The angel mountain saga
The eight novels of the Saga are almost impossible to classify. Yes, they are works of historical fiction -- but they are also love stories, mysteries, crime stories, allegories and regional novels. The seventh novel, called "Sacrifice", is best classed as a thriller, and the eighth, called "Conspiracy of Angels", might be called a "literary novel." They are enjoyed equally by male and female readers -- and all the readers are more than a little intrigued that author Brian John, a happily-married father and grandfather, should have "taken on" so enthusiastically (and successfully) the persona of a strong and passionate female in the telling of the tales.
The full story of Martha Morgan's life came to Brian during a night of delirium on Gran Canaria in 1999, after he had picked up a nasty virus on the flight from London. The full narrative, complete with characters, places, twists and turns in the plots, and even detailed conversations came into his head and stayed there until it was all written down. He still feels, to this day, that the story was a gift, but he has no idea where it came from!
The first novel, "On Angel Mountain", covers just one year of the heroine's life, when she is still a nervous teenager learning how to survive in a brutal world. The second, "House of Angels", deals with Martha's time as a young mother who discovers her own strengths and who sets a complex trap for the evil men who have designs on her and her estate. The third book, called "Dark Angel", is the most inward-looking of the novels, dealing with the themes of motherhood and female insecurity in the context of an ultimately tragic love affair.
Book four, entitled "Rebecca and the Angels", describes how Martha tries, in her middle age, to do something to make the world a better place -- and in so doing lands herself in a series of very dangerous situations. And Book five, called "Flying with Angels", covers the last years of the heroine's life, during which she has one last romantic fling and has to deal with a number of very determined and shadowy enemies. Book six, called "Guardian Angel", deals with the few years following Martha's recorded death. The heroine is somebody who goes by the name of Susanna Ravenhill -- but who is she?
And the seventh novel," Sacrifice", the only one which does not have the word "Angel" in its title, covers a period of about two years, and slots conveniently into a long gap in the story related in "Dark Angel." It is a very dark tale, with a number of traumatic episodes built into the narrative. "Conspiracy of Angels" is set in the year 1810, and the story immediately follows that of "Sacrifice"; it is an adventure story in which Mistress Martha become involved in the anti-slavery movement and in which she ends up dicing with death.
the greencroft books editions
The eight novels of the Angel Mountain Saga now have accumulated sales in excess of 65,000, with 27,000 copies of "On Angel Mountain" leading the field -- as one might expect. The first three titles were also published by Corgi, but Brian was very disappointed with the poor quality of the marketing and publicity for the titles, and he asked for the rights to be returned -- since when sales have steadily increased.
We are gradually moving towards a "house style"for the novels, with a highly ornamented letter "A" wherever the word "Angel" occurs in a title, and with a hint of Martha's handwriting towards the base of the cover. "Sacrifice" did not have a convenient angel in the title, so an ornamented letter "S" had to be used instead. Another recurring theme on the covers is the raven -- which has great symbolic significance, as readers of the series will know.
Brian's son Martin is the inspiration behind the latest covers, which have received many compliments from readers. The covers are gradually being replaced as stocks run down and as reprints are necessary. As indicated on the right, the only two covers still to be revamped are "Dark Angel" and "Flying with Angels". Watch this space....
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.