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Mark P. Henderson

Mark P. Henderson, Author of Fenella  After retiring from a career in medicine and university teaching, Mark P. Henderson moved to the Derbyshire Peak District in 2002 and started to write fiction and collect local folktales. Several of his short stories and poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies. His books, released by various publishers, include an anthology of short stories (Rope Trick; 2008), a children’s story (Fenella and the Magic Mirror; 2009), a study of the origin and evolution of a local legend (Murders in the Winnats Pass; 2010), a collection of 62 traditional Peak District stories (Folktales of the Peak District; 2011), a collection of puns in verse and prose (Cruel and Unusual Punnishments; 2016), a one-act play (Forget it, it’s History; 2017), and a second novel (National Cake Day in Ruritania; 2018). The publishers of the last-named have given him a contract for another novel, The Engklimastat, due to appear in 2019. He’s in increasing demand as a storyteller to adult audiences around North-West England, and as an editor and a creative writing tutor.


New Title(s) from Mark P. Henderson

Fenella and the Magic Mirror by Mark Henderson The Definitive Biography of St. Arborius by Mark P. Henderson

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Fenella and the Magic Mirror by Mark Henderson

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)
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $ .99

The Definitive Biography of Saint Arborius of Glossopdale and his Thin Dog by Mark P. Henderson Seventh century England; a baby is found in a tree by a party of monks. He’s brought up in their monastery and given the name Arborius. Young Arborius appears to have miraculous powers, so he’s awarded a halo (second-hand, source uncertain)—but all is not as it seems. His “miracles” are really the work of his guardian spirit, a foul-mouthed thin dog, visible only to himself and to the slowest-witted of his fellow monks.

This biography of a little-known (actually non-existent) saint reveals how Arborius ostensibly earned his halo, worsted the Devil, was famed for feeding the poor and healing the sick, founded many of our Christmas traditions, departed the world in a manner recalling the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk—and was canonised.

Warning: the story contains groan-inducing word games!

Word Count: 13959
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $ 3.99


Fenella and the Magic Mirror

Fenella was growing upand up. Whenever her father took a holiday from jousting and fighting and returned to his castle, he’d glance at his elder daughter, shake his head and declare her Unsatisfactory. Her mother, Lady Geraldine, was in despair. Despair, of course, is the proper condition for a lady whose husband spends most of his life away from home, jousting and fighting.

“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 skillfullythough 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 and the Magic Mirror

The Definitive Biography of St. Arborius of Glossopdale and his Thin Dog

The Canonisation of Arborius: from a Mediaeval Tale

A poor woman of the parish went regularly to church to pray for relief from her husband’s flatulence. She considered it harsh of Providence, or at best ironic, that having survived the Black Death she had now fallen victim to toxic inhalation day and night. The Big-Name saints whose intercession she sought were all too busy with major challenges such as plague, simony, and labour shortages on cathedral building projects, and with comparing martyrdoms, to hear her supplications. Marital flatulence continued to beset her, and it was driving her to despair, to say nothing of respiratory tract injury. Nevertheless, she went on hoping that her prayers would one day be answered, and a divine power would take the wind out of her husband’s viscera—or rather, arrange for it to remain therein. In modern times, so patient and unimaginative a soul, so resolute in her faith in the ultimate triumph of optimism over experience, would have found her metier as England Football Manager.

One day it chanced that a rat, on its way to start a new plague outbreak in Bristol (some rats have a poor sense of navigation, but that’s common in Bristol), dropped a small bone in front of the praying woman before bolting into a hole in the wall of the south aisle. Correctly supposing that the ossicle had once formed part of an occupant of the Church crypt, and presuming that its delivery by rodent post had been divinely inspired, the woman pondered the identity of its previous owner and the significance of its arrival at her pew. Looking around the nave she became aware of a new series of wall paintings celebrating the earthly deeds of a local 7th century monk, Arborius, about whom Strange Rumours were muttered. His mortal remains were believed to lie in the crypt, along with numerous others. A stab of feminine intuition, or a disembodied voice in her ear, suggested that she pray to Arborius, not least because the wall paintings depicted this mysterious monk with a halo around his head—and, more idiosyncratically, with a clothes peg on his nose. So she prayed to Arborius and then she went home to cook supper.

Picture her surprise when she found that her zephyriferous husband had arrived home before her. He had left the fields early and was now searching in feverish and destructive haste among the meagre furnishings of their wretched hovel. His most prized possession had unaccountably vanished.

“Where is my anus, wife? What have you done with it? Where have you hidden it?”

Overjoyed, the woman recounted this miracle to the priest. Recognising an opportunity for promotion, the priest dictated the tale to a mushroom-eating friar who was passing and ordered him to report it to the bishop. Scarcely more than a month later, the less reputable Vatican tabloids were carrying banner headlines such as “Canonisation Candidate Can Make Assholes Disappear”. The supposed deeds of Arborius and his alleged power to intercede between the faithful and the Almighty had become a cause célèbre in Rome and were on everyone’s lips. Therefore, sainthood would have to be considered. However, scrupulous examination would be required, as in all such cases.

This raised a challenging question: who would conduct the examination in situ? Among the Vatican hierarchy there were uncomfortable murmurings. What are people saying about this Arborius? ‘Can make assholes disappear’? Could that be true? There’s probably nothing in the rumour but a chap can’t be too careful. As a result of those murmurings, the senior hierarchy decided to give Glossopdale a wide berth. Therefore, the Devil’s Advocate who finally arrived to conduct the official investigation was fifth choice. He was no match for the wily local priest, who had whiled away the interim spreading rumours about other miracles associated with Arborius and lending small sums of money to selected parishioners to help them remember occasions when Arborius had interceded on their behalf. So confident of success was the priest that he had placed an advance order with a well-known firm of reliquary manufacturers and had been measured by a leading tailor for a set of cardinal’s robes.

Nor was his confidence misplaced. Arborius was canonised, the priest was promoted and left the area, the miracles ceased, the rumours died down, and St. Arborius was almost entirely forgotten.


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