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WELCOME TO MY WEBSITE, which is mostly a chronicle in reverse of my adventures in publishing. I've also strayed into other areas of interest, as you can see if you look around. In fact this website has become a bit of a sprawling labyrinth over the twenty-odd years since I began it (armed with a beginners' guide to HTML) and I'm told it's quite easy to get lost; but there is hopefully some sort of charm in that - forgotten cellars, secret passages and so on where like minded souls may find something of interest. This current page picks out key publishing events for me going back to 2001. Click
HERE if you'd like to email me about anything.
My latest book is kind of a do it yourself thing. I wrote it on and off over many years purely for the sake of it and to tell a story that was in danger of being lost. Whether there's any great audience for it is debatable because it concerns an obscure part of the world that was an equally obscure part of the British Empire where I just happened to see the world for the first time and assume, as all children do, that this was a lasting reality.
It's now ancient history. We live in a completely different world where the British Empire has long been consigned to the past, but if you're interested in reading what it was like at a time when many white colonials couldn't seriously believe that was about to happen, well, here's how it looked to me as a kid. If you visit my brand new online
BOOKSHOP you can even read it for free if you like.
HERE I MUST INTRODUCE my partner through life, Vivienne, because it's impossible to say how many of my various books and projects would have come to fruition without her tacit and often very tangible support. Through most of my life I've had practical and varied jobs on the side to help pay the bills; usually nothing at all to do with art or books, which was always refreshing. But I have probably spent years on projects with no practical end in sight. Some never have seen the light of day but it's astonishing really how many of my passing obsessions later came in handy for book projects that happened to come along and for which I therefore had a head start.
But it took a fair bit of tolerance along the way, not objecting too much as I went chasing off after another rainbow or unicorn. The picture left was taken by our daughter Lorna a few years ago on a visit to Bruges.
A TREAT FOR 2020, especially given the chaotic, Covid-ridden nature of that year, was a new edition by Cico Books of the Fallen Angel oracle cards. After they fell out of print a few years ago I had more emails about them than anything else - people wanting to know where they might get hold of a set. The price of new packs on eBay and elsewhere also rose to ridiculous levels. Which was very gratifying in a way. It's nice for something you've done to be appreciated; but much nicer still for it to be back in circulation for anyone with a few dollars to buy. The illustrator is Sarah Perkins, using atmospheric photographs by David Merewether taken at Nuneaton Cemetery in London.
Click on the cover for more
Also out in November 2020 (in the US at least, it took longer to reach other parts; my own copy only arrived in January 2021) is the wonderful book on the left. I had a very modest part in it. Copy-editing I suppose it's called. Olga herself wrote most of the text and her English is very good so all I needed do was give it a final polish. You can still hear her Russian accent and phrasing but I removed the more obvious translational glitches and had to guess here and there what was meant. Along the way I fell in love with both the art and Olga's story. She graduated first of her class at St Petersburg Academy just as the Soviet Union collapsed. So instead of the comfortable, if constrained, career she would have had on offer as an official Soviet artist she was thrown into the jungle of the capitalist art world. How she coped is the story behind the gorgeous paintings.
Click on the cover for more
PUBLISHED IN FEBRUARY 2018 was a third edition of The Dragon Tarot with the most fantastic illustrations by
Linda and Roger Garland showing dragons in all their splendour and variety. This pack was a real labour of love at the time, so it was a serious pleasure to see it back in action.
Click on the cover for more
Thanks to a fierce deadline it was also a labour of blood, sweat and tears, particularly for Roger who produced the bulk of the illustrations. Cruelly Roger died of motor neurone disease in October 2017. Click HERE for a tribute to him on the Tolkien Society website.
ALSO OUT IN 2018 was a second, expanded edition of the Big O book (see further down the page) first published in late 2014. That sold pretty well considering it was crowd funded and we had no real distribution network; but now it's been taken on by
Schiffer Publishing in the States.
Click on the cover for more
For this edition we reluctantly dropped one chapter on the grounds of irrelevance and added four more for the opposite reason, increasing it to just over 300 pages and making it a definitely clearer narrative - plus adding some brilliant new pictures. We (meaning Michel Fishel who did all the hard graft) also changed the format from predominantly black to pale backgrounds. The black did give pages a good period feel and set off the pictures nicely, but the book is actually now much easier on the eyes. Doing a second edition also gave the chance to remove many of the glitches that slipped through first time around. For a great review on Haute-Lifestyle.com click
It also gave a chance to add to my own section the first poster I had published by Big O. For complicated reasons I had lost all trace of it and only finally managed to track down a copy in Germany just a couple of weeks too late for it to be included in the first edition. Very frustrating at the time - but now it's there. Another bonus of the second edition is that it has a much more friendly price - $50 for a 304 page book packed with fantastic art.
A FASCINATING AND COMPLETELY UNFORSEEN DEVELOPMENT in 2016 began with an email out of the blue from Philippe Schober in Germany asking if I would mind if he developed an Android version of Fidchell - my speculative reconstruction of a lost ancient Celtic board game. Go to the GAMES page for more about it.
Well, I was delighted by the idea because a computer version is something I'd wanted for years. I was even more delighted when it turned out that Philippe and his team were in fact well advanced and within a few weeks had a working version available online.
One slight problem is that you need an Android device to download and play it on i.e. a mobile phone or tablet. You can get programs that let you play Android games on Windows or Apple but I've no idea how well they work. With Android you type Fidchell into the app store and it should pop up. Failing that you can just click HERE or on the picture above right to go directly to Philippe's site and try the game free for yourself.
THE ART OF BIG O was one of those wonderful instances of life coming full circle because Big O were my first real publishers. I'd had pictures published before but only on a small, local scale as in student magazines. Big O was an international company whose posters sold in the States and Europe and elsewhere. I'd been admiring many of them for years. They'd been almost the backdrop of our lives as hippy students from the late 60s on into the 70s; and they published three of my pictures as art posters that you can see on the right. Tap on them for enlargements.
Tap on the cover for more details. Alternatively,
HERE for a review. Or to hear me talking about why it was such a great idea click
The Art of Big O is a large 270 page lavishly illustrated book featuring many of the artists published by Big O - Martin Sharp, Roger Dean, Rodney Matthews, Mati Klarwein, HR Giger and others. I wrote or edited most of the text but the project was really the brainchild of Michael Fishel, another artist published by them in the 1970s, who was working on it for several years before I came on board. Much of the necessary funding was raised through Indiegogo, a crowd-sourcing website and much was saved by artists generously agreeing for their work to appear without payment. Copies of the book went on sale in December 2014 and it's still available alongside the new, expanded Schiffer edition. In the States you can get it from Amazon
In the UK the Winter 2014/15 edition of
magazine carried a nice article about the book. Click on the cover left for a PDF copy of the article.
All the artists we approached agreed to take part, including Roger Dean, Rodney Matthews and Jim Burns. Some are sadly no longer with us, such as Martin Sharp, Mati Klarwein, HR Giger and Bob Venosa but their estates gave the go-ahead for us to show their pictures. There are also artists whose work might be familiar even if their names aren't, like John Hurford, Terry Pastor with his David Bowie album covers and Binder, Edwards & Vaughan with their psychedelic shopfronts and cars.
Big O was kind of an offshoot of the famous (or infamous depending on your point of view at the time)
Oz magazine founded in London in 1967 by errant Australian hippies Richard Neville, Jim Anderson and artist Martin Sharp. Peter Ledeboer, Big O's founder and leading light, was the magazine's business manager who spotted the demand for psychedelic posters and set about satisfying it. Many early posters were simply lifted from the magazine, particularly Martin Sharp's wild portrayals of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Donovan and other current rock stars. Event posters continued to sell as artworks in themselves long after the concerts they promoted were over. The posters were everywhere and both reflected and encouraged the ferment of the time, which we also aimed to capture in this book.
THE MOST INTERESTING publishing adventure of 2011 was helping out with Bruce Pennington's first ever exhibition at the Atlantis Bookshop near the British Museum in London. If you're interested in esoteric subjects and the related art, as both Bruce and I have been since whenever, you'll appreciate the compliment this was. The exhibition was given a wonderful launch on 28 July 2011 with drinks and nibbles and an appreciative audience and ran throughout August. Tap on the poster left for more about both the exhibition and Pennington himself. Pennington is a long time friend and collaborator ever since I interviewed him for a book about his work for Paper Tiger, once one of the leading publishers of fantasy art books around. He also happens to live just up the road from me so it's easy to keep in touch.
THE CELTIC FAERIES BOOK below was published appropriately enough on 1 November, or Samhain in the Celtic faery calendar, and we gave it a launch at the
Faery, Angel & Healing Fayre 2007 in Penzance, Cornwall that weekend. Thanks to everyone who made this happen, especially Karen Kay who organised the event, because it was a beautiful weekend with the moon shining over St Michael's Mount out at sea, and you couldn't hope to meet a lovelier crowd of faeries.
Faeries of the Celtic Lands is a book I'd been wanting to write for over half my life and this chance finally came when my publisher Cameron Brown simply asked over lunch in the Chelsea Arts Club in London what I would most like to write about. Click on the cover for some sample pages.
Celtic mythology has long been one of my obsessions and although I've squeezed snippets of it into many books, the only previous chance I really had to concentrate on it was the 1999 book on Leprechauns I wrote for Wayne Anderson to illustrate. So this was a complete delight, even if it did mean that for months I was barely able to hold a sensible conversation about anything else with friends and family, let alone work colleagues. But, it still felt worthwhile because doing this book justice mattered more than anything else.
The aim of Faeries is to trace the origins of the Celtic beliefs about them back to the misty days of their first arrival in Ireland, apparently descending from the sky in flying ships and landing on the mountain tops amid a great cloud that shrouded the land for three days. According to legend they then ruled the country as gods for an age before being forced to retreat into a parallel world, or sail away westwards across the ocean like Tolkien's elves. From the earliest Irish records the tale is then taken up in the legends of the other Celtic lands - Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Cornwall.
At 224 pages the book is a fair bit longer than most I've had published, in proportion to my interest in the topic, though without anywhere near exhausting it. The idea is to give a kind of overview of the subject for those who are curious and even quite well informed about Celtic mythology, but daunted by its abundance and seeming chaos. Also to examine how the basically pagan ideas in the faerie faith nevertheless managed to survive and prosper alongside Christianity right up to about a century ago when other forces undermined the solid belief in faeries in the Celtic countryside.
For an interview about the book click HERE.
BY WAY OF CONTRAST, the follow-up published in autumn 2008 in a similar format is the book on vampires you see on the right. It wasn't quite as long in the gestation as Faeries but I wrote it on and off for about a dozen years and it was great to see it in print at last, with Bruce Pennington's original black and white drawings. In person Bruce is the sweetest and mildest person but he just happens to have a wonderfully gothic imagination and is at his best when depicting monsters and demons. To see a selection of his work visit his website
The drawings were originally commissioned by my good friend Tom Casey in Dublin. After making an unexpectedly good profit on a business deal he tossed up whether to buy himself a flash new motor or commission some original art and, well, you can see the result. I've posted some sample pages here if you just click on the cover.
For online reviews click
For an interview about the book click
HERE (scroll down the page).
The idea for doing this book first came from being asked to write an introduction for a reprint of Sabine Baring-Gould's classic 1865 Book of Werewolves, because I was taken by his curiously healthy angle on an equally morbid topic.
What impressed me was the fascinated but detached angle he took on the subject. There was something so refreshingly wholesome about it that I wondered if something similar could be done with vampires. So that is what I set about doing, hanging a rosary above my desk just in case. Curiously, many of the sources I delved into were the same as I used along the way for a book about Angels.
BELOW IS A HALLOWEEN TRILOGY that came out in the autumn of 2006. Plus one about unicorns that I got to do as a bonus. Each little book is just 96 pages long and about the size of a normal paperback but beautifully produced in hardback with a dust cover. Click on the covers for some sample spreads.