Dark Arches

NEW YA Urban Fantasy — Out October 2020

Moondog and the Dark Arches by Neil Mach

Janney is a teenage librarian in a peculiar English feudal village. She possesses a remarkable ability: she can fly from her body and hook up with another person. In this state of detachment, she found herself trapped within another young woman who escaped from a pagan ritual, but then jumped off a bridge. Was this woman chased by a monster that had been sent by the evil priestess? Moondog, the preternatural detective, is called out to investigate these evils. Will he discover the truth? What invisible thing lives beneath the church? What is going on in the weird Vale of Amity?

PRE-ORDER this title now or, if you join the ARC team, you will get the novel sent to you FREE


Also out this October:

Loop Breaker

Loop Breaker

A Beacon and the Darkness (The Loop Breaker Book 1) by Russ Thompson

A tale of ghostly mystery and suspense… with the help of the town psychic Sixteen-year-old Lee Ann aids lost souls, helping them break out of a loop they are caught up when they constantly repeat the last moments of their lives.

Fireforged (Elemental Realm Keepers Book 1) by Ahava Trivedi

Orla Illy moves to Edge Rock Isle, a dreary coastal village in England and on her first day at school she gets drawn to the most arrogant and popular boy in school. But then she discovers that demons have abducted her mum… and they’re out to get her too…

Ruby Morgan
Lady of Avalon Part 1: (Ruby Morgan Book 9) by LJ Rivers

LJ Rivers is a pseudonym for co-writing Norwegian duo Linn and Jørn. The Ruby Morgan series are urban Arthurian fantasy novels that began with “Essence of Magic” and tell of half-fae Ruby Guinevere Morgan who has to keep one step ahead of the harvesters who hunt for her magical blood.

Chainbreaker Risen Shard
The Risen Shard (The Chain Breaker Book 1) by D.K. Holmberg

Trained to kill from a young age, Gavin Lorren finally escaped the life of the assassin to settle down in the city of Yoran, but there’s an ancient race with innate magical talent after him — the fast and deadly El’aras warriors — and it will take all of his talents to survive.

Ravens Abyss

Ravens Abyss

Raven’s Abyss (Trials of Darkhaven Book 3) by Ben Blackwell

The Darkhaven series finale that features Raven, a magical mercenary, figuring her life out, who works as a detective, aided and abetted by her cute dog, Octavian. In this episode she faces an onslaught of monsters…

ABC large

The ABC of British BIG CATS

Big Cat Encounters of the Third Kind

In the folklore of Great Britain, BIG CATS, also known as ABCs, that is, Alien Big Cats (Alien as anomalous rather than extraterrestrial) or sometimes Ghost Cats and Mystery Cats, are reports of bizarre or atypical felines seen or witnessed in the field. The media often report such sightings as “panthers” or “cougars” or simply “black cats.”

There is a disputed fringe theory that suggests that these beasts may, in some way, be surviving wildlife from the last ice age and it is interesting to note that lions certainly hunted prey, alongside tigers and jaguars, that also roamed Britain during the Pleistocene era (the Ice Age.) Fossils found in Yorkshire, Devon and London bear witness to “over-sized” lions that once stalked herds of giant deer and mammoths. These big cats are believed to have become extinct around 13,000 years ago.


Lions tigers and jaguars roamed Britain during the Pleistocene era…

But others have suggested that the ABC sightings are more likely to be exotic pets that have been (illegally) released into the environment, or large ‘farm-cats’ or zoological specimens that have escaped captivity. It is a fact that in 1980 a puma (a mountain lion) was captured alive in Scotland.

And there have been several verified accounts of sightings and/or remains found of Eurasian lynxes and the body of a jungle cat, hit by a car, found on the side of the road, in Shropshire in 1989. Other animals that have been observed include ocelots and serval cats. In 1996, in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland police shot a cat that was reportedly a caracal (also known as a Persian lynx). All these seem to have been released exotic pets.

One of the best documented reports of an ABC encounter was by the famous Rural Rides writer William Cobbett who reported seeing a lynx-type big cat (the size of a spaniel) at Waverley Abbey near Farnham in Surrey in 1770. On a later trip to Canada, he saw what he was told was a “lucifee” in native tongue (a North American lynx) and decided that it was exactly the “same cat” he had seen at Waverley. Is this account the origin of the Surrey Puma legend?

The so-called “Beast of Exmoor” is perhaps the most famous Alien Big Cat. Folklorists have long argued that ghostly feral cats haunt the South West of England. Sightings of the Exmoor big cat were first reported in the 1970s, although the beast became famous in 1983, when a South Molton farmer in Devon claimed to have lost more than 100 sheep to the beast.

It was thought that the creature could have been a cougar or a black leopard, judging from the wounds to the sheep (killed by a bite to the throat) and locals theorized that the cat had been released from a private collection sometime in the 1960s or 1970s (unlikely, as the lifespan of a cougar or leopard is around 12-15 years) and although there may have been escapees from private collections, it seems unlikely that a viable breeding population could ever have existed. Nevertheless, eye-witness accounts suggested that the animal was a large panther and capable of easily jumping 1.83-m (6-foot) hurdles.

Shortly after 1983, and in response to growing reports of livestock deaths and more sightings of the “Beast of Exmoor” the Ministry of Agriculture did the (almost) unthinkable and called in the military to take care of it. This was a significant turning point in the ABC’s history, because no one in authority had ever accepted or recognized that the big cat was a “problem” until that point.

So the Min of Ag ordered the Royal Marines to send snipers to the Exmoor Hills to capture or kill the beast. And, although some Marines claimed to have momentarily seen the enigmatic animal, they did not fire their weapons or collect any definitive evidence. The animal was neither captured nor killed.

Beast of Exmoor

Beast of Exmoor ?

During the hunt for the beast, the commanding officer of the Royal Marines was quoted as saying that the quarry behaved with high, almost human intelligence, and: “always moved with surrounding cover amongst hedges and woods...”

The Marines were recalled and thereafter attacks on local sheep reportedly increased! In 1987, the creature was linked to more than 200 farm animal deaths. More recent attacks were reported in 1995 and 2001, although the Ministry of Agriculture has now declared that the killings and sightings are either lies, myths or misidentifications of native creatures.

In April 2019, a large cat the size of a Labrador was spotted in the Cornish village of Harrowbarrow after the animal attacked a dog. That’s right — the cat attacked a dog! Residents claimed that five local domestic cats were missing and that a herd of deer no longer visited nearby fields. A large paw print was found, identified as that of a panther or puma by the RSPCA, and a few days after the discovery, a local girl, Becky Abrey, posted images of an ABC onto her site and reported her sighting to the local press.

@neilmach 2020 ©

Are there truly wild big cats roaming free in the UK, or are they merely constructed fantasies, misidentifications or false memories? See the trailer for the new documentary on the subject (below.)

The English novelist Neil Mach has gained widespread recognition for the creation of strong female characters and for compelling stories that often revolve around the themes of loyalty and duty.

His character MOONDOG is a Romani detective. He is called-in when other investigators hesitate. The detective inquires into things that lay “beyond normal human experience” where things hang in the balance between mundane and miraculous. In the novel Moondog and the Reed Leopard the detective is called to Groby to investigate a spate of BIG CAT attacks. The novel is OUT NOW.


Four Gypsy Heroes

The Roma people (also spelled Romani) often known colloquially as gypsies, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally made-up of nomadic travelers living mainly in Europe, although after a diaspora, Roma populations are found throughout the world. It is now accepted that the Roma people come from a single group of peoples who left the North Indian subcontinent around 512 AD.

Romani woman with German police officer and Nazi psychologist Dr. Robert Ritter

Romani woman with German police officer and Nazi psychologist Dr. Robert Ritter

Roma are widely known in English by the xenonym Gypsy (and Gipsies), which some Roma folk consider deprecatory.

Arising out of (a legitimate) fear of discrimination, most Roma choose not to register their birth or ethnic identity officially. There are an estimated 10 million Roma in Europe (as of 2019) with large Roma populations found in the Balkans, some central European states, in Spain, France, Russia and Ukraine. There are probably several million more Roma in other countries

During World War II, the Nazis embarked on a systematic genocide of the Roma, a process known in the Romani tongue as the Porajmos (meaning “the Devouring.”) Historians estimate that at least 500,000 and probably over 1 million Romani folk were killed by Germans and their nazi collaborators.

In post-war Czechoslovakia, the Roma were labeled as a “socially degraded stratum” and Roma women were sterilized as part of a state policy to reduce their population. Even in 2004, new cases of forced assimilation were revealed in the Czech Republic.




EL PELÉ was a Spanish Romani born in August 1861 in Aragon, Spain into a Romani family. Ceferino Malla’s father was a cattle-trader and so the family had a nomadic lifestyle, with Ceferino often going without food and having to resort to begging. Known for his integrity and sense of fairness, Ceferino became something of a leader in the Roma community in and around Barbastro in northeastern Spain. Folk sought his advice and mediation in family disputes. Ceferino was also called upon to resolve disputes between Roma and Spaniards.

One day a local landowner, suffering from tuberculosis, passed out on the street. Heedless of the danger of contagion, Ceferino carried the man home on his shoulders. The grateful family rewarded him with a sum sufficient to start a business of buying and selling surplus mules.

After becoming a member of the Franciscan Third order (a tertiary-type ‘friar’) in July 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Ceferino tried to defend a Catholic priest from Republican militiamen. Both men were arrested, to be imprisoned in a former Capuchin monastery, converted into a wartime prison. As he led a modest life and had no significant political influence, his family asked an influential anarchist and member of the Revolutionary Committee known as Eugenio Sopena, to release him. Sopena did everything possible to free him, but was told that Ceferino was influencing other prisoners by encouraging them to have faith and believe in God. Ceferino was strongly advised to give up his rosary and not to draw attention to himself or his Catholicism, but refused to give up his rosary or his faith.

The Republican militia (revolutionaries) shot Ceferina on August 9, 1936, in a cemetery in the Spanish city of Barbastro, along with 18 other people, mostly priests and believers. Before he was killed, he raised his rosary high to shout loud: “Long live Christ the King.”

El Pelé is now considered the patron of the Rom and Sinti peoples.




SETTELA STEINBACH (born Anna Maria Steinbach) was from Buchten in the Limburg area of southern Netherlands.

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. During the occupation of the Netherlands, over 100,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up and transported to Nazi extermination camps; only a few survived. In May 1944, a razzia (early morning police raid) against Romani families was organized across the whole of the Netherlands. 577 people were arrested and taken to Westerbork concentration camp ( the same camp that Anne Frank was taken to in August 1944.)

After the arrests, about 279 people were permitted to leave the camp once interrogation had been completed and the Nazi authority categorized them as non-Romani. But Steinbach and others were condemned. The ten-year-old’s head was shaven and, like other Romani girls and women, she was made to wear a torn sheet around her head to cover her baldness.

On May 19th, Settela was put onto a train along with 244 other Romani folk to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The carriages also contained Jewish prisoners. Settela and her family were gassed along with another three thousand Romani prisoners.

Settela Steinbach gained notoriety after the war when her image (shown above) was shown. The harrowing picture was associated with the pain and anguish of Auschwitz. The photo was taken for a movie about Westerbork transit camp made by the German photographer (of Jewish descent) Rudolf Breslauer whose own family was transported to Auschwitz in the autumn of 1944.

Gypsy Smith

Gypsy Smith


RODNEY “GIPSY” SMITH was born in a bender-tent in Epping Forest, six miles from London. Smith received no education and his family made a living by selling baskets, tin items, and clothes pegs though his father Cornelius mother Polly provided him with a happy Romanichal family upbringing. After his father became one of the “Converted Gypsies” that were involved in evangelistic efforts at that time, Smith taught himself to read and write and began to practice his preaching. He’d sing hymns to people he met and was known as “the singing gypsy boy.”

At a convention at the Christian Mission (later to be known as The Salvation Army) headquarters in London, the Methodist preacher and army founder William Booth noticed the Gypsies and saw the obvious potential in young Smith. In 1877 Smith accepted an invitation extended by Booth to be a “street corner” evangelist for the Mission.

Smith traveled extensively around the world on evangelistic crusades, drawing crowds numbering hundreds of thousands throughout an active life. Despite how busy he was, he never tired of visiting the Roma camps whenever he could on both sides of the Atlantic.

During World War I he ministered under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A. to British troops in France, often visiting the front lines. As a result of this undoubted heroism, King George VI made him a Member of the Order of the British Empire.




PETR TORAK is a modern-day hero. Born in Liberec in the Czech Republic (1981) he grew in a Roma family. In 1999 he and his parents sought asylum in the UK, after suffering violent attacks with political and racist motivations.

Petr volunteered in a solicitor’s office in Southend-on-Sea (he had studied law in the Czech Republic). And, after gaining a work permit, he found employment in fast food, factories and in supermarkets before joining Cambridgeshire Police in 2006 as a Community Support Officer. In 2008 and after further studies, Petr became a fully-fledged police officer with Cambridgeshire.

As a police officer, he worked in the city of Peterborough, a place with many east and central European immigrants and utilized his language skills (Czech, Polish, Slovak, Portuguese, English and Russian) to great effect. He became a project coordinator for a local organisation, COMPAS, which attempts to promote community cohesion, and is a trained mediator for ROMED, an EU funded project which trains mediators to help Roma folk communicate with local authorities.

Petr has also spoken-out against “modern slavery” and other issues affecting Eastern Europe migrants including young women being forced into sex work, and workers being exploited by gang-masters.

Petr is actively involved with the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association (GRTPA) that offers a network of support for Traveller and Romany police officers who often feel they are required hide their ancestry for fear of prejudice.

In 2015 he was awarded an honorary MBE (an MBE for non-Commonwealth citizens) for “services to the Roma community.” The award was made Substantive in August 2019.

Words: @neilmach 2020

English novelist Neil Mach has gained widespread recognition for the creation of strong female characters and for compelling stories that often revolve around the themes of loyalty and duty.

His character MOONDOG is a Romani detective. He is called-in when other investigators hesitate. The detective inquires into things that lay “beyond normal human experience” where things hang in the balance between mundane and miraculous. Moondog and the Reed Leopard is OUT NOW.

Myth and Magic EP 7 — Fantasy Writers Kitbag — Episode 7 SHOW-NOTES

Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.

CLICK HERE for >>> Episode Seven: 30M

This week I go high onto the moors and heaths, as I travel to Exmoor to explore how moorland habitats have been used by fiction writers to convey wilderness, wildness and magic. I learn about Pixie mythology and visit the ancient Moorland village of Withypool where Lorna Dorne was written. I think about using scrying in fantasy fiction plots and talk about floating timelines. I also examine ABCs also known as phantom cats or mystery cats. The magical wildflower of the week is Morning Glory.



What I’ve been up to – trip to Exmoor

EXMOOR is a picturesque area of hilly moorland in west Somerset and parts of north Devon on the South West Peninsula of England. The ancient 250 square miles of moorland is named after the River Exe. If you can picture the personification of Britain in the form of Britannia, facing the Atlantic, her left foot and ankle is the South-West peninsula.

For those listeners unfamiliar with a moor — we have several in the British Isles, we even have one here in Staines, about ten minutes from my home on the river , and in fact Britain has over 10% of all of the world’s moors — a MOORLAND is an upland habitat characterized by low-growing vegetation on acid soils. Moors are considered to be rare and vulnerable habitats and, in fact, Staines Moor has been almost continuously under threat from land developers and those who wish to exploit its minerals and natural resources. The new threat to my local moor comes from plans for Heathrow (airport) expansion.

Moors differ from Heaths (heathland) because they are generally on higher ground, have a less gentle topography, and have cooler and damper climates. Nearby to us is some famous Surrey heathland. Heaths are man-made and were probably manufactured habitats created about 6,000 years ago in the Late Stone Age and Bronze Age for agriculural purposes. They are still managed from grazing, even now, though they are normally kept as important rare habitats.

Exmoor was once a Royal forest and hunting ground and was designated a National Park in 1954 and declared an environmentally sensitive area in 1993. The coastline between Porlock and Foreland Point, which I explored on my visit, forms the longest stretch of coastal woodland in England and Wales. The scenery includes magical waterfalls, dark caves, rocky headlands and steep ravines. At Parracombe there is a neolithic henge, so we can guess the Moor has been inhabited since stone age times.

The moor is recorded in the Domesday Book (1087) and there is evidence that Sheep have grazed on the moor for more than 3,000 years. The area was center of the wool trade in the Middle Ages.

On my visit I saw Exmoor ponies (a distinct breed of pony) standing in groups by thorn trees. These are probably the oldest remaining wild horses in Europe.

Sightings of the famous “beast of Exmoor” which I will cover later in the show first started to be reported in the 1970s, though after 1983 and the loss of several scores of sheep (possibly a hundred) the government took action and sent-in the Royal Marines to hunt the elusive creature down.


Puck – an illustration from the title page of Robin Goodfellow: His Mad Pranks and Merry Jests

Pixies are associated with Exmoor. (Piskies are normally associated with Cornwall).Pixies are said to congregate on high moor and perhaps inhabit stone circles, barrows, dolmens and ringforts. They might also live underground in the spectacular caves seen in the area.

Pixie mythology is believed to pre-date the Roman invasion of Britain. In the early-Christian era the Pixies were said to be the souls of children who had died un-baptised. Later, in the 19th century, some historians suggested the name pixie was a racial remnant of the Pictic tribes who used to painted their skin blue. This theory has since been largely debunked.

Several Exmoor place-names are associated with Pixies and Pixie Day takes place annually in the East Devon town of Ottery St. Mary in June. The day commemorates the legend of the pixies being banished from the town (where they caused a nuisance) to local caves known as the “Pixie’s Parlour”

Zoologist Charles Spence Bate (an associate of Charles Darwin) stated his belief that: Pixies were evidently a smaller race, and, from the greater obscurity of the … tales about them, I believe them to have been an earlier race. (1873)

the English historical novelist Anna Eliza Bray who studied Pixies (1854 ) suggested that pixies and fairies were two distinct species of folkloric mythical creature.

J.M. Barrie’s Tinkerbell sprinkles “pixie dust” was she a pixie? And the nature-fairy Robin Goodfellow also known as Puck is said to be a friendly pixie.


Old Withypool Buttercross

Locus in Quo: Withypool

The word Withy means “willow” and WITHYPOOL is the “capital” of EXMOOR. Although it is a small village located on the River Barle with a population of no more than 200.

The area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age and a Stone Circle can be seen on Withypool Hill.

In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer was in charge of the village in his duties as forester of North Petherton.

R. D. Blackmore reputedly wrote part of of his new romantic novel Lorna Doone : A Romance of Exmoor (1869) in the bar of the Royal Oak Inn at Withypool. The author was raised in Exmoor, although he was born near to where I live, along the River Thames (in Berkshire) and lived most of his long life about five miles from here around the twons of Twickenham and Teddington. Nevertheless, Blackmore is considered to be an Exmoor artist and there’s even an area of Exmoor (Valley of the Rocks) near Lynton and Lynmouth that’s known to tourists as “Doone valley.”

In the 1930s the Royal Oak Inn was owned and operated by a retired a spy-ring leader named Maxwell Knight. He was a man known to the James Bond author Ian Fleming. It’s thought that Fleming based his “M” character on the publican — M is the Head of the Secret Intelligence Service in the James Bond novels.

Myth & Magic News – True Fiction

TRUE FICTION is a new series devoted to exploring just that. Each week we’ll take you beyond what you’ve seen on screens to explore what inspired the fiction we love. Hosted by actor Kurt Indovina, each episode investigates the origins of pop culture’s most compelling stories. Kurt speaks to experts to find the truths within the tales and to analyze how and why the stories have been imprinted on us and our culture.

But the TV show isn’t just about monsters and made-up universes. Even pop culture’s more grounded touchstones have fascinating histories, like the very real murder that served as the foundation for Twin Peaks, for example, or the tumultuous history that makes Jackie Chan punish himself for our entertainment.

You can see the True Fiction show on the GameSpot Universe YouTube channel. This is a YouTube portal that offers gamers recaps, features and episode breakdowns of their favorite TV shows and specializes in giving viewers some fun fan theories from successful shows.

The TRUE FICTION show begins this September 22 and the producers say new episodes will be released each Sunday.

The link for the TRUE FICTION show is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRgUg0jJUgGMadGPzzmu8cw

The Crystal Ball

The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse – 1902

Magic Word of the Week – Scry


Scrying is “seeing” or “peeping” into the unknown i.e. the future using a device, generally a Crystal Ball. In this respect scrying differs from:

* Clairvoyance – because this is seeing the future in visions, like Fiver does in Watership Down
* Augury– because this is predicting the future by watching natural signs, often birds in flight, like Romulus and Remus did before they founded Rome
* Divination – because this is prophesy using ritual i.e. tarot cards or bones. In my recent novel Moondog and the Reed Leopard, Moondog’s gypsy mother-in-law uses tea leaves to foretell her daughter’s fortune

Reflective, translucent, or luminescent surfaces are used in Scrying. Crystals, stones and glass are the favorites. Who hasn’t looked into a piece of colored glass and fancied they might have seen something unworldly?

A magic mirror is an often used as a plot device. The idea became popular in the Snow White fairy-tale, when a mirror on the wall was used by the jealous queen. The Wicked Witch of the West also uses a crystal ball in The Wizard of Oz movie.

Obsidian “candles” or Black Candles are used for scrying in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and the sisters scryed with crystal in the popular TV series Charmed.

Joseph (he of the Technicolour Dreamcoat fame) might have used a polished silver chalice for scrying, according to the Bible… A steward claimed a highly polished chalice was used for divination when it was planted in Benjamin’s sack. See Genesis.

Skeptics suggest that scrying is often the result of delusion or wishful thinking… therefore it can be useful plot device for a fantasy fiction author who might want to mislead readers into thinking of an alternative ending or want to suggest that a character is feeble-minded or open to wishful thinking. Think about using a crystal ball in your next plot…

One final thought on scrying: It might be considered an archaic and faintly ridiculous pastime, to gaze into a shiny mirrored surface and attempt to see if the future has anything to offer us or find out if someone fancies us… but according to Statista 2.71 billion people do some scrying every day. That’s about a third of the world’s population staring into a mirror to “see” the future and find out if they’re loved and who by… just a thought.

Fantasy Writers Definitions – Floating timeline

Five Go To Mystery Moor

Julian would have been thirty-three by the time the adventurers met for their final foray…

A floating timeline or sliding timescale is a device used by fiction writers in long-running serials to explain why characters age little or never at all over a period of time – despite real-world markers such as notable events or advents of technology happening around them. Many readers will be familiar with the concept through comic-book series. For example, The Punisher character meets Spider Man in a contemporary New York setting even though he is depicted as a recent Vietnam War veteran… in “real world” terms this meeting would have been circa 1962. Likewise, the Archie Comics characters are “trapped” within a 1950s retro- style Riverdale for over 70 years — never ageing beyond his time at Riverdale High even though the stories run from 1942 to 2015 (in comic book form) and beyond those years on television.

Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” series of novels, that followed the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne and (George) – and dog Timmy have twenty-one summer holiday adventures filled with picnics, rock-pooling, lemonade, and bicycle trips… though the five are perpetually youthful (though the oldest, Julian, eventually reaches adulthood from when readers first meet him, aged twelve.)

If Blyton hadn’t used a Floating Timeline device in her series, Julian would have been thirty-three by the time the adventurers met for one final foray, at Tinker’s field in 1963.

Castles, moors and smugglers rocks feature in many of the Famous Five stories. In “Mystery Moor” they camp with gypsies on moorland… but by 1963 (at the end of the series) the world of horse-drawn caravans, ghostly lights and smugglers dungeons had been replaced by an appalling “Real World” set of child murders (the so-called Moors Murders) a serial killing crime that appalled all of British Society. I remember that it felt as if they ( Ian Brady and Myra Hindley) had stolen-away the innocence of the post-war Britain.

JK Rowling famously disapproved of “trapping” her characters within a floating timeline. She wanted the Potter kids to experience all the pleasures and pains of growing up and developing in ‘real time.’

My Morning Glory

My Morning Glory – 18 September Staines UK

Wildflower of the Week : Morning glory

My Morning Glory is looking particularly magnificent as I do this podcast in the early morning sun on this cold yet bright autumn morning down near the River Thames, here in Staines, England. It’s the third year I’ve grown these magnificent blooms from seed. I’d prefer the blue blossoms, if I’m honest, but they don’t make any headway in the cool climate of Britain.

Plants from the Convulvus family with their funnel-shaped showy blooms include some useful ones especially the sweet potato. In the British Isles the common name for these plants is: bindweed

But the most showy members of the family are the exotic looking Morning Glories… In fact mine is Ipomoea sometimes known as picotee morning glory and these are extremely popular plants in Japan. Believed to have been introduced into the country from China or via Korea in the 8th to 9th centuries, city dwellers keenly grow new colours and they are often used as adornments along Temple roads.

Morning Glories tend to only unravel into full bloom in full and bright sun. Thus, their common name makes sesne. I’ve noticed that quite often my plant here in Britain loses all its blossoms by lunchtime.

The plants and especially the seeds are extremely toxic – though Aztec priests used the plant’s hallucinogenic properties in rituals. The seeds of morning glory can produce a similar effect to L.S.D. when taken in large doses…and give the user some lucid hallucinations.

If you grow morning glory from seed be aware that it can become an invasive species – all members of the Convulvus family tend to entwine, knot and bind other plants.

As well as belladona, jimson weed, and hemlock – Morning glory can also be used in the preparation of a Flying ointment


Do You Want to Be Interviewed on MYTH and MAGIC — The Fantasy Fiction Writers PODCAST? CHECK THE CRITERIA HERE

Moondog and the Reed Leopard


The man told her that he saw a huge cat-like beast with large padded feet and a long ginger tail. He said the hellcat prowled twenty feet from his hiding place, so he waited — like a pilgrim on his knees — in prayerful stillness.  He forgot all about his discomfort as the fabulous fiery animal skulked across the vista to bathe in a mysterious golden light. The man felt convinced the creature was a harbinger of some terrible future event.Extract from Moondog and the Reed Leopard

Reed Leopard

The Reed Leopard

A bored teenager seeks help from Moondog.

Moondog is a Romani detective. He is called when other investigators hesitate. He inquires into things that lay beyond normal human experience, and where things hang in the balance between mundane and miraculous. Moondog does not work well with others… But now he must join Hopie, because the citizens of Hugh-Lupus are tormented by a miscellany of evil.

Hopie admitted she got a kick from all the secret skullduggery and maneuvering involved… she felt thrilled to be permitted to join Moondog’s clandestine world — a world of double-bamboozling and slippery-slick chicanery.  On the other hand, she knew it wasn’t likely that she’d meet his expectations…Extract from Moondog and the Reed Leopard

The new low-fantasy / urban-fantasy full-length novel from Neil Mach is out now. Print Length: 435 pages File Size: 665 KB  

She’d experienced an indefinable moment. It had truly been one of the most electrifying happenings of her life. She knew she’d appreciate it forever, appreciate him forever…
Extract from Moondog and the Reed Leopard

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Moondog and the Reed Leopard by Neil Mach

Moondog and the Reed Leopard by Neil Mach

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