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Archive for August, 2017

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Published: 28 August 2017

 

Description:

A red gash of a mouth rimmed with impossibly tiny, razor-sharp teeth yawned wide, then swift as a snake, she bent and struck . . . “
For Sandra, daughter of illusionists, Adam and Ophelia, life’s never been run of the mill. But when Adam’s wandering eye lights on yet another conquest, it proves a chorus girl too far, and Sandra’s caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed Mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she’s sucked into a situation that even for her is unnerving.
 
From being without a single relative, she suddenly acquires several she’d rather do without, and learns a few home truths she’d prefer not to know. Ophelia it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things. There’s no doubt in Sandra’s mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as possible between herself, her newly discovered nearest and dearest, their peculiar tendencies and their failing hotel business, the very much happier she’s going to be.
 
Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. A hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist all handled correctly should, she reckons, get the family business up and running, which will allow her to do the same – as fast as she can, and in the opposite direction. Things unfortunately move swiftly from bad to farce and then get a hell of a lot darker. One moment Sandra’s struggling to save the family’s income, the next, she’s battling to save their lives.
Turns out, some darknesses, once buried, are best left undisturbed.

My Thoughts & Review:

The reader meets Sandra just as her life begins to unravel slightly, her mother Ophelia appears and as dramatic as ever announces that she and Sandra’s father have argued and that she’s left him for good.  The fight between the two became physical and she hit him over the head before leaving, not caring if he were dead or alive.  Ophelia declares she has had enough of Adam’s roving eye and womanising ways, and this time it’s the end.
And just as the reader grasps what’s happening, Sandra begins to recount her childhood, how it was to grow up the daughter of the great illusionists Adam and Ophelia.  The relationship between daughter and parents never appears as that of the stereotypical one, Sandra was often left behind or forgotten about and the much needed parental figure coming in the form of the couples’ manager.  The way in which Sandra describes the relationship of her parents gives readers an insight into this stormy pairing.  Both seeming to spark something in the other that gives rise to an argument or heated exchange, but ultimately this chemistry is the thing that keeps their stage act alive and popular.

Back in the present, Ophelia is in full diva mode, demanding that Sandra take time off work and drive her to Stratford, she however fails to inform her daughter of the significance of the address to which they are heading.  Upon arrival at the hotel, Sandra is astounded to realise that she has family that Ophelia omitted to tell her about, having believed her mother’s tales whilst growing up that she had no family.
The family hotel is failing and Sandra decides to help out whilst she is there, and Ophelia true to her nature, disappears at the mention of helping out by doing some work.

What then follows is a tale of madness, chaos and ghostly goings on with quite possibly the strangest collection of characters.

I found this was a quick read, once I’d started I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened and where Sandra would end up in the grand scheme of things.

The characters in this have been created well, their descriptions are well rounded and show off their quirks as well as making them quite interesting to read about.

I will admit that it’s a little outside my usual crime thriller reads to it did take a little time to switch off my logical thinking brain and just let the story flow.

You can buy a copy of Witch Dust via Amazon

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Book Publicity and Promo for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the blog tour:

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Published: 2 November 2017

 

Description:

JOHN WALLACE IS A TARGET
Hiding off-grid after exposing the shadowy Pendulum conspiracy, Wallace is horrified to discover he is still marked for death.

THERE ARE ONLY TWO PEOPLE HE CAN TRUST
DI Patrick Bailey is still reeling from the murder investigation that nearly cost him his life.
FBI Agent Christine Ash is hunting a serial killer with a link to an unfinished case

HE MUST FIND THE TRUTH
The death of a London journalist triggers an investigation that brings them back together, hurling them into the path of an unknown enemy.

BEFORE THE KILLER FINDS HIM
Hunted across the world, they are plunged into a nightmare deadlier than they could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts & Review:

Freefall is another tantalisingly explosive instalment in the Pendulum trilogy that picks up right where book one finished and fans of the first book will definitely not be disappointed by this fast paced and compelling read.

John Wallace is a broken man and seems hell bent on a path of self destruction, his life has been thrown into a vortex of danger and desolation ever since he first encountered the killer known as Pendulum.  It’s also good to see the return of Christine Ash and Patrick Bailey, their appearances bring a fantastic edge to the plot as well as offer superb scope for character development.  A lot of Christine’s back story came out in the first book, and so readers new to the series won’t have the full details reading this book alone, but that’s not to say they won’t get a good idea about her past and who she used to be.  Patrick on the other hand, is slowly unravelling after the events previously and cannot seem to get off this path, seeing his slump played out so clearly on the pages is sobering to see.

The plot itself (no spoilers here!), is akin to brilliance.  It makes for addictive reading and I can see why the screen rights were snapped up by Tom Hardy’s production company, Hardy Son & Baker.  This is a series that would make for excellent viewing as well as reading!

A fascinating narrative gives the reader the feeling that they are caught up in the momentum of the book, and make no mistake, this is addictive reading with clever nuances and subterfuge woven tightly throughout.  Adam Hamdy blew me away with his first book and I’m so pleased to say that the series has got even better with Freefall, I didn’t think it would be possible, but he’s done it!  ]

Everything you need in a good thriller is in this book, gripping plot, action, brilliant characters and an underlying menace that keeps you reading long into the night!

My thanks to Headline Books for the opportunity to read an early copy of this.

You can buy a copy of Freefall via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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Description:

When Colin discovers his son is on a murder charge in France, he trails his small boat, The Dragonfly , across the channel to stay in Paris to try and help him. There he meets his grand-daughter the irrepressible Delphine for the first time. They embark on an exciting boat journey through the picturesque French canals, heading south through Burgundy, until the butter melts. Along the way, they catch up with Tyler, a spirited American, and through various mishaps and misunderstandings, they land big fish, cultivate new loves and uncover a burning secret. But can Colin finally help his son get off the hook?

My Thoughts & Review:

This was a book that I read on holiday and was lost for words when it came to writing a review.  It’s such a captivating book following Colin and his boat The Dragonfly as they travel the canals of France after receiving a letter informing him that his estranged son has committed murder.  Colin is desperate to find out why his son has acted so out of character and travels to France to try and  help him.

Colin’s arrival in France is bittersweet, the circumstances that have brought him there have also brought him face to face with the granddaughter he’s never met, Delphine.  As complete strangers they start out their journey along the French waterways, Dephine finding she  must speak in English so that her grandfather can understand her.  The relationship and bond that forms between the two steadily grows in this heart warming tale.  I really don’t want to say too much about the details of the plot and so this book an injustice, it’s not one that should be spoiled.

The French backdrop is beautifully described, and there’s a great depth to this book, the story flows easily from the pages and captures the heart of the reader.

This is a book that it’s taken so long to write a review for, so many times I thought of what to write for I could never quite capture the right words to explain what I loved so much about this book, it really is quite a special book and one that needs to be read to be appreciated.

You can buy a copy of “The Dragonfly” via Amazon

My thanks to Kate Dunn for the opportunity to read a copy of The Dragonfly, it’s reserved a special place in my library.


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Kate Dunn has had five books published, two novels: Rebecca’s Children and The Line Between Us as well as three works of non fiction, Always and Always — The Wartime Letters of Hugh and Margaret Williams, Exit through the Fireplace and Do Not Adjust Your Set. She has written travel articles for various national newspapers and has broadcast on Radios Two, Three and Four including regular contributions to Front Row. She worked for ten years as an actress and has a PhD in Drama from Manchester University. Her third novel The Dragonfly will be published by Aurora Metro in March 2017.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

The writing process itself.  Sitting in my shed looking down the hill over other people’s gardens, thinking really hard.  Sometimes sinking deep into your imagination is almost transcendental.  I like the process of disappearing from the world like that, but also surfacing at the end of an intense day to find that everything is as it was.  The pursuit of the perfect phrase.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

I’m lucky enough to have an amazing agent, Laura Longrigg, who has been both a shield and an inspiration, but even in spite of her protection and encouragement the process of finding a publisher is incredibly stressful.  There’s a phrase for the kind of letters you receive – the rave rejection – and I’ve had a few of those.  However, the fact that The Dragonfly has found a fantastic home at Aurora Metro, who are a small independent publisher with a really personal touch, feels even sweeter.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

I think I would like to have written A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.  She’s a Canadian writer who draws quite closely on her own experience and she has an extraordinary knack for describing the most harrowing events and putting  a comic spin on them at the same time.  Her novels are brittle and incredibly beautiful, with all kinds of interesting tensions running beneath the surface.  I love her work and would read anything she has written.  I’m awash with admiration.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

My husband and I are lucky enough to own a small riverboat in France and we spend as much time as we can racketing around the French canals.  It’s 95% blissful relaxation and 5% white knuckle terror.  In fact, the inspiration for The Dragonfly came from some of the adventures we have had, which perhaps goes to show that as a writer you’re never not thinking about your next book!

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I tried to write in the morning when I’m freshest, and I use the afternoons for gainful employment such as copyrighting or freelance editing, both of which I enjoy and find can complement my own work.  I don’t have much of a ritual, although for every book I write I have a dedicated note book where I jot down ideas and keep a kind of writing diary, so I can chart the development of the story.  Oh yes, and silence – crucial.

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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I have a review of “Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People” by Julia Boyd.


Description:

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Without the benefit of hindsight, how do you interpret what’s right in front of your eyes?

The events that took place in Germany between 1919 and 1945 were dramatic and terrible but there were also moments of confusion, of doubt – of hope. How easy was it to know what was actually going on, to grasp the essence of National Socialism, to remain untouched by the propaganda or predict the Holocaust?

Travellers in the Third Reich is an extraordinary history of the rise of the Nazis based on fascinating first-hand accounts, drawing together a multitude of voices and stories, including students, politicians, musicians, diplomats, schoolchildren, communists, scholars, athletes, poets, journalists, fascists, artists, tourists, even celebrities like Charles Lindbergh and Samuel Beckett. Their experiences create a remarkable three-dimensional picture of Germany under Hitler – one so palpable that the reader will feel, hear, even breathe the atmosphere.

These are the accidental eyewitnesses to history. Disturbing, absurd, moving, and ranging from the deeply trivial to the deeply tragic, their tales give a fresh insight into the complexities of the Third Reich, its paradoxes and its ultimate destruction.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the very outset, I want to say how incredibly detailed this book is.  It is clear from the way that it is written that there has been an unfathomable number of hours of research poured into this book and it pays off.

The reader is given a rare insight into Germany in the 1930s from travellers who had no idea of what was to become of the country in later years through a collection of diaries and letters that have not been published.
The propaganda machine that Hitler utilised is brought to life through the fascinating writing, there’s rich detail that conveys a clear picture of a segment of history that is often forgotten about, the run up to WWII.  Details of the rivalries within the Nazi party are mentioned, one of Ribbentrop’s parties being over shadowed by Göring hosting lavish events at his Air Ministry all in the name of impressing the senior British diplomat, Sir Robert Vansittart who was in Germany to attend the Olympics is just one such example.

I appreciate that Julia Boyd has taken the approach to include the horrors of this time too.  Some travellers describing the bombings as hellish times, and making the point that social status mattered not during air raids, everyone was in the shelters together for safety.  The hardships endured by ordinary people are sobering reading, as was the propaganda rife at the time.  Looking back with hindsight we can see what was the end goal, but there, in that moment in the 1930s, it must have seemed so persuasive and left people with views they were uncertain of.  Germany had a lot to offer visitors, spectacular scenery, rich culture, and a wonderful idealism.  I do find the idea that travellers who questioned the treatment of Jews unsavoury in terms of never getting answers.  It would seem that along with the patriotic devotion came naivety and a blinkered view, the juxtaposition of a hard working and friendly nation, family orientated that then shows such barbaric cruelty toward their fellow countryfolk would undoubtedly have left many travellers baffled.

An enlightening and captivating read that will leave many readers thinking.  It’s quite possibly one of the most inclusive sets of information I have read to date about life in Germany under the Third Reich and I applaud Julia Boyd for ensuring that her sources are varied.  Whilst some authors would chose to feature politicians, diplomats and notable public figures, Boyd has instead included the voices of artists, journalists, students, children and views from both fascists and communists to give a well rounded and incredibly real image of Germany.  This in turn gives readers something very rare, a glimpse of something we rarely see, but it also allows us in a way to experience the turbulent times that were the beginning of the destruction of Germany and the Reich.

 

You can buy a copy of “Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People” via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository

 

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this book to read and enjoy.

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Welcome along to another post to celebrate Clink Street Publishing’s Second Annual Blogival!  The event is running from 1st August right through to 31st August across a wealth of wonderful blogs and features some amazing reviews, guest posts and other bookish goodness for you lucky readers!

Today I am delighted to share a guest piece written by Anne Boileau about Katharina Luther.

Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife

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On 31st October 1517, Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

Would you say that Katharina von Bora was one of the first feminists who shaped history?

We cannot claim that Katharina von Bora was a feminist because such a concept did not exist in the 16th Century. She was, however, a strong, well-educated woman living in a patriarchal and authoritarian society.  When she first experienced the secular world she would have been taken aback at the hostility men showed against her sex. This hostility was, if anything, even worse if that woman happened to be a former nun. Former monks were mocked and reviled as well. Ironically, though, the very fact that she had attended a convent school and been raised with the rigorous discipline and training required for a monastic life, gave her spiritual, mental and physical strength. She needed these qualities to adapt to the change in her circumstances on leaving the security of the convent walls.

Common men were lewd, aggressive, mocking. Other women were suspicious because they found the ex nuns rather threatening. As convent pupils, novices and nuns they had received an excellent education. They were literate in Latin and German. Latin was the language of the powerful, the ruling class and of men. And few women at that time, even of good family, could write well, even though they might be able to read. As nuns they had acquired many other skills: illumination of texts; stitching tapestries; sowing, weaving, spinning; gardening and a knowledge of herbal remedies; music, and singing. And of course, the discipline of regular worship throughout each day.

Moreover, living in a silent order of women required the ability to communicate without words. They used sign language, of course, but much more can be conveyed than we, in a very verbal society, can ever imagine, by the eyes, or subtle body language. A nod of assent, a wink, a slight shrug of the shoulder, a turning away, the shadow of a frown or smile, can speak volumes in the absence of speech. And with such daily silent communication they would have developed a high degree of empathy; an ability to avert, where possible, flash points of irritation or strife. More than anything, there was a need to maintain, where possible, peace and harmony among the women. It can’t have been easy!

So if you ask me, was she one of the first feminists? I would say this: she came out of that convent well equipped to weather a world in turmoil. Where the peasants were breaking out of their bondage, the ruling classes were at odds with each other and mustering armies, and the Church was about to split into several factions because they could not agree on fundamental matters of doctrine. Society was divided. So it was, that maids were forbidden to discuss religion while filling their pails at the Wittenberg wells.

Katharina had a strong faith, which was mediated through the Virgin Mary. But she was adaptable, able to bend like a reed in the wind and accept  Martin Luther’s fresh, more direct path to God, believing in justification through faith. From the monastic discipline she was also schooled in hygiene and herbal remedies, so knew how best to take precautions against the plague, which came sweeping across the land every fifteen or so years.

When she married Martin Luther and took over the running of his large and busy household she brought all these qualities to bear on her work and also on her irascible husband. She kept him healthy, curbing his excessive appetite; she kept him calm, mitigating his bad temper and disturbed sleep; she made sure he respected her and other women. And as he was a man filled with doubts and fears, she gave him courage and confidence, and calmed his feelings of guilt and remorse for the unrest he had unleashed on the world. She also gave him children, who would have kept his feet on the ground, because children tell the truth. He was a devoted father.

Dr. Martin Luther played a hugely significant role in the shaping of modern Germany, one might say Europe. Katharina, as his wife, helped shape him, making him more humane and down to earth than he would have been had he remained a lonely, celibate, childless monk.  Therefore, though we can’t really call her a feminist, we can say that she did shape history, simply by being at his side, his helpmeet, companion and wife.

 

About the Author:

Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.

 

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Welcome along to another post to celebrate Clink Street Publishing’s Second Annual Blogival!  The event is running from 1st August right through to 31st August across a wealth of wonderful blogs and features some amazing reviews, guest posts and other bookish goodness for you lucky readers!

Today I am delighted to share a guest piece written by Monika Jephcott-Thomas about the inspirations behind Fifteen Words.

 

Fifteen Words Fifteen Words Cover

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime.

His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

This is such an incredibly powerful story, it’s so moving and thought provoking.
I have been quite lucky in that I’ve read a number of books that allow readers to see WWII and the aftermath from the side of the German people and this is another book that affords readers the view of German perspective.  Here we see the tale through the eyes of two characters who’s settings are vastly different but and yet they both endure some of the same psychological factors.  Max is a German army doctor who is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to Siberia, where he struggles to keep the prisoners in the POW camp fit and healthy, being given a very strict target that only a proportion of the inmates may be permitted to be ill at any one time.  He also has to juggle caring for the officers of the Soviet Army and their families, and keeping on the right side of the guards in the camp.  His wife Erika, also a doctor, struggles with life without her beloved husband.  She is also heavily pregnant and travels to the home of her inlaws where it will be safer for her to give birth.
Both Max and Erika struggle with loneliness, desperation, and failing optimism.  However, the fifteen words that they are permitted to send each other give hope, courage, determination and love.  The power of those fifteen words can never be underestimated, and the danger they pose cannot be forgotten. 

The descriptive qualities of the writing are absolutely mesmerising, readers get such a clear picture of the perilous and painful journey that Max and his fellow prisoners make to Siberia.  The imagery conjured by the beautifully flowing descriptions was so crisp and added to the aura of power this book has.
Characterisation is so important, and here I think the author has matched the creations perfectly with her plot.  Each of the characters is multi-faceted and as the book progresses, more layers become apparent making them feel more real.  They are all damaged by what they have endured before the war as well as during it, the aftermath leaving inexplicable scars mentally as well as physically.

Such an incredibly poignant and moving tale that seems to have lived on in my head long after I finished reading and one I would highly recommend for fans of WWII fiction.

My thanks to Rachel at Authoright Marketing and Publicity for the opportunity to read this and take part in the Blogival.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

I was doing some research into my family history, as most of us do at some stage of our lives and, also as most of us do whose parents grew up during the world wars, I felt their stories were the stuff of novels. Unlike many who will be reading this however, my parents were both German. They met during the Second World War and were eventually separated by it, as Max and Erika are in the novel – my father having to go off and serve as a doctor in the German army, not because he wanted to (he was not a supporter of the Nazi party), but because he was conscripted, like so many young men across the globe in the early ’40s.

The novel is heavily inspired by the real-life trials and tribulations of my parents’ early married lives – simply because they are so inherently dramatic – whilst allowing me to depict the complexity of growing up in Nazi Germany among the potent forces of religion and fascism competing for young souls. It is also an exploration of the strength of human relationships, which the war tested greatly, in an age when letter writing was one of the few long distance forms of communication available to most; when the fighting separated husbands and wives, children and parents for extensive periods of time and over vast distances.

In the book, Max is a POW in a Russian labour camp on the edge of the Arctic for four long and painful years. I was shocked to find out, during my research for this novel, that German POWs in those Soviet labour camps were only allowed to send letters home if they contained a maximum of fifteen words. So, in the novel, Max struggles over how to express everything he wants to tell Erika with such limitations. He enlists the help of his more artistic friends to help him. But finally in despair he writes something damning. It becomes one of the themes of the book: how we can say so much in so few words to beautiful or destructive effect.

The book was written reasonably quickly, in just a few months, but that was mainly because I was steeped in all the stories from the research I had already done into my family history, which had unearthed all manner of letters, documents, photos and tape recordings. The real work was deciding which stories to follow in the novel. Apart from the themes I wanted to explore, the stories I eventually focused on were also the most gripping, page-turning aspects of the history. So the book has its fair share of explosions, air raids, prison breakouts, emergency medical procedures on the battlefield, not to mention a pregnant woman hanging on to the outside of a speeding train!

Fifteen Words is however, primarily a love story. Anyone who likes World War 2 fiction will find it not only interesting but, I think, refreshing. This book is unusual in that there are not many books written in English about the German experience of WW2. Many early readers of the manuscript found it an eye-opener, informing them about the war in a way they never thought of before, without it being a text which tries to rewrite history. In no way does it attempt to say the Nazis weren’t to blame for the atrocities of the war, but it merely points out that not all Germans were Nazis. As with any war, which we see all too often today, there are many civilian casualties, from all strata of society. In this very human story I hope I have been able to reaffirm how all of us, from whatever nation, for all our differences, still suffer and rejoice in remarkably similar ways.

 

About the Author:

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

 

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Welcome along to another post to celebrate Clink Street Publishing’s Second Annual Blogival!  The event is running from 1st August right through to 31st August across a wealth of wonderful blogs and features some amazing reviews, guest posts and other bookish goodness for you lucky readers!

Today I am delighted to share a fascinating guest piece written by Tony Halker about “The Importance of Keeping Folklore Alive in Today’s Tales”.

 

Description:

The Learn

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

You can buy a copy via Amazon


Guest Post:

The Importance of Keeping Folklore Alive in Today’s Tales

We create new folklore every day and and at the same time modify that we carry, that was bred into us by those who cared enough to want to give us ideas and stories that help form who or what we are.

Our parents generation gifted us tales that are a secure constant set of values; we like that and get angry or even emotional when film makers and others change characters that are a part of our folk memory, passed to us by older knowing others. Those film makers like the controversy, it gives them publicity

I expect all generations have modified lore passed to them, though with more subtlety than we do today, as we try to give our children ideas that better reflect societies values, those that we want to pass to them. It is much better if “new folklore” is democratically created by “the people” (whoever we are) rather than is owned, controlled and manipulated to sell soap powder or bottled water.

It has been said that there are only two stories, Cinderella and Romeo and Juliette, one with a happy ending and the other a sad one. Both these tales pass messages to us, are moral tales that should make us think and learn, make the next generation do the same.

I think all stories, whether novels or shorter tales should have a purpose or benefit for the reader beyond filling time while we sit on a train or wait to die.

Over time cultures imbue their folklore and the stories that relate it with the actions and values they want to believe they carry within them and can pass to their children and friends. It tells future generations about us and what we held dear, but perhaps we also filter out reality; we see Robin Hood as a down to earth Lord of the Manor who took to the forest and robbed the evil church and state to give to the poor. If he existed and to do what folklore tells us he did, he was probably a brutal guerilla fighter, a mafiosa who worked the system and played both sides one against the other; he has been romanticised by time and retelling.

Most of us identify with a past in defining who we are. We want to believe we came of a clan-tribe-family that was honourable, brave, suffered, endured, learnt, cared for others and fought for what is right. Each of us want to believe we could have drawn Excalibur from the stone, fought with King Arthur or against the evil King John. Hierarchies want heroes, especially in the depth of war or disaster and folklore is made from that, at Dunkirk, Khartoum or Rorkes Drift and then perpetuated by an establishment.

In my stories I am more interested in the tales we have of ordinary folk celebrating the changing seasons, the harvest, the rising of the sun, or even calling to their Deities asking that a warm sun will come again next spring. We have so many perceptions of Beltane, Samhain, the Oakman, the Green Man; of Druid warrior priests leading rites for these important events. My mother used to talk of dancing around the maypole and celebrating spring in what seems a more innocent time from the simplicity of the actions and dance that she remembered with affection and a smile.

In my debut novel “The Learn” I have tried to describe Celtic festivals where ordinary folk jump the fires, offer sacrifices, take lovers, gift offerings to streams, rivers and land as well as to sun sky and moon. I imagine the flowing rivers and seas pull the moon in the wake of their massive ebbs and flows. The ideas and concepts, the seeds of these stories come not from me but from folklore passed down to us and in us. My romantic imagination may play with it but old stories were and are essential for passing on the ideas.

Sometimes folklore keeps alive what may be facts: did Columbus discover America, was it the Vikings or indeed the Phoenecians before them?

Folklore can of course contain what we are beginning to call fake news; did Harold Godwinson really get an arrow in the eye? Did Richard III kill the princes in the tower? Tudor generated folklore says that he did.

Folklore enriches our view of who we are and those we come of, but we must democratise it and not let governments, big corporations and movie makers define it or modify the tales and characters that we care about or the values they propagate.

Folk lore not fake folklore!

About the Author:

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog

 

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