take me. And I’m glad I did, because it’s kept me in the writing game after having been on a several-year break before writing WIL.
2.- You have at this point 3 published books, which parts of writing would you say are the most challenging at this point?
Ahaha, every book has its own challenges. I think I still rush the outlines for the first draft, sometimes, which in some ways I enjoy, because I can have a lot of fun with “pantsing” most of a chapter, but I’m still learning to get as detailed as possible on those outlines. :P
3.- A Bitter Drink has a well-crafted cover, plus nice chapter entries, who is the person behind those?
Thank you! The cover was done by my partner, who runs Math Graphics & Audio via Mathematician Records. I made the chapter headers through Canva.
4.- So, let’s ask, how did you end up writing about a character like Rowan?
Rowan actually started as a roleplaying character in a video game, haha. He was a skilled illusionist amongst high-class society, and was caught using his magic to line his pockets with his peers’ gold. He was then forced to go on the lam. I loved writing him so much, I just knew I had to give him his own book. And I’m so glad I did.
5.- The society on Bisia is really heterogeneous, but it has a certain established harmony, what could you tell us about that?
Bisia is the human capital, but the Veriko family has believed that balance between the races is of extreme importance. While not all humans may agree, the elves and dwarves and now the Dahlsia are all free to come and go as they please. Bisia is essentially the heart of the country, and so this arrangement is mutually beneficial. The centaurs, however, still hate humans for taking their land. (And I don’t blame them!) There is hope that one day peace can be made. Perhaps we’ll see.
6.- Aether is an interesting system of magic, can you develop it a little bit more?
Thank you! So, elves are the most in-tune of the races (without getting spoilery) with aether. Aether is all around them, and courses through them. Because of their long life spans, they’re able to use aether much more often, and more potently, than a human could. Humans, on the other hand, have very little, if any, aether within themselves. Instead, they use the aether around them: usually in plants, but more skilled aetherists can pull aether from the air around them. They have to train much harder to wield magic, and can learn to hold it within themselves, or within objects. But using too much aether too quickly can drain a person’s lifespan, and can even kill them. So for a human, it can be a very dangerous path! Aether is within everything: plants, people, animals, the mountains, the very earth itself, the very air itself. But some people may be more attuned to some elements of nature than others. There are streams of aether beneath the planet’s crust, and this is the rawest, pure form of aether, and is very volatile. That volatility has been the cause of some earthquakes, landslides, and even tidal waves. That aether is then exposed to the flora and fauna of the world, and can affect them in sometimes very strange ways.
7.- A Bitter Drink has got to the SFPBO8 semifinals, and it is a finalist in Indie Ink Awards (I think?), did you expect such a success with this special story?
An author can hope, but no I did not expect it! I am so grateful and so happy that people are enjoying my story.
8.- What can we expect from Azalea Forrest in the future?
I am working on two WIPs right now: Apothecary (name not final), and A Witch in Isenshire: the sequel to Witch in the Lighthouse. Apothecary follows a healer in a world of monsters, and the anxiety she experiences is much like a monster in her own mind. In AWII, Maggie and Basil travel to a steampunk city to perform technomancy for a wealthy and successful engineer.
We want to thank Azalea for taking the time for answering these questions. Remember you can follow her on her socials or visit her website.