Sunday, 19 March 2017


I've seen battlefields white with human ivory
Noble dukes and princes stripped of flesh and finery
When the crows have done their job, they say that's the time for me
Sam Jones deliver them bones.                                            SAM JONES by Richard Thompson

Of all the strange exhibits in Liverpool's Victoria Museum, the Waterloo teeth have to be ranked amongst the very strangest.  A glass cabinet displays sets of dentures all made from human teeth stripped from battlefield corpses.

  Around 1815, someone realised these young soldiers had good, strong teeth that could be recycled.  Not all of these teeth were from Waterloo, but as this was one of the first and most notable battles to yield a large crop of this human ivory, Waterloo Teeth became something akin to a trade name.

  During the American Civil War many barrels of human teeth were stripped from the mouths of the war dead and shipped to Europe for the manufacturing of dentures.

  The Waterloo Teeth suggested this story ...


.I was born in 1799.  I can't recall cutting my first teeth, but I saw my sister's kiddies endure this most painful business.  When it came to the time, each one of them was grizzly and out of sorts.  All of them in turn crying in her arms, red blotched cheeks heavy with budding teeth.

  I must have been six when my own milk teeth began to grow out.  I remember wobbling a bottom tooth with my finger.  When it shed, it left a jelly socket beneath.  I showed my tooth to Mother.  She bade me keep it and put it under my pillow for the tooth fairy.

  Imagine my surprise when, next morning, I found it gone and in its place a farthing!  I had heard children of the the gentry were granted a whole sixpence, but our tooth fairy must have been as hard up as we were.  Anyway, it still seemed a very good trade to me.

  Less than ten years later in 1815, I traded again.  I 'took the King's shilling' and went to be a soldier.  Mother wept when I marched away and no doubt wept again when they came to tell her I had died.

  But not all of me perished on that battlefield.  Men and women scavengers came.  They took the very teeth out of my mouth and sold them.  They made a handsome amount, more than I had ever seen in life.

  My teeth were threaded onto a wire like beads then fashioned into a set of false teeth.  This is how they came to be in the mouth of a fat Duchess.  As she gorged, my teeth encountered the finest victuals that could be imagined, things I had only dreamt of in life; the very whitest of bread and the sweetest of puddings.

  The Duchess was digging her grave with my teeth.

  When she expired under her layers of fat,  they consigned her to the family vault, but my teeth did not go with her.  The family kept them, first as a memento, then as those who remembered her died out, as a curio.  They were almost thrown away in disgust in the 1900's but became objects of fascination later on and donated to a museum.

  They must have been in there behind a wall of glass for well over two hundred years.  After that there were wars and confusion and finally, for humankind, extinction.  The grass and trees grew back, but people never did.

  Another race decided there were things worth saving from this scarred planet.  Their archaeologists came and dug deep for signs of our race.  They found my teeth cocooned deep within the earth where the museum had once stood.  They seemed excited to find them, for deep within them, my teeth carry a trace of extinct DNA.
  They are cloning me.

  Long after you, the watcher on the other side of this glass, have gone, I will draw breath once again beneath an alien sun on a distant world.  'Teeth are funny things,' my mother used to say, 'They give you nothing but trouble,' but in their own way, my teeth have saved me

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Dare To Shine

SUNDAY 22 MAY 2016


In August 2007, Sophie Lancaster was viciously attacked and later passed away from her horrendous injuries. The only reason she was targeted was because she looked different.

Now, authors from across the world have come together to present an anthology of stories inspired by the joy of individuality.  From science fiction and paranormal to fairy tale reimaginings, fall into a celebration of life and difference, all to benefit ​The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

Keep up with the latest Dare to Shine news!


Registered charity number - 1129689


Sunday, 17 January 2016

The S.O.P.H.I.E Anthology

I can't believe how long it is since I've been here.  2015 proved to be a very busy old year and 2016 is already shaping up to be even busier.
  I've spent time writing for magazines and been chosen to contribute to an anthology in memory of Sophie Lawrence.  If you don't know about the case, it's incredibly sad.  Sophie and her boyfriend were attacked in a park, simply because they looked different.  They were goths.  Sophie died thirteen days after the attack.  She was just twenty.  The BBC made a very moving film about her entitled, 'Black Roses.'
  I was upset when I first heard about Sophie's death and her story still haunts me now.
However, Sophie's amazing mother, Sylvia has set up the S.O.P.H.I.E foundation - this stands for 'Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere.'
  The SOPHIE foundation go into schools and educate young people against violence.  They believe that everyone should be able to style themselves as they wish without fear.

  The anthology will be sold to raise money for the Sophie  Foundation, and I'm honoured to be one of the contributing writers.  It will be launched on World Goth Day, the 22nd. of May 2016.
In the meantime, the cover reveal and book trailer will be launched on the 21st. of February.

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Fairy Tale of Vale

There’s magic afoot in New Brighton on The Wirral, England.  Something strange and wonderful is happening in Vale Park.  The fairies are moving in!

It all started less than two months ago when Major Mace and his wife Sue began constructing a cluster of delightful homes in Vale Park for the fairies. 
Major – that’s his real first name, not a military title – found inspiration in the Irish town of Buncrana in Donegal where there’s a popular fairy walk by the river.  Having already overseen the construction of new Brighton’s famous  driftwood pirate ship, The Black Pearl, (along with the rest of the Pirates at Art crew, Frank Lund, Norman and Alison Ord and John Paul), Major was no stranger to getting creative with upcycled bits and pieces. 

Alongside Major, Alison paints doorknobs to resemble fairy toadstools and John Paul creates Tree People, whilst Sue glues together tiny pieces of furniture to decorate houses fit for any Fairy King or Queen.
Now children from across the Wirral and beyond are making trips to visit the charming – and growing – fairy village.  Some of these children make multiple visits to the Driftwood Fairies of Vale Park.  One little girl even insists on coming to see her fairy friends every day. 

Smiling proudly, Major said, ‘Seeing the kids so happy gives me real pleasure.  They know the names of all the fairies.’

His next project is to construct a chimney for the fairy factory.  This is where they make the Fairy Dust so the pirate ship can fly at night. 
I asked Major if he really believes in fairies.  Having visited Ireland and the Fairy Bridge on the Isle of Man, both places where the belief in fairies is strong, Major found no difficulty in saying that he does.

As someone who’s written about fairies in my book, The Last Changeling, I find the subject fascinating.  I recently spent a day searching for fairies with BBC Radio Wales, and many people have written to me saying that they have seen fairies for real.  I was sent this photograph that seems to show a blue fairy atop a classic toadstool. Trick of the light?
Maybe, but it’s a good one. 

Just last summer, artist John Hyatt took startling pictures of fairies near Rossendale and the story went viral. 

This Christmas, I counted no less than five major companies who were using fairies to promote their seasonal products.   The truth is that fairies are big news – but then, they always have been.  When Charles Isham first imported gnomes to England from Bavaria in the 1840’s, they weren’t just for ornaments.  They were made to lure real gnomes into peoples’ gardens!

Perhaps the most famous encounter with fairies was when Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths found fairies at Cottingley Beck in 1917 and photographed them. 

The pictures fooled experts at Kodak and the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle.  Many years later Frances and Elsie admitted the pictures had been cardboard cut-outs, but even in old age they still insisted they had seen real fairies at Cottingley and had only created the fake ones when the grown-ups had laughed at their claims.

So, next time you go to Vale Park, remember to take your camera… who knows what magic you might snap?

If you have had a fairy encounter, I would like to hear from you.  Please contact me via the form at

The above article appears in the next issue of Waiting magazine. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Hunting for Fairies

Today was 'one of those days...' 
....not bad, but unbelievably brilliant! 

BBC Radio Wales has a new programme, 'The Unbelievers,' and for one episode I was asked to lead a fairy hunt.   

Yes, really.  

I suggested a quiet spot, but time was against that, so it was decided that Castell Dinas Bran would be a great place to look for fairies - even though it's bristling with walkers. 

When I told the team that actively looking for fairies meant they were unlikely to let themselves be found, faces fell, but presenters, (John and Mike), and crew, (Rhys and Nathan),persisted, so eventually the hunt got under way and the delightful lunacy began.

I should explain that John is also known as Eggsy from Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain and Mike is a stand-up comedian, (tonight he's onstage with Jack Dee in Hay on Wye), so this was never going to be a scientifically serious expedition... even though they ended the day vowing to find a scientist who could explain the multi-dimensional universe to them... good luck with that one, Mr.Scientist!

A few hours in the company of Mike and John, BBC Radio Wales' answer to Mulder and Scully saw us scampering, (well, in Mike's case, hobbling because of his poorly knee), up to Castell Dinas Bran in search of fairies.

The pair of them took opposing views. John believes in fairies, Mike is a sceptic and I spent the afternoon trying not to laugh as they squabbled like naughty little kids. John's varying descriptions of Dinas Bran, from 'stone erection' to '... a grey Castle Greyskull which would eat me if it had a mouth...' had us all in fits, even Mike. 

Thanks guys for today's utterly splendid bit of craziness!

The first programme will be broadcast here on Saturday 30th. May:

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

No Such Thing As Coincidence...

A couple of days ago, Mo a friend and fan of The Last Changeling asked me if I'd been in Leominster recently.
I hadn't, but she had seen my double and more magical yet, this doppelganger was talking to a group of people about a book launch!
On Friday I was visiting a friend who appears under the guise of archaeologist Claire Melin in The Last Changeling.  I'm writing book two, and the Titanic appears as part of a subplot.
I told Claire I wasn't sure about this section.
I wondered if I should take Titanic out?
On Saturday this old bottle opener came into my life.  Made in Chicago, it's quite rare as they were never on sale to the general public, such bottle openers were given to staff only.
Here it is:

I found the inscription inspiring - Cunard & White Star.  I'm sure anyone reading this already understands the significance, but in case you don't, Titanic was  a ship of the White Star line.
I've taken it as a sign.
The Titanic stays in!