Sunday, 29 April 2012


"... the intrigue within today's politics, the suspicion and distrust between indigenous and immigrant communities ..."
Recently I have been thinking more about sending out review copies of The Boy with Two Heads, and wrestling with the Kindle edition to think about the other books. However, I occasionally check them out on Amazon, and was delighted to find a new review of Moon in Leo. I print it here in its entirety as it's the first to highlight the book's relevance to today's audience, and it uncannily echoes some of Kathleen's thoughts in her letters to me.

I don't really read historical novels, but "Moon in Leo" came to my attention for two reasons. First, my wife was reading it and I was attracted by the cover and secondly it is set, albeit three hundred and fifty years ago, in the county where I live. Aldingham shown on the cover map is somewhere I used regularly to visit.
Right! So what did I make of the book? Well, it is well researched redolent of the period. One word "guffawing" (page243) jarred a little, I thought it a more modern word, but discovered it had been around for about hundred years at the time this book is set, so one-nil to Kathleen Herbert!
Here, I have no intention of providing a prĂ©cis of the plot, but make a suggestion! Forget, as you read, when it is set, instead reflect on the intrigue within today's politics, the suspicion and distrust between indigenous and immigrant communities and as you read, you will come to the conclusion that not much changes – we just call things by different names.
This book had a number of problems with me; I've put it that way around deliberately. First, for my taste it is too long at 400 pages, and the font is quite small, I'm getting old and my attention span is not what it once was. Secondly, there are (again for me) too many characters. However, the publisher provides a handy list of characters at the front, to which I repeatedly had to refer. It would though, have been better if this list had been alphabetical.
The holidays are coming up, so go off to Spain, but take with you a small slice of Cumberland in the shape of this novel. It is excellent value, beautifully written and will provide you with an entertaining and educational insight of times gone by. Click on the "Buy" button and be hugely entertained.

This is what Kathleen wrote to me:

I have looked over my novel about Furness during the Popish Plot- which is firmly based on truth… during these last weeks, the story has suddenly become incredibly topical- … for the background  we have:
  • a King called Charles, with a complicated marital and family life
  • a society of the rich and famous who produce a new scandal with every edition of the newspapers
  •   a government that is not only stale but starting to smell     
  • an established religion that has run out of steam, and numbers of cults that are boiling with enthusiasm- some for good, some for evil, both inside and outside Christianity     
  • and a large number of “alternative” Englands that are barely suspected to exist by “official” England     
  • It’s 1678, but change the clothes and it could be today.
And later:

I wrote a novel about the different folk who have come to our islands (for good, bad, fear, food, etc) and how they are still coming. I put the story into the past, so no folk could be insulted or unhappy or frightened.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


I have never been good with numbers- I am more of a word person- but I am by no means proud of my "number blindness", and have never been able to understand why some people think it's OK to be innumerate, as long as you aren't illiterate. Because of my inability to "see" numbers, I usually cut and paste them, which is what I did- or at least it's what I think I did- with the ISBN for The Boy with Two Heads when I designed the fliers. However, I got one digit wrong, leading to at least one problem when somebody tried to order it in a bookshop, using the ISBN, only to be told the book didn't exist!

So- if you have got a flier for The Boy with Two Heads:- destroy it!

The correct ISBN is:

My very humble apologies!!

Monday, 2 April 2012


Last Thursday Julia and I visited Solway School in Silloth to read extracts from The Boy with Two Heads, and to tell the students about the origins of The Olympic Games. We had a mixed group of years 7 and 8. There was much hilarity at pictures such as the following, and lots of interest. 

"He's got a laptop", they said in amazement. Actually, what he has got is a tablet, made from wood and coated in wax, and he is writing on it with a stylus. The children were intrigued to learn that these words originated in ancient Greece. 

Children can be quite prudish: when they learnt that Greek athletes ran, jumped and wrestled naked, they giggled and blushed, but when Julia showed them this picture of a boy with his penis tied up, I thought we were going to have a medical emergency- some of them went purple from laughing! 

Nobody knows exactly why Greek men did this, but it might have been something to do with the fact that they oiled their bodies, then rolled around in the sand wrestling!

Solway Community College is a pleasant, calm and friendly school: we thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and are very grateful to Head Teacher Mrs Lois Baird,  English Teacher Mr Bernie Green, and the lively and polite pupils themselves.