Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Wells and Welsh - Eloise Williams

Thrilled, delighted and over the moon that my novel ‘Seaglass’, as yet unpublished (hint, hint), has come in as Runner-up in the Wells Festival of Literature Children’s Novel Competition this year.

Please do a happy dance for me.

Wow! You really do have the moves!


So, I went to Wells – beautiful City of extraordinary eateries and superlative shopping opportunities and shook Camilla’s hand. Yes, the Camilla. As you do.

Hello there, security people. Yes I AM coming into the marquee in the Bishop’s Palace Gardens thank you very much. And so is my mum.


Anyway, a lovely day was had by all and I am so chuffed that my story is so liked.

On that note – a bugbear. Time to get something off my chest.

Writers in Wales are often told not to make their stories too Welsh. Or, to put it another way, make them less Welsh.

Just because our stories are set in Wales and have Welsh characters populating them, it doesn’t mean that they won’t have Universal appeal. *Pulls extremely cross teacher type face*

‘Seaglass’ is a ghost story set on the Pembrokeshire Coast. It uses the local landscape and history as its setting and its main protagonist is a Welsh Gypsy. I specifically chose to write about the place because it is a place that I love with all my heart and is also where I am lucky enough to live. I chose for Scarlett to be a Welsh gypsy because that’s how she was born in my head.  

There are loads of brilliant writers setting their stories in Wales because it is interesting here! Even some writers who weren’t even born in Wales! Shock! Horror! *Picks self up from fainting position.*

I’m not saying that I will never set a story somewhere else – N.B. I probably won’t because there are all those procrastinational jobs to do – but I see absolutely zero reason why I shouldn’t write about the people and land where I live and still be relevant.

Eloise… can you make you make your stories a bit less Welsh?

Erm… No.

Will you make your stories a bit less Welsh?

Erm… No.

Perhaps if you could…

I’ll stop you there.

And so to celebrate the success of ‘Seaglass’, I’m in a cabin in North Wales, overlooking the sea from the Llyn Peninsula, close to the mountains of Snowdonia, learning to siarad Cymraeg badly, discovering my next story and editing Gaslight, which is set in Cardiff and was written with support from Literature Wales.

Of course the Welsh word for Congratulations is Llongyfarchiadau. As you well know.

Llongyfarchiadau Seaglass! Da iawn.  

And just to get rid of the teacher face a spot more happy dancing if you please… I’ll just get put on some Tom of the Jones!


Sue Purkiss said...

Congratulations on your success in the competition! Wells is my local town, and I love it. I was there yesterday, and discovered that they're opening a White Stuff there - oh, the little things that give us pleasure! Am surprised you've been asked to make stories less Welsh; that's really odd. I thought it was rather an advantage to be a Welsh writer - the Academi(?) gives grants and things, doesn't it, and seems very supportive? But apart from that, if you set a story in Wales you've got all that myth and legend and landscape to put the wind in your sails - who wouldn't want that? Look at Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising - it certainly worked for her!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Llongyfarchiadau! So, this novel isn't out yet and already winning competitions - Wow! When will it be out, then, because it sounds like my kind of novel.

I've been in Wells, briefly, on my way from Bath to Glastonbury, only a couple of hours waiting for the next bus - we visited the cathedral and saw that amazing centuries-old clock with the jousting knights.

Eloise Williams said...

Hi Sue. Ah - White Stuff. I feel your pleasure!

The support for Welsh Writers in Wales is nothing less than outstanding. Literature Wales give grants to help writers create work - that's how I managed to write Gaslight. And publishers like the mighty Firefly Press publish stories set here - thank goodness for them. And we have the stunning Ty Newydd Writers' Centre which is a centre of absolute excellence and one of my favourite places in the whole world. But the general advice seems to be that you should make your stories less Welsh if you want to get them published and selling - this isn't from people working within Wales, or from my lovely agent who is a bit partial to a Welsh story.

There are some brilliant stories set in Wales, some brilliant writers here, some brilliant source material and some brilliant readers who want to read things set here. It's just a really annoying thing that no-one seems to understand and yet gets bandied about anyway.

Argh! Frustrating!

I am going to carry on writing my stories which are, so far, all set here and I am sure that people will want to read them. Or at least I hope they will!

Hilary said...

Llongyfarchiadau from me too! Doing the happy dance for you :)

Eloise Williams said...

Hi Sue, Thank you!

No idea when it will be out as it doesn't have a publisher yet. Fingers crossed for news on that soon. Glad it sounds like your sort of book - I loved writing it.

Wells is beautiful isn't it? I didn't see the clock with the jousting knights. Which is the perfect excuse to go back. :)

Eloise Williams said...

Thanks Hilary.

I'm cranking up the stereo! :)