Meet the Author: July 2015

My mother and her lifelong friend, Jan

My mother and her lifelong friend, Jan

It’s July, and I’ve just had a fantastic treat. My friend Lara, who proof reads my novels, took me to see film maker Mike Leigh’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance for English National Opera. As a fan of Topsy Turvy (a film that follows Gilbert & Sullivan through the process of creating their operetta The Mikado), I was eager to see what he would do with Pirates. As it turns out, very little, or so it seemed to me. Even worse was the lack of sets; it’s basically a production on an empty stage. So why was it a treat, you ask? The orchestra was fantastic, as were the beautifully-crafted arrangements from which they squeezed every last drop of tonality. The same goes for the principals and the chorus, with special mention for the woman who trilled her way through the role of Mabel. An extraordinary voice. Given the lack of sets, I liked the way that they utilized the height of the stage, with people appearing unexpectedly at various levels: at one crucial point the whole audience burst out laughing, and with good reason. There’s an article on my website if you would like to read more about Gilbert & Sullivan.

“THAT loaf”—the ever-so-easy to make wholemeal loaf that tastes absolutely superb—is beginning to gain converts, and it still needs a name. If you’d like to put forward a suggestion, all you have to do is click on the comment button for the “Name THAT Loaf” post on my Facebook page. Something pickpocket-orientated to suit young Gooseberry, perhaps? As the name I’ll be choosing is for use in my forthcoming novel, Octopus, bear in mind it will probably need a certain Victorian resonance.

If you’re wondering about the extraordinary images used for the Send for Octavius Guy series, they are by the Victorian photographer John Thomson, and first appeared in the 1870s book, “Street Life in London”, a collaboration between Thomson and the journalist Adolphe Smith. Download a free PDF copy from the London School of Economics by clicking on the link. There are more than thirty of Thomson’s wonderful photographs, each accompanied by an article written by Smith, often giving fascinating background information about the people portrayed.

Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts – An Illustrated Guide to 19th Century Spiritualism draws to a close this month with The End of an Era, a look at how séances gave way to other forms of entertainment as the twentieth century dawned.

Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts

Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts normally retails for US$2.99 in most online stores, but you can still download it for free from When it comes time to pay, just use coupon code: TD22X. A word of warning: opt for the ePub version if that happens to be a format you can use; for technical reasons beyond my control it is vastly superior to the MOBI on offer.

Remember, you can always message me on the Contact Me form or you can send me an email. Both Malane, who designs this website for me, and I really look forward to hearing from you, and I will always try to respond.

Happy reading!
Michael Find me on Facebook.