This week, the first people were vaccinated against Covid-19, giving us all new hope for the future. For the past 10 months or more, we have been privileged to have scientists, doctors, nurses and so many other wonderful, selfless and compassionate people fighting to protect us and save our lives.
However, one thing I would ask: please spare a thought for the thousands of laboratory animals who have been subjected to painful, often invasive, experiments to develop these life-saving vaccines, then have either died or been killed afterwards. In much the same way, I hasten to add, as happened to those animals who suffered and died to develop the treatment that pushed back my multiple myeloma, giving me extra years with those I love.
The saddest thing is that here in the UK - and in other countries across the globe - the testing of drugs and medical procedures on animals is a legal requirement. It's also bad science - in more ways than one - which could be replaced with animal-free experiments that would offer more accurate results.
People could be forgiven for thinking that, after having undergone chemotherapy with superb results, I would condone experimentation using animals. But having experienced first-hand the sorts of treatments that will have been tested on animals, I am more determined than ever that vivisection should end.
Besides, I have seen the photos showing the fear and despair in the eyes of those non-human persons whose healthy bodies are poisoned, scarred and destroyed by researchers seeking to save the lives of those of us who are privileged enough to be deemed 'worth saving'. The same fear and despair that I recognised staring back at me in the mirror when I was diagnosed and preparing to undergo treatment.
The Covid-19 virus - like so many other viruses - arose as a result of humankind's abuse of animals. And the weapons to fight it have arisen in the same way.
We deserve better. Animals deserve better. So, let's get involved in ending ALL abuse - abuse of people AND animals. As for medical research, let's end the use of animals in labs in favour of the clean, compassionate and effective alternatives that deliver accurate results without inflicting fear, pain and death.
After all, we have been spared for a reason.
Tracy J Holroyd, Cert Ed, BA(Hons) Member of the Society of Authors
Co-author The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy and Belinda Fellgate Novella Series
Belinda Fellgate: The Kiss of Flauros
Trying to look for the perfect "POP" word to start my review is proving to be quite a challenge. Why? Because I absolutely loved everything about this book and, for the life of me, can't think of any word stronger than the word "LOVE"!
Paranormal forces close in on Belinda and her companions when they visit the dreaded Circus Macabre. I can guarantee that you will form an instant attachment to the characters, who are incredibly relatable with NO disconnect whatsoever.
Understand, though, this attachment actually starts in book one, Belinda Fellgate: HellCat, but grows exponentially in the Kiss of Flauros.
Without giving too much away, have you ever read a book that has the ability to scare you? That has an ominous aura? Well, trust me, you’ve found it here! When a book has a character comparable to Dracula, a green black-eyed giant with brown-stained canine teeth, behemoths with men’s bodies and bulls’ heads, and a red frog-like creature called “Snotnose”, what more can I say? And if that’s not enough, enter the Dark Lord himself - Satan!
Welcome to Hell’s insurgents!
As with the first novella, HellCat, predictability is STILL NOT THERE. Every paragraph leaves you guessing; wanting and needing to know more.
Will Belinda receive the Kiss of Flauros on her fifteenth birthday? Flauros, the ferocious panther demon whose legions guard Hell’s Gate. If Belinda accepts his kiss, she will achieve maximum power to challenge the most evil demon of all: Malamok.
I could go on and on, but I'll give you just one more tidbit. Amongst the new characters in this book is a long-haired boy. He is important because he highlights one of the most pivotal points this novella makes: the gargantuan horrors that captive dolphins suffer in the aqua-circus.
The authors have cleverly woven into this text the amazing true story of "The Perfect Pair": the two beautiful armor-clad Atlanteans who once performed and perished in the aqua-circus - a facet of this story I truly loved. Have the authors deliberately used the concept of the fictional Circus Macabre as a parallel to the horrors of the real-life aqua-circus?
I can't begin to tell you how proud I am to see this message - possibly one of the most pivotal anyone can imagine – because I'm not exaggerating when I say that, to my mind, the horrors of dolphin captivity are second to none.
This is a spectacular read, carrying illuminating insights, and I am literally counting the days until the release of the next novella, Belinda Fellgate: Malamok.
Craig Nico, ARA
The perfect pair dolphin trilogy authors launch new novella series, belinda fellgate - interview with stephen kingston of salford star online magazine
ACCLAIMED SALFORD AUTHORS LAUNCH SCARY NEW
Which book is out - both of them?
The first book in the Belinda Fellgate novella series is Belinda Fellgate: HellCat. Its official release date is 18th June 2020. The release is late because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On a good note, the second book in the Belinda Fellgate series – Belinda Fellgate: The Kiss of Flauros – is written and undergoing its final edit. The artwork is complete but awaiting colour. There is a delay because our colourist is presently stuck in Spain, again thanks to Covid-19. However, we hope to have the book released within the next 6 months.
Scary kids’ stuff is a bit different from dolphins - what (literally!) possessed you to do it?
As writers, we needed a breath of fresh air, as the award-winning book series, The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy, was mentally and emotionally exhausting. Remember, The Perfect Pair was a true story written under the fiction banner to avoid legal problems. It was a damning exposé that got us into a lot of trouble and is STILL being interfered with by powerful parties. For us, Belinda Fellgate was an escape and a joy to write.
For many years, Tracy wrote spooky stories for teen books and magazines – The Bunty, The Mandy and Shout. She published around 60 short stories but wrote many more which were rejected as “too scary”. Then she wrote a children’s novel called Devil Doll. An editor from Usborne Publishing liked it so much that she worked on it for some months before being headhunted by a rival company. Sadly, this meant Devil Doll was shelved.
David found the manuscript in the loft, loved it and started to add his magic – and Belinda Fellgate was born. However, David’s input meant we had to raise the reading age to Young Adult.
Is the plan to scare the pants off poor journalists?
Quick answer! YES!
Why do teenage girls like this sort of stuff?
Not just teenage girls, but teenage boys as well. This is a book series for both sexes. It’s a form of escapism that we all need, especially now, during these sad and scary times.
The graphics are great - is that very much a part of the book?
A huge part! The demon tome, Secrets of the Shadow Realms, carries the illustrations and hints at the trials to come. The number of illustrations will increase with every adventure in the Belinda Fellgate series. Tracy believes David’s images would make great posters and can just see them finding their way onto bedroom walls throughout the country. That’s just how good the artwork is!
The book is nasty and creepy and horrid - is that a compliment??
That is indeed a compliment – it means we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve. But, as with all our work, there are hidden messages – animal welfare, bullying and abuse issues.
Anything else you want to add??
We have great hopes for this series, but – as always – it needs support. We are northern writers, born and bred in Salford, and hope that we don’t get side-lined as so many northern writers do.
Link to actual article: http://salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=5649
THE PERFECT PAIR DOLPHIN TRILOGY AUTHORS' LETTER TO UK PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON
Dear Prime Minister Johnson
First, we wish to tell you how happy we were to see you address our great country yesterday. During your illness, you were constantly in our thoughts and in our prayers - and, judging from public reaction, it seems to us that you are loved more than you know.
Next, we wish to raise the issue of China, the Chinese wet markets and the Chinese dog and cat meat trade.
You will know only too well how the Chinese (and many other Asian countries) work: skinning animals alive; boiling, grilling and blow-torching dogs alive; even eating some animals alive; in the ignorant belief that torture sweetens the meat.
We should NOT be trading with such countries - especially not China, which is responsible for a disease that could wipe out almost half of humanity.
We are requesting NO trade with China, and NO monies going to China in times of crisis. Same with Japan, Korea, the Philippines and other countries that see fit to abuse and torture animals in horrific ways, then peddle lies to cover up their gross inhumanity.
Until these countries change their ways, we should boycott them and restore our own manufacturing industries; returning us to an era when the UK produced quality goods, instead of importing cheap throwaway rubbish with which to destroy the planet.
Finally, having suffered from Covid-19 yourself, you know all too well how lucky you were to come through your ordeal. You also know how virulent this disease is. Despite the terrible death toll that Covid-19 has inflicted on the world, there are still some fortunate enough to weather it.
However, we ask you to take a glimpse into the future: the next pandemic inflicted by the Asian wet markets could be infinitely more virulent, more catastrophic, more deadly. Indeed, as the scientific community has testified, we are still not out of the woods with this version of Covid-19.
The world can no longer conduct "business as usual". Nature has handed humanity a harsh lesson – one we must ALL learn from if we wish to avoid another catastrophe such as this.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We send our best wishes to you and your loved ones.
David C Holroyd and Tracy J Holroyd, Cert Ed, BA(Hons)
Authors of the award-winning book series, The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy
When we announced the imminent release of Belinda Fellgate: HellCat, we received several emails from activist friends telling us that there was outrage behind the scenes – so-called activists bad-mouthing us via private message.
They know that the new book is a young adult fantasy. They know that we were writers and artists before we wrote the dolphin trilogy. It seems they're not even happy about us returning to our 'old jobs'. They don't want us to do anything that might attract public attention. They hoped we'd simply fade away. Well – shock and horror! - the HellCat is coming whether they like it – or not!
We eventually got confirmation that the charity block of The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy was down to Margaux Dodds and Gaye Hunter of the UK charity Marine Connection. They were trying to protect the interests of Ric O'Barry – a man who didn't want to share the anti-captivity platform with another ex-trainer from around the same era. On discovering this skulduggery, we announced it on social media - and three things happened. First, we and several activist friends were hacked by two people who claimed to be personal friends of Ric O'Barry. Second, one of Dolphin Project's senior team members opened a Twitter account with the sole purpose of challenging former head trainer and whistle-blower, David Capello. Third, several anti-captivity activists got in touch to tell us that the O'Barry team had also attacked them in various ways, including hacking and threats.
You can read the explosive blog that brought all this underhand trickery to a head by clicking on the link below – and be sure to read the comments, especially those made by other former dolphin handlers and Sugarloaf Sanctuary workers.
A friend recently complained that staff witnessing abuse in various industries are unwilling to speak out. That’s because whistle-blowers are treated so badly and get a reputation. Not only do they lose their jobs (be it being pushed or being forced to jump), but they also have great difficulty getting work elsewhere. Prospective employers think they can never be trusted. If people have a job and want to keep it, they quickly realise that they have to keep their heads down and their mouths shut.
The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy was not my story, but I helped to write and edit it. In doing so, I was vilified by the very charities I once contributed to. I lost all my lecturing work. I lost my publishing work. All of it.
I worked on an award-winning story that was emotionally draining; a story that I believed would give the charities ammunition against the captive industry; a story that I believed would educate the public and stop them buying that ticket to a dolphinarium. In my naivety, I didn't foresee that Capello would be viewed as a threat to O'Barry; didn't foresee that the charities would view us as a threat to their professed expertise and incomes; didn't foresee that the UK activists would turn on us and tell us that our help wasn't needed or wanted.
But we are not the only ones who have suffered. On an amusing note, I have commented on the testimonies of two celebrity activists who were complaining about the charities turning on them. In both instances, the celebrities involved replied to every comment of support … except mine. It seems that when the charities turned on US, it was deemed to be justified. When the charities turned on THEM, it was NOT.
Laughable when you think about it, but that’s people for you - one of the many reasons why I have always preferred animals to people … a mindset that stemmed from childhood and has only been reinforced throughout the years.
Tracy J Holroyd, Cert Ed, BA(Hons), Member of the Society of Authors
Freelance writer for D C Thomson
Children’s History of Manchester
Children’s History of Lancashire
The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy
Belinda Fellgate: HellCat