Category Archives: Adult Fiction



Happy New Year everyone and much hope for 2015, but a special toast today to the writer CJ Sansom and his wonderful Shardlake detective stories.  Set under Henry VIII and covering the exploits of the hunchback lawyer, Mathew Shardlake, that sane, compassionate practitioner in the Court of Request at Lincoln’s Inn and ever dealing with the harm of religion, Sansom’s books are utterly convincing and totally compelling too, with all the skill of a good detective yarn, mixed in with a very serious attempt to recreate the living history of the period, with a serious approach to the vicious realities of Tudor politics. Hence his books are most fascinating for his meticulous recreation of Tudor London, both in terms of topography and social structures.

It was something Phoenix Ark had to try to do engaging in the unique work here on William Shakespeare’s youngest brother Edmund, who died in the freezing winter of 1607, at the age of only 27, and in obviously tragic circumstances too, only four months after his infant son had died, on the edges of the city.  It was in the same year that successful Shakespeare, now a ‘gentlemen’ from a grant of arms that had caused a little fracas at The College of Heralds, had married his favorite daughter Suzanna to the herbalist John Hall in his home town of Stratford. It was also the year of the suppression of ale drives in Bath and Wells by the Puritans, the performing of Hamlet by the sailors on the East Indian ship The Red Dragon, off the coast of Sierra Leone, and of the Midland Riots against the enclosures of common land too, that came close to Stratford in the month of Suzanna’s wedding.

There are many potential clues to the effect that year had on Shakespeare, not least in the play Pericles, where the hero, dealing with the riddle of incest that haunts the play, presents a crest represented by a branch that only flowers at the top.  It is very hard not to see that as a clue to the dilemma Shakespeare faced about his own status, especially in relation to that family tragedy,  since his youngest brother’s infant baby was marked down in the records by a church hand as ‘baseborn’. Many of Shakespeare’s ‘romances’ after that are concerned with themes of art’s power to achieve restoration and reconciliation, much involved with the theme of families. Edmund was buried in the dominating Southwark Church, St Saviours, now Southwark Cathedral, at a hefty cost of twenty shillings and with ‘a forenoon toll of the great bell”.

The joy of reading Sansom, although it is only in HeartStone that he begins to touch on the theme of players and the theatres, and the first permanent wooden theatre, ‘The Theatre’ in the Shoreditch, did not go up until 1575 in the reign of Elizabeth I, is his scholarly mapping of both time and place, that echoes the difficulty of seeing into that period through the records. Sansom is meticulous, although never letting it swamp the thrilling narrative, and it’s wonderful to retake a journey with him, even if discoveries here happened 50 years later. Those discoveries, although not including the place Edmund was probably staying in the Winter of 1607, The Vine tavern in Southwark, revealed that tavern was owned by Edward Hunte esquire and had once been part of the land rights, granted under Henry VI, of a local religious fraternity called The Brotherhood of Our Lady of Assumption. Their church was St Margaret’s, right on Long Southwark, effectively today’s Borough High Street, that crossed old London bridge and was the major Southern gateway into the City of London. It’s highly Catholic traditions, and the Church itself, were suppressed at the Reformation, it became a Comptor prison, a tavern that features in Hogarth’s painting of Southwark Fair and then it became the town hall. Today it is a Slug and Lettuce bar and only a little plaque on the wall remembers the Norman church that had such an astonishing history.

Part of that history was the betrayal inside the church of the Kentish rebel Jack Cade, despite the promise of pardon, under Henry VI, by the King’s chancellor and Bishop of Winchester William Waynfleete, whose huge tomb still decks Winchester Cathedral, alongside that ‘great’ Prince of The Church pilloried in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Henry Beaufort.  I am sure it would thrill CJ Sansom to pour over the Tudor records of St Margaret’s in The London Metropolitan Archives, much as they are just effectively accounts, and find proof of payments to ‘pleyers’ as far back as the mid fifteen century, both on St Margaret’s and St Lucy’s days, as well as Hoe and then Hop Mondays, in a vital beer making district.  St Margaret was of course the patron Saint of the little Church, but St Lucy’s day is now a festival honoured by Catholics on, I think, the 13th December.  The problem being that it was then the shortest day of the year, as John Donne’s poem ‘A Nocturnal on St Lucy’ proves.  Namely the Winter Solstice, and an especially Northern European festival, in an area of a great influx of ‘aliens, foreigners and strangers’ according to the antiquarian John Stowe, especially Flemings and Dutch.  The Soltice now falls on the 21/22nd of December,  we celebrated this year with dinner, but it was the new Gregorian Calendar that had been instituted by the Pope (and though more accurate was not taken up in Reformation England for another two hundred years) that made a mismatch in day calculations by as much as ten days. That ten day gap would explain the difference between the modern dating of St Lucy’s day and John Donne’s appreciation of his own times and a celebration that has deeply pagan roots and in Sweden is marked by maidens were wreath’s of flaming candles on their heads. Remember of course that Hamlet’s great spiritual and intellectual dilemma and struggle, in the murderous court of Denmark and Elsinore, is marked with the line ‘the time is out of joint, of cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right.’ Sansom’s books superbly capture how seismic those times were for the modern world, so much made out of Tudor London, and how much they put the human out of joint.

St Lucy’s day was one of the little clues that lit the magic lantern of the past then, in such a fascinating and troubled time, and such an intimate London district too. London was of course tiny in comparison to now and very rural too. Sansom’s masterful sense of fact and history does it even more, bringing an entire world to life and with a deep sense for real history.  The work on Edmund Shakespeare and London here has never been properly set down, though pinched by someone without an accreditation, who got their book into the Huffington Post bestseller lists.   It sits in the posts here and in eight notebooks now in Hampshire.  Even better then that the crackling novel now underway, HeartStone, takes Shardlake to Hampshire and Portsmouth during possible French invasion. There has been no great revelation about what Edmund Shakespeare, a player in London too, although in none of the extant lists or the First Folio, was like. Nor about the woman he sired a doomed child with up in the Morefields and buried in Cripplegate, near Shakespeare’s temporary lodgings on Silver Street.  Yet there have both been many significant echoes of Shakespeare the man and writer, from Pericles to that crucial year in his own family life, as well as important links in the historical topography of Southwark.  Sansom’s mastery only gets the juices flowing to try again then. So a toast to him and a huge recommendation to follow the adventures of the Shardlake books. Happy New Year.



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UPDATE: The crowd funded book on Indiegogo, you will get in the post, is now at a soaring 50%!

What an astonishing day driving through the Meon Valley today to Phoenix Aviation in Lee-on-Solent, to take a very first flying lesson with the commendably calm and efficient CFI (Chief Flying Instructor) Steve Cockshott. Out of a perfect misty morning the plumping wheat fields were almost russet as the harvest begins here and the blue skies near crystal glass clear, skirting through lovely morning Hampshire. A very different experience then to the Air Ambulance that I once found myself stuck behind when I once drove to write about Accelerated Freefall, skydiving from 12000 feet in Kent. With little wind, until we landed, near perfect flying weather then, given a touch of royalty at the Argus gate to the airfield too when we learnt that Princess Michael of Kent was nipping in to do some work for the coastguard! Past the old hanger still labelled Overlord, from the war effort, the offices of Phoenix Aviation are housed inside the small control tower and there, with a confident handshake and the remark that he recognised me from the Dragon In The Post Indiegogo film, Steve took us into the briefing room for a quick lesson in Lift, Bernoulli’s Theorem, Ailerons, Control yoke, flaps and something reassuringly called a Stabilator, instead of an elevator on the tail. Basically it makes the 4 Seater Warrior plane we were going up in more stable.

So, when the red wooden model had been put aside, nerves began to calm as we crossed the runway and learned that reassurance is always about knowledge and the intimacy of being hands on. Phoenix have seven planes in all, including 2 microlights, and I was rather amazed to discover that you can reach the level of a solo flight after only 12 hours! But the first real thrill was climbing onto the wing and then into the cockpit, to belt up and don the headsets that allow everyone to communicate with each other and the control tower too. The training inside had taught us the basic movement of the rudder pedals, the brakes just above, you must never use until the last moment and the flaps, while Steve was very clear in showing us how things really and rather simply function. A marked contrast to the bewildering display on the instruments panel, which pilots only glance at, except in cloud, because awareness and real sight is the key, while you must navigate towards the horizon with something through that glass in front of you called a ‘Picture’. So, accompanied by some colourful Hampshire butterflies in the stomach, to taxiing down the short turn to the base of the runway, with nothing but a firm grip on the control yoke and the movement of those pedals. The engine had fired up and I learnt the foolishness of wearing my pointed spanish boots, as too-long toes brushed the brakes but no disaster happened. Then to a sharp turn and stop to check everything, a Roger from the tower and pushing the throttle forward to head down the take off strip. The routine exchange of “I have Control’You have control’, since every plane has dual controls, had returned that mastery to Steve, since no novice can take off or land, and soon we were near the 65 Knotts needed to take off. Chocks away.

So a novice pilot quickly learns, although there is a great deal to learn, that the art of flying is most essentially about the science, the effect of the wind moving at the right speed across the top of the curved wings, so producing reduced pressure above and the necessary ‘Lift’ to carry the 900 Kilogram Dragon bird into the sky. That you have to both know and rely on, because it is a far less dangerous exercise than driving and a very different kind of thrill to say taking to a racing car. It is all somehow dreamier, more peaceful, far more majestic. Then the enemy of the mind is always fear and an over active imagination, not exactly helped by the remark of a flatmate that morning that the average life expectancy of a pilot in the First War was 20 minutes! Not sure it is true, but no dog fights today. We have all experienced it in commercial aircraft but it is a far more thrilling thing too being in your own little cockpit, in potential control, feeling those racing vibrations and suddenly you are in the air, rumbling up a stairway to heaven, with a propeller flashing and breaking light before your eyes. Up to a thousand feet and then that “Picture” before us was like the most brilliant, dreamy oil painting, by a Master of the world and all there is.

The three of us were heading out across the Solent now, that edges the airfield, towards the Isle of White and the feeling and the day were glorious. The dwindling patchwork tapestry of fields, roads and houses below, the flashing white yachts cutting slashes of cotton white in the turquoise water, the super tankers hulking the flowing sea and then the majesty and complexity of clouds seen at eye level or below. The colours were magnificent. It felt like suddenly starring in It’s A Wonderful Life, as Steve said ‘you have control‘ and I was flying too, gently holding the nose and wings level, with a splendid bit of machinery thrumming around us. You really begin to touch the joy and power though when you start to turn a plane and bank, as Steve explained more about the controls, awareness and trimming, the deeper mysteries of pitch and roll, unchallenged by today’s weather, with the little wheel between our seats. When you are not in control you have you hands and feet lightly on, just to get the feel, especially when landing or taking off and begin to really learn what must eventually become instinctive. I was perhaps a bit stiff armed with nerves, because relaxation is key, but it began to come more and more, as I flew in towards The Needles, that remarkable display of eroded hard limestone cliffs at the nose of the white island and came back in a cloud riding circle. The Dragon was airborn and starting to learn! The sea was dancing flashing horse tails 2000 feet below us, those all important checks were made for any planes around, and much of the time you are simply cruising, able to chat quietly about a forty minute flight to Cherbourg, Steve’s business partner Frank or the 130 members the little club have. Neither are paid for what they do, the essential cost is fuel and landing fees and any extra goes to help the club. The rates are very competitive.

So we turned into towards the grass airstrip at Sandown, maintained by the £15 landing fee and the very English little cafe, in airfields here purely for the benefit of private aircraft. You come into land downwind, as you enter something called The Circuit, the imaginary rectangle that surrounds any airfield, as you contemplate the kind of holding pattern we have all experienced too. No delays in this case. Two other training craft were coming in, although it seemed more to me, and one not very well, but suddenly after forty minutes we were descending again towards lush green grass, like a large croquet lawn: 100 feet, 30, 5 and down, with very little bumping at all, although moles can be a problem. All far less dramatic than landing in the cockpit of an Airbus, as I did on one travel piece, but far more charming and liberating too. So to another little taxi and parking among the other drowsing craft. I think I had already decided, as had Jim, who came for a flight too and to kindly help make a little film, that after our twenty-minute break and cups of tea this flying thing was the thing. The only problem being the cost, which, to hit those 45 hours needed for a licence, can be around £9000, although it is quite a bit less to master a microlight. It was Jim who took the controls on the flight back, as I perched in the rear of the four seater, with a confidence perhaps increased by his own sailing skills and experience, because although the wind rules are different to waves, up there in the heavens much the same principles are involved. His face was glowing all the way.

Actually as we came back to land again on hard tarmac it wasn’t such enormous exhilaration that I felt, that had passed, but a sense of calm and of expanded knowledge too, that once you have mastered all the things you have to take on board, from actual flying hours to nine exams, it would be a wonderful thing to be able to fly and land your own plane, wondering more and more what it is like to be up there alone in the skies and in such glorious weather. Perhaps a little like flying with your Dragon! It was in all a very lovely experience, only added to as we raced home in the car but stopped at old Titchfield Abbey. I had no idea that extraordinary fortified monastery, dissolved by Henry VIII, became the Hampshire seat of none other than the Earls of Southampton and Henry Wriothesley, Shakespeare’s greatest patron. The bard could well have visited a stunningly beautiful ruin, then a magnificent functioning house, and so many things at Phoenix Ark Press seemed to coalesce. A project is flying then and has further to journey too.


If you enjoyed this article and are interested in trying to help crowd fund a book and a little publisher you can do so right now by clicking on HELPING A DRAGON FLY If you want to know more about Steve, Frank and the flying club then visit their website at In the next few days we will edit the film and put it up here and in the Indiegogo gallery. The photos courtesy of Jim Plumridge show DCD in the cockpit mid air over the Solent, on the ground thanking Steve Cockshott warmly and with the wooden model in the classroom.

Come on, let’s all go flying!

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Hello all,

Well just two days into Kickstarting and fantastic first pledges! THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. Private thanks will come to everyone but a special word to Miss Baker who has ever started the ball rolling.

If we can raise it to 10% by tomorrow though then we’ll be on a certain course. Which is to ask all those who have read free articles here, poems, stories and blogs and especially if you have ever clicked LIKE button to think about going to Kickstarter and clicking PLEDGE instead. I guess it’s not to promote yourself very well to suggest that will not cost a thing if I don’t hit the target, but at least that ensures if you pledge something, then there will be rewards and a certain finished book.

In the meantime my good friend Kate in Chile suggested I didn’t say enough in a first video. So I have just gone mad and burnt one of my own novels online, Nazi book burning style, as a tiny act of protest but certainly to convince all of a hot read! If this appalls you then I quite sympathize, do let me know if you think I should change it, while if you would rather eat polar bears than make a pledge it would be really wonderful if you could spread the word instead. Thank you all again.

You can see my sill face and the appalling act of self immolative book burning

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A friend sent this link on tomorrow’s END OF THE WORLD. CLICK HERE It’s fine, if a little dull a take on the Mayan Calender and all the hoo-ha. The point of some ‘theories’ about it all is not any end, but a change. If Mankind does have some capacity towards higher awareness, or evolved consciousness, that might be no bad idea! A new age of consciousness. If, as the article says, we are saved from fear, atavism or superstition by reason, we are equally not at all just creatures of reason. Indeed, the rationality of higher science is so extraordinary it rewrites every day reason completely, as did Einstein, while our supposedly reason driven planet appears to be in a bit of a crisis. Hence the discussion in the thriller The Godhead Game of two kinds of languages and awareness, science’s and ‘spirituality’s’, the language perhaps not of dictatorial morality, but love, wholeness, inner journeys, that we must not lose sight of and now we see at war. But if tomorrow or the next day’s solstice ending is the most enormous anti-climax, as we happily tip back towards the sun, at least the disappointed new agers have a story that continues its interest! Try it.

Most marvellous of all THE GODHEAD GAME is available FREE, from tomorrow, December 21st to December 23rd, for download from Amazon. CLICK HERE

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Of course, it’s another chance to plug the thriller THE GODHEAD GAME, but Nasa have brought out a reassuring ‘Apocalypse’ video, CLICK HERE a week before the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, on December 21st (Or 22nd, and only according to one stela, or stone, perhaps…)

We must trust the scientists, and the fact is energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form into another. For thousands of years Millarianists have been fearing and wailing, sitting on pillars, or muttering doomsdays. On the other hand, the point of the thriller is not catastrophe, though biblically Apocalypse means revelation, but language and belief itself. So A GAME OF SECRETS, A HUNT FOR SKULLS, A BATTLE OF SPIES, is anyway set in 2014, since a week to go would be a rarely crap sell-by-date!

In terms of not trusting scientists though, an argument in the book is that much modern madness and indeed a potential long-term end of everything, is because a spiritual language is being driven out, antithetical to science’s purely explicative or deconstructing langauge, that we lose at our absolute peril. So the hero of the story, an FBI man in Washington, is sent an email inviting him to change his life forever, as a series of real crystal skulls are stolen around the world. Beneath that lies a spy game, and very real issues indeed, like Iran’s nuclear capacity, or the attitudes of the ‘civilised’ nations. A ‘prophecy’ of Obama’s relection has already come true, so who knows what other relevance a novel will find?

Remember too, THE GODHEAD GAME by David Clement-Davies, is absolutely FREE this merry end of the world, December 21st-23rd, from Amazon Kindle. Why not download it as part of the End of Everything jollity, it can hardly hurt if we won’t be here anyway? Achoooooo.

And why not watch our Video, below, alongside Nasa’s…


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‘HO, HO, HO’ and here’s another for those stocking fillers. This whole weekend, December 15th and 16th, get a FREE copy of a Classic Co-edition, THE SIGHT and FELL, on your Kindle. Keep it in your calendar, then just CLICK HERE

Then remember, THE GODHEAD GAME will also be FREE, for three whole apocalyptic days, around the MAYAN END OF THE WORLD, December 21st-December 23rd! CLICK HERE


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OK, it was a publicity stunt to support Australian ‘end of the world’ celebrations, but if the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard can talk of the Mayan Calendar on tv, it has certainly got into the mainstream. So here are the Phoenix Ark End of World Celebrations! The thriller The Godhead Game, by David Clement-Davies, will be completely free for Kindle download at the ‘end of the world’ itself, December 21st, 22nd and the 23rd, as a delicious stocking filler, now it’s virtually snowing again of Phoenix’s blog.

If people are slightly confused about when the world stops, in terms of the Mayan Calendar anyway, it is because that 13th Ba’aktun cycle of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, one of several calendars, but counting time in terms of thousands of days, is related to the Mayan’s practice of divination and counting linked to the cycle of seasons, and of course solstices, but also an apparent prophecy of darkness related to something called the Tortuguerro stela, or stone, in Honduras. But the solstice always varies around the 21st and 22nd of December, tipping us back to life and the sun, while something exists called the Lounsbury Calculation too, that questions the precise date of the Long Count’s end.

It is all explained in The Godhead Game, a story that starts with an end of the world warning and a threatening email to an FBI system’s man in Washington, since we are all now ‘net’ connected, inviting him to change his life forever, while his brother is simultaneously kidnapped from a World Cup football match in Brazil. If writers try to look into ‘truth’, or even prophecy events, some fictional events have already come true (though the novel is set in 2014) with the re-election of President Obama. Hopefully other elements will not come true, namely what the thriller is also about, the murderous conflict over Iran and a hunt for nuclear secrets, that might really bring an end to everything!

Otherwise it is a philosophical investigation of ‘Apocalypse’ ideas, which in Ancient Greek really means a revelation, of science versus faith, and a romp through history, to tell a good story, with some kind of lasting message. That is perhaps what ‘new agers’ see in any Mayan Prophecy, not that it is the end of the world, but the end of one world and the dawn of another kind of awareness in Mankind’s consciousness. If we all evolved out of nature such a thing is surely possible. Namely what is really being seen right around the planet now, that to survive we have to start waking up to each other, and the enormous power for creativity or destruction that we all possess and somehow start to do things differently. Quite apart from the fact that every single second is the end of the world for someone dying on the planet, and the beginning for someone else being born into its bizarre and amazing mystery. Perhaps too that old ideas of religion have to be put away, and yet a ‘spiritual’ language has to be rewritten, not destroyed by the truths and marvels of higher science, which can help us all be fully human and find out what it is we truly value in ourselves and each other.

For the link for an END OF THE WORLD FREE DOWNLOAD, on 21st, 22nd and 23rd December just CLICK HERE

Happy Christmas or whatever festival, atheist hols, Solstice and a very happy future to everyone.


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Well, it’s December, and forget Christmas, running nto the 21st/22nd is a last Advent countdown to the End of Everything. At last(!) comes the end of the Mayan Calendar, after a brief five thousand years, well, the Thirteenth Baktuun at least. It’s the solstice and hopefully a new dawn of awareness for all Mankind, which would obviously be nice!

So if we are still around, you can settle back and read the definitive thriller all about it, and Iranian Nuclear Secrets too – THE GODHEAD GAME by David Clement-Davies – A Game of Secrets, A Hunt for Skulls, A Battle of Spies.

For your FREE Phoenix Ark Press stocking filler, you can download to kindle for nothing, this Thursday, December 6th, and there will be more give aways before the world blows up (hopefully). Just CLICK HEREthis thursday. Happy Christmasy reading.


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Not so much ‘God Bless’ as well done America, in choosing the right President. Especially in a time of still very high, though falling unemployment, it is remarkable that Obama was re-elected so strongly, and though Romney seemed an attractive and not so extreme figure, in the last throws of the election, Americans can surely feel proud of re-electing a figure of true balance, statesmanship, humanity and stature. Though now we will see how he makes good, especially with the January financial crisis looming, and how it carries around the world.

But one of the ‘prophecies’ in the thriller, The Godhead Game, has just come true, Obama’s second term, as we get closer to that imaginative ‘end of the world’, in this December’s end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. Not some doomsday proof of apocalypses, though the world is always starting and ending for someone, each moment of our lives, but perhaps an intuition about world events. Perhaps it will be fun seeing how much a thriller gets things right. But very worrying signs are on the horizon, if we don’t all wake up to something, not least in the single most dominant foreign policy issue, Israel’s mounting paranoia about Iran and Nuclear weapons.

They, and the Mayan Long Count, are all themes inside a story and thriller, in The Godhead Game, A Game of Secrets, A Hunt for Skulls, A Battle of Spies, available HERE

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There are three months to go until “The Mayan End of The World“, but from our excellent sources around the globe come two highlighted articles:

No-one likes a prophet much, but if events in the thriller The Godhead Game by David Clement-Davies are coming true then, like Obama’s predicted election this year, the whole story also follows the issue of Iran’s nuclear capability, indeed the threat of nuclear conflict, in A Game of Secrets, A Hunt for Skulls, A Battle of Spies.

While exploring the whole Mayan story too, it is more optimistic than being ‘milarianist’ though. If it does invite everyone, including Israel and Iran, to stop replaying old attitudes, and wake up to something extraordinary about mankind, nature and reality, that must include all of us. Just as its hero receives a strange email, at the heart of the FBI in Washington, inviting him to “change his life forever.” It is also about how science and ‘religion’ have split dangerously into two opposing kinds of language and need to be redefined. Why not send an email yourselves and invite people to read it? To get a copy CLICK HERE, but for a snatch of the Phoenix Ark ‘book trailer’, click on the arrow below:

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