I, like many, had never heard of Wales. Celtic meant Irish or Scottish. By chance, I visited the town of Rhuthun near Chester and fell in love with the country and eventually the language.
Four years later, I began to write a story set in medieval Wales but within months realized I was ill-informed in every aspect. I made amends by taking a course in the language and further discovery led to an emigration, an eye-opening and a marriage.
During my life in Cymru(Wales), I have written many stories, one relentlessly led to another until I had amassed shelves of manuscripts that demanded I keep faith with the characters I had created out of my love and respect for this country, its language and people.
I have since realized I wrote these stories to help me cope with and understand the difficulties of being an immigrant. Despite my love for my new land, I was not part of it or its culture. Though I had a Welsh husband, Welsh children and was a Welsh speaker, I was, and still am, a foreigner. This is an uncomfortable place for anyone who also feels an abiding love for their native country.
I was tempted, as so many are, to ‘go native’. I was also tempted to demand, as others do, that my new home accommodate me, speak my language, accept my valves, understand my point of view, address my needs.
I did none of these. I resolved this cultural conflict with compromise. I could not be the Cymraes (Welshwoman) nor could I be the Alltud (stranger). I embraced my new home and retained my identity. This compromise was made imperative by the nature of Welsh history and the battle for survival raging all around me, to prevent the loss of language, culture and identity of my adopted country.
How could I participate in the destruction of a way of life I had come to love? How could I join the tsunami of cultural devastation that so many other immigrants were causing?
“The sooner the Welsh language is dead and buried, the better.” — English Immigrant, Business owner, Cardiff, 1981
“This country is a cultural desert.” — English Immigrant, Art Gallery Owner, Aberteifi, 2001
I chose instead to be among those immigrants who accepted they were in another country, with a culture and language worthy of respect.
“I came to Wales to find work and found another, wonderful life.” — English Immigrant, Botanist, 1990
“You don’t arrive in a country, speaking not a word of its language and expect people to change their language to suit you.” — Canadian Immigrant, Musician, 1985
As an immigrant to Cymru, finding my way into the language and culture, I was conscious that I had a responsibility to represent this country to the best of my ability. But, until the publication of Traitor’s Daughter, I was silent. When I grasped the “I am a writer” nettle, I found my voice and my confidence.
Now with the publication of the first book of my five-part series Pendyffryn: The
Conquerors, Invasion, which has just been accepted on the iBookstore, as well as Kobo, Sony, All Romance eBooks, Smashwords and Diesel, among others, I feel my writing about Cymru/Wales is beginning to reach readers who have also had the experience of seeking a new home.
And finding a home is the theme of so many of my novels: whether you have moved across town, the country or the world, whether you have sought kindred spirits, love or a sense of belonging, my books have something to share with you.
Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.
PS: The above link to Traitor’s Daughter will take you to the latest version. My readers wanted a glossary of the Welsh vocabulary I used in this novel and I’ve provided one, with pronunciation guides. Invasion also has a glossary, with more Welsh words and pronunciation guides.