From the Phil Rickman Appreciation Society Facebook page: Stephen Volk says “Delighted to announce that MIDWINTER OF THE SPIRIT, a 3-part drama adapted by me from the novel by Phil Rickman, produced by Phil Collinson, directed by Richard Clark, starring Anna Maxwell Martin as Deliverance Consultant Merrily Watkins and David Threlfall as her mentor Huw Owen, will now premiere on the main ITV channel.” On TV in the US by next year sometime, we hope.
More on Phil’s website: http://www.philrickman.co.uk/midwinter-on-the-box/

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And it’s getting some well deserved good reviews. How is this guy not a big star? My little 30 sec. flute part gets a couple of nods- a thrill.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Personal-Geometry-Candy-Seance/dp/B00T5QOALU/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1

Personal Geometry

Allan Watson’s new album, Personal Geometry, is finished- all fantastic songs. Free downloads at present from Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/allan-watson-1/sets/candy-seance-personal-geometry

I’m pleased to be on track 5, Mortlake, which is a short interlude guitar/flute instrumental. I composed my little accompaniment and sent a wav file across the seas to Scotland – well, several files, til we found one that sounded ok. My flute gets a little seasick, poor gal.

Mortlake, just outside London and on the Thames, is the home of Dr John Dee, scientist and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I.

Finally a new reviewer is picking up on the obvious, that abbey tapes is fantastic. And on p. 110, the two Lol Robinson albums get excellent reviews. Really happy that Phil’s and Allan’s books and music are getting some additional attention- and in the same issue as such revered musicians as Levon Helm, Ashley Hutchings, Wishbone Ash, David Crosby, Jimmy Page, and the Incredible String Band. Here’s Ian Maun’s review in Stick it in Your Ear: http://www.siiye.co.uk/E28/PAGE_116.htmlSIIYE_review_photo

I’m pleased that my flute part in “The Comb Song” is described as adding “hiraeth”, the Welsh word for longing, nostalgia, homesickness and mysticism to the song.

Check out other issues in this great little e-zine edited by Geoff Walls, UK music writer and a biographer of Ashley Hutchings.

These tracks from a John Peel session are on an LP accompanying the new biography of Drake. A couple of these had been on Youtube already, but the last two- which include a flute player- are new. As a flutist, I’m really happy to hear these- and to imagine the studio session. I’d guessed Lyn Dobson or Ray Warleigh who played on Bryter Layter but according to Youtube notes the flutist is Iain Cameron. There must have been scads of flutists hanging around London then. I’m looking for a guitar player to perform the N.D. songs with flute parts, but still no luck- anyone? http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDDS-ylPBPufS1pNMTRpLKRbNzOZmfGXT

Starbucks2014

Played a gig with Mark Merriman at Starbucks, Rock City Saturday night. We played Christmas carols plus our Beatles-Irish-eclectic mix. There was a big outdoor fireplace and nice folks listening in plus some of Mark’s friends and my good friend Betty who came along for company. Pleasant evening! The enchanted gardens were crowded but beautiful.

My favorite author- finally to be on the telly! ITV of Great Britain will film Midwinter of the Spirit in 3 segments. It’s the second novel in the Merrily Watkins series- and the first one I read – got me totally hooked. Really happy about Phil’s success. I only hope that PBS will pick it up to air here in the US eventually.
http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/11614216.Major_ITV_drama_to_be_set_and_filmed_in_Herefordshire/

Happy to see that ‘The Comb Song’ is featured as a teaser on Phil Rickman’s shop web page, along with ‘Tanworth in Arden’ from one of the Lol Robinson albums: http://www.philrickman.co.uk/the-shop/

And a review of Abbey Tapes is to come out in January in a folk rock e-zine…. stay tuned.

Angela's
August 22, 2014- I played a set with the brilliant Mark Merriman at Angela’s- an honor. I will join him again in the future for some gigs with his band Celtic Plain.

Just ran across a little essay I wrote about TKAM some time ago:

I think that one of my favorite quotations from To Kill a Mockingbird is on p. 298 in our version, where Miss Maudie says “…we’re making a step- it’s just a baby step, but it’s a step.”
This comes after the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1930’s Alabama. Atticus Finch, the attorney, defended Tom and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to all readers that Tom is innocent; but Tom is convicted, anyway. The novel came out in 1960 and has been lauded ever since as a great novel about civil rights.

I’ve re-read this book recently for “The Big Read” and even though this has been on my list of recommended reading for all graduates, I’m having some second thoughts about the book. Something is bothering me and I may not even know what it is until I start writing about it. I want to find some criticism by the likes of Toni Morrison or even Zadie Smith. What do revisionist literary critics have to say about this novel? And what do black readers think of it?

I think the film is quite different from the book: the film concentrates mostly on the trial and the race issue. I think most people are picturing the movie when they think so fondly of TKAM. The book, for me, was more a series of vignettes of small town life, only one of which is the trial. In fact, not much is said for almost 200 pages about the Tom Robinson issue. There is more about Boo Radley and Mrs. Dubose. By p. 284 the trial is over and then commences a lot of self-congratulatory stuff by the whites about how Mr. Atticus was such a good white man for defending Tom even though he knew he could not win. I think that this book was a terrific eye-opener for whites back in the 1960’s, but today, it just strikes us as too “our massuh such a good white man…”
The black people in the novel are 2 dimensional. The main characters are Jem, Dill, Scout, and Atticus. Even Boo Radley is more multidimensional than any of the black characters.
We hear that Tom has died in prison, shot by guards as he tries to escape, even though Atticus wants to launch an appeal. And then the plot returns to the children and Boo Radley. No problem really that Tom is dead as long as the white children are saved from the supposed white racist. In fact, blacks are compared to birds in that their deaths are akin to the senseless killing of birds. I wonder how this strikes African American readers.

The book gets a little preachy with the comparison to Nazi Germany- surely something that the white South needed to hear in the 1960’s but it seems a bit overdone here. Now the trend in fiction leans toward understatement, whereas this spends too much time laying it on the line.

I must not forget that in the 1960’s we were still baby stepping, and many such baby steps have been needed to lay the foundations for the day when this nation can see beyond racial lines enough to elect our wonderful new black president. This book was definitely a baby step along the way. And our country needs to take a whole lot more baby steps even now.

I’m not questioning Nelle Harper Lee’s racial sympathies. She was at odds with her peers, did not fit in with the sorority crowd at U. of A., and as a writer she was exposing some things that needed to be exposed. She agonized over the book, rewriting it 3 times. She poked fun at the missionary ladies in the living room going on about the savages in Africa being saved by some white Christian guy. She made fun of having to become ladylike. I could identify; I used to plot how I was not going to wear girdles or slips or hose when I grew up! She really pointed up a lot of hypocrisy in the lives of Southerners and probably many North Americans. I respect her for that. She was a bridge between Harriet Beecher Stowe and Toni Morrison. She wasn’t trying to portray the African American experience, just the white experience of that era. She may have been caught in that space of time that many of us well-meaning whites in the South were caught in: the time between consciousness and action; between realizing our mistakes and doing something about them; between Martin and Malcolm. And something tells me that the book has outlived its usefulness other than for historical purposes, and that another better American novel should take its place as the lesson in black/white relations. So- I wonder what it could be…… and it isn’t The Help.
Julie Adams


I’ll be playing some flute tunes with this great guitarist soon- Mr. Mark Merriman! He’s performing at Angela’s in Athens August 22 at 7 pm. We will do a few Irish tunes, a couple of original numbers, and perhaps a jazz tune. I’m a lucky flutist!

I’ve put together a video for ‘The Comb Song’ from abbey tapes- I hope it does it justice. I’m such a fangirl. Plus a chance to include a pic of me, of course. Please share and if you don’t have it already, get the CD from Terry at cottageindustries@ledwardine.co.uk or download from Amazon or iTunes.
The music by the haunted bandmates in the novel December by Phil Rickman… a unique fusion of fiction and music.

Monochrome in kodachrome. Promo video for Allan Watson’s new book.

My Amo review! Five star, of course.
I was hooked from the start by this unlikely band of paranormal investigators visiting an abandoned Scottish castle. Some grisly executions take place that night and we’re treated to visitors from parallel worlds, a female avenger, a movie star with a secret life, and some freaky killing machines. If you’ve read Allan Watson’s other books, you’re already hungry for this next novel; if you’re new to his work, well, hang on for you are in for a treat. No one can top his creative and lusty imagination laced with humor with a spatter of blood. Tying it all together are his masterful storytelling style, his innate pacing and foreshadowing, those quirky but appealing characters and his poetic insights into the dark of the soul. Don’t miss his description of that universal fear, the dark — ch. 7.

The next Allan Watson novel is due to be out on Friday, June 6 on Kindle and via Lulu!!
Monochrome cover

As Allan’s proofreader, I can attest- it’s awesome! He’s a master of storytelling, pacing, foreshadowing, and insight. And Caitlin Sagan’s great cover is just perfect. Get it!

Here’s the blurb: When Harry Flanagan accepts an invitation to spend a dull Sunday evening ghost-hunting in Glasgow’s notorious Hagen Castle, the last thing he expects is to be caught up in a brutal double murder when two of his fellow ghost hunters are slain in a grotesque fashion. It gets all the more troublesome when the killer appears to be targeting the remaining members of the ghost hunters, picking them off one by one. Then a multi-millionaire movie star, Chaz Mogg, becomes obsessed with the murder-spree and claims to have knowledge the killer is an assassin from a fabled hidden world known to the initiated as Monochrome. To complicate matters further, a shadowy figure who calls himself the Administrator, and who might just be the most powerful man in the world, is also taking a keen interest in the proceedings.
Monochrome is an amalgam of disturbing chiller, cabalistic mystery and religious fantasy bound together with dark wit and devilish humour – where infernal killing machines rub shoulders with broken-demons, metaphysical stormtroopers, murderous clerical lackeys and garrulous ghosts.

My latest review for Monster Librarian: Ravenswing: A Halloween Adventure, by Jonathan Glendening

http://www.monsterlibrarian.com/TheCirculationDesk/?p=3282

On Halloween, Michael is assigned to deliver a package to the mysterious address “Ravenswing” by midnight… or lose his courier job. Even his pregnant girlfriend’s Halloween party mustn’t keep him from his appointed rounds, so off into the wilds of rural England he goes. En route, he collides with another car, rescues an injured girl from the wreckage, and is then pursued by her captors. Meanwhile at Ravenswing, the forces of evil are aligning to restore the sarsens of an ancient stone circle sitting on powerful ley lines. Glendening’s origins as a film director are evident, with enough action-packed chase scenes, shotgun blasts, spectacular explosions, murders and blood to satisfy a Die Hard addict, and the clash of Celtic, Christian, and Satanic lore makes for a particularly gory and spine-tingling climax. The hero is a lovable guy, worrying about his girlfriend, his unborn child, and the girl he has promised to protect. This first novel by a guy with a brilliant imagination is one to watch. A little polishing of prose and punctuation would have it ready for prime time.

Very sorry to hear of the death of Dylan Kowalewski, AKA The Monster Librarian. I’ve been reviewing for Monster for the last few years. Condolences to his wife Kirsten and his family. A lovely memoriam by Kirsten is here: http://www.monsterlibrarian.com/TheCirculationDesk/
I hope the site continues as good horror reader’s advisory.

The Monster website: http://www.monsterlibrarian.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MonsterLibrarian

“Reckless Jane,” a song co written by Nick Drake and Beverley Martyn, is on Martyn’s forthcoming album, and you can hear it on SoundCloud. Gives me chills- I feel that Nick is still among us. See the link on this article:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/unheard-nick-drake-song-released-40-years-after-singers-death-9229508.html

I’m putting some of my flute recordings with friends or on my own on SoundCloud. Click on the white/orange Play on SoundCloud link on the right of the picture to see all the tracks (as opposed to this viewer that only shows the first few.) Faves are The Comb Song, The Water and the Grain, The Lady of the Runes.

My recent review for MonsterLibrarian- a lovely book, haunting and highly recommended!:
I Have Not Answered by Adam Grydehoj
Beewolf Press, 2014
ISBN 9788799633104
Available: Hardcover, paperback and Kindle from Amazon
A young man has come to the remote Shetland Islands to search for an obscure folk song based on the Orpheus myth to complete his university studies. He befriends some local families, hoping they will sing the song and reveal its ending. He is broken-hearted from one love affair but kindles a new one here. He learns of the natural and supernatural history of the island, the selkies, the fairies (called trowies), and the tragedies of this remote existence. The narrator, you slowly begin to realize, is one of the trowies herself, with her unique viewpoints on humans and their foibles. He becomes part of the filmy fabrics that shift between realities on these battered, lonely islands. Reality, memory, dream and landscape meld into one. How much of our lives is controlled by the trowies and their whims, unbeknownst to us? The poetic prose and stark, eerie imagery is mesmerizing. Grydehoj is a Dane whose affinity for the Scottish islands is evident. This book appealed to me on so many levels, that of Scottish islands, Celtic legend, folk tales and music, supernatural beings … combs… harps… it’s uncanny. I recommend this haunting, beautifully-written tale for like-minded readers!