Apr 20, 2015

Welsh Week: The Magic Side to Wales

The Magic Side to Wales

By Valerie-Anne Baglietto

Wales is an ancient land of mystery and mythology, with more than its fair share of castles. Before I moved here over a decade ago, I hadn’t written a fairy tale since I was a child, although I’ve always been a huge fan of them. Then, all of a sudden, a few years ago, I found myself writing modern, grown-up, magical realism. Contemporary romances, with just a hint of comedy and a strong twist of make-believe. I’ve since decided there must be something in the Welsh water influencing me.
Not that I’m complaining. I may have started writing them anyway even if I hadn’t moved here from Essex, but I honestly don’t think they would be the stories they are now without all the Welsh folklore and ‘magic’ around me. They’re richer for having a setting that deserves more attention and respect than it currently attracts. The villages and characters in my stories may be fictitious, but the backdrop of Wales is very real and ever present.
My family moved to North Wales for practical reasons, although my husband is part Welsh. Apart from visiting a few times as a child, I didn’t know much about the country beyond daffodils and dragons, but after marrying, I found myself with a Welsh surname - although I use my maiden name for my writing - and it didn’t take me long to realise I had ‘come home’. It’s often the way my heroes and heroines feel, whether they’re originally from Wales or not. Currently, we’re based near the border with Cheshire, a stone’s throw from the picturesque, historic town of Chester. So I often use that in my stories, too, especially my new release, FOUR SIDES TO EVERY STORY. Most of the action takes place in a border village, on the English side, but for the more magical aspect of the book, the characters find themselves in Wales. It just seemed appropriate!
Snow-topped mountains, calm blue lakes, heather-clad hills and those mandatory sheep dotting the lush green fields. There’s something about the Welsh soil (and the water) that works its way through me and leaks out in my words and stories. I don’t retell old fairy tales, though, I have to write completely new ones, as if everything around me demands it. A sense of place is vital in any story, and the setting can become a character in its own right. I don’t have to go far to stir my creative juices. From crumbling castles to tumbling waterfalls – inspiration is right there on my doorstep, and I’m perpetually grateful for the fact.

I was born in Gibraltar but came to England when I was three. I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was four, pure fiction about a little boy whose mother's nose was incredibly long and spiral shaped. With that, the writing bug had bitten.
To begin with, I had a Day Job, working in London as a graphic designer in my young, free and single days, but I always wrote in my spare time, sometimes into the small hours of the morning - when I still had the stamina to get up at 6.45 to catch my train!

My first novel THE WRONG SORT OF GIRL won the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writer's Award in 2000.

In total I had four books published by Hodder & Stoughton before motherhood took over my life. I've lived in North Wales with my family for over a decade, and while my youngest was very small I experimented with different writing styles and genres, whenever I had a chance. I even wrote a children's book, to fill the void after I turned the final page of the last Harry Potter novel (possibly a sad reason to do it, but it was fun to write and I learned a lot from the experience).
Although I love children's literature - the imagination and the energy of it all - I wanted to return to adult romances again, and with ONCE UPON A WINTER I married both loves to create a contemporary adult fairy tale. It's common knowledge that the early fairy tales weren't exactly suitable for children - by today's standards - and now grown-ups seem to be poaching them back again. But I don't 'retell' the classics, I write completely new ones. Well why not? They were all original once!


  1. Wow this is an inspiring write up. Four that's amazing. WAles is where my heart is and I can't imagine living elsewhere x


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