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
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…

Twenty Things People Hate About Fantasy

I adore fantasy, and let’s be honest, so do you.

Fantasy is the best-selling genre of all time.

But there are people who hate fantasy titles. Yeah, really there are…

So what is it about fantasy that drives people away?

I did a little research into this and I discovered twenty things that fantasy haters don’t like about this most popular of all genres…

What can fantasy authors learn from this list, shared below? Well, maybe they can ration some of the worst stylistic elements and features. Maybe they can listen to the criticisms and make reasonable modifications.

Or, quite the contrary, perhaps they should cram their stories with even more of what those haters hate! After all, they’ll never get it…  but the genuine fans will love those qualities!

Either way, it’s good to know the flip-side of opinion…

20 things people hate about  fantasy

1.      Too little romance or too much romance turns people off. Fantasies seem unable to bring that comforting balance of “just enough” romance
2.      Some think “only children” are instinctively drawn to fantasy worlds, so they have pre-decided that fantasy is “not for adults”
3.      Some people dislike stories that are told without rules or limits
4.      Some find the language (terminology) of fantasy somewhat inaccessible
5.      Some feel fantasy fiction does not focus enough on human experience and individual problems
6.      Some don’t like stories with so many characters to follow
7.      Some dislike prose with so much fussy detail
8.      Some do not have the imagination to immerse themselves in fantastic worlds, it’s just the way their minds are hard-wired
9.      Some do not feel their life requires the escapism that fantasy offers
10.  Some dislike the flowery prose of fantasy

[with thanks to Tom Gaul]

11.  Some dislike the arbitrary power an author extends over character and plot development (i.e. inconsistent rules or ill-conceived magic systems)
12.  Some are unable or unwilling to  “invest” in the span of stories that make up an epic fantasy series… some fantasies tend to go on-and-on
13.  Some  believe fantasy fiction is geared towards the male reader
14.  Skeptics (that’s to say, people who doubt  something is true and useful) say magic is unscientific
15.  The same skeptics say that magic is unrealistic
16.  Worse still, those skeptics say magic is not intellectual or sophisticated enough for them
17.  Recycled tropes are a bore
18.  For some, the sheer size of a single fantasy novel is intimidating (let alone a series of stories)
19.  Fantasy romance is considered unrealistic
20.  Conventional rules of reality can easily be bent or hot-wired by the author; this is seen as short-cutting plot and character development, and so this is “unfair”

Thoughts or comments? Tweet me @neilmach

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Listen to this topic on the Myth & Magic Podcast

Episode 51 on Apple here >>>

Myth and Magic 3D graphic

Myth and Magic – The Fantasy Fiction Writer’s Podcast

 

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Platoon Sergeant

The Hateful Full Stop

The Hateful Full Stop

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t use full-stops on your social media posts and texts…

In Poland they even have a term for it: “kropka nienawiści” (it means “dot of hate”)

Full Stop

In the same way that you shouldn’t use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS on posts and texts — because FULL CAPS is like the sender is yelling (we don’t need more yelling in our lives, do we?) — the full stop (or period, if that’s your bag) is about closing communication. If you use it, readers will ask: Why are they closing dialogue down? Don’t they like me? Don’t they want me to reply? Why don’t they want to open it up?

If you’re over forty, you may not “get” this, but it’s true, nonetheless. If you think about it, the words on a page (or screen) are just code. The end point of a statement or a command is a dot (written in code). If you don’t think of it that way (perhaps because you have been taught to respect “good old English grammar”) you might have to adjust your point of view…

Once you recognise that stopping dialogue with a dot on a page has immense power and is all about control, restraint and containment, you will understand how coercive and confrontational a dot on a screen can seem (to some).

Please note that I am not for a moment recommending that you abandon grammar in your formal written work. But is it sacrilege to live without full-stops when thumbing out a one-liner or delivering a speedy post?

I’m like you, I prefer good grammar. I think rules clarify things. However, you can ditch the full stop in the following examples:

* A full-stop ending means the termination of conversation. Is this how you want to leave things? If you want the conversation to continue, don’t turn it off by using a stop! A stop is like saying “end of”

* A full stop means end of to a Gen Z reader. She or He will interpret this as snappish. Did you mean to come over tetchy?

* If there is only one sentence in the message box, you may leave it unpunctuated

* If you finish a one-line post or text with an emoticon, you don’t need a punctuation as well 😃

* When reading (aloud) we use a point for pauses. If it’s a one-line speech, we won’t need a long pause at the end, right?

* A full stop goes at the end of a complete idea, but if there is only one complete idea to read, why is it necessary?

Words: @neilmach 2020 ©

Fancy polishing up your communication skills? Neil shares tools, tips and advice for voicing and expressing on social media on his weekly Max Expressificity podcast

Celestial Skyfish — Mysterious Flying Rods

Celestial Skyfish — mysterious flying rods

Are spooky flying rods captured on film some kind of temporal or transcendental celestial skyfish? Or are they an alien life form? Or an undiscovered species? Is there a more prosaic explanation?

Flying rods are elongated visual artifacts that materialize in night-time photographic images and especially in video recordings. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon, indicating that recent technology has advanced the documentation of these manifestations.

Some advocates of the paranormal have declared that what you are seeing (above) is an alien life form. Other groups propose that these mirror-like & diaphanous creatures are extra-dimensional.

Whatever they are, the flying animals appear to be thin, silver, and transient, with slender, elongated bodies and multiple wings. They are declared to be “evasive” and “super-fast.”

Pseudoscientists have asserted that these strange life forms are represented in petroglyphs (rock carvings) found throughout the world, which could suggest that prehistoric people could once “see” the cryptids (without technology) and wished to record their experience for posterity.

But, so far, this is what we know :

* Flying rods can’t be seen with the naked eye
* Flying rods happen at night
* Flying rods “appear” best when captured by video
* Flying rods are most obvious when captured with infra red film
* Flying rods become most discernible when running slow shutter speeds
* Flying rods are found in spooky places, such as cemeteries or ruins

What creatures fly at night, become discernible at slow shutter speeds and “haunt” spooky places? Investigators have concluded that the most likely explanation for the existence of flying rods is that they are visual illusions produced onto film by nocturnal flying moths.

Moths attracted by the floodlights set up at the Staging Grounds Swifts Creek Recreation Reserve

It’s comparatively simple to take flying rod photos for yourself… Moths attracted to floodlights  at the Staging Grounds, Swifts Creek Recreation Reserve

The rapid passage of an insect flapping its wings across the scope of a lens is assumed to develop a wand-like visual effect, because of motion blur (apparent streaking). Generally, energetic animals such as moths produce elongated afterimage trails when the flaps are caught on film. The rapid flapping of the wings produces the illusion of those jutting extrusions you see on the “spinal column” of the flying creature.

It’s comparatively simple to take flying rod photos for yourself. If you photograph a cloud of flying insects trapped in the sun and use long exposure, you will notice that a few insects are in focus (others are not) and when some insects fly sideways to your lens, they will appear as elongated flying rods in the image.

Words: @neilmach 2020 ©

Further reading:

http://www.assap.ac.uk/newsite/articles/Flying%20rods.html
http://www.research.swadlincoteparanormal.co.uk/r_rod.htm

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.

Talking Others Up

How to hand-out compliments on socials

Give kudos for effort

Give kudos for effort

Compliments are crazy-difficult to hand out. They can be a minefield of confusion if you’re not careful about what you are doing. What right do you have to judge the product or output of another person or give opinions about appearance and behavior?

Even if you have the best intentions, comments will translate as judgments or comparisons. So don’t use compliments willy-nilly. Be careful about using them at all. Choose, instead, to talk people up!

* Find something that’s gone unnoticed by others and comment favorably
* Using a name only takes a few keystrokes yet it is surprising how few bother with it
* Explain why you support a message and/or an intention behind the message to confirm you considered it carefully
* Give kudos for effort
* Interestingly, validations from a third party seem more important than those coming directly from you. Did some other person say something nice? Tell them who it was and what was said

Avoid compliments about a person’s physical presentation. Just because an individual looks good/sexy to you it doesn’t mean they want you to express it. And, anyway, it will come across as freaky if the person thinks you’ve been examining them a bit too closely!

Also, offering compliments to the opposite sex about physical appearance or clothing can make you seem creepy, seedy, or just plain dubious.

Remember: praise will lift your spirits — while it lifts theirs

Words: @neilmach 2020 ©

Fancy polishing up your communication skills? Neil shares tools, tips and advice for voicing and expressing on social media on his weekly Max Expressificity podcast

Max Expressificity Podcast

Max Expressificity Podcast

Dwight and the the D-K effect

What is Inner D-K?

Why are the most irritatingly ignorant people also the most sure of their opinions?

It’s the D-K effect…

You wouldn’t surprise if I told you that many stupid people think they are smart. But let’s be clear, self-confidence is crucial for human survival and is part of our evolutionary development as a species. But there is a famous adage: “The more you know, the less you think you know — and the less you know, the more you think you know...”

DK effect

the DK effect

In psychology, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive deviation from “the norm” where people with low ability overestimate their ability. But there is also a reverse effect that materializes when highly competent people underestimate their ability/performance (they put undue pressure on themselves, for example, to pass exams or get good grades) and this in turn gets them more qualified so even less sure of themselves.

Dunning and Kruger initially set out to test an hypothesis of ‘illusory superiority’ but what they actually found surprised them. They discovered that some of their subjects both overestimated and also underestimated their own abilities. Rather than confirming the original hypothesis i.e. inferior people believe themselves to be superior — in fact their test subjects were often (equally) susceptible to underestimating their intellectual capacity as they were to exaggerating it. Basically, it was established that when taken as a whole, the general population perceives itself as close to average.

D-K Club

D-K Club

So Donald Trump (to take a random example) suggests that his two biggest assets are: “My mental stability and being, like, really smart…” But he’s also likely to riff something along the lines of: “I’m not a doctor … I’m a person who has a good you-know-what…” (while pointing to his head).

Perhaps, on some level, we all struggle with some kind of internal D-K because expectation (and ego) are the main drivers of intellect and expression. If we do not develop overt self-confidence, it is very likely that we will fail in our chosen tasks. It has even been asserted that suggesting some people suffer from the D-K effect — while others do not — is like saying that some people suffer from fear, while others don’t.

So, be aware of your inner D-K and try not to let superiority/inferiority take over… Maintain the balance!

Words: @neilmach 2020 ©

Fancy polishing up your communication skills? Neil shares tools, tips and advice for voicing and expressing on social media on his weekly Max Expressificity podcast

Max Expressificity Podcast

Max Expressificity Podcast

How to awaken a gypsy nature

How to awaken your gypsy nature

A gypsy soul needs to be free and feel the breeze …

How to awaken your gypsy nature

Dance to your own hand claps…

A gypsy soul knows that life is not just about collecting points and grabbing belongings. Life is not about the ownership of material things. No, life is about wholeness and mindfulness. Life is about loving-kindness and transcending beyond a human body to move into the light. Life is about becoming the best spiritual being you can be…

But how do you do this when you are trapped within four walls, maybe for days, with an outside world that tries to manipulate your heart and with infiltrating weasels that sneak in (via the media and internet) to try to bring you down?

The answer is to be inspired by the ideas, attitudes and experiences that you find within yourself. Don’t try to prove things to anyone else — prove things to yourself.

Validate yourself in your own heart! And be unpredictable: Learn new skills, find enthusiasm in daily tasks, dance to your own hand claps (and dance frequently). And look for magic in ordinary things.

Above all: radiate sunbeams and good auras for your own good

Tips:

* Never follow the leader
* Never jump on a bandwagon
* Question what you hear
* Remember you are unique
* Embrace fairy tales and miracles
* Find new ways to do old things
* Channel angry energy into creativity
* Channel frustration into music, poetry, and art
* Be the boss of your own thoughts
* Be the treasurer of your own ambitions
* Have faith in your intuition, it is almost always correct

Comment below or tweet me @neilmach

Words: @neilmach 2020 ©

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.

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.

ABC

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.

EL PELÉ

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.

Ceferino

Ceferino

1: EL PELÉ

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

Settela

2: SETTELA STEINBACH

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

3: RODNEY “GIPSY” 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

PETR TORAK

4: PETR TORAK

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 & Magic Wildflowers Podcast

Myth and Magic — Herbarium of Magical Wildflowers

Herbarium of Magical Wildflowers discussed in the weekly Myth and Magic Podcast

Anemone — Episode 28
Belladona — Episode 05
Betony — Episode 26
Blackberry — Episode 08
Bluebell — Episode 29
Bulrush — Episode 09
Chili Pepper — Episode 02
Daffodil — Episode 25
Fat Hen — Episode 04
Henbane — Episode 33
Hops — Episode 11
Horse Chestnut — Episode 10
Mistletoe — Episode 17
Morning Glory — Episode 07
Neeps — Episode 13
Primrose — Episode 27
St John’s Wort — Episode 01
Sunflower — Episode 06
Violet — Episode 30
Wake Robin — Episode 15

ALL Myth & Magic Episodes HERE >>