Greencroft Books is a small publishing house based near Newport in Pembrokeshire. The business was established in 1973 by Dr Brian John, and since then he has published more than 60 titles under the Greencroft Books and Cilgwyn Publications imprints. For the most part the publications are aimed at the local book market, comprising residents and visitors to Pembrokeshire. Landscape, environment, social history, tourist guides, walking trails, geology and folklore figure prominently in the publications list. Most of the titles over the years have been written by Brian John, but he has also collaborated with a number of other authors and has commissioned others to write certain books on crafts, local history etc.
Brian undertakes most of the typesetting and design work himself, using Apple Mac computers and Mac-dedicated software. He also does much of his own photography and illustrative work. He always seeks to place his printing work with local printers so long as their prices are competitive. Book print runs are generally 2,000, and Brian does his own distribution to the trade. Within Pembrokeshire this is just about feasible for a one man band......
Greencroft Books also undertakes contract publishing, and work has been undertaken for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Menter Preseli, and the Norwegian Glacier Museum.
It is a source of pride to Brian and the family that Greencroft Books has never received any grant aid from anywhere. Most of the titles published in Wales by the larger Welsh publishers are grant-aided by Literature Wales, Welsh Books Council or other mechanisms on the basis that Wales needs help in order to reinforce its cultural identity and to demonstrate that there is a vibrant bilingual publishing scene. That's all very well, but that does mean that many books are published that would never see the light of day in other parts of the UK -- since there is simply no market for them. Rumour has it that in Wales a book that sells 500 copies is deemed to be a best-seller! And it's also apparent that while publishers in England ask themselves "Will it sell?" before publishing a book, in Wales publishers tend to ask "Will it attract sufficient grant aid?" Is this healthy? On balance, we think not -- it's high time that market economics started to influence the publishing scene in Wales.
The Angel Mountain Saga
Set in West Wales in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, the eight novels record the life and times of Martha Morgan, the feisty and passionate Mistress of the small estate of Plas Ingli, on the flanks of Carningli (Angel Mountain). All of the novels are best-sellers, and the saga has already attracted a cult following. Partly, this interest arises from the personality of the heroine herself, who is described by reviewers as "fascinating, feisty, flawed, complex and tragic." She is a multi-faceted character, and as the Saga develops she shows herself to be passionate, compassionate, brave, impetuous, fiercely loyal and protective of family and servants, while at the same time suffering from bouts of insecurity and deep depression. Each novel brings out different aspects of her character and traces her growth as a person. She has supernatural powers, and feels in an almost mystical way that she is rooted in to the landscape and that the sacred mountain of Carningli is a part of her soul. She epitomises what is meant by "hiraeth", and ultimately she may be seen as a symbol for Wales itself.
Then there are the other characters -- a host of very nasty villains, and the "angels" who help Martha to survive in the face of all the disasters that cruel fate decrees for her. Joseph Harries the Wizard is already a firm favourite; then we have housekeeper Blodwen Owen, Grandpa Isaac, the poetic and gentle Owain Laugharne, handmaiden Bessie Walter, smuggler Skiff Abraham, Patty the ex-prostitute, Brynach the foundling, the rough industrialist Wilmot Gwynne, the preacher called Jones Minor Prophet, and a host of others.....
“....lively, skillful and exciting, with a strong sense of place..”
“....a wonderful read.”
“....a most engaging and enjoyable book. A gripping tale...”
" ...beautifully written. A first-class read!"
"....I think these books are fantastic."
" ...the story romps along at a fine pace, with many twists and turns."
" ...the series gets better and better. Each book is more enjoyable than the last."
To start with, Brian thought of writing just one book about Mistress Martha. But when that turned into an instant best-seller, he was encouraged to continue -- to volume 2, then volume 3 .... and so on. Thus the original saga of five volumes was published over a five-year period, 2001-2005. On Angel Mountain, House of Angels, Dark Angel, Rebecca and the Angels, and Flying with Angels are all reprinted. The sequel -- Guardian Angel -- appeared in 2007. It is is still available in its first edition. Sacrifice was published in 2009, and Conspiracy of Angels in 2012. There is also a companion book to the saga, entitled Martha Morgan's Little World -- in a limited signed hardback edition only.
I have just recently discovered this wonderful series and wanted to thank you for publishing such a marvellous story and historical document! " Helgard Krause
"At first I thought Martha's diary might be a bit too female and tedious for me, but I couldn't put the book down! Your style is so full of the values of goodness, love & care, it's as if you are reaffirming these values in the reader who now seems to live in stress and turmoil - too much almost to hang on to in today's crazy world." Rob Waygood
"Have just finished reading Rebecca and the Angels. It is wonderful, but do I have to wait until November for Flying with Angels? Please publish sooner!" Kate Thompson
"Would it be possible to order 'Flying with Angels' please? Unfortunately I will not be in Pembrokeshire again until early next year........ After reading the book extract on the website, I can't wait until next year....... " Nicola Leatham
"Have thoroughly enjoyed Dark Angel and I am half way through Rebecca and the Angels. Will be sorry when this series ends but all good things have to end sometime!!" Jill Ellicott
"Our family have thoroughly enjoyed reading the Angel Mountain saga and have read all 5 books in the series." Leigh Forman
"I was lucky enough to obtain a signed copy of Martha Morgan's Little World at a small shop in Newport so this completes the series of books, I have them all now. We had a visit to Carningli on my birthday and it was a very moving experience as I not only saw Carningli but could feel the quiet serenity of the mountain. I would like to thank you for this experience which would not have happened had you not written the Angel Mountain books which have been a source of inspiration to me." Linda Laws
"The fact that Martha Morgan is a creation of your imagination has, for me, in no way detracted from the pleasure I gained from enjoying Martha's company. Long may you continue to develop such full and interesting characters! It makes the reader feel a sense of loss when the story ends...." Sharron Clement
"The saga series is certainly worthy of classical status, and it is very easy to see Martha's story as a lavish period drama, and indeed a 'block-buster' film with, perhaps, Catherine Zeta Jones as Martha? Can't wait." Roy Waterford
"I must say once more how both my wife and I are enjoying the series of boks, they are bringing to life what it must have been like in the area in past times....... " Michael L Whitbread
"I've just finished reading Dark Angel - the story just gets better & better - will poor Martha ever find true happiness!?" Joyce Lewis
"I feel compelled to write to you having just read part 5 of the Angel Mountain Saga. Tears rolled down my face as the life of Martha Morgan came to an end and I felt a real sense of loss. All five books have been amazing, enthralling, educational and inspirational. I congratulate you on such an achievement." Pam Wilson
"I have enjoyed the first four volumes of the saga and now look forward to yet another good read. How do you keep the momentum of the story and the development of the many characters going for so long and in such a lively way?" Heather Gordon
"I write to say how much I enjoyed the seven books of the life and times of Mistress Martha Morgan of Plas Ingli. Once I started reading On Angel Mountain I found it difficult to put the book down, and as I continued through the remaining books it got even harder. The reader gets into the way of life of Martha and all connected with her - it gets into the blood!" Ileen White
"May I congratulate you on your fascinating Angel Mountain series which has given me many happy hours of reading. I hope to live long enough to see it become an equally delightful television series." Mair Price
"Congrats to Brian John on managing to draw all my senses into the book!!! The last time I was obsessed with a compelling need to read a book from cover to cover was 20 years ago when I read the Poldark novels by Winston Graham. Long live Martha Morgan!! " Heather Giles
"I would just like to congratulate you on a series of such wonderful books that you've written. My mother bought the whole series and was completely enthralled with them. She passed them on to me and I am currently working my way through the second book, which I find difficult to put down! " Sally Whittock
"I recently came across some of the Angel books. Now I am hooked Could you let me know if they are available and what it would cost to send them to me in the US?" Carey Anderson
"I wanted you to know how much I loved your last book in the Martha series. I found I couldn’t stop crying at the end…not because I was sad, but because the completeness of her ending was something I felt said something to me very profound (my 93-year old aunt had just died so perhaps it was on my mind). I think there is a bit of Martha in me.........." Clarissa Dann
"..........can't wait to read it! In the summer I treated my mother to a whole set of the Angel books signed by yourself, she was over the moon especialy having spent much of her childhood on a farm in the area. Can't wait to visit again. I would like to purchase 2 signed copies of your book -- how can I get these please?" Christine Leigh
"Today I feel very lonely. After some months of reading, last evening I completed Guardian Angel, and now Martha has left me. This is only the second time I have been able to read a complete literary Saga, from beginning to end, back to back, and in one complete sitting, as it were, without any other reading in between. It has been a most satisfying, if somewhat tragic, reading experience, for which I offer you my very sincere appreciation. I first became aware of Carn Ingli on an Easter break around five or six years ago, and although the first couple of Angel Mountain books were then available, I didn't actually purchase any until earlier this year when I ordered all six in one delivery, since when Martha has been my almost constant companion, whenever I could get away from the lesser things of life." Neil Carter