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Number one in Spain!

Corazón de Hielo, the Spanish translation of Shakespeare´s Moon prelude Heart of Winter spent the weekend at Number One in the Amazon España Kindle charts.  Free until Halloween, Corazón de Hielo debuted at 18 and raced up to number 5 by Saturday night. An early rally on Sunday morning brought top spot.

¡Gracias a todos – amigos, amigas, amigos de amigos!

Special thanks to Gemma de Premia for her translation, Jane Appleton for editing, Lpixel for the brilliant cover and Ana Gomez for overseeing the whole project.

You can download Corazón de Hielo here – FREE until the day after Halloween.

 

New Shakespeare´s Moon Story

A brand new Shakespeare´s Moon short story called PLAYFIGHT will be published in the next Dark Lane Anthology, due early 2018.

The story is about Miriam Alawi, a young Syrian girl at St Francis´ School, who finds she is a Writer. Miriam has suffered with the civil war in her own country and feels people at the school are not paying any attention to what is going on in her part of the world.

She decides to take action.

If you would like an exclusive read of PLAYFIGHT, send an email to james@jameshartleybooks.com or visit James Hartley Books on Facebook to see how.

HUGE REWARD OFFERED

Veteran Hollywood producer Moshe Levy is believed to have offered a “huge reward” to anyone who can assist the police in tracking down a thief who robbed him aboard his private plane this morning.

Mr Levy, flying home from France, was robbed in an audacious mid-air heist high over Malaga, Spain, this morning. Police believe a diamond ring and various other articles were stolen.

The culprit is believed to have landed safely in the hills behind Malaga and is thought to be on the run somewhere along Spain´s famed Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca coasts.

Anyone requiring more information can click here.

Tennent´s Supermen

Many years ago I lived in London, on Belsize Road.

Most days, walking to the tube at Swiss Cottage, I would pass two homeless men who lived on a traffic roundabout. Sometimes they´d be asleep, sometimes awake, sometimes drinking, sometimes bleeding, sometimes together, sometimes separate.

Their island was nondescript, bare and may still be there. They were dishevelled and dirty, crimson-faced, bawling alky´s; smelly and broken, wild and lost, staggering and gesticulating between themselves. Occasionally they´d make the crossing from their island to the booze shop on one of the corners. Sometimes they might not make it back: we´d pass one or both lying on the kerb, star-shaped, shipwrecked.

Back then we would walk around them in a line, off to work like ants, following the pavement and filing up to the tube to be someone´s secretary. “Are they crazy or are we?” I used to think.

Those two Tennent´s Supermen intrigued me. Often, in the drizzly, grey London mornings, they´d be deep in conversation, oblivious to us wafting by in our suits, ties, heels, headphones and superior, scented aires.

They were sipping drinks. Looking out at the sea. Deep in conversation. Hugging. Brawling. Nodding.

Where were they? Were they really on a traffic island in the middle of London? Or were they on an island somewhere, alone, on the edge of a sea of champagne, listening to whiskey waves, where dog ends were fine cigars and the muddy grass pure white sand?

I never forgot them and finally wrote a script about them which the great people at Tiny Epics are in the process of turning into a film. This morning they sent me one of the Supermen – Saughall Massey – dapper, proud and completely oblivious to the cold, grey world passing by right around him. Just as he should be.

 

 

Adventures on the Costa del Sol

A brand new character and series written by James Hartley will make their debuts this October in three English speaking newspapers in southern Spain with a combined weekly readership of 500 000.

“I´m really excited about introducing the new story and character to the world,” James said. “The action is all set on the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca in Spain and I couldn´t have wished for more than having the stories serialised in newspapers from the region.”

The story, whose title has not yet been revealed, will run from October to December.

“I can´t say too much about it now except that the deal is in place and we´re all looking forward to it. The stories are fun, mystery adventures that anyone who lives or has ever been to the Spanish southern coasts will enjoy.”

Illustrations will be provided by Ben Hartley.

More information at www.jameshartleybooks.com or contact James directly at james@jameshartleybooks.com

 

NEW BOOK ABOUT NAPOLEON´S EXILE AND DEATH

On August 15th, Napoleon´s birthday, the first installment of The Napoleon Diaries – Imperial Exile – will be released exclusively on Kindle. You can read three free chapters here.

You can pre-order the book here.

The book, “faction” gleaned from all the extant diaries and letters of the time, is a close-up, detailed account of exactly what happened during Napoleon´s time on the island.

Read the Foreword to the book:

It is dusk on Monday 16th October 1815 and we are floating amid the tension, fear and expectation rising from a hushed crowd gathered on the edge of one of the most remote islands on earth.

Soldiers, slaves, shopkeepers and ladies jostle for a view of the shadowy figure being ferried across the still, dark water from the 74-gun ship-of-the-line whose silhouette dominates the bay. Will he have one burning eye staring out of his forehead? Will he growl and gnash his teeth and eat the children? Will he rage and shake his chains, this daemonic, petulant, parvenu midget who has bled Europe almost dry with his insatiable power lust?

Napoleon Bonaparte walks down the gangplank into the lantern-light a man of average height, his chin buried in his buttoned up greatcoat, eyes averted, riled at the gormless staring of the multitude. As what seems like the entire population of the island swells closer the sentries are ordered to stand with fixed bayonets and bark warnings: “Stand back! Give him space!”

Napoleon will sleep his first nights on St Helena in the house of Mr Porteous in James Town and he heads there now, head bowed, hurrying uphill with his most trusted aides. His suite of almost thirty people – men, women, servants and children – will be lodged about the island and aboard ship until permanent dwellings can be found. This has all happened so quickly nobody is quite sure how things will be organised.

None of the onlookers can quite believe that man walking away from them is really Napoleon Bonaparte. They´d only learned he was coming a few days earlier, the same time they had heard about Elba, the hundred days and the Battle of Waterloo.

But, yes, there he goes.

Just a man.

 

The decision to exile Napoleon to St Helena was debated by the British cabinet on the same day as London received news of his surrender to Captain Maitland aboard the Bellerophon off the French coast: 24th July, 1815.

Lord Bathurst, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, explained the government´s decision to the Duke of Wellington thus:

We have nearly determined, subject to what we may hear from Paris in answer to Lord Liverpool’s letter a week ago, to send Bonaparte to St Helena. In point of climate it is unobjectionable and its situation will enable us to keep him from all intercourse with the world without requiring all that severity of restraint which it would be otherwise necessary to inflict upon him. There is much reason to hope that in a place from whence we propose excluding all neutrals, and with which there can be so little communication, Bonaparte’s existence will be soon forgotten.

Although Napoleon had wanted to be allowed to live out his remaining years in England, perhaps anonymously, the British government and its European allies were wary. Could Napoleon ever live anonymously? Crowds of locals had swarmed to him in small boats for a glimpse when he was anchored, a prisoner, off the English coast; there would be rescue attempts, the constant fear of another escape. While some European leaders called for Bonaparte´s execution there were also moves to try him in a court of law.

With his official status murky, legally speaking, the British decision was quickly made and acted upon: take him as far away from anywhere as possible and keep him there under strict supervision.

 

“It looks like something the devil shat out,” the wife of one of Napoleon´s intimate generals said when she and everyone else got their first sight of St Helena from the deck of the Northumberland. Fanny Bertrand, daughter of an Irishman, mother of three and Parisian socialite, immediately tried to escape this horrible vision, her new home, by jumping through an open porthole. She became stuck and was saved.

Napoleon was no less impressed by the sheer, dark cliff walls of his prison but he hadn´t made it from stuttering foreigner to Emperor of France without being made of sterner stuff. The man who´d rattled the thrones of Europe, who´d captured the imagination of romantics, who´d controlled an Empire which stretched halfway around the world, who´d won some of the most audacious military victories ever seen, who´d changed mankind´s thinking, laws and history, despite not being one of them, was not going to do anything else but wonder how this ghastly rock and all it meant could be not be turned somehow in his favour.

He was the Emperor Napoleon, after all.

This, like everything else, was war.

And war he was good at.

 

Read more here at Instafreebie.

Order the book on Amazon Kindle here.

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Cover by Ben Hartley.

www.benjhartley.com

Tibetan Sky Burials and the Ragyabas

There is a social group in Tibet called the Ragyabas, whose job it is to break up the bodies of the dead and feed them to vultures in ceremonies held on open land called Sky Burials. Traditionally the Ragyabas lived seperate from society, a version of the untouchable caste of India.  In Patrick French´s book Tibet, Tibet, he describes how Ragyabas have various tax duties, how they would chant and beg at aristocratic weddings and how, as well as dealing with corpses, they were expected to do other tasks such as clean the drains.

When monks needed skeletons for religious ceremonies, the Ragyabas were called in to disinter bodies and bring them to the religious sites. They had their own master and hierarchy and they interbred and lived in ghettoes.

Percival Landon, writing in The Times after witnessing a sky burial in 1904, wrote: “It is difficult to imagine a more repulsive occupation, a more brutalized type of humanity, and, above all, a more abominable and foul sort of hovel than those, which are characteristic of these men. Filthy in appearance, half-naked, half-clothed in obscene rags, these nasty folk live in houses which a respectable pig would refuse to occupy.”

The English, of course, were not quite sure what they were witnessing. It also made no sense for them to paint Tibet in semi-mystical terms as they´d just killed five thousand Tibetans armed with slingshots and swords when marching on Lhasa. Later, when China invaded and British interests were threatened, they would change their tune.

In sky ceremonies, the bodies of the dead are carried out to bare spots and cut up by the dead breakers. The Ragyabas, after offering incense, make a special call to the birds and slowly and methodically butcher and chop to pieces the bodies with special tools. The morsels are thrown to the birds and the vultures swoop down, crowd in and pick clean the bones. It takes about an hour.

Sky ceremonies are thought to pre-date Buddhism in Tibet: they are  a practical way of desposing of dead bodies in a land where fuel is scarce and the ground is hard. It is a tradition which has been incorporated into Buddism because of its importance to the Tibetans – and it continues despite revulsion from the latest foreigners to take up residence in their land – the Chinese.

As a bright footnote to quite a sombre theme, Wade Davis, in Into the Silence, relates how Francis Younghusband, one of the British who had made it to Lhasa at the turn of the last century, and very much the old colonial,  left the country a changed man.

At the first opportunity after leaving the city, Younghusband slipped away from the others and walked alone in the mountains. The sky was radiant blue and the light was violet.

He looked back at Lhasa and thought upon the words of the Lama who had presented with him an image of the Buddha as a gesture of peace – Younghusband would keep it on his person for the rest of his life.

“And with the warmth still on me,” he wrote, “and bathed in the insinuating influences of the dreamy autumn evening, I was sensibly infused with an almost intoxicating sensation of elation and good will. The exhileration of the moment grew and grew til it thrilled through me with overpowering intensity. Never again could I think evil, or ever again be at enmity with any man.”

Younghusband went on to form the World Congress of Faiths.

“Such experiences are all to rare and they but too become blurred in the actualities of of daily intercourse and practical existence. Yet it is these few fleeting moments which are reality. In these we only see real life. The rest is ephemeral, the unsubstantial. And that single hour leaving Lhasa was worth the rest of my lifetime.”

What´s it like to live with blood cancer?

Joshua Stedford was 16 when he got the diagnosis. His life changed.

This is Joshua´s story, told with his own unique wit and searing honesty. Read, in this first installment, how it feels to go from being a normal kid obsessed with the Xbox and school, to a cancer patient.

Josh continues today as a patient at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London and would love to hear your thoughts on his work.

Click here to read the first part of The 25th Hour of the 8th Day.