I am absorbed in the second novel about Angel Mountain at the moment and have just looked up Brian John on Wikipedia. He is in fact a serious scientist and is a leading light in GMFree Cymru. I believe the Angel Mountain saga was his first foray into fiction.
The stories begin at the end of the 18th century and we hear much about the French (and their failed invasion of Fishguard and the surrounding area) and Bonaparte so it's by no means insular and there are some violent and shocking scenes. The setting is Carn Ingli in Pembrokeshire and, having loved Newport (Parrog especially) and Nevern from childhood, it's very enjoyable to read these tales and have at least an idea of what the area looks like.
The first novel, On Angel Mountain, starts with the finding of diaries written in Dimetian Welsh, an archaic dialect. The diaries are the record of the life of Martha Morgan (nee Howell), mistress of Plas Ingli. We learn about the poverty of tenant farmers, the cruelty and machinations of landowners and how life was conducted generally in that time. There are arguments about education for the poor and this is a time when non-Conformists are rising in number.
There are two lawyers mentioned regularly, Lewis Legal and Will Final Testament; these are just two of the delightful names given to people whose surnames are ubiquitous, so you have Davy Death (who makes coffins) and Havard Medical, the Newport doctor.
I recommend the books as a very good read as well as shedding light on that part of Wales (Little England beyond Wales) in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I'm impressed too that Brian John is so successful in writing from a young woman's point of view.
Thanks Gaynor -- glad you are enjoying the books. Not easy for a man to get into the head and the heart of a feisty and sexy female heroine, and to describe everything through her words! So that was a great challenge -- but now that I've written 8 books about Martha, I'm pretty familiar with her! (And my wife Inger reads everything as I write, and puts me right where she feels that I have got things wrong....)
The new novel, called "Conspiracy of Angels" will be out on 1st March, all being well. Just now it's being read by my 5 referees -- if they like it, then it will be published. If not, I have a problem!
Ooh, I still have some to catch up on, Brian. Martha is absolutely convincing so you have no worries there. Writing from the point of view of the opposite sex (even if not in the first person) can be very successful; I think of Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), Donna Leon (the Guido Brunetti series which I love), Barbara Nadel's Inspector Ikmen stories and Susanna Gregory's addictive Matthew Bartholomew tales. I'm sure you won't get a red card from the referees anyway!
Just a quick update -- "Conspiracy of Angels" (Vol 8 in the series) will now be out on 9th April (Easter Monday). The text is ready for the printers, and I'll post up the cover on the site soon. Thanks for your interest!
Oh, good news. Any hope of dramatisation of the books yet? Much better than blydi Downton and Upstairs Downstairs!
Thanks Gaynor -- sadly, BBC Wales has just replied and given me (ever so politely) a brush-off -- they said " it would be difficult to transform the books into a major drama piece." What on earth is that supposed to mean?! They didn't even invite me up to Cardiff for a discussion. I'm not impressed......
What a let-down. Aside from money issues, there's no one with the guts or imagination to make the sort of programmes we took for granted 30 or more years ago. I agree with John Hurt on that. When you look at dramas like I Claudius and the plays that were broadcast each week back in the 70s and 80s, it's really sad that we won't see that sort of thing again. I've got the DVDs of I Claudius and I think even then the budget was about 5 bob (they only had about 3 sets) but it was brilliant.
BBC Wales has an excellent drama department -- no doubt about that. But I suspect they are flat out with BBC blockbuster series like Dr Who, Torchwood, Upstairs Downstairs, Merlin etc -- with all the key producers and directors flat out on their own pet projects. I know nothing about the internal politics of BBC Wales, but it is probably the case that everybody in there is protecting his / her own corner, and fighting for pet projects. So there is probably no room for projects coming in from outside -- since there is no internal advocate. It's all to do with advocacy! Sadly, I see no sign of any Welsh dimension to BBC Wales drama policy -- the team has evolved into a team making network BBC drama series for sale across the network and in the international marketplace.
Yes, I agree that BBC Wales seems to have a successful drama dept. I've never watched Merlin as I'm convinced it will be a load of rubbish! Why no one has dramatised Mary Stewart's wonderful Merlin trilogy, I'll never know - it's even set in the correct historical context. None of that helps you. We must remain hopeful, whatever happens.
Help me out a little, please. I got a little confused. Having re-read your 'back-and-forths' a few times, I think I know have it straight! Here's what I read:
Gaynor says: "I am absorbed in the second novel about Angel Mountain at the moment . . ." and "The first novel, 'On Angel Mountain', starts . . . "
Brian says: " . . . but now that I've written 8 books about Martha . . . " and later, "The new novel, called 'Conspiracy of Angels' . . . (Vol 8 in the series) will now be out on 9th April (Easter Monday)".
As I deduce - correct me where (if) I'm wrong:
Brian has now written 8 novels (one in each of 8 volumes) centered around a character named Martha - and all to do with this place called Angel Mountain. One, I presume the first of the seven already published volumes is the first book about a place called Angel Mountain and is titled 'On Angel Mountain'. The eighth (of those 8 volumes) is also about this place, Angel Mountain, and is titled 'Conspiracy of Angels'.
My questions are:
1. What are the titles (and sequence - publication dates) of all 8 volumes?
2. Am I to assume that it is Volume II (titled ??) in which Gaynor absorbed?
3. Where - and in which formats (HdCv, PpBk, Kin) may they be obtained?
On a side note:
I found both the 'Downtown Abbey' and the 'Upstairs, Downstairs' series to be very enjoyable an intriguing in many facets - costumes, furnishings, history, societal relationships and the individual romances and dramas associated with the characters. What aspects of those series did you find 'not tio your satisfaction'?
Afternoon, Jack. can't have you being confused, can we? Here is the full sequence:
On Angel Mountain (Part One), Greencroft Books 2001. ISBN
9780905559803. A5 paperback, 328 pp, £6.99.
(also Corgi edition 2006)
House of Angels (Part Two), Greencroft Books 2002. ISBN 9780905559810.
A5 paperback, 432 pp, £7.99. (also Corgi edition 2006)
Dark Angel (Part Three), Greencroft Books 2003. ISBN 9780905559827.
A5 paperback, 432 pp, £8.50. (also Corgi edition 2007)
Rebecca and the Angels (Part Four), Greencroft Books 2004. ISBN
9780905559834. A5 paperback, 432 pp, £8.50.
Flying with Angels (Part Five), Greencroft Books, 2005, ISBN
9780905559841. A5 paperback, 400 pp, £7.99.
Guardian Angel (Part Six), Greencroft Books, 2008, ISBN 9780905559865.
A5 paperback, 256 pp, £6.99.
Sacrifice (Part Seven), Greencroft Books, 2009, ISBN 9780905559902. A5
paperback, 352 pp, £7.99.
Conspiracy of Angels (Part Eight), Greencroft Books, 2012, ISBN
9780905559933. A5 paperback, 352 pp, £7.99.
The first three volumes were also published by Corgi, and they may still be available in the US through Amazon and other sources. Watch this space -- Kindle and other Ebook versions will follow shortly.
I agree with you about Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs (the new series started last night) -- I am a great fan of both! Cleverly written and beautifully produced -- perfect Sunday evening viewing. But they just aren't WELSH!! In a perfect world it would be nice to see BBC Wales doing series such as those AND some decent drama set in Wales, and coming from Wales.
Thanks for setting a fellow geologist straight, Brian. So, maybe Gaynor's apparent disdain (we'll let her clarify that one!) of Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs was nothing to do with their content or production, but merely a jab at BBC for not producing a series about (or set in) Wales? We get to see those programs here via BBC America, so the BBC Wales aspect of your dialogue (regarding those series) had no significance to me. However, I can understand any Welsh novelist being disgruntled if his/her 'national' TV falls short in aiding recognition of their productions.
I should endeavor to seek out 'Part I' - 'To begin at the beginning' so to speak.
Keep up, Swansea! Hope it's all crystal clear now. Just a note to Brian that I really regret putting my book on Kindle - it's worked out as being expensive for me. I'm doing my next one on Smashwords - the book will be readable on pretty much every type of e-reader.