When Azure is not writing, he enjoys riding horses, fishing, gardening and traveling. He recently took a road trip down south with his mother, something he always had wanted to do.
Most teenagers use their summer vacation to relax, but Azure James Gallagher Michalak spent the months working hard to fulfill a dream.
The Blasdell and Lake View resident wrote and published his first novel, “Vengeance Trail,” — an accomplishment made all the more impressive by the fact that Azure is 15 years old.
“It’s a western, and it has a little bit of mystery in it,” said Azure about his first book. The plot revolves around Clint Patterson, who travels to New Mexico after he inherits his dying father’s cabin. It is there that Clint embarks on a journey after learning of the legend of a treasured necklace. But Clint’s quest is not easy. He runs into trouble with a rival gang and a deceiving bounty hunter.
“It takes place at the end of the Wild West, in the late 1890s,” Azure said, adding that much of the book’s details were drawn from personal experience.
“I do a lot of things that you could call western,” he said. “I ride horses, play the banjo and I’ve gone shooting before.” For the aspects of the West he was less familiar with, such as its geography, Azure performed research to maintain the setting’s authenticity.
Though this is the first novel Azure has published, it is certainly not the first he has written.
“I have written a lot of scary stories,” said Azure, who also wrote a novel in 30 days for his home school project.
“(‘Vengeance Trail’) started as a short story and I just didn’t want to stop,” he said. He is already working on his next novel.
“I would call it a southern western, it takes place right on the border of East Texas and Louisiana, and there is a lot of drama,” he said.
Azure tries to write every night, and on the evenings he experiences writer’s block, he will work on editing instead.
In terms of his characters, Azure said he isn’t sure if he develops them or if they develop themselves. He lets his characters speak to him, and sometimes they change in ways that Azure never expects them to.
“They can actually change the plot,” he said. “Books are weird once you start them. Funny things can happen.”
For Azure, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. His mother, Amy Gallagher, is also a writer, having helped many people edit and write their own books.
“I used to be a managing editor of a national magazine, but I have never published my own book as of yet,” said Amy. “To have my son take such initiative and follow it through in such a short amount of time....It’s incredibly inspiring for me.”
Amy always planned on writing a memoir someday, but her son made her realize there is no time like the present.
“I am so proud of his motivation...with all of his different passions in life. He is so exploratory,” Amy said, adding that being home schooled has provided flexibility for Azure to discover and hone his skills.
“He has a lot of initiative to learn on his own, he is always researching things and pursuing many different passions. I feel like he really has the time to follow the things he loves and be successful with them,” she said.
Not only did Azure write and publish his book, but he also covered the cost of printing. Azure played his banjo at the Bidwell Market, antique shops and even busked on the streets of Buffalo to raise money.
In order to pay for the cost of his books, Azure played his banjo and sang country and blue-grass tunes around the Buffalo area.
“I mowed the neighbors lawn, too,” he added.
Copies of “Vengeance Trail” can be purchased for $10 at Magpie Cards and Gifts in Hamburg, as well as Dan’s Diner and Legend antique shop in Angola. The book can also be purchased online by visiting www.lulu.com and searching for “Vengeance Trail, Azure James.”
Both Azure and Amy feel that “Venegeance Trail” is only the beginning of a long and fruitful writing career.
“I feel that this is a skill I have, something I am good at, and I should do more of it,” Azure said.
Azure loves to live like a cowboy. He is pictured here roasting beans over a fire.
Amy believes that her son will serve as an example for others his age.
“I feel like all young kids, teens and children have this ability, and they should follow their passion and not put limits on things,” she said.
Azure agreed, and said he hopes that he can inspire others who want to write, but may not have the confidence or courage.
“It’s like anything else, you have to do it to get good at it,” he said.