Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Yule

Friends in tonight and a quiet day tomorrow, God willing. Have a lovely Christmas with lots of pressies and do your best to over-indulge in food and drink. I certainly plan to.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Shadow Realm

Did I mention that when any book I'm writing passes the 10,000 word mark, it usually goes the distance? Well, 'Shadow Realm' (working title of my new one) just hit 11,000 this morning and it's gathering speed. It's an altogether darker vision than anything in the 'Faerie Wars' series. Be interesting to see if anybody wants it.

Meanwhile, the final copy-edit of 'Faerie Lord' went through yesterday with a revised glossary, so that one is on target for an Autumn, 2007 publication in the States. My German publisher, DTV, is excited about it as well.

It's been a busy run-up to Christmas. On top of the 'Faerie Lord' approvals for Bloomsbury, I've been having discussions with my editor at Faber about something very special: 'The Wizard's Apprentice,' a non-fiction investigation which Faber will announce with the words 'There are REAL WIZARDS working REAL MAGIC hidden in the world today. There are secret schools of wizardry across the globe... and you can learn the basics of their magic from this handbook.'

They've created a fabulous cover and publication is planned for next summer, around June or July. Can't wait. Can't wait for Christmas either. Have a good one.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Out of Body Experience

Another talking head, I'm afraid. I took time out on this sunny Saturday to reminisce on video about some early out of body experiences. The result is at

Monday, November 27, 2006

New Book. Maybe.

I think I've started a new book, provisional title 'The Third Realm.' I say I *think* I've started, because you can never be sure it's going to work until it works. In the old days, I reckoned that if a book passed the 10,000 word mark it was going to go the distance. Now I can usually spot a goer a bit sooner. At the moment the word count is under 500, so you can appreciate the hesitation. But I'm hopeful. The central character is interesting and so is the overall theme.

May not move fast, however: I'm horribly diverted by 'Strictly Come Dancing' and 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.'

Sunday, November 12, 2006


In my last post I said 'Faerie Lord' was to be published in the autumn of next year, 2007. Turns out this announcement was a little premature. The book *will* be published next autumn, but only in the United States where it's scheduled to appear in hardback. U.K readers will have to wait until February, 2008, when a 'Faerie Lord' paperback will be issued as part of a general relaunch and repackaging of the entire series under some of the most stunning fantasy covers you will ever see.

So is that it? No more Faerie Wars? Well, not quite. 'Faerie Lord' certainly completes the story begun in the original 'Faerie Wars' but there are several plans afoot to revisit the Realm in a whole new different and exciting way. It's all under wraps at the moment, but I promise you'll be the first to know when things are finalised.

Meanwhile I've got an idea gnawing at the edges of my mind for a new book and maybe a new series. I'll let you know about that one too if it solidifies.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Faerie Lord

That's that then. I've finished the edit of 'Faerie Lord' and emailed it to Bloomsbury. The good news is that they've stopped hassling me about the title and decided 'Faerie Lord' is as good as they're going to get. They've also designed a fantastic cover (one of the best I've seen in years) and the book is now on schedule for publication in the autumn of 2007.

For those of you who've been wondering -- quite a few, to judge from the emails I've received -- this completes the story of Henry Atherton and leaves me undecided about what to do with the rest of my life. When I've figured it out, I'll let you know.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mind Readings

Just back from a week's break in Kenmare (County Kerry) one of my favourite towns in all the world which features, among several other brilliant things, a second hand bookshop where I try very hard to bankrupt myself every time I visit. This time, part of the trawl was a book called 'Mind Readings' which was published a few years ago and consists of contributions from a score or more well known writers describing states of mind.

Many of them concentrated on personal experiences of breakdowns, depressions and panics (all of which I can empathise with at the moment) but Melvyn Bragg, the broadcaster, proved as intriguing as ever with a contribution describing how his adolescence was turned into a nightmare by spontaneous out-of-body experiences (OOBES).

During an OOBE, for those of you who haven't met the term before, you leave your physical body to move around like a ghost, passing through walls and sometimes, like Melvyn, levitating to find yourself floating somewhere near the ceiling. It's a phenomenon that has fascinated me for years and provided the subject matter of the very first book I ever published.

I found my own out-of-body experiences puzzling and intriguing, but the young Melvyn was terrified when he had his. Furthermore, he had an intuition that he should discuss them with no-one, so they became his guilty secret as well as his nightmare.

For Melvyn Bragg, the OOBEs eventually stopped of their own accord, but I've a feeling he was right in telling no-one about them until now. Many years ago, I met a girl in her early twenties who told me she was a diagnosed epileptic. I asked if she suffered from grand or petit mal. She looked puzzled and said she never had fits at all. Rather, as a child, she had found herself out of her body and floating near the ceiling. Unlike Melvyn, she told her parents who decided she must be ill and took her to a doctor.

Although statistics show anything up to one in four people have a spontaneous out-of-body experience at some period of their lives, the doctor had never heard of the phenomenon. He agreed with her parents that she was ill.

By the time I met her, she had taken anti-epileptic drugs every day of her life for more than 12 years.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Parallel Worlds

Proofs just came in for the fourth title in my 'Herbie Brennan's Forbidden Truths' series brought out by Faber. The first three books -- 'Atlantis and Other Lost Civilisations', 'Time Travel' and 'Strange Powers of the Human Mind' seem to be doing quite well. (I say 'seemed' because contrary to what many people believe, an author is not kept closely posted about the sales of his/her book. You get the good news or the bad news with your royalty statement, anything from six months to a year after publication... and even then the figures will often reflect only the first few months sales.)

The fourth book, called 'Parallel Worlds', is scheduled for UK publication in January. It's the most speculative one of the series so far -- somebody called it a non-fiction version of 'Faerie Wars' -- but if you like to relax and let your imagination consider some weird possibilities, you'll enjoy it.

In the summer of 2007, Faber are also planning to bring out something very interesting outside of the series I've been writing for them. But I think I'll leave off telling you more about that until nearer the time.

Meanwhile I've started work on the edit of 'Faerie Lord' for Bloomsbury, provisionally scheduled for Autumn next year. Busy days.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Finding Fairies

Right, I've put a third video up on YouTube -- it's another talking head, I'm afraid, this time about fairies.

I used to keep this sort of stuff quiet (like the ghost story posted earlier) because it embarrassed me to admit to personal paranormal experiences however much I was interested in the reports of others.

But one day I woke up and thought: this is really dumb -- if you can't trust your own judgement on these things, who can you trust? After that I started talking to anybody who'd listen without worrying whether they believed me.

The story is at


That'll be the last video for a while. I have to stop this nonsense and get back to more serious things, like editing my fourth faerie novel. Comments from the publisher arrived yesterday. If I can get the work done to deadline, publication in both the UK and US is scheduled for autumn 2007.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Movie

I'm having such fun with YouTube. When I should definitely have been doing other things, I've been making more movies. The first, called 'The Ghost' has just been uploaded and is viewable at ...

There's another (about fairies) in the pipeline. If I can get it cut to a reasonable length, it should be uploaded by the end of this week. I'll let you know.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


You lot have probably known about this for years, but I've only just discovered It's a Web site that lets you post your own videos (free) up to a max of 10 minutes length or 100 MB size. There's some of the most amazing rubbish you've ever watched in there, including one of mine at:

Have fun.

(And let me know what you think of the movie.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Fear Factor

One of the things I discovered when I started to write non-fiction books was the huge difficulty there is in finding the truth about anything.

For example, I'm old enough to remember a time when full-fat milk was not only good for you, but actually compulsory. They supplied it free in my school and made all the pupils drink it. Just a few years later, somebody decided it wasn't good for you at all. Whole milk, along with other delicious dairy things like butter, cream and cheese, helped make you fat, gave you cholesterol and raised your risk of a heart attack. Later still, a medical practitioner told me the amount of cholesterol attributed to diet was tiny compared to the cholesterol manufactured by your liver and high cholesterol was generally caused by worry rather than foodstuffs. When I eventually discovered my own cholesterol was raised (possibly caused by worrying about my fondness for whole milk, butter and cream) the technician who took the blood sample mentioned that according to latest research, high cholesterol wasn't always bad for you. When I did some research myself, I found there were two different types of cholesterol and one of them was positively good for you. (The other, unfortunately, was still considered lethal.) Then a friend of mine told me on her ninetieth birthday that she'd lived to her disgustingly healthy old age by drinking milk and eating lots of butter and cream. The day after, my wife, who's training to be a Master Herbalist, told me milk products are mucus-forming (which sounds revolting) and thus to be avoided.

I can also remember a time when flouride added to drinking water was wholly beneficial, when Saddam Hussein hid weapons of mass destruction, when the CIA did not have secret prisons scattered throughout the world. Now I'm reliably told it wasn't, he didn't and they have.

Once I clung to the idea that if truth was sometimes buried or distorted by the popular media, you could at least trust the scientific community. That was before I discovered scientists sometimes falsify their experiments, misinterpret their data, follow career paths dictated by current fashions and fear to rock the boat with new ideas because that might cost them their grants. Not all scientists: some. But some is enough. In fact, some is too much.

Once I listened to the experts, who interpret difficult scientific findings and political events for the rest of us. I especially listened to the experts who confirmed my own prejudices. Now it seems to me that the vast majority of experts consider it their duty to convert raw data into fear. So on top of my concerns about whole milk, I've been variously told I should worry about the Communist Menace, nuclear warfare, the exhaustion of fossil fuels, Satanic child abuse, the resurgence of Fascism, the Millennium Bug, anthrax, the Terrorist Threat, the abuse of our civil liberties, bird flu, global warming, young people in hoods and Armageddon.

I sometimes yearn for simpler days.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I'm not sure I'm all that fond of August. You can never get hold of anybody because they're away or you're away or you're both away. And there's either too much sun, which withers the garden, or too much rain, which has everybody moaning. Not much happens either, apart from Jacks's birthday on the 18th. (I gave her a microscope -- how's that for romantic?) But to be fair, this year a friend of ours was struck by lightning (or at least her house was, while she was in it) which relieved the boredom a bit. Nearly over now, thank goodness. September's usually better.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Moon Man and Flying Saucers

Had lunch with Dave Donohue yesterday and received an early copy of his new book MOON MAN, which is scheduled for publication in the autumn. I read a (very) early draft of this work -- which features his backwards-spelling hero Walter Speazlebud -- in manuscript form, but the book has grown dramatically in the interim. It now runs to 280 pages with one of those laser covers they put on Eoin Colfer's original ARTEMIS FOWL except that in Dave's book, the sparkle is used to denote stars in an astronomical skyscape; and very effective it is too. Egmont have also printed up a bookmark that glows in the dark. Great fun for a very quirky story. Watch out for it in the shops.

Watch out too for CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE by Dermot Butler and Carl Nally, published by Mercier Press and in the shops since June. It's about UFOs in Ireland. Haven't read it yet, but I had a tiny involvement while it was being written since I gave the authors permission to use material from an article I wrote on UFOs for SCENE magazine back in the 1970s.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Well, maybe not...

Looks as if the Halcyon plans to publish 'Cheekyfella Dreaming' this year were a bit ambitious. There's a huge amount of work involved in publishing a book (the reason, I suspect, why authors don't do it themselves) and it all eats up time. It's now looking like autumn 2007, rather than 2006.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cheekyfella Dreaming

It looks as if I might publish seven books this year, which is ridiculous even for me. The seventh, 'Cheekyfella Dreaming', is to be brought out by Halcyon Press (Ireland) in time for Christmas. It has an interesting background.

Several years ago I wrote a children's book called 'Kookaburra Dreaming' which was published by Scholastic in Britain, but fell foul of political correctness in Australia, where the book was set.

A white Australian editor decided the book's hero, an Aborigine boy, should not have been called 'Cheekyfella' even though the character was based on a real Aborigine with a similar name. (Similar, but not identical. The original was named Cheekybugger, which I thought might be a bit extreme for a children's book.) As a consequence, Scholastic declined the sequel.

I wasn't altogether unhappy. I'd objected strenuously to the cover of 'Kookaburra Dreaming' but lost the fight. (Few people realise that the standard publishing contract expressly debars an author from any input into decisions about the price, marketing, advertising, physical appearance or cover of his book. Most publishers will let you see a cover in advance as a courtesy, but if you don't like it, that's tough. And some don't even go that far. The first sight I had of the cover for 'Ruler of the Realm' -- due for publication in October -- was in a Bloomsbury catalogue.)

But Cheekyfella haunted me to such an extent that he popped back into my head when I was asked to contribute to an anthology of Christmas stories. The result was 'Kookaburra Christmas', a short fable about Cheekyfella that I think is probably one of the very finest stories I've ever written. The anthology came and went and while the story proved popular enough to be taken up and reprinted, I always regretted that it was never published as a stand-alone book.

Then Halcyon came on the scene, founded by two old friends of mine, Rita Kelly and Edel Connolly. Rita read a manuscript copy of 'Kookaburra Christmas' and took fire on it at once. The outcome was an offer to publish; and in time for sale next Christmas if physically possible. The name of the book will be 'Cheekyfella Dreaming' to avoid confusion with the anthology version.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wild Divine

Been playing a particularly interesting computer game lately, 'The Journey to Wild Divine', which uses biofeedback to enable you to interact with what's happening on screen.

The thrust of the game (and I'm not at all sure 'game' is the right word) is to teach participants various imaginal, relaxation, breathing and energy control techniques in an attempt to provoke a spiritual awakening.

You plug yourself in to the hardware, which reads off heart-rate and galvanic skin response, and learn to control your mind sufficiently to produce interesting effects on screen, like levitating rocks or shooting an arrow at a target.

When I installed the game's second module, called 'Wisdom Quest' the application crashed continually at the opening screen. I emailed the Wild Divine Project's technical support department late on Friday afternoon and had a cure for the problem (which affects certain Macs) within hours, an all-time record for back-up in my (extensive) experience of software glitches.

You can read more about Wild Divine at

Feile Draiochta

Trolled off to Dublin on Saturday to talk about out-of-body experiences at the Feile Draiochta, the annual Festival of Irish Magic and Spirituality. My wife Jacks also gave a talk about the Celtic Wheel of the Year and my old friend Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki did a two hour lecture on village witchcraft. Good attendances at all three sessions, a fabulous programme of events generally (there was one workshop on 'Voodoo for Eejits') and lots of lovely people. I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The organisers opened on a crisis note when they learned on the sweltering hot morning of the Festival that the hotel's air conditioning had broken down. But they rose to the occasion with helpers circulation with trays of iced water and banks of electric fans at the various events. The audiences were stoical and enthusiastic. My lot endured a theatre that was roughly the same temperature as the bottom oven of our Aga; and still managed to stay awake long enough to ask questions after I'd droned on at them for three quarters of an hour. That struck me as a magical phenomenon in its own right.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Faerie Lord went off to Sophie (my literary agent) this morning. A doorstop of a manuscript running to 532 typed pages. That's just short of 99,000 words, which makes it longer than any of the previous three books. That said, I've a tendency to overwrite (25,000 words came out of the first draft of Purple Emperor) so that could come down a little. Or even a lot.

The book itself is peculiar -- very archetypal, very odd -- but I think it finishes Henry's story in a satisfying way. At least I hope so. What next? God knows. I'll need a bit of time to recover, then onwards and upwards.

Meanwhile I heard this morning from my old friend Dave Donohue, who's in New York at the moment swinging on the chandeliers of the Waldorf Astoria, which he's using as one of the settings for his next book. His publishers, Scholastic, are planning a massive publicity campaign to launch Moon Man, his new Walter Speazlebud adventure. It's a fun book, original and quirky -- I read one of the early drafts -- so watch out for it in the shops.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back home, stretch, yawn.

Just back. Packed the bucket and spade and a heap of books I'd had no time to read and headed for Tramore. 'Tra' means beach in Irish and 'mor' means big, so Tramore runs out as Big Beach, which just about sums it up, except for the amusement arcades and fairground which I never got around to visiting. Stayed at the Coast Townhouse, which has absolutely fabulous food, and slept a lot.

When I woke up I read Davey Stone's 'Dwellings Debacle' (that's David Lee Stone to you) and loved it. This is the latest in his Illmoor Chronicles, a fantasy series that's seriously gunning for Pratchet. Humour is extraordinarily difficult to get right, but Davey's aim is spot on. Couldn't recommend his books highly enough.

Mixing pleasure with pleasure, I met up with Rita and Edel, the Halcyon team who are threatening to publish a little book of mine this Christmas, about which more anon, once we can agree on a title for it. Came home to an advance copy Strange Powers of the Human Mind, the third in the Herbie Brennan's Forbidden Truths series Faber are bringing out. Like the first two, the cover looked brilliant. Along with the Halcyon Christmas, this means seven books coming out during 2006, which strikes me as ridiculous, but there you have it.

Off to start editing Faerie Lord now.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Flushed with Pride

I don't suppose you want to hear about this, but I've just had a colonic. I drove for three hours yesterday so a nice redhead could put a tube up my bottom.

In case you ever have to face something similar, I thought you might welcome details of what happens, although readers of a nervous disposition should look away now.

The fun started with a questionaire about the state of my health, which is fine except for the overgrowth of candida that sent me for the therapy in the first place. Then I had to sign a permission for a rectal examination and colonic irrigation.

After that, we got down to business. I was asked to visit the bathroom, undress from the waist down, wrap a towel around then present myself in the therapy room. There I lay on my back on a plastic-sheeted massage table while the therapist gently prodded my abdomen for signs of anything that might interfere with the procedure. Since there were none, I was instructed to lie on my side, still decently covered by the towel, while the therapist gently inserted a well-lubricated nozzle.

It was a peculiar feeling, neither painful nor unpleasant: really you just feel as if you're about to go to the loo. The nozzle only goes in an inch or two because there's a curve in the colon just before it emerges into the daylight so pushing anything too far up risks irritation of the colon wall.

Once I admitted I was comfortable -- which I was -- the therapist began to pump triple-filtered water into my intestines. That didn't feel like much of anything. You're advised to relax, not to push and let things happen. The nozzle is designed to allow water to flow in and everything else to flow out.

The 'everything else' can contain some surprises. While we chatted over the next three-quarters of an hour, the therapist told me one of her (middle-aged) clients had expelled three crayons she'd swallowed as a child in nursery school. Buttons from your romper suit and small toys consumed by babies aren't uncommon either. These bits and pieces pass through the stomach into the intestine where, typically, they lodge in one of the crevices. The body then wraps them in mucus for your protection and eventually forgets about them.

Disappointingly, I produced nothing of note except candida (which fizzes like champagne, according to my therapist) although she did congratulate me on the volume I expelled and the ease with which I did so -- a comment that brought me right back to childhood and the encouragement you get from mother while you're being potty-trained.

And that was about it. After the nozzle is removed, you go off to sit on the loo for five minutes to get rid of any residues, then you pay her and go home. Nothing to it, really.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Longest Day

The Solstice is upon us, heaven help us: longest day of the year, from now on the nights will be drawing in and it all happens faster and faster the older I grow. (Sighs deeply and gets on with it...)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fairy Country

Just back from a weekend in Yeats Country (Sligo) where I got to look at herbs growing in the rain. (My wife Jacks is training to be a master herbalist.) This is the fairy capital of Ireland whatever they try to tell you about the Boyne Valley, but it was too wet for them to come out. Met several nice Americans, however -- they come out in all weathers -- and stayed in an utterly delightful country house, Temple House, the history of which goes all the way back to the Knights Templar. Romantic or what? One of these long summer days I'll have to get to editing Faerie Lord. But not yet... not yet...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Done that then.

Just finished the fourth book of the Faerie Wars trilogy -- first draft anyway -- and plunged into my usual depression at finishing a novel. (I miss the characters.) But it was cheering this morning to discover I'm still causing problems for my translators. That's a tradition started in the 1980s when I was writing game books. Translators for the overseas editions used to go mental trying to figure our the puzzles and puns. Life got easier for them when I concentrated on non-fiction for a while, but now I'm writing fantasy, a new problem has arisen: I've developed a tendency to make up words and phrases like brindles, bubble smoke, nants, ordle and retinduculus. Translators try to look them up, then find they aren't in any dictionary and have a crisis of confidence. Great fun altogether.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

When is a book like a bus?

Advance copies are like buses. You wait around for months and nothing happens, then one day two come along at once. Happened to me yesterday when the postman staggered up the drive with a parcel of El Emperador Purpura hardbacks -- Salamandra's Spanish edition of The Purple Emperor -- plus, very much to my surprise, an early copy of Ruler of the Realm.

The Spanish book is bound with purple trim and uses a version of the cover illustration originated by DTV in Germany -- a creepy, atmospheric study of the labyrinth featured in the novel. A hefty print run is promised, so Salamandra seem to be anticipating decent sales.

Ruler of the Realm looks great. (You can see the cover on my Web site: It runs to 430 pages, one page shorter than Purple Emperor and I have a half-baked idea of printing the Prologue on my Web site as a teaser. But not yet. If I do it at all, it will be closer to the publication date in October.

Meanwhile, the first draft of Faerie Lord (the fourth book of what Orla Mellling calls an 'Irish Trilogy') should be finished, barring accidents and God willing, this week, a prospect I find terrifying.

Friday, May 26, 2006


I suppose if you live long enough, just about everything will happen to you eventually. This morning, I had an apport.

An apport, for those of you unfamiliar with the word, is a Spiritualist term which describes small objects that materialise out of thin air during a seance -- and sometimes spontaneously at other times. Although I've been a member of the Society for Psychical Research for many years now and have attended scores of seances, I've never seen an apport... until now.

It happened just after I stepped out of the shower and was in the middle of drying myself with a towel that had been hanging on a rack. The apport, a 2-cent piece, new looking minted in Ireland in 2002, dropped out of nowhere onto the floor.

I was alone at the time, obviously naked (and wet!) with nothing nearby that might provide any obvious explanation for the appearance of the coin.

Apports may or may not be connected with OOOPs (Objects Out Of Place) another phenomenon that's being taken very seriously by psychical researchers lately. An OOOPs occurs when you leave something down -- a ring, a brooch, whatever -- which has disappeared when you go back for it. OOOPs objects often turn up again, sometimes months later, long after you've searched the house from top to bottom and decided they've gone for good.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


A nice enthusiastic young woman named Ruth came over to me at the Summer School yesterday looking for advice on how to achieve her ambition to become a writer. In the course of the conversation she mentioned she'd approached a well-known author a short time ago and was told she shouldn't even bother trying because breaking into the business was now so hard. The professional also declined to reveal the name of her literary agent or give any helpful advice whatsoever.

Interesting to learn the begrudgers haven't completely died out in modern Ireland, although in the old days they usually waited until you succeeded before they started their nonsense.

For the record, it is difficult to get into print nowadays, as it always was. But it's not impossible. It's difficult to find a good literary agent, as it always was. But it's not impossible. If you want to write, write. Do it well and you'll get into print, I promise you. If you have something really interesting to say (and particularly if you tell a good story) I can even promise you'll make good money.

What more do you want -- a written guarantee?

Get writing.

Summer School

Lovely day at the Children's Books Ireland Summer School in Dublin yesterday. I had a discussion slot with the lovely Orla Melling (Chronicles of Faerie) where we had a wonderful time grumbling about publishers and bemoaning their marketing methods. We turned up nicely colour-coordinated in matching suits, which I thought was coincidence until Orla told me it really resulted from the fairies whispering in our ears during the run-up to the event. Hardback copies of Orla's latest book, The Summer King, had just arrived displaying an absolutely stunning cover. Can't wait to read it.

A hugely pleasing bonus was that immediately after our event we got to be present at the surprise presentation of a CBI Special Award to Robert Dunbar, the doyen of children's literature in Ireland. I'd been chatting to Robert beforehand and he told me he'd been out of circulation for nearly a year because of illness, but was now fully recovered and due back on Rattlebag shortly. The look on his face when the award was announced was worth the trip on its own.

This is the first time I've been to the Summer School and I was hugely impressed. They moved the venue from Pearse Street Library to Belvedere College because of the high volume of bookings, but the place was still packed. Better yet, the enthusiasm level was through the roof.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Halcyon Days

Attended a most enjoyable book launch last evening. The book was called 'Cherry's Farm' a hardback for very young children written and illustrated by Cherry Brandon, who's primarily a textile designer for people like Armani and rather a good artist when she's not looking after the animals on the real Cherry's Farm in County Laois.

I met Cherry six months or a year ago at a party and found her fascinating. Not a word of the book then -- it's her first. I gather the project was one of those unplanned, out-of-the-blue things that come up like thunder and then go like a dream from initial conception to finished product. I read the finished product before going to bed last night and found it utterly charming.

But the book was only half the excitement. 'Cherry's Farm' is the very first venture for a brand-new Irish publisher, Halcyon Days, set up by two very dear friends of mine, Rita Kelly and Edel Connolly. You can read all about them and their new business at

Watch out for the Halcyon name in future. I've a feeling it's going to be big.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Shock news

Shattered to hear news of the death of Clair Boylan on the radio this morning. I met her in the days before the publication of her first novel while she was still best known as a magazine journalist. I liked her immensely and while we never became close friends, I followed her career with interest from that point on. Unbelievable to think she's dead at 58. The country has lost a fine writer.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fairy time

It's almost fairy time.

Several years ago I discovered that when I closely examined certain garden or hedgerow flowers, I could see a small 'energy signature' hovering above them, similar to, but a whole lot smaller than, the sort of heat haze you get shimmering over a tarmac road in summer.

The signatures seemed to be largely confined to bell-shaped flowers -- bluebells, foxgloves etc -- and were shaped (very roughly) like a little winged figure. At the time it occurred to me that if others had seen these energy shapes in the past, it might have given rise to the popular mythology of fairies as tiny winged creatures tending plants.

It now seems certain that others must have seen such shapes long before I did, since I discovered virtually anybody becomes aware of them when they are pointed out. Trial and error taught me this is largely a summer phenomenon, running roughly from end May to early September, with a June/July peak.

If you're interested in trying to spot these curious little energy shapes, warm sunny days are best. Find a blossom (preferably a belled flower, but any bloom is worth a try) and look carefully above and around it. Don't stand too close and don't make noise, which seems to disturb the phenomenon.

Good hunting.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Faerie Lord

Just got in a piece of fan mail from a 12-year-old who said that if she were a crowd she'd give my imagination a standing ovation. With a turn of phrase like that, that one should be writing books herself.

Meanwhile, Faerie Lord continues apace and has taken on a very archetypal structure. Christopher Booker in his The Seven Basic Plots makes a strong case for the notion that ALL fiction is archetypal at root because the human imagination just can't function any other way. (He makes the point, for example, that Jaws, Peter Benchley's hugely popular movie, had exactly the same plot as the saga of Beowulf, created 1,200 years earlier.) I suspect this is largely true, but sometimes the archetypal content is more overt than others and it's beginning to surface big time in Faerie Lord. This has happened to me a couple of times before, accompanied by a very creepy feeling.

Took time off yesterday to attend one of Jacks's crystal workshops. (Jacks is a psychotherapist and crystal healer.) It was a big day for her because she's managed at long last to persuade someone to establish an accredited crystal therapy training course in Ireland. Attendance at her workshops now count as credits for this course and as a result she introduced a few new exercises yesterday. One of them sparked a fascinating burst of psychism among participants. Always interesting to watch that sort of thing manifest, especially when it's unexpected.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Summer School

Orla Melling (who wrote the magnificent Chronicles of Faerie) and I are booked for a discussion on faeries and allied topics at the Children's Books Ireland Summer School in Belvedere College. Showtime is 12 noon on May 20, which is a Saturday.

I'm hugely looking forward to meeting Orla again, but that's not the reason for this post. Just had word that Faber, who publish my non-fiction children's books, have brought forward publication date of the second volume of my Forbidden Truths series (Time Travel) from June to May 18 so those attending the school will have an opportunity to read it. Nice bit of marketing there, following hard on the heels of the series launch with Atlantis and Other Lost Civilizations, which seems to have taken off gratifyingly quickly.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Books and Levitating Islands

Feeling particularly smug today. My former psycho-analyst (you didn't know I had an analyst, did you?*) Professor June Atherton, finally ran out of space for her amazing collection of books and presented me with several cases. What a haul! Psychology, biography, mythology, symbolism... this lot will keep me out of mischief for months.

Meanwhile, another dear friend, Bridget from Texas, alerted me to a fascinating site devoted to anomalies, another of my interests. The URL is

and it's highly recommended to anomalists like myself who need lightening up.

* Jungian school, of course.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bosnian Pyramid

To judge from my latest emails, there's steadily mounting excitement about excavations currently going on in Bosnia which, it is hoped, will unearth Europe's first ancient pyramid. Some predictions suggest it may even be substantially larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza. Anybody who's read my non-fiction books will know my fascination for this sort of thing and I'll be watching developments with interest. If you'd like to do the same, start at:

then update at:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Following my appeal for coincidences on April 8, nothing for ten days then, this morning, downloaded my emails to find two communications on the subject, one from Ireland, one from India. Left me wondering if this was a coincidence...

Monday, April 17, 2006


Just back from a few days Easter break at Brook Lodge, one of my favourite spa hotels. Marvellous as always and imaginative enough to offer mutton on the Strawberry Tree menu. When was the last time you saw mutton on an Irish menu? The emphasis is always on lamb, yet slow-cooked mutton is as tasty a dish as you'll ever eat. I'm still largely vegetarian, but made an exception this time.

Emails included some superb nature pix from daughter Aynia, plus communications from (1) a reincarnation of Helen of Troy, (2) another old GrailQuest fan (inevitably) and (3) two friends who've just started a new publishing venture, about which I suspect I may be writing more anon.

Meanwhile, back to Faerie Lord, which has either reached its half-way mark or is quietly turning into another of those monstrously long manuscripts my publisher will insist on cutting down to manageable proportions.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Another query about gamebooks in this morning.

Hardly a week goes by when I don't hear something from gamebook fans past or present and the GrailQuest series has been the top search item on my Bookshelf site for years.

All of my 1980s gamebooks remain in print in France. They're in the course of republication in Japan and there's serious talk of a revival in Spain, but absolutely no sign of interest from an English language publisher.

The conventional wisdom is that gamebooks have run their course, can't compete with computer games and yada-yada-yada. Not what I've been hearing from the fans.

One day a sharp U.K. or (less likely) U.S. publisher will sniff the air, put a bit of marketing muscle behind a gamebook revival and make a fortune.

Be nice if it was with my GrailQuest series, which sold millions in its heyday, still sells tens of thousands abroad, and is ripe for play by a whole new generation of English-speaking children.

Anybody out there listening?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

New audio book device

Just heard from JAB (who keeps me abreast of new technology) about a fascinating device. Basically, it's a throwaway audio book. Details at The price is a bit high at the moment, but when it drops (as it undoubtedly will) this could become a whole new publishing arena.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ruler and Codebreaker

Just in from Sophie (my literary agent) a finished cover for Ruler of the Realm. Looks lush and lavish, far more striking than it appears in the Bloomsbury catalogue which I received some weeks ago. Interestingly, my German publisher, DTV, has run into problems with the title. Apparently a direct translation is impossible without giving away more about the book than anyone would want so I gave my blessing to 'Das Elfenpakt' (The Faerie Pact). Their editorial and sales people both like this title, not least because it harks back to 'Das Elfenportal' which was what Faerie Wars was titled in Germany, a country that now apparently follows the Basil Fawlty maxim: Don't mention the war. I rather like Elfenpakt. One of my earlier ideas was to call the book The Pact. I abandoned this in favour of 'Blue' because it's very much Blue's book, but Bloomsbury argued that 'Blue' meant either a colour or a mood to anybody who hadn't read the first two books, and suggested Ruler of the Realm, which I liked very much.

I also discovered yesterday that Codebreaker's Handbook, a title I did for Faber, is now on sale. (At least on I haven't been out to check the bookshops yet.) I took time off from writing Ruler of the Realm to work on Codebreaker, deeply resented the intrusion at the time, but in the event absolutely loved it. I was always mucking around with secret messages when I was a kid and it seems I haven't grown up at all. I spent many happy hours working out the coding examples, thoroughly enjoyed the historical research and when the manuscript finally reached my editor, the lovely Paula Borton, she commented that the book was compulsive, so the fun I had obviously showed up in the writing.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Coincidences wanted

Incidentally, apropos that planned non-fiction book, if any of you out there have interesting personal experiences of coincidences or synchronicities, I'd love to hear them and possibly even use some in the book. If you want your name used, please say so. If not, no problem. Either way, it would be useful if you filled in a little about your background in order to place the coincidence in context.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Faerie Lord

Okay, that'll have to do (for the time being) as far as setting up the blog's concerned. Now I'm back to Faerie Lord, the fourth book in the Faerie Wars series. It's had its ups and downs, but is now half finished, at least in first draft. I'm hoping this one will resolve the relationship between Blue and Henry, but you can never trust him not to be thick where women are concerned.

As usual, I've no idea where the book is going until it gets there. As things stand at the moment, Henry is in big trouble, Blue is about to get into big trouble and Pyrgus seems to be in a coma. I do hope it all works out all right.

Two projects planned for the near future. Most immediate is that Sophie, my lovely agent, should soon be offering The Chronicles of Nectanebo, an adult novel that has haunted me for more than a quarter of a century. When it finds a publisher, I'll tell you the full story of how it came to be written, which is seriously weird. The second project is non-fiction, focused on coincidence, and planned to start maybe autumn this year, d.v.

Enough, already. I'm off to see what Blue is doing.

First Post

Lunch yesterday with the utterly delightful Orla Melling, author of The Chronicles of Faerie series, who persuaded me to join the 21st Century and set up a blog. This is it, in all its primeval splendour. Hopefully it will grow to look better as I start to understand what I'm doing.