Monthly Archives: November 2014

Laura Purcell’s debut novel is editor’s pick in the Historical Novels Review

LauraQueen of Bedlam is ‘pick of the week’

‘Queen of Bedlam is a masterfully written and well-researched novel written by someone who has truly mastered the craft of evoking readers’ emotions. Not only does it give us a historical account of the depth and degrees of the mental illness of King George, but additionally, and perhaps more importantly, it gives voice to the family members who are often forgotten but are still intensely affected by it.’

For the full review please visit the Historical Novels website here.

The Road to Rome: Three authors, one incredible journey

Three authors. Two charities. One long road (and an awful lot of armour).

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 09.05.08In 2013, historical fiction authors Ben Kane, Anthony Riches and Russell Whitfield walked eighty miles along Hadrian’s Wall, in full Roman armour. They did it to help two charities, Combat Stress and Medecins Sans Frontieres; in the process they raised almost £19,000.

In 2014, they decided to repeat the madness by walking in Italy – one hundred and thirty miles from a Roman amphitheatre at Capua, to the Colosseum in Rome. Wearing between 2.5 and 4 stone of armour and equipment each, they by turns endured heavy traffic, bemused locals and animals, and recreated what it might have been like to march in a Roman legion. In the process, they bled (a little), sweated (a lot) and suffered blistered feet (a decent amount). There may have been some cursing too. However, with £26,000 raised for charity, it may have been worth it.

Narrated by Ian McKellen, The Road To Rome is a feature-length documentary and can be viewed here.



Brian O’Connell and Norm Chung

Brian O’Connell

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 08.48.16Brian O’Connell is an author, editor and journalist. He has worked throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the United States and Australia and has published articles in over 30 newspapers including the Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, the Wall Street Journal, the Irish Independent and numerous other newspapers and magazines. He has worked as an editor on three magazines as well as editing numerous books and periodicals at Le Soir, Wolters Kluwer and Sdu Uitgevers. Brian has appeared on television and radio in the United States, England, Ireland and Belgium. He is also the author of six books. He is American by birth but has spent the vast majority of his adult life wandering the globe. In his personal time he is an avid sailor, an amateur historian, a fisherman, a beer connoisseur and an all around reprobate. He lives in Oxford and, to the best of his knowledge, has two children, both of whom deserved a much better father.

Norm Chung

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 08.49.29Norm Chung is an illustrator and former games artist who has worked for Ignition Entertainment, Rebellion and Awesome Play. He has worked on games such as Pool Paradise, Mercury, Aliens vs. Predator Requiem and Speedzone. He began freelancing in 2010 and has since produced a variety of work in both traditional and digital media. The Fat Boy with the Bomb will be his first published book. Norm was raised in a Chinese Takeaway in Derbyshire and although he still enjoys being in the kitchen, he demonstrated his chosen career path at an early age, by scribbling on the walls, furniture and appliances of his parents’ business. In his personal time he is a keen martial artist and, although he trains really, really hard, his 5-year-old daughter still walks all over him. He is based in Oxford and considers himself blessed for his wonderful family and his awesome friends.

Firecracker of a book to illuminate crazy world politics

Fat BoyGuy Fawkes was foiled in a plot to blow up the British Parliament but a brand new book published today aims to set off some fireworks among political establishments all over the world. The Fat Boy with the Bomb and 299 of the World’s Craziest Politicians by American journalist, Brian O’Connell, and cleverly illustrated by British artist, Norm Chung is published today on Bonfire Night. The book identifies the downright dangerous leaders, as well as the just plain stupid lawmakers from around the world. Joining Bible-belt Americans, African dictators and neo-Nazi Europeans among the 300 in the book are a crazy clutch of UK politicians who stand out from the mainstream.

“The US is known for producing stupid politicians,” says author Brian O’Connell. “But if I wasScreen Shot 2015-01-29 at 09.03.07 handing out an award for the dumbest politician on the planet right now, it would have to go to Harvard and Oxford-educated, former banker, Brooks Newmark, although he’s not the first politician to snap and share a selfie of his family jewels. Lars Ohly, former chairman of Sweden’s Left party, accidentally shared his on instagram.”

Joining Newmark are Brits Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Bill Etheridge, Mark Reckless, George Galloway, Nadine Dorries, Douglas Carswell, Zac Goldsmith, Neil Hamilton, Kate Hoey, Denis Skinner, Alex Salmond, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Eric Joyce. “The UK actually has more than its fair share of whacko politicians,” says O’Connell. “They’re just more inbred and insipid than some of the crazier Americans.”

The Fat Boy with the Bomb and 299 of the World’s Craziest Politicians profiles individuals from every corner of the world; 18 of the included politicians come from Africa, 70 from North Americas,19 from Central and South America, 47 from Asia, 16 Australasia as well as 80 from Western Europe and 43 from Eastern Europe. And all have a bespoke illustration by artist Norm Chung.

“I’m not trying to shock,” says O’Connell. “Anyone can point a stick at the world’s dictators, such as Equatorial New Guinea’s ‘President for Life’ Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, where it’s reported in some precincts that he garners 103% of the vote. But this book is really about lifting the lid on the mad and bad that the world doesn’t yet know, like Quincy Timberlake who says he plans to stand in the 2017 Kenyan presidential elections, but has been charged with the murder of his three-year-old son.”

The Fat Boy with the Bomb and 299 of the World’s Craziest Politicians by Brian O’Connell and Norm Chung is published by Myrmidon on 5th November 2014 ISBN 9781910183090 Priced £12.99.