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Do we make history or does history make us what and who we are?  This is one of the many cryptic and intriguing questions posed in the debut novel of Northumberland author, Richard Abbot-Brailey, Azarias Tor: The History Maker.

Cramlington-based Richard was born in London but has been based in the north-east since 1993 and considers the region his true home.  After studying performing arts at Cumbria College of Art & Design, he worked in various roles for Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and Live Theatre for several years, where his life-long interest in creative writing developed.  He enjoyed early success with plays written for competitions ran by Tyne Tees TV and BBC Radio before focusing on a career in teaching after gaining his BA (Hons) in English, Sociology and History. His academic pedigree was further endorsed with a PGCE, QTS, and a postgraduate award in Applied Theatre, from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  However, the drive to write never left him.

The desire to write a novel, teamed with a fascination for time travel, led Richard to find his unique voice in the creation of his first book, Azarias Tor: The History Maker.  Based in our region, with numerous references to familiar locations around the area, the story focusses on the protagonist’s journey of discovery into the possibilities of time travel and, indeed, the restrictions on those who choose to slip between times.  Crippled by numerous personal losses, including the death of his beloved wife,

Azarias Tor is a man with one foot in the past and one foot in many possible futures.  The plot explores complex and fascinating paradoxes, posing questions about the impact of changing our future by travelling to the past and the potential consequences of doing so.  The reader will also enjoy pondering how time travellers may be perceived by those who encounter them and whether time travel is a reality already in our world?

The plot takes a literary tour around the north-east and Cumbria, taking in such locations as Northumberlandia and the nearby Snowy Owl pub near Cramlington.  The Rose Tree Inn at Shincliffe, Durham is also featured.  In fact, the author wrote parts of the book whilst waiting for his wife to join him for a drink in these pubs.  For readers familiar with these locations, woven references throughout the story are clearly recognisable – including the old mobile phone collection displayed on plate racks at the Rose Tree Inn. His holiday home at King’s Meaburn in Cumbria is also heavily featured.

Azarias Tor: The History Maker is a story that spans Spain in the 1970s, taking in our region in the present day and travelling to Belgium in 2198.  The sub-plot twists and blends around the time travel theme and deals with the reality of loss, consequence and desire to change events passed.

Richard says, “I’ve always been fascinated by time travel, right back to the concepts explored when I watched William Hartnell as Dr Who.  It was important for me to write a story based in an area I know and love whilst posing questions that span time and space.  The main character is a broken man who wrestles with the implications of manipulating time itself.  I hope that readers will consider what their choices may be in similar circumstances.  What are the possibilities and what could be the potential impact on the human race itself?”

The first in a series of three books, Azarias Tor: The History Maker is set for huge success both in the north-east and beyond.  A very welcome addition to the rich bed of talent in our area, it’s hoped that Richard is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Azarias Tor: The History Maker is available online, from Waterstones and other bookshops and can also be ordered directly through the publisher or author.

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