Monday, June 3, 2013


Finally it's the release day for A Case of Poisons! I've been really excited about sharing this book with everyone, and I hope you will all be able to get a copy and enjoy the book as well =) Today I've got lots of fun things planned for you to celebrate the release, including behind the scenes about the writing process of A Case of Poisons and a special character interview with Tobias and Scamp.

My friend and fellow-writer, Mara, is also helping me celebrate the release by posting an excerpt from the book on her blog, so check that out here:

But first, let's do the "door prizes"


To celebrate the release, I'm doing a couple giveaways. There's still the one from Goodreads for two signed paperback copies, but just for the release, I'm also giving away an e-book copy, and a poster with the lovely cover art on it to two lucky winners. This is what you have to do to win:

Leave me a comment, and put your email address in it. If you don't want to display your email to everyone, email it to me here: But please give me your email address, otherwise I won't be able to contact you to tell you you won!

The giveaway will run for a week, and anyone who comments on this post and leaves their email in that time, will be added to the drawing. Next Monday, I'll be announcing the winners here on my blog, and then I'll also be emailing the winners. The e-book winner will receive thier e-book in any form they want from Smashwords, and the winner of the poster, will need to supply their mailing address to me through email so I can send it to you =) Very easy, and very fun.

Book, poster and bookmarks, all awesome giveaway prizes!

Purchase Links:

Createspace (paperback):

*Don't Forget!!*

There's still time to donate to help me promote "A Case of Poisons" so I can afford a book tour and advertisement to make the release even more awesome =) If you like what you see here, please go to my Indiegogo campaign page and consider parting with a bit of spangle to help me and Anthony.

Remember! It's not just benefiting me, if you donate, you will get something in return, weather it be e-book, signed paperback, or other fun stuff. There's also a chance to name a character in the next book, so do check it out!

Now for even more fun stuff:

Behind the Scenes of writing A Case of Poisons

The Story

Usually after I publish a book, I write a “reasons for writing this” post, but since I didn’t have any real reasons for writing A Case of Poisons like I did for On a Foreign Field or By Blood or By Bond—it was more of just a fun book all the way round—I’m going to give you a little “Behind the Scenes” instead.

If I were pressed at all to give a reason for starting the Anthony Maxwell series, it would be because I have always wanted to write a mystery novel. I’ve always loved mysteries, and last summer, about this time, actually, I came up with the idea for a mystery novel where the villain uses strange, fabricated poisons to kill people. That was all I had, (there was also something to do with a mysterious moor at night, but you’ll have to wait for Book Five to see that) and Anthony didn’t really come along until later. Eventually I did find a name for him, but it was one night at about 4 in the morning when he finally came to me and said “We are writing the beginning of my story now” and as the dutiful writer, I went along with it and wrote about half of the first chapter in my note book:

Official first page of Anthony ever!

And that was all I had for a while. The first chapter. I spent all summer mulling over the villain’s exact motives while I wrote By Blood or By Bond and its backstories, wondering even what decade I wanted A Case of Poisons to be set in. I actually originally had thoughts on the villain being involved in the Crimean War, but that was putting everything a little earlier than I really wanted it. I wanted Anthony in the London of Sherlock Holmes. I love steampunk set in that time period, and couldn’t resist making this book a steampunk. I didn’t do it because it’s “the thing” now (besides, I was a steampunk fan before it really became “the thing” in the last few years or so) I did it because I love steampunk. And there’s the possibility of airships, which *spoiler*, you will see in Book Four. I could go into the story of how this would not be the first time I’ve written steampunk, or about airships, but I think I’m going to have to wait for that story until the release of Book Four as it will make a lot more sense to everyone then.

Despite that, I also wanted to have the option of playing around with pre WWI plots and such later in the series. Because... I just might take advantage of that.

So pretty much, that was how the story was conceived. It took a lot of sweat, coffee, (and more coffee) to get it the way it is now, but that was how, as is hopefully obvious, it all began (to quote Anthony)

The official case all mapped out

The Characters

Sir Anthony Maxwell
Writing a Victorian mystery novel, I pretty much figured that people would compare it to Sherlock Holmes. I would, if I was picking it up for the first time. So initially I was a bit worried that Anthony would come across too much like Holmes, since I am a diehard Sherlockian and I already felt I was being influenced by Doyle. I don’t really know why, because, truthfully, Anthony had that all covered himself, and he certainly isn’t like Holmes. There might be a few similarities that Sherlockians will spot, but I assure you, they were not done intentionally, (and if they were, you’ll likely know) and there’s only so far you can go into writing a Victorian mystery novel set in London without emulating Doyle a bit.

But no, I would not say Anthony is much like Holmes at all. Nor would I say that Tobias and Scamp are anything like a Watson. Truthfully, the Anthony series is like if you took Holmes and crossed it with Prisoner of Zenda or other swashbucklers of the same era. In fact, there are actually some similarities to Prisoner of Zenda. I did somewhat base Tobias off of a supporting character from it. It’s definitely both mystery and adventure series, and I felt I needed somewhat of an action hero to lead it. 

Anthony came to me as himself, and he, thankfully, ended up being just who I had in mind to play lead role. Tobias and Scamp came soon after, and I really didn’t have any trouble pinning their personalities down either. Why the trio instead of the traditional hero detective/sidekick? Well, pretty much for that reason. I have always loved trios, and I really like having the guy-guy-girl trio, particularly if they all act like brothers and sister, which is definitely the relationship Anthony, Tobias and Scamp share. Scamp is the kind of girl who can be “one of the guys” and Tobias and Anthony know that, thus, they don’t worry about her any more than they worry about each other. Scamp, in turn, never tries to be better than them because she’s not one of those kick-butt-and-take-names heroines who I never care for. They all watch each other’s backs and hold no genderal biases between each other. This is the kind of relationship I love to read about, but, frankly, never really get to because in everyone else’s books, it always ends in a love triangle. Well, sorry to disappoint love triangle fanatics, but there will be absolutely no romantic interest between my trio. I’m not saying there won’t be outside romantic interests later *hint hint*, but certainly not between these three.

Now for a little bit about the other characters you meet in the series. I’ll start off with Archie and his urchins. I adore urchins, and I really don’t think anyone should write a Victorian story without including urchins. Archie wasn’t based off anyone in particular, but I love him. He’s smart, and proud, but he will do anything to protect the younger children he keeps under his wing. I loved writing his somewhat father-son relationship with Anthony, because Archie is so stubborn, he doesn’t like to accept help from anyone, but Anthony takes care of him anyway. He’s definitely one of my favorite characters in the series.

And then there’s Inspector Garrett. No, he’s not really like Lestrade, in fact, I kind of shamelessly based him off of Inspector Japp from Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Anthony likes to pretend he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but Garrett is actually a lot smarter than he gives him credit for, and Garrett is always there when he needs him, acting as brute force if nothing else. The second book is going to be really fun because you get to see the two match wits as a wager to see who can solve the case first!

And that was just a little sneak peak into the characters you have to look forward to by reading A Case of Poisons. I wish I could talk about the villain, but that would be telling too much ;-)

The Steampunk

As I said, I wanted this to be a steampunk. A Case of Poisons does not feature as many steampunk inventions as the series will in later books, but I did take liberties with the technology of the time to create a steampunk feel to the story.

First off, we have the contraptions, which are motorcars that are used more widely than horse drawn cabs in my book. I based them off of actual Victorian cars, and crossed them between the sportier-looking ones from the 20s and 30s. Some are steam powered and others are electric (go green, right?) There were actually both in the Victorian era. The Electrobat was the first electric car. I would post a picture of my contraptions, but I tried to draw one and it just didn't turn out, so unfortunately, you'll just have to use your imagination. 

The weapons were really fun to come up with. I love designing weapons, and some of the ones you will see in A Case of Poisons and likely in future Anthony Maxwell books as well, are as follows:

The Eagle’s Claw: This is a small curved blade that is folded into a mechanism that can attach to the palm of one’s hand. When the release button is pressed, the blade pops out. It’s used mostly in street fighting and such other dirty work as that.

Eagle's Claw blueprint 
The Broadsman’s Barker: Typically a gambler’s weapon (broadsman is Victorian slang for ‘card sharp’) Tobias carries one of these. It’s a small, thin pistol that is attached to a mechanism that is worn on the wrist so that the pistol can be hidden up one’s sleeve. You can either have a Manuel release in which you shake the pistol from the mechanism into your hand, or an automatic one where you hide a release button in the palm of your glove (of course this is the kind Tobs has).

Suicide Pistol: This is my favorite. It’s a pistol that you can reverse the barrel of so that it is pointing behind you. Perfect for when you have an enemy with a gun to the back of your head!

And then of course Anthony has his boots with the secret sheathes for his shortsticks which, when he clicks the heels together the shortsticks pop up.


But the technology isn’t the only thing that can be advanced in steampunk either. You can also go the scientific rout, which leads us to:

The Poisons

Okay, I’m not going to lie, this was my favorite part of researching this book. I’ve never been a fan of science, medicine (apart from historical cures), or microbiology, but I have always found toxicology a fascinating subject—no, don’t run away yet! It’s because poisons can be hidden, they’re subtle, and leave less trace of the murderer than a stab wound or gun shot. I’ve always enjoyed poisoning mysteries more because it left more to figure out. Without giving too much away about the story, the poisons I chose to use were, for one, all organic, taken from animals that were certainly not indigenous to Britain.

All the poisons I use in the book are portrayed accurately. I got them all from my new favorite writing reference book Book of Poisons which is an actual legitimate Writer’s Digest book. See, they know what we need. It classes everything so wonderfully it was very easy to find exactly what I needed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go into a lot of the poisons as much as I wanted nor did I get to use all that I had on my little list (cue evil laughter) but there might be another book with poisons in it later (in fact, it’s most likely), so I hope to have more time with them then ;-)

The Things One Finds Out When Writing Mysteries

I always like to say that I learned about pretty much everything by reading Trixie Belden and Sherlock Holmes, certainly more than I did in school anyway. I never actually realized why this was before I started writing mysteries myself. (Okay, I actually realized why when I watched Castle and saw all the weird stuff he knew from researching) but I never really applied that until I set out to write my own. Think of all the random knowledge that has popped up in the Sherlock Holmes stories that has helped him solve a case: The lion’s mane jellyfish, the KKK, the Australian hunting cry, how to measure how tall a tree is from its shadow—to name only a few off the top of my head. I learned a ton reading those books, and that’s because there is no accounting for what you may have to research when going into writing a mystery. Without giving too much away, here are some of the random things I had to research for A Case of Poisons:

Poisons, of course, but I had to do deep research into symptoms of poisons, particularly that of the brown recluse spider as you will see why when you read the book.

Ancient British royalty.

Ancient Egyptian history and rebellion.

And a bunch of other numerous things I never foresaw when I started the book. I can’t wait to see what the next one brings.

Some Fun Facts (mostly) Relating to A Case of Poisons

This you probably already know, but I’ll say it again: A Case of Poisons is my first official mystery novel. I never even wrote an old mystery novel in my years of young writerhood (I refuse to acknowledge certain stories from when I was 11 that really were not mysteries at all even if I termed them that at the time)

A Case of Poisons is my first published novel in the First Person, and actually only my second written novel in first person perspective, but now you will be seeing a lot more of it as it’s quite addicting.

Writing First Person is addicting.

Though I had the idea for the villain first, he took me forever to figure out while Anthony just came strolling along.

I really had no character building to do on Anthony at all. Once he decided to talk to me, he came as a whole package.

The ‘side-kick’ villain in this story (you’ll have to read it to find out more about this subject) was actually the original conceived villain for the piece in its very very early days.

I came up with the term ‘shortsticks’ and the fighting style to use them when I stole my brother’s friction rod after he had finished the science experiment it belonged to.

I could not sit down to write or read this story without a cup of coffee. I’m drinking one as I write this.

My music inspiration for writing this was the soundtracks for the new Sherlock Holmes movies. They were really perfect.

Anthony Maxwell has seven planned novels, and probably will have more.

The actor I would choose to play Anthony would be Jonas Armstrong (Robin from BBC’s Robin Hood)—Random Robin Hood Fun Fact: I actually liked Guy better

Also, not only a fun fact, but a reason to buy the book: there is a sneak peak of the first chapter of Book Two in the back of the book. Both the Paperback and the E-book, so you e-book readers should thank me ;-P

And now I'd like to introduce Tobias and Scamp who have agreed to do an interview for your benefit today!

Interview with Tobias and Scamp

Hazel: For readers who don’t know you, why don’t you two introduce yourselves?

Tobias: I’m Tobias Farley, ex-broadsman thanks to an incident that I will talk about later. I’m also a champion charmer, but unfortunately my prowess is not used in this story nearly enough, Hazel.

Scamp: I’m Scamp—you’ll have to read the book to find out my real name—I was a street lass for most of my life until I met Anthony. I also have a Gypsy heritage through my Grandmother. And, as you probably know, we are Anthony’s partners.

Hazel: What’s it like working with a private detective?

Tobias: Sometimes exciting, sometimes tedious, all the time unexpected, and on rare occasions terribly dangerous as “The Case of Poisons” will tell you.

Tobias and Scamp in for their interview
Scamp: I find it always invigorating, though sometimes Anthony will leave us in the dark and that is quite annoying. It’s not that he means to, it’s just that when he starts really thinking and is at the end of the case, he just dashes off without a care in the world but to solve it. He always makes sure to clear things up once the villain is apprehended, though.

Hazel: What was the first case you all worked together?

Tobias: I believe Scamp worked a case or two with Anthony before I came along, but the first case we all worked as partners, well, it wasn’t exactly the greatest achievement of our career. In the early days, Scamp and I didn’t really get along…

Scamp: I had never had any brothers, but I instantly knew that Tobias was exactly like the annoying brother I had never been graced with. We never agreed on anything back then. In fact, this case actually changed that.

Hazel: How was that?

Tobias: During a part of the case—it was a string of jewelry thefts where the thief would send small children down the chimneys of houses to unlock the doors for the others to get in—we were waiting up on the rooftop of a rich house that Anthony suspected would be the next target. It was in the middle of the night, raining, and we were all freezing.

Scamp: Unfortunately, Anthony had miscalculated, and the house that was actually getting robbed that night was the next one over. So we were sitting there freezing, trying to hide behind the chimney of the house when we realized we weren’t even in the right place. That was when Tobias got the brilliant idea to jump over to the other roof to apprehend the thieves.

Tobias: Admittedly not one of my greater moments. As everyone can probably guess, I didn’t really make it, and I was hanging from the eves two storeys above the ground, with wet, freezing hands that were slipping more and more by the second. Anthony and Scamp quickly made the decision that they would split up: he to chase after the thieves who had taken flight as soon as I had jumped over, and Scamp to help me.

Scamp: He was not happy about that at all, especially when I was able to jump to the other roof without a problem—I had been doing it all my life, after all, with much shorter legs than I have now. I hauled him back up just as he was slipping and ever since, he was eternally grateful to me for it, though he forgets sometimes.

Tobias: So that’s the story, and we did apprehend the thieves in the end, so I suppose it all worked out for the best.

Hazel: Tell everyone how you met Anthony.

Tobias: I met Anthony when I was being attacked by four bruisers from a local gambling house where I used to sharp cards. It can probably be assumed that I don’t do that anymore. He saved me lots of broken bones that day, and once I had found out what he did, I decided that I might as well join him.

Scamp: I met Anthony when I tried to pick his pocket. Then he had the gall to invite me to dinner. I thought he was just another no-good cad that London had far too many of, and I was all set to teach him a lesson his grandchildren wouldn’t forget, but he turned out to be a very kind—if somewhat na├»ve—fellow, and I decided I liked him enough to stick around. It was a favour, really. He needed someone to look after him if he was going to make a habit of inviting ladies to tea. Others might not hesitate.

Hazel: What do you think is the success of your partnership?

Tobias: Ultimately, our friendship and undying loyalty to each other. I know it sounds fantastic, but we would all gladly take a bullet for one another. I think it all partly comes down to the fact that none of us ever really had a family. Anthony mostly just had his Aunt, never any siblings. I left to “seek my fortune” when I was thirteen and was just a rash chap without any meaning to my life and too few real friends, and Scamp’s family died when she was very young, leaving her to live on the streets to fend for herself. We are a motley crew who doesn’t really fit in any one place, and I think that’s what attracted us to each other. Because we never fit in with anyone else, we fit in with each other and became a family of our own. The three of us are brothers and sister in everything but blood. We even have extended family; Archie is kind of an adopted son to Anthony, Inspector Garrett and Doctor Reynolds are sort of like cousins, and of course Mrs Hutchings looks after us all. I love this family more than any I was born into.

Scamp: I second Tobias heartily on everything. Apart from our tight friendship, there’s also the fact that we all bring a different skill to the table when we work. There is no squabbling over rolls when we are solving a case, we all know our parts instantly and we all count on the other to get his part done. We’ve had great success in that apart from a couple of our first cases.

Hazel: Before you leave, why don’t you tell readers a little about why they should invest in the Anthony Maxwell series?

Tobias: Hazel, you are shameless, making your characters promote your books for you! But as for why readers would enjoy the books, well, there’s me, of course. I’m dashing, blond, and single, I might add.

Scamp: Not necessarily what Hazel meant, I think, Tobias. Apart from my colleague’s own self-promotion, there are definitely some better reasons why you should all get into the series. For the first part, Anthony is a very engaging narrator. He might drink too much coffee, but he’s a good fellow. There are many misadventures in this book, and certainly more to look forward to in later books as well. There’s all the good stuff, chase scenes, fight scenes, even torture…

Hazel: But not true love (Sorry guys, The Princess Bride is way after your time)

Tobias: And this one has lots of poisons. And urchins, and also mummies *shudder*.

Scamp: And if that’s not reasons enough, well, let us know how we can try harder.

Hazel: Thanks so much for giving us time out of your busy schedule to interview you two!

Tobias: My pleasure! Though I’m quite looking forward to the vacation you promised before you start writing the next one.

Scamp: Likewise. But it was a pleasure to be invited to speak on your blog! Until the next book, then!


If you missed the character interview with Anthony Maxwell on Mara's blog, check it out here now!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to be part of the release! Don't forget to leave your email in the comments below to enter the giveaway! =D


  1. Congrats on another book written, finished, and published! :) I look forward to reading A CASE OF POISONS in its entirety. :)

    1. Thank you =) I'm putting in my book order tomorrow, by the way ;)

  2. Sorry I'm so late dropping by! Busy day today. ;-) I'm excited to read the book, even though steampunk isn't my usual cup of tea!

    1. Well, it's technically not really 'hard core' steampunk, so you might enjoy this one ;) You want me to put your name in the drawing? (of course I already have your email too )

    2. Sure, I'd love it if you did!

  3. Congratulations Hazel!
    I know I just started talking to you on Goodreads, but I'd love to enter your giveaway!
    My email address is or the gmail account attached to this. Either one can be entered, though I check the regular mail account more.

    1. Thanks! I'm putting you into the drawing =) Best of luck!

  4. Hazel,
    I'm truly excited to begin reading this series and thrilled to know you plan for seven books! You certainly love your readers. Thank you! =D

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it =) And actually, it's eight books as of tonight. Blame BBC tv for always inspiring me in random ways :P

  5. Hi Hazel! Just dropping by after work and I just downloaded my copy of A Case of Poisons. I finally broke down and got apps for my PC and phone. LOL. I hope your release goes splendidly! :D

  6. Congratulations!! I am so excited for you! Also, I'm excited for me because I finally get to read A Case of Poisons! :) I would love to be entered into your drawing! Congrats again!

    1. Thanks Jenn! Adding you in, I hope you enjoy it when you finally get to read it ;)

  7. Awesome! I'm so excited your book is finally out! Please enter me in the drawing, I will email you my email address. I really enjoy it when you do character interviews! :)

    1. Thanks! Character interviews are really fun ;) Best of luck in the drawing!