Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update on Kathleen Herbert, and her fourth (as yet unpublished) novel

Connie Jensen, a friend of historical novelist Kathleen Herbert (Bride of the Spear, Queen of the Lightning, Ghost in the Sunlight), left a comment at the end of my post about the Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize that I thought I'd bring to the forefront here, as I know Ms. Herbert still has many fans.  Connie has established a blog at for those who would like to follow along with the path to publication for Kathleen Herbert's fourth novel.  Queen of the Lightning won the Heyer Prize in 1983.  I wish them the best of luck!


Hello- I have just come across this fascinating blog while doing research on Kathleen Herbert. I am so pleased to see she has some current fans. I may have some good news for you: as well as being an admirer of Kathleen's books, I have been a personal friend for many years, and she has entrusted me with finding a publisher for her fourth and sadly, final novel. She completed Moon in Leo about ten years ago, and then had a very severe stroke. In the years of struggle since, she has been unable to gather the book together and get it published. She has suffered increasing anxiety over this but finally managed to give me the manuscript in two large carrier bags. The pages were all out of sequence and very badly typed, but after hours and days of work, my husband and I managed to get it into order and scan it. It is now ready and I am looking for an agent. Kathleen's former agent now only deals with tv scripts.

Here is a short extract from the synopsis to whet your appetites:

A time and place much like our own. Hardship up and down the country. People turned out of their homes; others living rich beyond the dreams of the dispossessed. Above all, religious hatred sending groups into hiding; feeding constant fear of plots and threats and rumour. Terrorist packmen roam the remote parts of the country. Celebrity and Royalty parade in a public sexual carnival.
This is England in the last years of the Stuarts; England in the days just before Monmouth’s rebellion; England at the time of the “Popish plot”; England of Restoration Comedy romps.
In these dangerous times how can a na├»ve girl live? It’s harder to find a safe path through the thickets of treason and bigotry than through the rip-tides and quicksands, solid routes and sanctuary in the sand of Morecambe Bay.
Her occultist father’s body burned; her brother pronounced dead from the deepest dungeon of Lancaster Castle; she fears herself threatened with marriage-by-rape to a predatory Placeman.

I am now in the process of submitting details to several agents, including at least one American agency; Kathleen is a quintessentially English writer, but I believe has many American fans. If anybody knows of an agent and/or publisher who might be interested, please let me know. In any case, I will try to keep readers of "Reading the Past" informed about the progress of Moon in Leo. I hope that, if it is a success, the earlier three novels will be republished.

Connie Jensen


  1. If there's already a following for this author, you should look into self-publishing through Smashwords, or CreateSpace on Amazon. Hire an editor to clean up the writing, and go from there. The author might be pleasantly surprised with the results.

  2. Thank you-- It's great to have an update about Kathleen Herbert. I had wondered why she just seemed to disappear - how sad to learn that she suffered a stroke and has been left incapacitated.

    There's an interesting shift in period with this fourth novel. I do hope you succeed in finding a way to get it published, and I'd certainly love to see KH's earlier work reissued.

  3. Thanks for that suggestion Belinda. I have always had it in the back of my mind that, failing conventional publication, epublishing is the way to go. However, I hadn't thought about how to do it. The two sites you suggest look really interesting. I don't think the writing will need cleaning up, as Kathleen is meticulous. One agent has already said "She writes beautifully". I will be submitting the book to another half dozen or so literary agents this coming week. Kathleen doesn't have a computer, and wouldn't know how to switch one on, so I hope to be able to put a proper book in her hands eventually, as there is nothing to equal that feeling!

  4. I am so sorry to hear that Kathleen Herbert suffered a stroke. I'm a great fan of her three early medieval novels and regularly recommend them on forums.

    Good luck with Moon in Leo!

    As well as e-publishing, you could also self-publish in paperback and/or hardback using services like Lulu ( or Lightning Source (
    Lightning Source in particular is used for printing and distribution/fulfilment by many small independent publishers, and titles in their catalogue appear on online retailers' sites like Amazon and on major wholesalers such as Bertram (UK) and Ingram (US) so bookshops can order them. List of distribution channels here: The author retains all rights and receives all royalties. There is a small set up fee (last time I heard, it was in the region of £50 - £100 per book), plus an ISBN number (about £100 for 10), plus £12 per title per year to keep the book listed in the catalogue.

    Lulu costs nothing if you are happy to have the book available to order only through their online retail site. To have a real book in your hands you only have to upload it to their site and then pay the cost of printing a copy (about £7 - £8 for a normal sized paperback) plus postage. If you want it listed on all the channels Lightning Source use (see above), Lulu has some sort of arrangement with Lightning Source with a similar set up fee. I have used Lulu's free service and it works very well; I haven't used their service via Lightning Source but I could put you in touch with people who have.

    All the best to you and Kathleen!

  5. That sounds great Carla, and it means I could give Kathleen a book, and still continue to pursue conventional publishing. We are planning a trip to the Furness Peninsula in the South Lakes, where Moon in Leo is set, to walk the path of heroine Rosamund and take photos. I could then use one of those for the cover. Kathleen used to walk all the settings and journeys in her books; this is why they appear so vivid. Here is a link for an interview with her in which she explains her working method:

    I shall continue to post updates, and historical and geographical links for Moon in Leo on my blog:

    Thank you to all you well-wishers out there; it has been so good to find out that Kathleen still has a following, and I feel encouraged in my efforts on her behalf.

  6. Connie - if you want a book to give Kathleen while you pursue conventional publishing, then Lulu's free service is probably close to ideal. You can set up the book as a private project which means only you can access it, and you can print a copy (or as many copies as you like) whenever you want. It's like private printing, except that you can order one copy at a time. A location photograph for the cover sounds perfect.
    Once again, good luck!