Wyndwrayth finds Nick living in an old farmhouse overlooking a mysterious island in Wales where he becomes intrigued by its ancient and deserted mansion. What served as your inspiration whilst writing this book?
Once, when travelling, I came across this deserted, majestic old mansion house. It looked ancient, decrepit, left mouldering to sink into the landscape. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by overgrown trees and shrubs. It had lichens and green moulds staining its walls, ivy had invaded its broken windows which seemed to stare at me menacingly. The house had a presence, a brooding, ominous spirit that looked like it could swallow you whole. I remember thinking that it must have many stories to tell.
Having moved myself from Manchester to Wales the landscape here was also a big influence. The ancient monuments, the Norse connection and the lakes close, by inspired my research and my story grew from those influences. The Celtic connection to water and their mythology along with the Norse mythology also wove their way into my consciousness, combining with the memory of the intriguing mansion and Wyndwrayth was born.
Nick Swann is an intriguing character that I felt gained layers as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating his character?
I wanted to create a male character who is childless, approaching and becoming middle aged. I wanted to explore how he became stuck in a time gone by because of the death of his wife and how he falls back on those times when he’s in trouble. The character has a deep loneliness, which creates a certain unhealthy introspection and self medication. In addition, I wanted to explore the usual problems of middle age; ill health and death of parents, changing of roles from son to carer and changing of profession. A lot of his character is established during the first book, Powderfinger, which creates his move to Wales. Nick knows he needs to shed the past and move on, to evolve. He is looking for a new place to be, a new profession, a new life. The unexpected appearance of Wendy Finch becomes an exciting turning point and I’m looking forward to seeing the long term effects it has upon him in the stories to come.
This is the second story in the Nick Swann Series. Where did you want to take this book that was different from book one?
In Powderfinger Nick is a probation officer who almost accidentally becomes embroiled in historical research into strange occurrences, which lead him unexpectedly into the world of the supernatural. His degree in History suddenly becomes of use to him and it reawakens his passion for discovery. It lifts him from his boring, hermit-like, everyday existence, bringing excitement, a sense of accomplishment and a possibility of a different future. It is this that I wanted to explore in Wyndwrayth. Here he moves from living in the past to exploring it. I wanted to establish him in this story as a professional researcher and investigator of both historical and supernatural events.
In addition I wanted to move his character forward, to becoming more pro-active in the story and to create a new partnership with Wendy Finch, to lift him from his lonely existence.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?
My next Nick Swann story has the working title of Shacklady Rest and is presently in its first draft. It will team Nick and Wendy together in another dark and mysterious adventure, set in the brooding mountains of Snowdonia. I anticipate it will be ready to publish sometime next year.
This is the second horror novel in the Nick Swann series. This scary story finds Nick now living in an old stone farmhouse on the lonely and mysterious shores of Llyn Isaf, in Wales. He becomes intrigued by its mist-covered lake island, Ynys Y Niwl and its dark, ancient and long deserted mansion, Wyndwrayth.
Its moldering edifice holds many secrets and treasures, some of which draw Nick and his old friend Alan, into dangerous realms. Death stalks the island and as the dangerous spectral figures of The Millar of Souls, The Paladin and Gideon reveal themselves, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern between reality and dreams.
As the death toll rises, Nick finds himself, along with his new partner, Wendy and her Wolf, Mir embroiled in a struggle not just to maintain sanity but to stay alive.
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Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats proves to be both interesting and captivating as the reader follows the central figure, Nick Swann, as he bumbles through his semi-isolated real world life and slowly discovers the existence of a second, more deadly world, all around him. These two parallel worlds slowly converge as you turn the pages to reveal what is undoubtedly a cleverly researched horror novel yet still containing moments of strong humour and absurdity.
The first passage of the novel only offers the briefest glimpse of what is to come as it describes events of 1016 in a place named Flotta in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Much later a more sinister story is revealed, as the full impact of ghosts and ghouls condemned to a life of perpetual purgatory wreaking havoc from their haunted house for a 1000 years follows.
After this brief immersion into Norse mythology the story abruptly introduces the daily life of Nick as a self-styled geek, working occasionally on business research for associates at Bangor University, from an inherited cottage on the island of Anglesey in Wales.
Despite apparent excesses of marijuana, brandy and coffee, Nick still manages to investigate further into the mysterious local occurrences, drownings and inexplicable disappearances which all combine with the mythical backdrop to reveal the cold stark reality of evil forces at work on his doorstep.
As the chapters proceed the two sides are drawn ever closer to their inevitable confrontation – for the outcome you will have to read for yourself, but I quite enjoyed this ethereal mesh of myth and contemporary life. As the two classically configured worlds of good and evil come closer together will Nick and Wendy survive or will they pass into the world of the undead? The only spoilers I will offer here are that if you are offended by strong language and an occasional blood-letting scenario then turn away, but you would be missing an riveting story that I could not put down.
Initially, I did find Nick’s apparent excessive talking to himself annoying; but ultimately I felt like this added to his slightly eccentric and bohemian character. Wyndwrayth by Keller Yeats offers an enthralling well-researched read. The author is able to methodically create an enthralling character, place him in a vivid world, and face him against an enthralling antagonist. If you enjoy stories about myths and legends then you will certainly enjoy this novel.
Pages: 739 | ASIN: B078ZM1R17
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Echo is a coming-of-age story that explores many different things a young girl could encounter on her journey through life. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story to convey the innocence and growth of Echo?
I think the main issue for me is the daughter’s need for a father. A good father enables a young girl to define who she is, her attitudes to men, and how to protect herself. Echo was confused which meant her feelings and responses to men could be misinterpreted, which Gareth recognized but JF didn’t. These two men represented the good and the bad. Secondly, she has to separate from the mother and this always involves anger and to some extent a rejection of the mother until she feels secure in her own skin and can accept her mother for who she is, including her failings. I made Echo very feisty and I hope, funny. Her sharp observations of the adult world are, to some extent, based on my work as a therapist with young women. There’s a lot of pain in their humor and vice versa. It’s also about the loss of childhood and taking on the responsibilities of growing up. Thirdly, the importance of a female friend. Maddy gave Echo a good role model of how supportive a good family can be as she works through the trials and tribulations of growing up.
Echo tells the story of her life as an adult looking back. Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into Echo’s life?
It was based mainly on my therapeutic work with young women at university. A therapist is told so much! We’re safe and they can tell us stuff, they wouldn’t tell anyone else. Her sharp humor is a little like me. I sill have that in me…
The story takes place on a farm in Wales and in London, England. How familiar are you with those areas? Why choose those spots as the setting for your novel?
I’m half Welsh and I live in Bristol, near Wales. To cross from Bristol in England to Wales, one goes via the Severn Bridge which goes right over the River Severn. The bridge is massive, a magnificent piece of engineering. The Severn is awesome, its flow, power and danger is as described. It fascinates me. [Check out my Pinterest for the settings of Echo] I did used to go to Wales every summer and the description of the farmhouse is based on a real one. After I’d written Echo it occurred to me that the river was like a metaphor for the difference within me of being Welsh and being English. One wild, the other fairly sophisticated and urban. I also lived in London for twenty five years and I know it well. It’s as described.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when can your fans expect it out?
I’m in the process of finishing my third novel. It’s called History Repeats Itself or Big lies: Small truths. It’s a sequel to my debut novel, Between the Shadow and the Soul. which is about a young woman snatching a baby. History is about an undercover agent and is set against the crash of 2008. It’s both psychological and political and explores the nature of lying and self-deception! I’m looking to finish it by Xmas.
Echo is growing up. She’s sharp, quirky, funny, with a snippy relationship with her mother. She finds life, especially men, a challenge. From meeting her first and only love, finding out about her missing father, her obsession with a Welsh poet, and a disastrous experience with a therapist, life is a problem. But problems require solutions and Echo is determined to find her own. Using imagination and humor she finds a way to get her own back. Written in her own words, this is a magical tale of desire, fantasy, and revenge, which reveals how one woman played one man at his own game and got away with it.
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Echo by Marguerite Valentine is a coming-of-age tale that dabbles with mental instability and the crazy world of teenagers. It starts off slow as we learn about the main character, Echo, and her turbulent relationship with her mother. Echo is an adult when she starts telling her story, and goes back in time to when she was nine years old. She grew up in a single parent household and it’s obvious that there are strained feelings with her mother. The story is told in the first person as Echo tells us of her summers in Wales and meeting a boy, Ifan, who seems much like an apparition. The story weaves and turns as Echo grows up and learns more about who she is and how the idea of sex can have such power. Without giving too much away so as not to spoil the read let’s just say that Echo goes on a very long journey of self-discovery that both begins and ends at the farm in Wales.
The tale is broken into six parts and takes place mainly at the farm in Wales and then in London, England. The split between nature and the bustling city serves as a good divide for Echo’s life: the farm holds her youth, her innocence and her naiveté. The city holds her adult life, her disillusions with society and her pain.
The story jumps about and the grammatical issues can sometimes detract from the actual tale. As we learn more about Echo it becomes easier to attribute the choppy parts and the strange emotions the main character seems to go through to the fact that Echo is a teenager dealing with the complexity of growing up.
The central themes of self-discovery and dealing with abandonment are very prevalent in this story. Echo knows only her mother, whom she dislikes, and subsequently gets rejected or hurt by every male presence in her life. These are very real and heavy themes, but the way Valentine has Echo react to their heaviness is very realistic. Echo has been at a disadvantage from the beginning. While she has food to eat and roof over her head she is never treated quite like a child should be allowed to be. This becomes very important later in the story as we watch Echo make some questionable choices. It’s impossible for Echo to react in a ‘normal’ way because she was never taught how.
Aside from some continuity errors, Echo was definitely a more realistic coming-of-age story that suits our current world. There are no rose-colored glasses as Valentine gives us the very raw experience of Echo and her journey to adulthood.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B0196YHSNC
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