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I’m well over 60, though I don’t appear to be speeding. My career was in medicine and biological research. Now I live in the Peak District of Derbyshire, England, where I eke out a living by editing medical and scientific papers and occasional fiction manuscripts. In my copious free time I travel the Peak District countryside and collect local folktales.
About six years ago I decided to try my hand at fiction writing. So far, I’ve had one collection of short stories (Rope Trick: Thirteen Strange Tales) published on a short print run by a small Canadian press; one story in that collection was based on a Peak District folktale. My first novel, Perilaus was published in the USA in 2009.
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New Titles from Mark
Fenella is officially a damsel, but she’s the despair of her parents, who want to marry her to young Sir Mallicose. Big, muscular, dark, scruffy and bold, Fenella would rather chop logs and shoot arrows than embroider a tapestry, and she isn’t interested in Sir Mallicose at all. Her younger sister Felicity—delicate, pretty, shy and retiring—loves embroidery, loves Sir Mallicose, and hates Fenella.
When the terrible dragon Faffer arrives in the neighborhood, wreaking havoc and stealing livestock and maidservants, Sir Mallicose goes to fight him—and is captured. Fenella sets off to rescue him, despite the fears of her friend Harold the Steward. Her only weapons against Faffer the dragon are her axe . . . and her magic mirror, which shows you the thing you most greatly fear. Will they be enough? And if Sir Mallicose is rescued, which sister will he marry?
Word Count: 6137 (with illustrations)
"A damsel should be fair and delicate, like your dear sister Felicity," sighed Lady Geraldine. "But you, Fenella, are tall and dark and muscular. Can’t you do something about it?"
"Like what?" wondered Fenella.
"Also," pursued Lady Geraldine, "a well-born maiden must be shy and retiring, like your dear sister Felicity. But you, Fenella, are bold. You say what you think instead of what you ought to think. Your noble father is not pleased."
"Does that make me a bad person?" reasoned Fenella.
"Moreover, a young lady of gentle birth wears pretty dresses and spends her days embroidering tapestries, with her lapdog on her lap,” Lady Geraldine continued. “Like . . ."
"My dear sister Felicity," supplied Fenella.
Her dear sister Felicity looked up from her embroidery with a smug self-satisfied smile. She wore dainty slippers and a pretty blue silk dress, and there was a matching silk bow around the neck of her little white lapdog. Fenella growled. The little white lapdog whined.
"Quite so," confirmed Lady Geraldine. "Whereas you, Fenella, are ragged and dirty, you ply bows and arrows and―Saints preserve us!―axes instead of needles, and you prefer your noble father’s wolfhound to the lapdog. What will become of you when the time comes for you to marry?"
"I’ll marry someone who wants a wife who can fight, use an axe and handle wolfhounds," replied Fenella, "and doesn’t care much for pretty dresses and embroidery. I suppose some men are interested in other things than embroidery and pretty dresses, aren’t they, Mother?"
Felicity screwed up her beautiful face and stuck her well-bred tongue out at her sister. It wasn’t fair. Fenella always had an answer, and what was worse, she said it. Even if Felicity had had the wit to think up answers, she’d never have had the courage to voice them.
Lady Geraldine wanted to tell Fenella about their plans for her future. She and Sir Archibald intended their elder daughter to marry Sir Malicose, son of Sir Archibald’s best friend, Baron Bellicose. Malicose had been Sir Archibald’s squire and was now dubbed knight. He was tall and handsome and slender and courteous, rode a white charger, and jousted skillfully―though carefully. He was brave but gentle. He placed corks on the ends of his lances so he wouldn’t hurt his opponents during jousts, and he kept his sword blunt for fear it might cut someone.
"Never mind," said Sir Archibald. "He’s got all the skills. Just needs to learn to take more pleasure in killing and maiming, like a real man. And then he can marry Fenella and take her off our hands."
But Lady Geraldine didn’t feel strong enough to explain this plan to Fenella. She was too busy despairing. It was what she did best.Back to Fenella