ON THE BBC: Glenn Martin James reading ‘Hugo and the Werewolf’ on the BBC Radio Stoke Breakfast Show on Halloween
31st October 2019
There is a cracking broadcasting session coming up for fans of Glenn’s work, as he will be reading excerpts from his latest novel on the BBC on Halloween.
In a return engagement for the spookiest day of the year, Glenn has been asked to return and perform a spooky Halloween story on the Breakfast Show, for BBC Radio Stoke. The author has just finished writing his first children’s ghostly adventure story, “Hugo and the Werewolf”, and will be performing three sequences from the upcoming book on the air as a sneak preview of the story.
Hugo has a real history, as it was the first-ever story written for schools in his “To-Be-Continued” series, and its the first of the series to be adapted as a full-on novel. The story is for children of 8 years of age and upwards, and follows the events which develop when an 11-year-old boy called Hugo Keeling stumbles upon a Lycanthrope being held captive in a deserted house. Almost before he can draw breath, Hugo is caught up in a deadly chase across Staffordshire with his new friend, pursued by the vicious dark werewolf, Crackfang.
Hugo was written originally for the children of Ellison Primary Academy, in Wolstanton, Staffordshire – the book carries a dedication to all the children to whom Glenn has performed the story across the UK, but in particular to the children of Ellison, past and present. It is also dedicated to Mrs Janine Carpenter, Science Lead of the school, who has proofread and edited the book for Glenn. (She is kindly writing a foreword for the book.)
The Breakfast Show is presented by Liz Ellis and John Acres, and Glenn will be on the show between 07.00 and 08.00 am in the morning. The link to listen to the show online is as follows.
Book Releases: ‘Hugo and the Werewolf’, and ‘Mr Wells and the Aliens’
At the time of writing Glenn is working on a book promised to primary school children with some anticipation: “Hugo and the Werewolf”.
Hugo’ was the very first story written by Glenn for his practice as a storyteller in schools, and was the first of his “To-Be-Continued” tales. These stories build up from a quiet, everyday event to a point of high drama, and then the author stands back and says to the children, “Okay – this is where I pause and YOU take over… What happens now?”
These stories have been a huge hit with children up and down the country, and for longer than he can remember, children have asked him how the story ends. Well, now they will have an answer! More details will be announced soon.
“Mr Wells and the Aliens” is also an upcoming story derived from one of Glenn’s “To-Be-Continued” tales, and it will focus on the historic link of H.G. Wells with North Staffordshire, which inspired the author so greatly in his summer work and displays of Steampunk Martians. The book will be due out in April and we will keep you up to date with developments.
Dracula Book Update
The book Glenn is writing on the many faces of Dracula is temporarily on hold as the author is waiting to add a new and exciting chapter, following recent announcements by the BBC.
They are working on a new upcoming adaption of “Dracula”, a television series starring Claes Kasper Bang, the Danish actor and musician, as the Count, and written and produced by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.
Both Moffat and Gatiss have made a considerable mark on the TV series Doctor Who, and Sherlock, so naturally with such a formidable team working on the show Glenn wishes to add a section on the count as played by Mr. Bang. (Not a name you hear every day!)
At the time of writing a date has yet to be announced for the show to air, but the author is in touch with the producer about penning a chapter on this new face for an ancient vampire. We will keep you up to date with developments.
Glenn’s Charter Added to Guildhall Heritage Display
The “charter” made by Glenn Martin James for the performance of Newcastle-under-Lymes Mock Mayor, during September 2019, has been added to the heritage display of Newcastle Guildhall as a heritage item. The charter is on permanent display in the foyer of the Guildhall, which is open to the public from 10-5pm Monday to Saturday every week.
The charter was made as the ‘clerk’ in the famous Mock Mayor painting is carrying a “town-charter” written on a huge roll of leather, a tongue in cheek reference to the historic town charter granted to Newcastle by King Henry II in 1173.
The charter made by Glenn for the performance was taken from the medieval Charter of Newborough, in its original Latin, and a document provided by Medieval Historian Dr. Roger Joy. Approximately 12 feet long, its composed of offcuts of leather fastened together in one long roll, with the proclamation written on the rough untreated surface, rather than the polished side.
It is written in Gothic script painted in black acrylic paint, and illuminated with blue and yellow acrylic. It incorporates a painting of the seal of Newcastle, taken from the tiled floor of the Guildhalls entrance, and the name of King Henry II. There follow some photographs of the finished article.
The Mock Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme
September saw a very special event in the career of Glenn James, and one he was extremely honoured to have been involved in – The Mock Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme. This historical event goes right back to the middle ages, and has not been held since the 1870s – until now. The Mock Mayor started as a protest, when the Burgesses of Newcastle lost their right to elect a Mayor of their own choice, and so decided to hold a sarcastic parody of the real Mayors ennobling service. They would choose the most disreputable person they could find to act as mayor, and held a procession to the Market Cross. The Mayor was ennobled with a big sheep’s fleece (in place of the long ceremonial wigs which used to be worn) and given the branch of a tree as a staff, a horses tail as a flail, and for their chain of office, the keys of the jail were hung around their neck. The lady mayoress was a man dragged up in women’s clothes (like a panto dame), the Mace Bearers carried big cabbages on sticks, and the ‘town-clerk’ carried a big hide of leather with the ‘town-charter’ inscribed on it. Historically this would get really riotous and quite spiteful, and the mayor usually wound up in the stocks. But the event quickly became a genuine Lord of Misrule festival, which was hugely popular – in the style of the ancient Roman Saturnalia, everyone had a days holiday and everything was turned upside down, with the pubs issuing free food and drink, and the shops giving out free pipes and tobacco.
The whole town looked forward to this event, and the Newcastle Mock Mayor became one of the most well known and celebrated events of its kind in Staffordshire. So much so that Joseph Mayer, a former Mayor of Newcastle, commissioned Robert William Buss the artist to paint a picture of the event in 1844. The Mock Mayor event was held annually for 320 years, and has not been held since the Victorian period…. up until now.
As part of the celebrations for Heritage Day, (and the 2019 theme of People Power) the Friends of the Guildhall and the GROW Festival commissioned Glenn to write and direct a performance of the festival, for the first time in 150 years.
Lasting half an hour, the event took place at midday on the 21st of September and featured a cast of 9 volunteers from the Friends of the Guildhall and Penkull Mystery Plays, with Glenn and Angela Marie James kicking off proceedings in their guise as time-travelling reporters, giving an introduction and some background to proceedings. They were aided hugely by the Middleport Drummers who gave very fine bugle fanfares for the event and proclamations, and by photographer Amanda Dixon who photographed the event. Glenn worked on the event alongside Jayne Fair of GROW (who produced many of the costumes, and the excellent wig sported by the Mayor) and Hilary Jones of the Friends. Glenn took his inspiration from the famous painting (on show in the Brampton Museum and Art Gallery) and aimed to recreate the scene on the day.
After weeks of heavy rain, they were blessed with hot Indian Summer weather and the whole thing ran like clockwork, with an estimated crowd of 150 watching the show, and a reporter present from The Sentinel. The event was attended by Simon White, the current Mayor of Newcastle (who was an enormously good sport) and Mr Ian Dutton CBE, the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire.
The cast included Christine Mallaband Brown as the Mayor, giving a fine tongue in cheek authoritative performance, and Richard Brown her husband doing an unforgettable turn as the Mayoress, with the following speech:
“Well said, Duck! My husband and I look forward to Progressing through the Borough, these twelve months, lodging indefinitely with every man jack of you, and so do our twelve children! And my Nanna! Don’t go to any trouble – the best of everything will do fine! I shall personally look forward to becoming custodian of the keys for all your wine cellars, and strong boxes! I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but cross me and you’re for it!”
Chris Mayor played a fine and hilarious grumpy clerk, and Gabriella Gay, the much loved and noted poet played the Mock Bellman: Her airy and dignified pose worked brilliantly alongside Peter Shores cheeky potteries Mace Bearer, looking over her shoulder and interpreting the Mayors commands! Peter and fellow Mace Bearer Sylvia both sported very silly curling grease paint moustaches, and conducted themselves marvellously, with their cabbage staffs. The cast was completed by father and son duo David and Robert Noble, respectively as Billy Punky (who was a notable eccentric of the town) and a chimney sweep who empties a bag of soot over his worship. Rob actually threw handfuls of black confetti over the Mayor, as if at a wedding, and it worked wonderfully.
Angela and Glenn hosted the event and robed the mayor on the cross, and Angela carried out her role with a grin and mischievous authority. It was extremely well received – the weather was perfect and the whole performance went off without a hitch. Everyone played their parts perfectly, and the event was so well received, that Glenn has been asked to stage the performance annually.
This is an important part of the heritage of the Midlands, and we are very proud indeed to have been asked to stage the event, and to stage it annually going forward.
There follows a series of photos from the event, and they key explaining who everyone is in the original artwork. All photos are copyright of Amanda Dixon, who assisted tremendously in chronicling the event.
War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells in the Potteries
Martian War Machines invaded Newcastle-under-Lyme at the height of summer 2019 – and not only that, they actually invaded the town twice! The appearance of the pesky Martians was so successful on the day of the QV200 celebrations, that Glenn was asked back by popular demand to restage the display at the end of the month, returning on the 29th of June. This was part of the prestigious Philip Astley Homecoming event, staged in Newcastle biannually, and was an enormous honour for Glenn and Angela. For the uninitiated, Philip Astley was the founder of the modern circus, a figure of enormous historical renown and significance, and the great Georgian impressario if Newcastles most famous son. Founded by internationally renowned illusionist Andrew Van Buren, (of Silverdale in Newcastle) the event is managed by the Philip Astley Steering Group.
Glenn and Angela were back as Mr. Wells and his long-suffering host, Mrs Burton of Victoria Street, to meet the crowds and explain all the about the regions important link to one of the Fathers of Science Fiction.
The Martians had developed considerably and were on full display. Standing four feet high, they were built in steampunk style and were constructed around Camera tripods, carrying through the Roman inspiration for their armour and built from recycled materials. They had come a very long way from the small scale model built by Glenn and his daughter Elizabeth, when working out the design. These were constructed with solid slip-on feet built around rubber balls, in the shape of Caliguli (Roman sandals), and had large cabs framed in the style of Roman helmets, with large 3D plumes designed to be solar panels. The solid soldier’s skirts were made from foam board and mounted around the base on velcro, and the legs were coated with pipe insulation. The guns were CD’s mounted around a crystal topped pen, and the Martians themselves were cut from leather and built around polystyrene balls. They were extremely effective, and the carefully applied layers of varnish and gold paint gave such a convincing impression of a metal structure that people were astonished when Glenn explained how they were built, as the impression was that the legs alone were made from scaffolding poles and the whole thing was constructed with a welding torch. The drawing alone for the design took ten days to complete, with Glenn mirroring each development on both sides of the design (as it featured views of the war machine from left and right, front, and back.) Developing and building the War Machines took the best part of 6 months. All the effort was very well worth the time and thought, and the display was a huge success, being featured both in The Sentinel newspaper and on BBC Radio Stoke.
There was enormous local interest, and the display overran the time it was due to close by two hours. Throughout the day tourists came to find out what was going on, families came in to see the War Machines, children wanted to know everything about them, and people constantly came in who had seen the story in the newspaper or heard about it on the radio. Glenn spoke to no end of H.G. Wells enthusiasts who were interested in his individual spin on the Martians, and more than once found himself pacing across the guildhall with a visitor trying to work out how the tripods would walk!
It was a fantastic day and they even received a visit from the Lord Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Mr Simon White, his consort, and a number of councillors, and Glenn and Angela found themselves addressing a rather distinguished audience.
The event was such a success that Glenn had taken his Martians and H. G. Wells story into two schools before the end of summer term 2019, and is now working on a book called ‘Mr Wells and the Aliens’ which is due out in April 2020. There are also some very big developments afoot following these Wells displays in Newcastle… but we can’t tell you about that just yet! Please watch this space!
Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday – H.G.Well’s in the Potteries
(Spring 2019 )
Along with Fellow author Angela Marie James, Glenn is working in partnership with Newcastle under Lyme Bid to stage celebrations for the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday – and Glenn is working on something in particular really special, and concerning an author he has always admired..
The Potteries, and Newcastle, in particular, have a particular link with none other than the father of science fiction, H. G Wells. The great Victorian author came to stay in Basford in Newcastle in 1888, with a friend who lived on Victoria Street, while under the impression that an illness from which he was suffering was fatal. While living in the area Well’s not only recovered his will to live, but he was inspired by the fires of Shelton Bar Steelworks (which lit up the Staffordshire skies) and the flamboyant electrical experiments of the pioneering scientist Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge (which filled the skies of May Bank and Wolstanton with artificial lightning and thunder at night) to write “War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine”.
To love the work of a world-famous author is one thing. It’s quite another to move to a place and find out they started their famous works right on your doorstep is quite another, and Glenn is planning to celebrate this amazing Victorian link as part of the festivities. He is working on designs for Martian Tripod War machines ass part of a display for the day, and has based them around ancient Roman armor, for the Roman god of War. There will be a lot to report on this story going forward, but check out the images below – including Glenn’s initial rough small scale model design for the war machine and the drawing for the design, a copy of his Famous Victorians poster on Well’s for the trail on the day, and pictures of the house where the author stayed in Basford.
Brilliant Book Babes in Stoke!
(Saturday 4th of May 2019 )
Book Babes published this cracking photo of all the collective writers, models and dealers taking part in the event on the 4th of May, and it’s wonderful to share the picture with you. Our own Glenn Martin James is kneeling to the right at the front, and fellow author Angela Marie James is standing just behind him to the left.
The Launch of “Norseman on the Threshold” at the Authors Event “Book Babes in Stoke
(Saturday 4th of May 2019 )
“Norseman on the Threshold” was launched at a truly remarkable event, Book Babes in Stoke, (held at the Best Western Plus Stoke-on-Trent City Centre Moat House hotel) and a bustling gathering it was too.
Held in the ballroom of the hotel, a very well appointed spacious room, a full complement of 60 authors, models and dealers gathered for the day, all laying out stalls with their books and merchandise, and a very fun event it was. (A copy of the flyer of attending authors is included in this article lower down, and please feel use it to look up and find out about our fellow writers – they are a fantastic congregation!) To mention but a few – Glenn’s fellow author Angela Marie James, (with her debut poetry collection, “Conflict”) and authors Elizabeth Morgan, Laura Morgan, Megs Pritchard, Scarlet Flame, Darren Walker and AJ Love, they were wonderful company and some formidable writing talent gathered in one room: here is the list of everyone in attendance:
There was a wonderful comradery amongst the attendees and the atmosphere was terrific. Organised by Jenny Thompson, with the help of author Lindsey Jayne, this was an extremely well-attended event with a very good reading compliment of the public coming along on the day, many from VERY far afield, and the whole thing was a terrific success. So much so that the event raised £300 in aid of the DougieMac Charity (a charity close to the hearts of Glenn and Angela James) and the next author’s event is already being planned for 2021. We say bring it on – everyone had a wonderful time and both Glenn and Angela have come away with a terrific affection for Book Babes. This is where both launched their books for the first time and it has a deep place in their affections.
The atmosphere across the day was warm-hearted, cheerful and with no end of engrossing conversations with attendees and the public alike. It was a great time for catching up with friends and making new ones, doing some networking and really stretching one’s legs as a writer. And it was fun, too, with free tea and coffee available for the thirsty scribes (always essential for authors) and an excellent lunch laid on courtesy of the organisers.
Norseman had a warm and interesting reception from readers and fellow authors alike, and is now well and truly launched – Glenn cannot have asked for a better event to lay his work out to the public for the first time, or for such a great day while doing so. There was terrific feedback, and many copies of the book sold, as well as the prints of his artwork and postcards. All in all, it was a first-rate experience – and in closing, we just want to say that we hope all the other attendees enjoyed it as much as Glenn did, and to say a very big thank you to Jenny and Lindsey for organising such a high-class event and for it being such a fantastic success.
There follows a selection of photos of the weekend and we hope the following will give you a flavour, of Glenn’s work on display, Angela Marie James Stall, and the event and venue itself:
For everyone reading this who was not able to attend, we hope to see you at a future authors event, and please accept a virtual Jelly Baby, in honour of the fourth Doctor Who, (in whose name they were purveyed on Glenn’s stall!)
Glenn Martin James first Novella “Norseman on the Threshold” Published in Paperback – Launched at the Authors Event “Book Babes in Stoke
(4th May 2019)
This is a proud day for any writer, and now it’s the turn of Glenn Martin James – to hold a book in his hand which he has written and bought into existence, after that unusual journey to bring an idea into print.
“Norseman” is the first of Glenn’s books to be published under his “Midland Gothic” banner, and this is the first in a whole series of novel’s novellas and short stories, all part of the same world by the author, and developing the themes.
Set in contemporary Worcestershire, it centres on events which unfold at the much loved and beautiful Cathedral of the city, on the sleepy banks of the River Severn. A very audacious robbery of the ancient church, late at night, goes wrong in a rather nasty way and sets off a whole series of chilling and unexpected haunting events.
Although there are many stories about hauntings in the city, Worcester Cathedral is said to be haunted by two ghosts in particular: One is none other than the Phantom of King John, said to roam the place in the form of a werewolf, and the other is the unquiet ghost of a Viking, who died there in a particularly nasty way. We won’t reveal more about these spirits, but their legends inspired Glenn to write Norseman when he was living in the city, and it’s written for and about a place for which he has enormous affection.
Glenn will be attending the “Book Babes in Stoke” authors event on 4th May 2019, at the Moat House, Stoke on Trent, and this is where the book will have its official launch. This is an exciting time for all concerned, as fellow writer Angela Marie James is also at the event with her first poetry collection, “Conflict” having its launch on the same day. We think it’s going to be brilliant fun and will tell you more after the day itself. Watch this space!
The book is for sale on Amazon at the following link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Norseman-Threshold-Glenn-Martin-James/dp/1095699741/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=1WAON2DHGJAPJ&keywords=norseman+on+the+threshold&qid=1556910982&s=gateway&sprefix=Norseman+on+the+Thr%2Caps%2C158&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
NEWCASTLE UNDER LYME CHRISTMAS LIGHTS SWITCH-ON
(NOVEMBER 17th 2018)
(With thanks to Peter Herbert of Kings Street Studios for the use of his photos)
Returning for a third year to this event, Glenn and fellow writer Angela Marie James took part in the festivities leading up to the big seasonal switch on of the Christmas Lights in Newcastle under Lyme. Run and organised by Amy Williams and the team at Newcastle under Lyme Bid, this is one of the seasonal events of the year looked forward to with huge anticipation by people of the region, and visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the festivities, the music, the shopping, and (we venture to hope in this instance), the storytelling!
The authors were to be seen throughout the day out and about in the town centre, in full Victorian dress, adding a little Dickensian seasonal charm to the occasion, and performing poetry, stories, and generally meeting everyone and exploring the history of the town.
It’s a time of particular celebration for Glenn himself, as a writer of ghostly stories, as he can pay tribute to a great hero of his own on the occasion: the great Victorian writer of supernatural fiction, M. R. James. Every year, while Provost of Kings College, Cambridge, the great writer would call a gathering of his students and colleagues on Christmas Eve, and tell them all a ghost story….. These are some of the finest chilling tales written by an English author, and the stories in anthology collections, and in their renowned BBC adaptions in the 1970’s, have been a huge influence on Glenn as a writer. This year, Glenn donned his top hat and opera cloak, picked up his wolfs head cane, and told his ghost story “The Pocket Watch” to visitors to the town who were interested in a seasonal chill… whilst on the same day telling his light-hearted Mr Columbine stories to children and little ones, and showing them his colourful illustrations.
“The Pocket Watch” is inspired by the town, a tale of Christmas long ago set in the year 1870, and a story informed by the colourful and rich history of Newcastle during that period, when it was a thriving stopping point on the route of mail coaches travelling North to South, and vicea-versa: travelling south from Manchester and Liverpool, and North from Birmingham and London. It concerns a gifted watchmaker being called out on a job unexpectedly on Christmas Eve, and it’s a story which is steadily evolving even as we speak! It certainly elicits a delicious shiver from audiences when Glenn produces the watch in question!
Angela Marie James likewise had a diverse and fascinating collection of work at her fingertips on the day, and moved effortlessly between talking to the little ones and entertaining them with her work for younger children, and letting them meet her loveable farm animal puppets, to giving adults a selection of her work from her forthcoming collection of poetry “Conflict”: A a dynamic and thought-provoking catalogue of poems which examine a whole raft of issues, and does not pull any punches!
As ever, a big part of the day was meeting people and chatting and welcoming them to the town, and this is a hugely enjoyable part of the day which both of the authors relish enormously, and in this respect, it has been one of the most enjoyable years yet. They spoke to little toddlers, teenagers, visitors from all over the country, locals and strangers alike!
The entertainment was stellar, the Bid arranging a cracking programme of events which unrolled throughout the day: A notable inclusion being the internationally renowned and very much loved Van Buren magic show, presented by Andrew Van Buren and Allyson Ford, a dynamic pair of busy sorcerors in constant demand professionally. They have a particularly elegant stage show with great Victorian style, which was set up near the Cenotaph and close to ancient St. Giles. They entertained the crowd throughout the day, with illusions and fun for all the family, and were greeted with huge affection. As major participants of the Philip Astley Project, they are drawing to a close of a year of important celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Philip Astley, the great Victorian showman, and world famous father of the modern circus (who was a son of Newcastle under Lyme.) They have had a really triumphant year.
A major participant on the day was the team from The Hitmix 107.5 FM working with the team from the bid, and there were bands, the presenters of BBC Stoke in pantomime costume on stage, and school choirs, to mention just a selection of entertainments on the bill. The Guild Hall threw open its doors and was host to a craft fair for the day, filled with a gorgeous variety of stalls and homemade produce and items, and nestled up against the building itself was Santa’s Grotto! What more could you ask for! Except, of course, Spiderman and characters from Star Wars on stage when the Lights were switched on! It was a barnstorming occasion, and a good time was had by all.
Glenn and Angela would like to extend their thanks to the organisers for being involved in such a cracking event, and a hearty well done to everyone at the Bid, all the performers, stall holders, participants, and all who were involved.
Heres to Christmas 2019!
DRACULA: A TALK BY GLENN MARTIN JAMES
(BRAMPTON MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY, NEWCASTLE UNDER LYME)
On Halloween 2018 Glenn Martin James will be giving a Talk on Dracula at the Brampton Museum and Art Gallery in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Titled “The Public Face of Dracula”, Glenn’s investigation will look into how much Dracula’s portrayal has changed on film since he made his debut in 1921, in the incarnation of Count Orlock, in “Nosferatu”, and going right up to Jonathan Reece Mayers TV incarnation of recent years.
This is a subject close to the author’s heart as he has been a fan of Dracula all his life, and vampires are a strong subject and theme in his mature horror fiction.
The talk will be taking place between 2-4 pm and refreshments will be available on the day. Tickets are £4.00.
You can book tickets for the talk by following the link below to the museums Facebook page, and find out more by clicking on the link for the Press Release. Happy Halloween!