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

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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):

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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 …

 

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.

Run Rebel Run

‘We have three beasts to destroy, that lay burdens upon us. The first is the wolf, on whom we lay five pounds a head if a dog, and ten pounds if a bitch. The second beast is a priest, on whose head we lay ten pounds; if he be eminent, more. The third beast is a Tory, on whose head if he be a public Tory we lay twenty pounds; and forty shillings on a private Tory. Your army cannot catch them; the Irish bring them in; brothers and cousins cut one another’s throats.’ – Major Morgan (MP for Wicklow), speaking at Westminster in 1657.

Nowadays we think of the word tory as being a colloquial name for the British Conservative Party or its supporters. Whilst there is an interesting history behind why the name came to be used in English/British/UK politics, today I’m going to focus on the original meaning of the word.

The word tory comes from the Irish word tóraidhe – meaning an outlaw or a pursued man (the Irish word tóir means pursue, and some translate tóraidhe as pursuer rather than pursued man). Basically the tories were Irish rebels, and those rebels were on the run. They were disbanded Confederate soldiers, raiding English-held areas and operating as guerrillas against invaders. They operated in rugged areas, such as the Wicklow mountains, attacking Parliamentarian soldiers and stealing their supplies. Oh, and they attacked tax collectors, too. Obviously, the Parliamentarian soldiers were not too happy about such things. The New Model Army meant to reconquer Ireland, and such rebel activity was not to be tolerated.

If an area was a suspected tory stronghold, then the soldiers must do anything to bring things back under control. And when I say anything, I mean anything. Crops would be burned. Cattle would be destroyed. Burn them out … starve them out … any tactic was acceptable. Some areas were free-fire zones – everyone had to get out, and if they did not, they would be considered tories or tory sympathisers, and be slain.

The fact that innocent people died, or had their crops and houses razed forcing them to become dispossessed … well, all’s fair in war. The tactics led the country into famine – a terrible famine which was worsened by a plague outbreak. The population was decimated (most deaths being those of civilians). The country was in ruins. The country was on its knees. The country was – as intended – ripe for re-conquest.

Most tories met unpleasant fates. Some were sold into slavery. Some were given deals which allowed them to leave the country to serve as soldiers in France (the English Royalist court was in exile in France) or Spain. But such deals were not always what they seemed. In 1653, the last organised tories surrendered in Cavan, thinking that they were to be sent to France. In fact, they were either executed or sent to penal colonies.

Of course some rebels remained and, despite the formal surrender, they would continue their activities on a smaller scale for the remainder of the 1650s.

The Irish Confederate (Eleven Years’) War:

So why were the tories seen as Royalist supporters? Why support one form of English rule over another? Well, the fact is that they probably did not. Affiliations are rarely iron-clad, but held only as long as is convenient.

The Eleven Years’ War (1641-1653) did not start out with Royalist support as its aim. In fact, the original Confederation was a Catholic movement, with the intention of fighting English soldiers sent by the government of Charles I. But even then there were grey areas as to allegiance and objective – otherwise why would the Confederates have felt the need to insist that their fight was against the King’s advisers rather than the King himself?

The war began in 1641 with the Ulster Rebellion – in which thousands of English and Scottish settlers were killed. Until 1649 the Confederates had somewhat of a de facto rule over Ireland. They professed to side with the Cavaliers, they claimed loyalty to Charles I, and they had the support of the Catholic clergy.

It was a complicated war, with constantly shifting loyalties and, at one stage, a brief civil war within the Confederate factions themselves.  It was the arrival of the New Model Army which put an end to it all (a brutal and bloody end), but most people reading about the events arrive at the same opinion: had the Confederates been united instead of constantly shifting sides and engaging in in-fighting, then the Irish Confederate Army might well have won Ireland back for good. In the words of the 17th century poem Tuireamh na hÉireann, the Eleven Years’ war was ‘an cogadh do chríochnaigh Éire’ – the war that finished Ireland.

This is a messy subject – hard to simplify, and even harder to confine to a short blog-post.  There was no ‘right side.’  With people being killed on the basis of their religion, every side carried out what would be called ethnic cleansing today. There is a wealth of material dealing with this period (much of it available online) and I spent a huge amount of time poring over it all. At the end of that research this was the conclusion I came to: in this Irish conflict, the only thing that anyone really supported was their own best interests. Human nature?

But war is ever-present. The world today is filled with those displaced by conflict, desperate to find a safe place, a place to call home. So let’s not end on a cynical note. Let’s end on a hopeful one. In recent weeks, huge swathes of people have been marching to ask that Syrian refugees be welcomed into their countries. There are people – ordinary people – inviting these refugees to share their homes. Perhaps some of us are changing. Perhaps some of us are looking past our own immediate concerns. Perhaps four hundred years from now historians will look back and say: in the 21st century, people cared.

 

Wolf Land: Little Burial Grounds

It’s the first day of September. It’s chilly. It’s raining (it’s raining here anyway). All of that is enough to put anyone in a sombre mood, so I don’t suppose today’s blog about cillíní is going to perk us up much! For those who don’t know, a cillín is a ‘little burial ground’. The word can also translate as ‘little cell’ or ‘little churchyard.’ Cillíní is the plural.

In the Wolf Land books, there is a cillín behind the village church. It’s where Sorcha’s mother is buried because she was considered a witch. Unbaptised babies were buried in such places because, not having been cleared of original sin, they would not be deemed fit to enter Heaven. Their souls were not said to go to Hell, but to exist forever in Limbo instead. Other burials might include shipwrecked sailors, the mentally ill, women who died in childbirth, religious heretics, and suicides.

To quote Wolf Land Book One: ‘I thought of all the bodies I knew were buried there: babies who died too soon, without married parents, without having been baptised; women, joining those babies in the cillín with the help of a potion, or a blade, or a rope.  Sinners, in the eyes of the church.  Loved ones, in the eyes of the people who laid flowers on their graves.’

Cillíní are no longer in use. Babies who die too soon, people who take their own lives and all the others who may have been marginalized in life as well as in death, are now buried on consecrated ground. But the treatment of such individuals is a part of Irish history that will not, and should not, be forgotten.

Wolf Land: more than just a book title

The eradication of the wolf in Ireland was not what you would call an overnight  success.  Supposedly, the last wolf in Ireland was killed in 1786, but the campaign to exterminate them had been going on for a long time.

There are early historical references to wolves attacking people, such as in the Annals of Tigernach (1137) where it states: The Blind one of … that is, Giolla Muire, was killed by wolves.

In the Annála Connacht  (1420) it is stated: Wolves killed many people this year.

The first legislation to exterminate wolves, however, did not come until 1584.  More legislation followed over the years, but during the Cromwellian re-conquest of Ireland, the campaign really stepped up.

During wars, there will be bodies, and where there are bodies there will be wolves.  Wolf numbers increased, giving rise to the nickname Wolf Land (or wolf-land, depending on the source).  But … Irish men could hardly be allowed to hunt, could they?  Hunters would need weapons, and weapons were something that the Irish were not supposed to have.  Hunters from elsewhere would have to be attracted to Wolf Land, and the only way to do that was to pay them a whole lot of money.image_jpeg2

In Wolf Land Book One, Sorcha lists out  some typical bounties at the time. She tells us: They will earn six pounds for every female they kill, five for the males, two pounds for the younger wolves and ten shillings for the cubs.

Even with such money on offer, getting rid of our Irish wolves was not an easy job.  In 1652, for example, it was forbidden to remove any wolf-hounds from the country because, with a wolf population like ours, hunters would need the help of such able dogs at their side.  So why was Ireland such a special case?  Why were our wolves so difficult to eradicate?  I have read that, in Ireland, we saw them as a part of the landscape; indeed, their Irish name, Mac Tire (son of the land) would suggest just that.  Whatever the reason, most Irish people I talk to still have a inexplicable passion for wolves.  It may be 2015, but Ireland is still a Wolf Land at heart.