Meet the author
She can speak
Spanish and German
Children and young people books
Y Porthwll (Dalen Newydd, 2015)
Yr Horwth, (Atebol, 2019)
What inspired you to write this book?
When I was young, I was dying to read fantasy books in Welsh, but there was very little choice at that time. Now that I am in a position to do something about it, I am passionate about creating fantastic books that children and young people in Wales will want to read for pleasure, in their spare time.
I had written a fantasy novel for adults some years ago – which has not yet been published, although I very much hope that she will see the light of day at some time. When I was offered to write a book for Atebol, writing a novel based in the same imaginary world felt like a natural thing to do. There wasn't one great moment of inspiration giving birth to the Horwth – just sitting in front of a screen for days at a time, with a lot of coffee. That’s how it is for me 99% of the time.
Say a little about the story you've created.
The Horwth is the first in a series (hopefully!) of fantasy stories for young people called Chwedlau’r Copa Coch. [Legends of the Red Summit]
The novel follows four main characters – Sara, Heti, Pietro and Nad – as they go on a dangerous journey to a mountain in the middle of the wilderness, to the red summit, in order to defeat a monster called the Horwth that has been attacking the surrounding country. In that regard, the basic plot is not dissimilar to any number of classic fantasy stories such as the Hobbit, but there is more than one twist as the novel progresses.
And, unlike a number of fantasy stories (and without spoiling anything), the characters don't go "there and back again". They remain on the Red Summit – and the relationship between the characters and their new home will be one of the biggest themes as the series continues.
What do you hope readers will get from this story?
I have hope, of course, that readers who love fantasy already will have a taste for the Horwth. But I also really hope that the book will appeal to readers who have never read fantasy before, and inspire them enough so that they turn to more classics from the genre, be it in Welsh or in English.
The Horwth is definitely not a novel aimed at boys – my favourite characters in the book are all girls! I have also not specifically targeted one age when it comes to readers, and hope that children, young people and adults will all enjoy the Horwth in their own way.
Above all, I hope that the Horwth will open people's eyes with regard to fantasy books in general, and the role of fantasy in Welsh literature more specifically.
What specialist or research information was needed to write this book?
One of the great pleasures of fantasy writing is that you don't need to research if you don't want to! Obviously, history, legend, fairy tales, and other fantasy works can be fed into the process of fantasy writing. But it is important to remember that an imaginary world is depicted, and that no rules must be obeyed, or any influences used, if the author does not want to. The only "research" that really needs to be done is read enough other fantasy books! But research isn't usually as much fun...
What made you start to write?
I was writing a few silly mini-stories in my spare time when it was a little boy, and I had quite a busy time doing so towards the end of my period at secondary school. But I wrote very little until 2010, when I got my first job writing for TV on the basis of a short career as a stand-up comedian.
While I love writing for TV and radio, boring things like finance and functionality have to be kept in mind all the time. It's nice, then, to write a novel (especially a fantasy novel) and let the imagination go on a crusade. I started to write my first novel, y Porthwll, in 2014, and I have hardly stopped since!
What books inspired you as a young reader?
Too much to list, no doubt! One series that impressed me very much was Fighting Fantasy by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone – fantasy books from the 80s (which are reprinted every few years, and always attract new followers), where the readers flick backwards and forwards through the book, creating their own adventure, rather than reading through the book from start to finish. They introduced me to fantasy. From that I went on to read the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, and of course, the works of art by J.R.R. Tolkien.
I must mention the Asterix books, which were stacked next to the bedside and all too eagerly digested when I was at home, sick from school!
What experiences in your life have influenced your writing most?
Although I usually write a fantasy, it's perfectly natural for the real world to interfere occasionally!
I think there's a part of me in each of the main characters of the Horwth. Like Pietro, I love reading. I'm a big fan of sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea, just like Heti. My jokes don't always get the response they deserve, like poor Ned. And, like Sara, I'm a vegan! I had never come across a vegan character in a fantasy novel before, but there's a first time for everything, I guess…
If you could choose to be a character from a book for a day, who would be and why?
It's a rather boring choice, but I would love to experience a day in Sam's life from The Lord of the Rings. A garden in a village out of the way, a full house of books and a pantry filled with food and drink... Perfect.
Until you have to walk for months, through all sorts of dangers, in order to save the world. I could do without that...
What character in your books are you least likely to get along with?
The answer to this question is likely to ruin the end of the Horwth! A much simpler answer, therefore: the Horwth itself, of course!
What message do you have to inspire young writers?
The great thing about writing is that you don't need anything apart from your imagination and something to write with. Paper and pencil are just as good, more or less, than the most expensive computer.
You could write anywhere, anytime. In the bath. On top of a mountain. While hanging upside down like a bat. You can share your writing with the world, or keep it all to yourself. It’s no matter!
And it's fun! There is no other kind of "work" I am willing to do until the early hours of the morning. It makes me feel like I've never grown up. Which feels quite good for a man who has just turned 35.
Hawlfraint y llun: Póló