Wales has been my adopted home since 1979. My mother came from Northern Ireland and my father was Anglo-Irish. I describe myself as having Irish blood and a Welsh heart. You and I met recently, Christoph, at Tenby Book Fair when the splendid Judith Barrow introduced us.
Oh yes, I remember that day very fondly. :-) Please tell us a little about yourself as writer.
Like most writers, writing has been what I’ve done all my life. The metaphorical drawers are filled with terrible novels and alarming poetry. My most oft quoted remark when asked this question is that I have ‘suffered from arrested development for far too long.’ It wasn’t until my late fifties that I decided to get a grip and begin writing fiction with a serious view to publication. I wrote and self-published a novel in 2008. I still love the story but as a physical book I know it is flawed.
It chose me. I have never been keen on the concept of genre and have struggled with placing my own stories. I write about real life with a hint of magic along the edges. Because it was suggested several years ago that I wrote ‘magical realism’ I acquiesced. As I wrote ‘Ghostbird’ - which will be published by Honno in March 2016 - I discovered I was in fact writing a ghost story and decided the genre sat relatively well with me. For all I know, I’m writing my own versions of the fairytale. Genre can be subjective. Magical realism, the ghost story and the fairytale ask only that the reader suspend disbelief. Each explores elements of wondrous change. I like Matt Haig’s definition best. In his terrific book, The Humans, he says, “There is only one genre in fiction. The genre is called ‘book.’”
As a writer it is impossible to live in Wales and not be inspired by its landscape and legends. When I first read The Mabinogion and discovered The Myth of Blodeuwedd I was struck by the notion that to be turned into a bird was considered a curse. I’ve long had an affinity with birds and when I was a little girl, wanted be one. In my world, it’s the ultimate freedom. And thus the seed of ‘Ghostbird’ was sown. It’s also my attempt to reclaim Blodeuwedd as a strong woman. I’m partial to a feminist issue!
My second book is a completed first draft. It’s another mixture of magic, mystery, birds, secrets (plus a rather curmudgeonly old woman…) I have a third book outlined and this one is most definitely another ghost story.