Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Rough Justice

Are you watching the fascinating series, Garrow, about the 18th century London barrister who champions the victims of the rough justice which existed in those days?  William can't bear to see women and young children being sent to the gallows for trifling offences.  Garrow was a real person who became a politician and judge and who reformed our advocacy system.  He introduced the phrase  'innocent until proven guilty', insisting that defendants' accusers and their evidence be thoroughly tested in court.
My book, The A-Z of Punishment and Torture, highlights some of the kind of cases Garrow would have defended and the lives he would have saved, had he been able.  We owe him a great deal.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Life is full of surprises ...

... and some of them are very pleasant.  It has been a joy to receive so many wonderful reviews of my book, some from old friends and journalist colleagues, and others from perfect strangers.  I realise the subject matter may not be top of most people's gentle bed-time reading material, but it seems that everyone has found some subject in it that has caught their interest - or made them shudder!   I'm delighted that the A-Z has been so well received.  Thank you.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Here At Last!

At last the day has come, and my ebook is out there in the ether.  It’s odd to have a book published which I can’t see or feel.  It was also an unusual experience to go through the production process with a publisher who is based in France, an art director who is in Canada and an illustrator in the North of England.  Not a word was exchanged between us, verbally at least, and any differences of opinion seemed to be easily resolved in the silent world of the written word.  (You can only shout by using CAPITAL LETTERS!)
My first foray into the world of ebooks forced me to think about their place in our rapidly changing world.  Our ‘convenience’ culture demands that everything in our lives - food, entertainment, information - comes with a wide choice and easy accessibility.  Hence the phenomenal rise in popularity of the ebook.  I love the idea that this way of  producing books saves many trees, as well as giving people greater, and more economical, access to books. 
Few of us have the time, or inclination, to plough through weighty tomes on serious subjects.   That doesn’t mean we’re not interested in historical facts. My book was written as an overview of punishments through the ages without sending the reader to sleep.   I can’t guarantee they’ll be no nightmares though!    

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A Book To Raise Eyebrows

After many years writing for newspapers and magazines throughout the world, I ventured into another unknown and accepted a publisher's invitation to write a book.  It was hard work but both challenging and satisfying ... so I decided to write another.
If you don't know me, you can only imagine the flurry of raised eyebrows when the title emerged, accompanied by a chorus of astonished query.  "What's someone like YOU doing writing something like THAT!"  While it wasn't pornography, The A-Z of Punishment and Torture is, I must admit, in many ways a far cry from anything I had written before.  However, in other respects, it was for me simply a matter of reporting the facts, hard or otherwise which, as a journalist, I had done for decades.  In the same way a surgeon regards his patient as a section of flesh to be probed and corrected, I took the tales of torture and cruelty and wrote them down, without judgement or sentimentality.  I did try to minimise the more gory parts as the object of this book was to inform rather than to shock.  It was intended to present an overview of the ways in which humans have punished each other over the centuries and as a reminder of how some still do.  There are moments of levity to lighten the load and some splendid illustrations. 
Now where shall I turn for my next challenge?