Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tne first draft is done.....

Advance News --  the text of "Conspiracy of Angels" has now been completed -- just in time for Christmas.  The total length of the book is about 130,000 words -- a bit shorter than "On Angel Mountain" and a bit longer than "Guardian Angel".  Still a bit of tweaking to do, but I'm fairly content -- even after my wife's first reading through.  She's by far my fiercest critic, so if she is happy all is indeed well with the world.....

Now for readings by my faithful reading / review panel -- and if they are happy, and after other tweaks, the book will (I hope) be ready for publication around 1st March.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The winner gets her books

Above:  Top: Brian on duty at the Scolton Manor Christmas Fayre
Below:  Margaret Baker of Fishguard (left) with her daughter Louise Pope (centre) receives the prize of all seven of the Angel Mountain novels, from author Brian John at a lavish presentation ceremony at Greencroft Books HQ.
Well, that's what we have to say, but it wasn't that lavish, if truth be told.....!


Following the recent round of signing sessions, all book purchasers went into the Prize Draw held yesterday evening.  Today it was my pleasure to present the 7 books of the Saga to Margaret Baker of Fishguard.  So now Margaret and daughter Louise have plenty of Christmas reading ahead of them.  We hope they enjoy the books.

Scolton Manor book signings

Well, that's that for this year -- we were at Scolton Manor for the past two days -- at the inaugural Christmas Fayre.  Times are tough, and cash is tight, but overall I was pleased with the level of book sales.  And of course every signing session is a PR opportunity...

We have a winner for the prize draw -- a lady from Fishguard.  Watch this space....

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Trefelin Poltergeist

You know about all these traditions of supernatural events on the slopes of Carningli?  Well, yesterday Inger and I came home from the Scolton Manor Christmas Fayre and were settling in for a nice cup of tea when there was a bang somewhere in the house -- we thought nothing of it, since old houses are quite noisy anyway, with creaks and bangs all the time, mostly caused by the central heating system.  Anyway, after a while I went into the living room to draw the curtains, and ------ MAYHEM!  A very nice Art Deco jug, inherited from my parents, was on the floor, smashed into pieces.  Another very pretty ceramic duck, given to Inger as a present from a friend, was also in pieces on the floor.  Assorted CDs which had been on the lid of the hi-fi system, were scattered about on the floor.  One of our cactus plants had various bits knocked off onto the floor.  One or two of the pictures were no longer hanging straight.  A couple of pictures of the grandchildren had been knocked over, and lay face down.  Very strange, I thought -- is there a burglar in the house?  Has somebody broken in and got back out again?  I did a quick check, and all the doors and windows were closed, with no sign of damage........

Then I went into the dining room, and MAYHEM there too -- a wooden Christmas light holder was on the floor, whereas it had been in the window when we went out.  So I checked out the house in a bit more detail, and went back into the living room, and raised my head from examining the floor to be be confronted by something truly terrifying, no more than two feet away from me, staring into my eyes......

AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!  Cue for dramatic music......

......... a grey squirrel, perched up on top of the curtain rail!  Before I could react, it bolted back into the dining room, hopped across the table to the fireplace, and disappeared up the chimney.  There was a short period of scrabbling inside the flue, and then all was quiet again.

How on earth it got down the chimney in the first place is a mystery.  It might have fallen down, and then rushed about the house in a panic, trying to get out.  Then when I appeared, it obviously had the same instinct as sheep do when they get in through a hole in the fence -- if in doubt, go out again by exactly the same route.  Climbing UP the chimney would have been no problem for a grey squirrel.

So there we are --- if you think Siamese cats are monsters who delight in smashing up houses, be afraid.  BE VERY AFRAID!  Grey squirrels can be far worse.......

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas signing sessions

Well, two venues down and one to go.  Last Sunday I was at the Ocean Lab in Fishguard, and today I was at Victoria Bookshop in Haverfordwest, selling a few books........  But by common consent, this season is VERY difficult everywhere.  I'm actually quite pleased that I don't have a new title out this Christmas -- it might have been difficult to shift, given the constraints on spending and the difficulties people have in shelling out for non-essentials.  Now I'm planning on a March launch for "Conspiracy of Angels" -- and that might be safer, in that there is less competition going on in the spring.  And maybe there will even be some optimism about, with the days getting lighter, daffodils in bloom, and the birds chirping merrily!!

Just one other event between now and Christmas -- the two-day Christmas Fayre at Scolton Manor, near Haverfordwest -- tomorrow and on Sunday, 11am to 4 pm each day.  Jollification and mince pies?  I hope so.....

And each book sold will go with a raffle ticket for my prize draw.  The winner will get a full signed set of the Angel Mountain books.  The draw will be held on Sunday evening.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Interview with Jamie and Louise

In response to my latest press release (copied below) I was invited to do an interview with Jamie and Louise on BBC Radio Wales on Tuesday 13th Dec.  The usual rigmarole -- all the way into Haverfordwest, into the college, shown through the labyrinth of corridors behind the canteen to the BBC studio, and then closited in there for the duration, with mysterious codes to be transmitted to Cardiff and strange messages in headphones etc.  All rather surreal......

Anyway, I quite enjoyed the interview, which lasted for about 15 mins with some really intelligent questions asked, and a nice sense of rapport between them and me.  I actually felt that they knew about the novels, and that they were interested.....

You can listen to the interview here:
Just go to about 11.05, two thirds the way through the programme.  It will be available on iPlayer for another 5 days.

Author Celebrates Ten Years with Young Mistress

This Christmas Welsh author Brian John is celebrating ten years in the company of hie eccentric and feisty heroine Martha Morgan, who has become one of the best-loved characters in Welsh fiction.
Mistress Martha made her first appearance in the novel On Angel Mountain in the year 2001, in what was the author's first work of fiction.  The book was an instant success, and had to be reprinted within two months of first publication.  Ten years later, it is still in the Welsh best-seller list, and sales have racked up to over 25,000 copies.  The novel has been followed by six others, each one featuring the same heroine and following a different phase of her life in the first half of the nineteenth century.  The Angel Mountain Saga now has a worldwide cult following, and many readers refer to the heroine as "Mother Wales" -- in that she personifies all that is good (and bad) in the Welsh psyche.

Brian is staggered by the success of the novels, in which the heroine herself is the narrator.  "She is a deeply flawed heroine, " he says, "and maybe that is why so many people empathise with her. Although the stories are set at the same time as those of Jane Austen, there is no sign of that precious and rarified Regency world in Martha's Wales -- in some ways it had more in common with the Wild West, with lust and betrayal, murder and mayhem pulling the heroine -- and her guardian angels -- into appalling situations over and again.  But in spite of everything, she survives, to die in a manner of her own choosing........."

This Christmas, Brian will be chatting to fans of the series and signing copies of all seven of the Angel Mountain books at Victoria Bookshop in Haverfordwest, Scolton Manor, and Ocean Lab in Fishguard.  To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the "birth" of Martha Morgan, all books purchased will carry an entry ticket for a prize draw, with a full signed set of the novels going to the winner.

Further information:  Brian John on 01239-820470


1.  Venues for the signings:  Ocean Lab, Fishguard, Sunday 11th December, 11.30 am - 1.30 pm;  Victoria Bookshop, Haverfordwest, Friday 16th December, 11.30 am - 1.30 pm;  Scolton Manor, near Haverfordwest, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December, 11 am - 4 pm

2.  Web site, including reviews:

Conspiracy of Angels

In the new story Martha goes on a long journey to the Lake District, where she meets an ex-slave with a very disconcerting history........
This is one of the contemporary illustrations showing what happened during the torture of Louisa Calderon
And this is General Sir Thomas Picton, celebrated military hero, sadist, bully and all-round deeply unpleasant fellow.....  a reputation secure, or in tatters?

You heard it here first -- the book is written, and now needs to be edited and reviewed before the text is finalised and made ready for publication.  Purely by chance, one of the main storylines revolves around a famous 1806 case in which General Sir Thomas Picton, one of the nation's military heroes, was found guilty of the torture of a free mulatto girl during his time as Governor of Trinidad.  The prosecuting counsel was William Garrow, and a recent episode of the BBC series "Garrow's Law" deals with this case (with a good deal of artistic license) -- reopening the debate about whether Picton was a hero or a sadistic monster.

See “Garrow’s Law”, Series 3, Episode 3: “Dark Forest of the Soul” on iPlayer:

And here are some other links to an interesting debate in the media: 

Volume 8 of the Angel Mountain Saga
Publication March 2012

Martha Morgan, a young widow who is Mistress of the small estate of Plas Ingli, is seeking to put her life together again after a traumatic episode, the nature of which she will never divulge.  Following her return from voluntary exile on the Isle of Skomar, a black man is shipwrecked on the shore of the island. He dies from his injuries, but two objects find their way into Martha’s hands -- a  cotton pouch containing a lock of hair, and a ritual dagger which must be handed in person to one of the country’s most famous military leaders. Shortly afterwards, during a visit to the Lake District, she meets a freed black slave, and she agrees to become involved in a secretive anti-slavery campaign. Its leaders are driven by compassion, but then their work is undermined by a shadowy organization called the Sons of Obeah and its fearsome leader John Wesley Jumbie.  Martha is drawn deeply into a web of intrigue which even involves the Prime Minister, and she tries desperately to stop a campaign of hostage taking and extortion.  In revenge, Jumbie swears to kill Martha, and at last the two of them come face to face.........

This is a tightly constructed tale with many twists and turns, where things are not always as they seem.  Many of the key characters will be familiar to followers of the Angel Mountain Saga, but marching through the pages of the story are others who are considerably larger than life -- including the famous dandy Beau Brummell, the portly Princess of Ebersdorf, and General Sir Thomas Picton, who has been cursed, and whose days are numbered.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

New Jane Austen portrait

This rather murky portrait has recently been confirmed by the experts as probably genuine -- as a likeness of Jane Austen.  For some time its authenticity was doubted, and it was believed that there was really only one portrait of the author -- but having mulled over the essential features of this likeness, apparently (for the art experts) the nose swayed it........

She isn't that attractive, and has a studious and rather bookish look about her, but there is something cheeky about the face, and I can well believe that this is a genuine portrait of somebody astute at the business of poking fun at the precious world of the minor gentry in Regency times.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mistress Martha goes for a walk

I found this nice picture on one of the Regency dress sites, and immediately I thought what a splendidly ambiguous photo it is.  Imagine Mistress Martha out for a walk, striding purposefully along one of her beloved North Pembrokeshire lanes on an early summer day.....