Brennan, J(ames) H(erbert) 1940- (Herbie Brennan, Jan Brennan, Maria Palmer, Cornelius Rumstuckle)
BRENNAN, J(ames) H(erbert) 1940-
(Herbie Brennan, Jan Brennan, Maria Palmer, Cornelius Rumstuckle)
PERSONAL: Born July 5, 1940, in County Down, Northern Ireland; son of James (a grocer) and Sarah Jane (a grocer) Brennan; married Helen McMaster, March 28, 1961 (divorced, 1991); married Jacquie Burgess (a psychotherapist and author), "Summer Solstice, 1993"; children: Aynia, Sian. Hobbies and other interests: Studying astronomy, prehistory, history, and philosophy; doing psychical research; watching movies and television.
ADDRESSES: Home—Republic of Ireland. Agent— Sophie Hicks, Ed Victor Ltd., 6 Bayley St., Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HB, England; (back catalogue) Georgia Glover, David Higham Associates, 5-8 Lower John Street, Golden Square, London W1R 4HA, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and lecturer. Full-time author, 1973—. Worked variously as a journalist, newspaper and magazine editor, hypnotherapist, counselor, marketer, and director of an advertising firm. Facilitator of seminars on such subjects as spiritual development, psychical research, dream work, sub-nuclear physics, magical training, the astral plane, healing, and reincarnation. Creator of computer software Tarot: The Teacher and Timeship, Five Star. Developer of boxed games Man, Myth, and Magic and Timeship, Yaquinto.
MEMBER: Society for Psychical Research.
Marcus Mustard, Bantam (London, England), 1994.
The Mystery Machine, Margaret McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Blood Brothers, Poolbeg (Dublin, Ireland), 1996.
(As Cornelius Rumstuckle) The Book of Wizardry:The Apprentice's Guide to the Secrets of the Wizard's Guild, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2003.
fiction; as herbie brennan
Emily and the Werewolf, illustrated by David Pace, Margaret McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Bad Manners Day, Macdonald (Hemel Hampstead, England), 1996.
Dorothy's Ghost, illustrated by Marie Corner, Heinemann (London, England), 1996.
Little House, illustrated by Stephen Lewis, Macdonald (Hemel Hampstead, England), 1996.
The Thing from Knucker Hole, illustrated by Alex de Wolf, Hippo (London, England), 1996.
Mario Scumbini and the Big Pig Swipe, illustrated by David Simonds, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1996.
Kookabura Dreaming, illustrated by Phillip Reeve, Scholastic (London, England), 1997.
Letters from a Mouse, illustrated by Louise Voce, Walker Books (London, England), 1997.
Jennet's Tale: A Story about the Great Plague, Mammoth (London, England), 2000.
Final Victory, A. & C. Black (London, England), 2000.
Zartog's Remote, illustrated by Neil Layton, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2000, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.
Fairy Nuff: A Tale of Bluebell Wood, illustrated by Ross Collins, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2001.
Nuff Said: The New Bluebell Wood Adventure (sequel to Fairy Nuff), illustrated by Ross Collins, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2002, published as Nuff Said: Another Tale of Bluebell Wood, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2002.
Frankenstella and the Video Shop Monster, illustrated by Cathy Gale, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2002, published as Frankenstella and the Video Store Monster, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2002.
Faerie Wars, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.
"barmy jeffers" series
Barmy Jeffers and the Quasimodo Walk, Armada(London, England), 1988.
Return of Barmy Jeffers and the Quasimodo Walk, illustrated by David Cobley, Armada (London, England), 1988.
Barmy Jeffers and the Shrinking Potion, Armada (London, England), 1989.
"ice age" series
Shiva: An Adventure of the Ice Age, Collins (London, England), 1989, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1990.
The Crone: An Adventure of the Ice Age, Collins (London, England), 1990, published as Shiva Accused: An Adventure of the Ice Age, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
Ordeal by Poison, Collins (London, England), 1992, published as Shiva's Challenge: An Adventure of the Ice Age, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
"eddie the duck" series; as herbie brennan
Eddie the Duck, illustrated by Ann Kronheimer, Puffin (London, England), 1998.
Eddie and the Bad Egg, illustrated by Ann Kronheimer, Puffin (London, England), 1998.
Eddie and the Dirty Dogs, illustrated by Ann Kronheimer, Puffin (London, England), 2001.
(As Maria Palmer) Capricorn's Children, Mammoth (London, England), 1995.
Cancer: The Black Death, Mammoth (London, England), 1995
The Gravediggers, Mammoth (London, England), 1996.
"sagas of the demonspawn" series; fantasy game books
Demonspawn, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
Fire Wolf, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
The Crypts of Terror, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
Demonstration, illustrated by John Blanche, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
Ancient Evil, illustrated by John Blanche, Fontana (London, England), 1985.
Demondoom, Fontana (London, England), 1985.
"grailquest" series; fantasy game books
The Castle of Darkness, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1984.
The Den of Dragons, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1984.
The Gateway of Doom, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1984.
Voyage of Terror, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1985.
Kingdom of Horror, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1985.
Realm of Chaos, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1986.
Tomb of Nightmares, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1986.
Legion of the Dead, illustrated by John Higgins, Armada (London, England), 1987.
fantasy game books
The Curse of Frankenstein, illustrated by Tim Sell, Armada (London, England), 1986.
Dracula's Castle, Armada (London, England), 1986.
Monster Horrorshow, Armada (London, England), 1987.
(As Herbie Brennan) Aztec Quest, Kingfisher Books (London, England), 1997.
(As Herbie Brennan) Egyptian Quest, Kingfisher Books (London, England), 1997.
Mindpower 1: Succeed at School, Armada (London, England), 1990.
Mindpower 2: Make Yourself a Success, Armada (London, England), 1990.
The Young Ghost Hunter's Guide, Armada (London, England), 1990.
(As Herbie Brennan) Memory, Scholastic (London, England, and New York, NY), 1997.
(As Herbie Brennan) Seriously Weird True Stories, illustrated by David Wyatt, Scholastic (London, England), 1997.
(As Herbie Brennan) Seriously Weird True Stories 2, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
(As Herbie Brennan) Alien Contact, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
(As Herbie Brennan) The Internet, Scholastic (London, England), 1998.
(As Herbie Brennan) Techno-Future, illustrated by Jeff Anderson, Puffin (London, England), 2000.
(As Herbie Brennan) Space Quest: 111 Peculiar Questions Answered, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2003.
(As Herbie Brennan) A Spy's Handbook, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2003.
informational books for schools; as herbie brennan
The Death of the Dinosaurs, illustrated by Chris Brown and others, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
Dr. Jenner and the Cow Pox, illustrated by Andrew Quelch and James Sneddon, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
How to Remember Absolutely Everything, illustrated by Barbara Vagnozzi, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
Leonardo da Vinci: The Greatest Genius Who EverLived?, illustrated by Lee Montgomery, Pearsons Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
Why Do Cats Purr?, Pearson Education (Harlow, England), 2001.
parapsychology; for adults
Discover Astral Projection: How to Achieve Out-of-Body Experiences, Collins (London, England), 1970, published as The Astral Projection Workbook, Aquarian/Thorsons (Hammersmith, England), 1989.
Mindreach, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1985.
Discover Reincarnation, Aquarian/Thorsons (London, England), 1992, published as Discover Your Past Lives: A Practical Course, Sterling Publications (New York, NY), 1994.
esoteric writings; for adults
Astral Doorways, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1971, and revised editions, Magis Books (Leicestershire, England), 1991.
Five Keys to Past Lives, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1971, revised as Reincarnation: Five Keys to Past Lives, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1981.
Experimental Magic, illustrated by Helen Brennan and Brendan P. Carey, Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, England), 1972.
Beyond the Fourth Dimension, Futura Publications (London, England), 1975.
The Reincarnation Workbook: A Complete Course inRecalling Past Lives, Aquarian (Wellingborough, England), 1989.
(With Eileen Campbell) Aquarian Guide to the NewAge, Aquarian (Wellingborough, England), 1990, revised edition as Dictionary of Mind, Body, and Spirit: Ideas, People, and Places, Aquarian (London, England), 1994, revised edition, edited by Fran Holt-Underwood, C. F. Tuttle (Boston, MA), 1994.
Nostradamus: Visions of the Future, Aquarian/Thorsons (London, England), 1992.
Ancient Spirit, Warner, 1993.
Magick for Beginners: The Power to Change YourWorld, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1998.
(As Herbie Brennan) The Little Book of Nostradamus:Prophecies for the Twenty-First Century, Thorsons (London, England), 1999.
The Magical I Ching, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2000.
(With Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki) Magical Use ofThought Forms: A Proven System of Mental and Spiritual Empowerment, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2001.
Occult Tibet: Secret Practices of Himalayan Magic, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2002.
nonfiction; for adults
The Occult Reich, Futura Publications (London, England), 1974.
An Occult History of the World, Volume One Futura Publications (London, England), 1976.
Power Play, Sphere (London, England), 1977.
Getting What You Want: Power Play Techniques forAchieving Success, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1977, revised as How to Get Where You Want to Go, Thorsons (Wellingborough, England), 1991.
The Good Con Guide (humor), Sphere (London, England), 1978.
Getting Rich: A Beginner's Manual, Thorsons (Wellingborough, England), 1988.
A Guide to Megalithic Ireland, Aquarian/Thorsons (London, England), 1994.
Time Travel: A New Perspective, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1997.
(As Herbie Brennan) Martian Genesis: The Extraterrestrial Origins of the Human Race, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1998, Dell (New York, NY), 2000.
(As Herbie Brennan) The Atlantis Enigma, Piatkus Books (London, England), 1999, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2000.
(As Herbie Brennan) The Secret History of AncientEgypt: Electricity, Sonics, and the Disappearance of an Advanced Civilization, Piatkus Books (London, England), 2000, Berkeley (New York, NY), 2001.
(As Herbie Brennan) Death: The Great Mystery ofLife, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2002.
fiction; for adults
The Greythorn Woman Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1979.
Dark Moon, Michael Joseph (London, England), 1980, Holt (New York, NY), 1981.
(As Jan Brennan) Dream of Destiny, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980.
Author of Why Race for Space?, an informational book for children, Longmans; a radio play, The Direction of Love, British Broadcasting Corporation; and The Ultimate Elsewhere, a volume of esoteric writing, Futura. Contributor of short stories to collections of science fiction published by Scholastic and Egmont. Contributor to Flame Angels, an anthology of Irish writing edited by Polly Nolan. Contributor of science-fiction stories to periodicals, including Galaxy, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Worlds of If. Contributor of humorous short fiction and romances to periodicals, including Woman, Woman's Choice, Woman's Own, Woman's Realm, and Woman's Way. Facilitator of The Way of Laughing, an online study course in sacred science.
Brennan's books have been published in more than fifty languages, including Finnish, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Israeli, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Slovenian, and Turkish.
ADAPTATIONS: Ghosts on Tape, selections drawn from Brennan's stories, was released on audiocassette by HarperCollins, 1993. The Mystery Machine was released on audiocassette by American Printing House for the Blind, 1999. The Black Death was released on audiocassette by the Reed Group.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A Ghosthunter's Handbook and An Alienhunter's Handbook, for Faber and Faber (London, England); Faerie Wars 2: The Faerie Queen, for Bloomsbury (London, England).
SIDELIGHTS: A prolific author of fiction and nonfiction for children, young adults, and adults, J. H. Brennan is the creator of a wide variety of works that reflect his interest in psychology, mysticism, the occult, comparative religions, and quantum physics, among other subjects. Written under several pseudonyms, most of them variations on his given name, his nearly one hundred books have sold over seven million copies. A writer of popular science fiction as well as a pioneering writer of fantasy adventure game books, Brennan is also acknowledged for writing informational books on controversial subjects, works that make provocative statements, backing them up with well-researched documentation. Brennan has written about topics such as magic, reincarnation, time travel, out-of-body experiences, the prophecies of sixteenth-century seer Nostradamus, the existence of Atlantis, and the possibility that the human race was created by extraterrestrial beings. He also has written books on such themes as death, the spiritual practices of Tibet, the unknown history of ancient Egypt, the history of prehistoric Ireland, and the techniques needed to achieve success. Several of Brennan's works of esoteric literature are regarded as classics in their field. Although these books are not directed to young people, some of them have found an audience among young adults.
As a writer for the young, Brennan characteristically blends fantasy and reality in wildly humorous stories, several of which are based around interactions between human children and supernatural creatures. In these works, the author often spoofs well-known genres, such as the detective story, the science-fiction novel, and the horror movie. Although these stories are noted for their riotous antics and broad humor, several of them are underscored with serious subtexts such as prejudice and the relationship between parent and child. As a writer for young adults, Brennan writes realistic and historical fiction as well as works that combine the two. Among his novels is the story of a psychic Cro-Magnon who is accused of murder before becoming a leader of her people; a disabled, fourteenth-century servant girl who is saved from being burned as a witch by the onslaught of the Great Plague; and a German boy who meets his idol, Adolf Hitler, during World War II. Before he is killed, the boy discovers that Hitler is not what he expected. Brennan also has written informational books for young people about such subjects as the evidence for human contact with aliens, how to succeed at school by using your mind, how to use the Internet, and how to be a spy. In addition, he has written two collections of stories featuring weird but true facts, such as a boy who walks on water and nuns who can fly. Brennan also is the creator of several series of fantasy game books, of which the "GrailQuest" series is especially popular. He has also written educational literature for schools, including biographies of inventor Leonardo da Vinci and Dr. Edward Jenner, the creator of the smallpox vaccine.
Brennan fills his fiction and picture books with action, puns, wordplay, and humor, some of it scatological. As a stylist, he sometimes favors literary techniques, such as the creation of parallel plots and the use of alternating chapters with different narrative voices. Several of Brennan's historical books for young adults include author notes that present additional facts about their subjects. Although some critics have noted that Brennan occasionally writes thin texts for children and presents outrageous theories to adults, most observers acknowledge him as an author who combines fantasy, psychology, and science in an arresting manner.
Born in County Down, Northern Ireland, Brennan is the son of two grocers, James and Sarah Jane Brennan. As a small boy, he developed a keen interest in psychology and started to study books on the subject. His research soon led him to other topics, such as hypnosis, and he claims to have hypnotized his first subject, a school friend, at the age of nine. At age eleven, Brennan entered Portadown College, a local prep school, where he stayed until he was eighteen. After graduation, Brennan became a journalist; at twenty-four, he became the youngest newspaper editor in Ireland. Brennan worked as a magazine editor, a hypnotherapist, a counselor, and an advertising director, among other positions, while working on his writing. The success of his first books, Discover Astral Projection: How to Achieve Out-of-Body Experiences and Astral Doorways, led Brennan to become a full-time writer in 1973. In his subsequent books for adults, the author has continued to explore psychical, psychological, and parapsychological subjects. Brennan has been praised for his examinations of unusual topics in these works, and he is commended for covering both the familiar and the exotic in an insightful and fascinating way. Brennan also has written romantic novels for adults and has contributed humorous and romantic short stories to women's magazines; as well, he has contributed science-fiction stories to anthologies and periodicals.
In 1984, Brennan began producing books for young people. Inspired by role playing in fantasy games, he wrote the first two volumes of his "GrailQuest" and "Sagas of the Demonspawn," game-books series that include eight and six volumes respectively. The popularity of these series led Brennan to create additional game books. For example, Egyptian Quest sends the reader on a journey through ancient Egypt in order to help a pharaoh. Offering players a variety of adventures from which to choose, the volume is filled with plot twists, surprise pitfalls, and humor; it also offers added attractions such as instructions on how to send messages in hieroglyphics.
Brennan's "Ice Age" novel series for young adults, featuring an orphaned Cro-Magnon girl in prehistoric Europe, is among his most well-received. The first book in the series, Shiva: An Adventure of the Ice Age, introduces the twelve-year-old title character, who is a member of the Shingu tribe, a society ruled by women and managed by magic. Shiva is saved from an angry wolf by Doban, a Neanderthal boy who is the son of a chief. After Shiva befriends Doban, the boy is imprisoned by the Shingu because the races are mortal enemies. After Shiva frees Doban and takes him to the forest, she puts herself in danger. The Shingu and the "Ogres," as Shiva's tribe calls Doban's people, prepare for war, but because of the understanding between Shiva and Doban—and Shiva's psychic abilities—the pair are able to prevent it. Shiva also discovers the great totem of her tribe, the skull of a saber-toothed tiger, which aids her and Doban in stopping the fight. A writer in Kirkus Reviews called the book a "thoughtprovoking Ice Age adventure" and commented favorably upon Brennan's "sensitivity to different points of view" and his "creation of sympathetic characters on both sides." Writing in Booklist, Ilene Cooper wrote that Brennan knows how "to mix history, myth, and adventure," and commended the "book's important messages about similarities and differences."
In The Crone: An Adventure of the Ice Age, published in the United States as Shiva Accused: An Adventure of the Ice Age, Shiva discovers the murdered body of the Hag, a witch who is the chief wise woman of all the tribes. The Barradik, a rival tribe, accuse Shiva of the murder, an accusation that they use as a ploy in order to take political control when a new Hag is selected. The Barradik capture Shiva, beat her, and condemn her to death by stoning. Shiva is saved when a thousand Ogres—the Neanderthals from the previous book—march out of the forest to act in her defense. Reviewing Shiva Accused in Booklist, Cooper stated, "By switching from one viewpoint to another, Brennan provokes readers and holds their attention with the excitement of the tale." Eleanor K. MacDonald in School Library Journal noted the novel's "real sense of danger and adventure" before concluding that readers "will discover that the use and abuse of power are as old as man (or woman)."
In Ordeal by Poison, published in the United States as Shiva's Challenge: An Adventure of the Ice Age, Shiva has been chosen to be trained as a Crone, or wise woman. In an initiation ritual, she is commanded to drink from one of six bowls, a traditional "ordeal by poison." She wakes from her drugged sleep in a frozen wasteland and must make her way home in order to prove herself. The story also includes two parallel plots. The first features Thag, the tribal leader of the Ogres. Thag has been challenged in battle by Shil, a jealous warrior who defeats Thag unfairly and banishes him to the frozen forests. The second subplot features Hiram, a Shingu boy who discovers that Shiva has been taken north in her initiation ritual. He enlists the aid of Heft, an Ogre with legendary tracking skills, and sets off to find her. Finally, all of the plot lines come together, and the young people are chosen as tribal leaders. Describing Shiva's Challenge as "a good addition to the series," School Library Journal critic MacDonald said, "the story moves with a compelling force."
Brennan is also the author of several popular books for younger children. He has written a series of humorous stories about Eddie, a duck that witnesses a bank robbery, is kidnapped (or, as Brennan puts it, "ducknapped"), and, after freeing himself, becomes a "ducktective" in order to bring criminals to justice. Told by the title character in the style of the "hard boiled" detective stories of the 1940s and 1950s, the "Eddie" stories feature lots of action, witty wordplay, and happy endings. In her review of the first book in the series, Eddie the Duck, in Magpies, Margaret Phillips concluded, "children will be caught up in the pace and slapstick humour of the story."
Marcus Mustard is a fantasy novel about how the title character, a boy who is apprenticed in a castle that keeps "spinners", large deadly spiders that make silk for the aristocracy, is poisoned by one of the spinners when he becomes trapped in their breeding area. Writing in School Librarian, Graham Case noted, "If one of the tests of excellent fantasy has to be 'the willing suspension of disbelief,' than this book has achieved it beautifully!"
In The Mystery Machine, young Hubert, a boy who wants to join the circus and become the youngest human cannonball, is catapulted into a shed belonging to his neighbor, the nasty Mrs. Pomfrey-Parkinson. Inside the shed, Hubert discovers a strange machine. When he touches a button, Hubert is transported to a spaceship, where he discovers that his neighbor is part of an alien group that wants to take over the Earth. With the help of his friend Slider and some fireplace soot, Hubert foils the takeover. Writing in Booklist, Carolyn Phelan stated, "Not just for science fiction fans, this story has its feet on the ground." Anne Connor of School Library Journal concluded, "This fast-paced, madcap, science-fiction spoof will appeal to young adventure lovers."
Aliens also feature in Zartog's Remote. A story for primary graders, the book describes how Zartog, an eight-year-old alien with several arms, disobeys his three parents and flies his spaceship to Earth, where he is stranded after he loses his remote control. Eight-year-old Rachel, a black girl with thick glasses who is being bullied by a group of thuggish schoolmates because of her appearance, finds Zartog's remote. Finally, Zartog's computer helps him to get back to his planet by using a time machine. Before he leaves, Zartog, Rachel, and her dog, Lord Percy, use the alien's remote and Rachel's television remote to teach a lesson to the bullies at Rachel's school. Writing in School Librarian, Anne Rowe noted, "This is a fast and easy read. . . . It is funny, too, involving Zartog's responses to earthly things and the surreal nature of our language."
With Frankenstella and the Video Shop Monster, published in the United States as Frankenstella and the Video Store Monster, Brennan made his first contribution to the picture-book genre. In this work, little Stella warns her mother about the monster she sees in the dark corners of the video store they are visiting. However, her mother ignores her and is eaten by the horned creature. Stella transforms herself into a snaggletoothed giant and roars that she is Franken-stella, who eats monsters for breakfast. Before she shrinks back to size, Stella makes the monster burp up her mother before she sends it out to sea (with a life preserver). Even though she is covered in green slime, Stella's mother continues to attribute the monster to Stella's imagination. Calling the book "a riotous creature feature," a reviewer in Publishers Weekly noted, "This cathartic book . . . makes good sport of one's inner and outer demons."
Brennan is also the creator of two stories about Fairy Nuff, a young sprite who lives with his parents and his brother and sister, Biggie Nuff and Sweetie Nuff, in a cottage in Bluebell Wood. In Fairy Nuff: A Tale of Bluebell Wood, the protagonist is left alone in the family cottage; on his first night, he blows up his home while trying to light a candle with a stick of dynamite on a barrel of gunpowder. This act sends a grenade through the window of the mansion belonging to Widow Jennett Buhiss, a mean witch. The grenade blows up the widow's doghouse and scatters her stock certificates, which are worth billions of pounds. Buhiss sends her troll-like groundskeeper, Orc, to bring Nuff to her. When Orc places Nuff in Buhiss's woodshed, he meets another prisoner: the queen of England. Nuff rescues the queen and thwarts the witch's plan to take over the British Empire. The queen puts Buhiss in the Tower of London and rewards Nuff by making him a knight and giving him the widow's stock certificates. A critic for Kirkus Reviews commented that the author's "extravagant puns and over-the-top pacing . . . will give fans. . . more practice in delighted eye-rolling. Fair enuff." Writing in School Library Journal, Eva Mitnick predicted, "Kids will relish the broad humor and witty language, but the characters will really win them over."
In Nuff Said: The New Bluebell Wood Adventure, appearing in the United States as Nuff Said: Another Tale of Bluebell Wood, Nuff throws an enormous garden party at the new castle he has bought with some of the money that he received in the last book. He invites the queen of England and the president of the United States, among other notables, builds a theme park; and gets the Chinese State Circus to entertain his guests. However, he does not plan on the presence of two uninvited guests: Widow Buhiss, who has escaped from the Tower, and her henchman Orc. In addition, Nuff does not know that his contractor, who is dyslexic, has mortared his castle with gunpowder rather than cement. Comparing Nuff Said to its predecessor, a writer in Kirkus Reviews dubbed the sequel "equally madcap."
In 2002, Brennan produced Faerie Wars, a novel noted for its crossover appeal to both children and adults. In this work, young Henry and his friend old Mr. Fogarty become involved with Prince Prygus Malvae, a faerie royal who has been sent from his own world in order to escape the evil Faeries of the Night. The prince, who must get back home to thwart an attack by the treacherous band, convinces Harry and Fogarty to help him. According to Independent critic Nicholas Tucker, "Brennan writes with all the dash of an Irish storyteller at the peak of his form. Inventive as Harry Potter, dark as Gormenghast, and as intelligently probing as Philip Putnam, here is a title to brighten the dreariest of winter days."
In addition to his career as a writer for children and adults, Brennan has spent much of his professional life as a student and teacher of the mystical arts. He trained in Qabalah, an ancient system of mysticism, with the Society of the Inner Light, and with Helios, the precursors of the Servants of the Light. The latter group runs a Mystery School, the Servants of the Light School of Occult Science, that is headed by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, an author and educator who is the director of studies for the program. Considered one of the most respected esoteric practitioners in the British Isles, Ashcroft-Nowicki collaborated with Brennan on a book for adults, The Magical Use of Thought Forms. Brennan has been married twice: his first marriage to Helen McMaster lasted thirty years and produced two children, Aynia and Sian, while his second marriage to Jacquie Burgess, an author and psychotherapist who is considered an expert on the use of crystals and their energies, led to their joint creation of Sacred Science, an informal movement dedicated to the investigation and promotion of the links between modern psychology, physics, and esoteric practice. Brennan is a frequent lecturer on New Age subjects and has traveled internationally to give seminars on such topics as reincarnation, dreams, magic, and sub-nuclear physics.
In an interview with Silence Thayer in Cyril magazine online, Brennan explained his attraction to writing: "I discovered years ago I was addicted to writing, much the same way some people get addicted to drugs—and for essentially the same reason. Stephen King somewhere talks about the writing process as a window opening up on the page and the writer passing through it into a whole different world. I know that feeling very well: it's an escape from reality and I love it. That's what gets me writing." After calling himself "a nuts-and-bolts man" who loves to find out how things work, Brennan concluded by discussing his interest in books for children: "I started writing for kids partly because I got interested in role-play gaming and partly because an American publisher told me I'd make lots of money. I kept doing it partly because I discovered I have a very childish mind—what amuses youngsters (bad puns, scatological references, and so on) amuses me as well—and partly because of the feedback. Children are the best critics in the world. They tell you when you're great and they tell you when you're useless. A writer needs that to keep on his toes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Brady, Anne M., and Brian Cleeve, A BiographicalDictionary of Irish Writers, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.
Dictionary of Irish Literature, 2nd edition, edited by Robert Hogan, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.
Booklist, December 15, 1990, Ilene Cooper, review of Shiva: An Adventure of the Ice Age, p. 855; August, 1991, Ilene Cooper, review of Shiva Accused: An Adventure of the Ice Age, pp. 2139-2140; May 1, 1995, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Mystery Machine, p. 1571.
Independent, February 13, 2003, Nicholas Tucker, review of Faerie Wars.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1990, review of Shiva, p. 1453; June 1, 2002, review of Fairy Nuff: A Tale of Bluebell Wood, p. 801; October 15, 2002, review of Nuff Said: Another Tale of Bluebell Wood, p. 1527.
Magpies, March, 1999, Margaret Phillips, review of Eddie the Duck, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, May 6, 2002, review of Franken-stella and the Video Store Monster, p. 58.
School Librarian, November, 1994, Graham Case, review of Marcus Mustard, p. 162; winter, 2000, Anne Rowe, review of Zartog's Remote, p. 191.
School Library Journal, November, 1991, Eleanor K. MacDonald, review of Shiva Accused, p. 116; December, 1992, Eleanor K. MacDonald, review of Shiva's Challenge: An Adventure of the Ice Age, p. 108; July, 1995, Anne Connor, review of The Mystery Machine, p. 76; August, 2002, Eva Mitnick, review of Fairy Nuff, p. 147.
Cyril,http://www.cyrilmagazine.com/ (January 20, 2003), Silence Thayer, interview with Herbie Brennan.
Faerie Wars,http://www.faeriewars.com/ (January 20, 2003).
Herbie Brennan's Bookshelf,http://homepage.tinet.ie/~herbie/ (January 20, 2003).
Herbie Brennan Web Site, http://www.herbiebrennan.com (January 20, 2003).