Book Release: Wolf Land Book Six

I can uncross my fingers and toes, because the sixth book of the Wolf Land series, Lord of the Bones, is now for sale on Amazon.

Book CoverBook Six wraps up the story arc that began in Book Four, so for anyone who was worried about a certain character, all is now revealed 🙂

Here’s the blurb:

Did they really believe a Lord would keep his end of the bargain?

The pack travel to New Amsterdam, hoping that they will finally find their leader again.  But once they get there, they have a chilling choice to make.

Lord Ambrose de Jong tells them that Rory will be returned to them, as promised.  But only if they wait until midsummer … and only if they sacrifice another in his place.

After all they have been through, they are unwilling to trust the word of a Lord – and they are certainly not prepared to do as one says.

They attempt to retrieve Rory without the Lord’s help, but it begins to seem like an impossible task.  Luckily for them, an old friend returns from India.  And he might just have the power they need to do things their own way …

Like the rest of the series, this one is in Kindle Unlimited, meaning it’s free to borrow for anyone with a subscription.  The links to all of the stores are:

US UK

DE FR

ES IT   NL  JP  BR  CA  MX  AU  IN

 

 

Book Release: Wolf Land Book Five

Book CoverYaksha, Book Five of the Wolf Land series, has just been released and is now available to download from all Amazon stores.  Book Six, Lord of the Bones, should be out before the end of June (fingers and toes crossed).

Here’s the blurb:

All he wanted to do was buy and sell tea …

When Arthur arrives at the Indian palace of Vana, he believes he is there to make a straightforward deal.  It soon becomes clear that Arthur was summoned to Vana for very different reasons.

Chandri, a young noblewoman, seems eager to marry him.  But is she doing so of her own will, or are there Lords at work?

Arthur must gain the trust of Chandri, and work alongside the enigmatic man known as Guruji, if he is ever to discover the truth and free the people of Vana.

But Vana has its own protectors, guardians known as yakshas, and one of them may be able to offer Arthur a little help in return …

It’s 99c/99p (or the equivalent in your currency) for now and, as always, it’s  free via Kindle Unlimited.

Store Links:

US  UK  DE  FR  ES  IT  NL  JP  BR  CA  MX  AU  IN

Book Release: The Man in the Barn

Book Cover The Man in the BarnHi all,

Just a short post to say I’ve released a new book, The Man in the Barn.  It’s available in all Amazon stores, and it’s 99c (or the equivalent in your own currency) for a short time only.  And as always it’s free through Kindle Unlimited.  Happy Valentines Day 🙂

The Blurb:

When Maddy Byrne finds a confused and frightened stranger in her barn, all she wants to do is help. But Maddy is a survivor of an abusive marriage. Can she really trust her instincts?

As for the man, his last recollections are of running for his life.

With the support of Maddy and her friends, he finds a home in the small Irish town of Cairnbán. As time passes, and his relationship with Maddy deepens, his memories start to return. Through small recollections and nightmares, he begins to build a picture of the man he once was.

But when he finally remembers, he might wish he could forget.

 

 

Book Release: Wolf Land Book Four

Cover Image Book FourWell, I said it would be out in 2016, and I made it … just.

Wolf Land Book Four: Wrath is now available to buy from all of these Amazon Stores for a special release price of 99c/99p (or whatever the equivalent may be in your currency):

US UK DE FR ES IT NL JP BR CA MX AU IN

Oh, and for those of you who enjoy my standalone novels, The Man in the Barn will be along in 2017 🙂

For now, here’s the blurb for Wrath:

Killing a Lord was just the beginning …

All that Sorcha and the werewolves want to do is find a place to call home.  Their numbers are reduced.  They are injured, grieving, and exhausted.  But in the New World, they have a new Lord to worry about.

When Sorcha dreams of a town called Hope Streams, and a young girl accused of witchcraft, the pack know what they ought to do: run very far and very fast in the opposite direction.

There is a Lord at work in Hope Streams, and the whole town lives in fear.  But if they choose to help the people, the pack could lose far more than they know …

 

Book Release: Wolf Land Book Three

Book CoverI’m so happy to announce that Wolf Land Book Three: Divided is now available on Amazon.  Here are the links for the US, UK, CA and Australian stores.  I really hope you guys enjoy reading it, and as soon as I’ve gotten caught up on some sleep, work on Wrath – the fourth book in the series – is set to begin 🙂

Here’s the blurb:

The wolves have been divided, but will they fall?

In the castle’s dungeons, werewolves are being tortured and killed, but is this just another game of Lord Tolbert’s, or does he need the wolves for a darker purpose?

Sorcha Moore has been betrayed, kidnapped, and separated from everyone she cares for.  But who has driven them apart, and why?

Sorcha needs to learn all she can about her enemies – and about herself – if she is ever going to defeat the Lord.  But when she is finally told the truth of the Lords and the werewolves, it may not be the truth she wants to hear.

Will Sorcha return to Wolf Wood in time to save Rory and the wolf pack, or will she do as everyone seems to think she ought … and run?

Flying High

Image of wicth riding a broomstickI thought about making my first post of 2016 a Happy New Year sort of affair – y’know, where I tell you about my resolutions and lay out my goals for the coming months. But the truth is, I have little in the way of writing goals other than to keep writing and keep publishing. So far, so obvious. So instead, I’m going to write about witches and broomsticks because … well, because I want to.

Witches feature just as heavily as werewolves in the Wolf Land books and, yes, my witches fly. Sometimes with the use of potions, sometimes on a broomstick and sometimes by other means …

Whilst I’ve created my own fictional world in Wolf Land, and my witches do whatever my imagination wants them to, I thought it might be fun to take a look at just where the stories of witches riding broomsticks and flying high in the sky began.

Any Wiccans among you might have heard of the besom broom. The phallic nature of the broom’s shaft – commonly made of ash – is said to be masculine, while the bristles – made of birch – are said to be feminine. The combination, apparently, balances the feminine and the masculine. And whilst there are many Wiccan rituals that involve the besom, there were witches long before there was Wicca, and they were using other means to fly …

In Wolf Land Book One, when told of her mother’s skills at making flying potions, Sorcha says: “Perhaps she created such a heady hallucinogen that she thought she could fly.”

Sorcha may have been right. The ointments that witches were said to have used to enable them to fly were highly hallucinogenic mixtures. In The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia by Paul Devereux (Daily Grail Publishing, 2008), the author tells us of the 20th century experiments of folklorist Will Erich Peuckert. Peuckert used a mixture of belladonna, henbane and Datura and said:
“We had wild dreams. Faces danced before my eyes which were at first terrible. Then I suddenly had the sensation of flying for miles through the air. The flight was repeatedly interrupted by great falls. Finally, in the last phase, an image of an orgiastic feast with grotesque sensual excess.”

I would not advise anyone to try that particular experiment.

There are other ‘recipes’ for flying ointments. They include ingredients like ergot, hemlock, wolfsbane, henbane and belladonna, usually in a base of animal fat (or, I’m sorry to say, the fat of a young child). Of course, these ingredients would be highly toxic if ingested, but it seems that instead of swallowing, the witches rubbed the ointment on the skin. They may have also employed the use of opium, a substance which is said to be antagonistic to belladonna, in order to avoid/cure being poisoned. I cannot state it enough times – do not try this at home, or outside your home, or in a field at midnight while the moon is full and the other naked ladies are telling you it’s the only way to join their gang …

Lady Alice Kyteler is infamous in Irish history for being the first witch condemned to death. She even features in the William Butler Yeats’ poem Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen. She was said to have used sorcery to kill her husband but she escaped (of course she did, she was a witch!) and in 1324 her maid, Petronilla de Meath, was flogged and burned at the stake instead.

Here is some of the damning evidence that was used to prove Kyteler’s guilt (recounted by the English historian Raphael Holinshed): “In rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a pipe of ointment wherewith she greased her staffe, upon which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin.”

And in the Quaestio de Strigis (An Investigation of Witches, about 1470), Giordano da Bergamo  says of witches that on “certain days or nights they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places.”

The idea of witches riding staffs began to take hold. In those lovely old days of witch hunts, pictures and stories of pagan ladies were everywhere. And no matter what those horny old witch hunters might’ve said, those pictures were not for educational purposes. Famous artists depicted them naked and riding brooms or distaffs (or other household items). Parmigianino went one step further and depicted a witch riding a phallus. At least he was keeping it real!

We can all come to our own conclusions about whether women/witches really did use ointments and other implements for rituals, pleasure or freedom. In a society where women/witches are sexualized and feared at the same time … who knows what is and isn’t true. As women were forced further into domestic servitude, brooms had become the most common vehicle for flight (at least in the pictures). Witches were riding these brooms (a symbol of household drudgery?) and using them to fly up and out the chimney.

And that’s the image most of us have ingrained these days – the fully clothed witch, riding a broom with a cat on board. I don’t know about the cat (mine won’t go near a car so I seriously doubt he’ll ever join me on my broom) but I definitely prefer the idea of flying with my clothes on. It gets chilly up there 🙂

I wish you all a magical new year.
P.S.: Wolf Land Book Three will release in the spring …

The Werewolf Trials

Werewolf IllustrationWerewolves are supposed to be frightening, aren’t they?  Creatures of nightmare?  Yet I struggle to think of a time when they frightened me, rather than fascinated me.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  In modern media, the werewolf is often the hero of TV shows, movies, books, comics …

It’s easy to be fascinated rather than frightened when you know that something is just fiction.  It’s easy for teenage girls (or thirty-year-old women) to imagine falling in love with a werewolf or a vampire when they’re depicted as tortured souls, out to make amends/get revenge/insert suitable back story here …

I write the Wolf Land series – beautiful witch falls in love with handsome werewolf.  Okay, there’s more to the stories than that but … in my books the werewolves are (for the most part) the good guys.  They fight on behalf of the dispossessed, they fight to stop the forests being destroyed, they fight to help protect the real wolves from destruction.

And I’m not the only one who writes and reads this sort of fiction.  So I have to wonder: were people ever really frightened of these creatures?  Or did they always see them as the fictional creation that they (probably) are?

While writing the Wolf Land series I read a lot about the werewolf trials of the past.  I refer to two of them in Wolf Land Book Two, and I’d like to delve into both a little more deeply in this blog.

The Werewolf of Dole

The first trial I refer to in the book is one which one of my characters, Maria, attended in her past.  Maria speaks of a trial she witnessed where: ‘The man being tried had, undoubtedly, done terrible things. He had killed young children. Consumed their limbs and … oh, you do not need to know the gore. The man claimed that he had done these things only because he had been cursed. He claimed to be a werewolf.’

Although I add some fictional elements, I was inspired by a  very real trial when I wrote this section.  The trial I was thinking of was that of Gilles Garnier, a trial that took place in France in the 1570s.  Gilles was also known as the Werewolf of Dole, and the Hermit of St Bonnot.  Gilles lived much of his life as a hermit and, when he eventually took a wife, he found that feeding two mouths was more difficult than feeding just one.  So he took the rather extreme action of turning to cannibalism.  He killed and consumed children, carrying out the killing alone.  He would, however, take the leftovers home for his wife.

Gilles claimed that he carried out these acts in the form of a wolf.  One night while out hunting for food, he said, a spectre appeared to him and gave him a magic ointment that would allow him to transform, and so make hunting easier.  He was found guilty of crimes of lycanthropy and witchcraft, and was burned at the stake in 1573.

The Werewolf of Bedburg

Later on in Wolf Land Book Two the rector tells the local children the lovely tale of Peter Stumpp.  Some of you may have heard of Peter, though perhaps not under that name.  The Werewolf of Bedburg was known by many names, often spelled differently:  Peter Stube, Pe(e)ter Stubbe, Peter Stübbe or Peter Stumpf … Abal Griswold, Abil Griswold, Ubel Griswold

If you google the subject, you’ll find many stories about this man and his crimes.  He confessed that the devil had given him a belt which allowed him to transform into a wolf.  The crimes he is said to have committed in this form, under insatiable blood lust, began with killing sheep and newborn lambs; he soon progressed to murdering and consuming human victims.  His victims number 14-18, depending on the source.  They include the unborn fetuses of two pregnant women.  He is even said to have eaten the brain of his own son.

These crimes, if true, are incredibly unsettling.  The details of Peter’s execution, however, are more unsettling still.  He was put on a wheel on October 31st 1589, his body splayed out and stretched painfully.  The flesh was torn from his body by hot pincers, and his limbs were broken by the blunt side of an axe to prevent his body from returning from the grave.  He was beheaded, then, before being burned on a pyre.  His head was placed on a pole as a warning to others who might be tempted towards sorcery or shapeshifting (y’know, in case Satan ever offers them a magical belt).  It’s said that his daughter and his mistress (the Gossip of the pamphlet I link to below) were considered accessories to his crimes.  They were said to be raped, flayed and strangled (because, of course, it’s not a sin if it’s a sinner you’re doing it to) and their bodies burned alongside his.

The main source of information on this subject is a pamphlet named the Damnable Life and Death of Stubbe Peeter (you can read it here – please let me know about any dead links).  Two copies of this pamphlet exist, one in the British Museum and one in the Lambeth Library.  It was produced in 1590, and it is a translation from a German pamphlet detailing the case and trial of Peter Stumpp.   There are no remaining copies of the German pamphlet, and the English translation was rediscovered in 1920 by the occultist, Montague Summers.  Montague reprinted the pamphlet,including a woodcut, in his work, The Werewolf.

There is some additional information in the form of an alderman’s diary entries, and some German broadsheets.  The broadsheets, however, were probably reprinted from the English translation.  Any original German documents about the trial were apparently lost; Peter’s date of birth is unknown, too, because local church records were destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).

Such a dearth of real information will always lead to speculation.  There are some who believe that Peter Stumpp’s trial was a political trial in disguise.  In Wolf Land, Sorcha tells us Brian Farrell’s theories on the subject: ‘I too knew the story of Peter Stumpp, but I knew the story as Brian told it; Brian, a man eager to believe in werewolves, had always said that this was not a story of the horrors of werewolves, but a story of the horrors of man. Peter Stumpp was caught in the middle of a religious war – he was a powerful Protestant in an area where others were determined to re-establish Catholicism.’

There were reasons for such theories.  Peter grew up in Bedburg, and so was quite likely a Protestant. When the area was overthrown in 1587, in an effort to establish Catholicism, it’s conceivable that – if Peter was a Protestant in a position of some power – the new Catholic authorities may have wanted to make an example of him.  Many powerful people came to his trial, and in a time when such trials were ten a penny, this was unusual.  But … if Peter really did commit the crimes he confessed to, the trial would have been quite a draw, so perhaps the attendance of the peers and princes of Germany was not so unusual after all.

 

Conclusion

I began this post with a question in mind: does anyone really fear werewolves?  And after reading about the trials in this blog, and so many similar cases against witches and werewolves over the centuries, I’m no closer to an answer.  It could be argued that, in such trials, calling oneself (or being accused of being) a werewolf or a witch was just an excuse.

It wasn’t my fault, your honour, the devil made me do it.

Or:

Kill him, he’s in league with the devil.  Never mind that it’s terribly convenient for us that this man no longer exist, just … kill him.  I’m telling you – he’s got a magic belt and he knows how to use it!

But imagine we did believe that Gilles and Peter were werewolves.  Imagine we believed that the countless women tortured, abused and murdered during the witch-hunts over the centuries really were witches.  Would they still fascinate us or would they become something to fear?

I – and many others – create worlds filled with witches and werewolves.  I’ll continue to do so.  And they’ll (almost always) be the good guys.  My werewolves aren’t serial killers or child murderers.  But they might just chow down on the guys that are carrying out such heinous deeds.  And as for my witches, if they’re ever tempted to resort to the blackest of magics, then I’ll make sure their hair looks good while they’re doing it 🙂

Author Spotlight: Eva Gordon

This week I’m featuring Eva Gordon, a lady who has written a lot of books.  She writes steampunk, fantasy, romance, historical … all with a strong romantic element.  If you visit her Goodreads page or her blog, you’ll definitely find something to get stuck into.

As well as her writing, Eva teaches online courses on animal lore, ancient falconry and – I’m so excited by this next one – wolf lore 🙂  When she’s not in her den writing, she enjoys world travel, steampunk conventions, hiking, raptor rehabilitation and wolf sanctuaries.   She loves dark chocolate, red wine and dark deep forests.  Oh Eva, will you be my BFF?

Since she does have so many books under her belt, I’m just going to give you the low-down on Book One of the Realms Trilogy: The Stone of the Tenth Realm.  If you like your fantasy combined with history, then this might be one for you.

Book Cover ImageHere’s the blurb:

Sophie Katz, a Jewish chemistry student, harrowingly escapes a Nazi concentration camp. By way of Prague and with the help of a golem and a magic stone, she is transported into the Tenth Realm, a magical dimension that parallels the world she left behind.

Logan MacLeod, a Scottish warrior, hunted for a crime he did not mean to commit, flees to the Bestiary, a forest so dangerous no man dares enter. Drawn by the haunting sound of his bagpipes, Sophie and Logan meet.

Even as love ensues, the dark evil of the Third Reich threatens the Tenth Realm, led by Gustaf Hissler, Adolph Hitler’s doppelganger.

Together they must join the forces against Hissler in the Tenth Realm and help stop Hitler from world domination in Sophie’s realm. Will they be able to stop the Third Reich before its evil conquers all of the realms?

Buy Links: 

amazon    small amazon uk  bn  iBookstore

kobo

Author Spotlight: Annie B Matthews

Talent Book CoverFor the past while I’ve had my nose to the grindstone, so I failed to notice that last week’s featured author in the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers Group was the lovely Annie B Matthews. I’ve had the pleasure of reading Annie’s first YA book, Talent, and if you happen to like YA fiction with a paranormal and romantic spin, then Talent might be just the book for you.

Annie has been writing since she was twelve, and I’m so glad that she’s finally decided to share her stories with the world. I loved reading about Libby’s journey to discover and gain control of her supernatural abilities.  And, though the book is nicely wrapped up, I happen to know that a second book is on the way.

If you’d like to know more about Annie, you can find her on her blog, on her Goodreads page, or on Twitter.

You can buy Talent at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.  And if you’re a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited like I am, then you can read it for free 🙂

Wolf Land: Tea Time

Image - Tea Cup

As I write this I’m drinking my second cup of tea of the day.  I’ll probably have at least three more cups between now and bedtime.  For me, drinking tea is a comforting ritual.  Each morning I wrap my chilly fingers around a warm cup, take a sip and say, ‘Aaaah, that’s lovely so it is.

But there was a time when no one in Ireland or England had heard of tea, and in Wolf Land Book Two, some of my characters experience it for the first time.

Lady Tolbert is a huge fan of tea. She brings it to Wolf Wood from Portugal, where she drank it with Catherine of Braganza. But in Wolf Wood, tea is not met with sighs of, ‘Aaaah, that’s lovely so it is.’  Maggie, the lady’s maid, refers to tea as, ‘That stuff,’ and says, ‘I am astounded as to how she keeps that foreign drink down.’

But whilst Lady Tolbert and Maggie are fictional characters, Catherine of Braganza lived and breathed in the real world instead of the one in my mind. Catherine was a Portuguese princess (and later Queen consort of England, Ireland and Scotland). She was born into the House of Braganza in 1638 – a house which became Portugal’s royal house in 1640.

Tea was popular among the rich of Portugal. It was an exotic drink imported from the East, and my mind plays vivid images of Lady Tolbert (a woman who knew how to influence the people of influence!) visiting Portugal in the 1650s and sipping the drink with the young Catherine.

Catherine did not arrive in England until 1662. She disembarked at Portsmouth in May of that year, and it is said that the first thing she asked for was a cup of tea. And – as well as the many expensive items that would be sold off to pay the debts of her husband, King Charles II – she made sure that a chest of tea was shipped to England for her arrival.

We know that tea was available before Catherine ever docked at Portsmouth. It was for sale in a London coffeehouse in 1657. Thomas Garraway, the owner of the coffeehouse, produced a pamphlet to advertise his latest offering. In 1658 an advertisement appeared in the Mercurius Politicus, calling tea: ‘That Excellent, and by all Physicians approved, China Drink.’

In Thomas Rugge’s Diurnall (a journal preserved in the British museum) he describes tea as being ‘sold in almost every street in 1659.’

The introduction of tea is also recorded in another famous journal, the diary of Samuel Pepys. In Samuel’s entry dated 25th September 1660, he records some time he spent discussing foreign affairs with friends. He tells us that, after this meeting, he ‘did send for a cupp of tee (a China drink) of which I never had drank before.’

But although all of these sources tell us that tea was available, it was not yet the drink of the masses. It was sold in mostly male frequented places, and was promoted as a medicinal drink (against the advice of the Royal College of Physicians who wondered whether the drink would ‘agree with the Constitutions of (our) English bodies’).

Upon Catherine’s arrival in 1662 she made it clear that tea was her drink of choice. It was what she and her fellow wealthy women drank at court – not for medicinal reasons, but simply for enjoyment – and under Catherine’s influence the drink gained the popularity it still has today.

So thank you, Catherine. Because of you, I have this lovely cup of warm liquid in my hands. And I’m about to dunk a biscuit.