Apr 12, 2015

Welsh Week: My Welsh Inspiration by Louise Marley

My Welsh Inspiration

By Louise Marley

I was born in Southampton, which is a busy city on the south coast of England. All my ancestors were born in Southampton and I’d have been quite happy to have stayed in Southampton – except I married a man with wanderlust in his soul and ended up in rural Wales.

When the sun is shining there is no place more beautiful than Wales. When it’s pouring with rain there’s no place more beautiful than Wales either, it’s just a bit harder to appreciate it. Wales has snow-capped mountains that loom out at you from the mist, lush green valleys and pretty little glens that look as though they’re missing a fairy or two. You can hardly turn around without falling over a castle. There are 427 of them – some built by the Welsh princes to defend their land from the English, others built by the English to help conquer the Welsh. There are sandy beaches that stretch for miles and an awful lot of sheep.

This photograph shows one of the most famous views in Wales. The cottage is called Tu Hwnt i’r Bont (Beyond the Bridge) and it is a lot older than the bridge beside it. As soon as I saw Tu Hwnt i’r Bont I knew I'd have to write a story about it and I used it as the location for Kat's coffee shop and bookstore in Something Wicked. In my story the cottage was home to a 17th century witch but in reality Tu Hwnt i’r Bont was built in 1480 before being turned into a courthouse. Over the years the house fell into disrepair before being acquired by the National Trust and turned into tearooms. If you were to see Tu Hwnt i’r Bont in the summer, the house would be covered – and I mean covered – in lush green Virginia creeper. In the autumn it looks even more fabulous, because the creeper turns a beautiful scarlet.

Tu Hwnt i’r Bont is not the first real-life place I’ve used for inspiration in my books. I previously lived in a house overlooking the Menai Straits, which had a beautiful view of Penrhyn Castle and the mountains beyond. Penrhyn started off as a fortified manor house with a tower and chapel sometime in the early 1400s. Over the years it was enlarged and improved until in the early 1800s it was completely transformed into the massive Norman style castle you can see in this photo, although part of the medieval tower and chapel still remain. The place absolutely fascinated me and I used it as inspiration for Hurst Castle in a murder-mystery I wrote called Nemesis. I even mention the tower and the chapel, as well as the walled ‘secret’ garden.

Wales is the kind of place where it’s impossible not to be inspired. I love going for walks in the hills and forests, and it was on one of these walks I stumbled across a ruined Jacobean manor house, completely hidden from view. Despite the trees growing through the floors there were patches of elegant plasterwork to be seen on the walls and a cooking pot still left on the stove. It was like Sleeping Beauty’s castle, just waiting to be discovered – and a story, just waiting to be written!

About the Author

Louise Marley writes romantic comedy and romantic suspense, and sometimes she mixes the two. She lives in Wales, surrounded by fields of sheep, and has a beautiful view of Snowdon from her window. Her first published novel was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which was a finalist in Poolbeg’s ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for UK women’s magazines such as Take a Break and My Weekly.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseMarley @LouiseMarley

Something Wicked by Louise Marley

Evil can be tempting …

Katrina Davenport has opened a coffee shop and bookstore in the notorious Raven’s Cottage, once the home of a 17th century witch known as Magik Meg. The locals have told Kat stories, of how the cottage is haunted by the witch and her demon lover, but Kat doesn’t believe in witches, or ghosts, or anything that goes bump in the dead of night. Every strange thing that happened since she moved in must have a perfectly logical explanation.

Unfortunately it doesn’t really matter what Kat believes, because something wicked has returned to Raven’s Cottage.

And this time it’s come for Kat.

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  1. I agree. I'm from Sussex, but my family used to holiday in north Wales all the time when I was a child. Last year I took my own family back there (husband is Welsh, but had never been!) and they loved it. Favourite place? Beddgelert. :-)

    1. I love Beddgelert, Wendy Lou! My friend Juliet Greenwood wrote a post about it for Novelista Ink: http://novelistasink.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/using-myths-and-legends-in-storytelling.html

  2. I have lived in Penarth, South Wales for ten years now but, when we lived in The Midlands, we spent many wonderful holidays in North Wales. You are right that there is something magical about it even in the rain. Among my favourite places are Porthmadog, Beddgelert and, of course, Snowdonia. We did a lot of walking there.

    1. I used to be able to see the sun glinting off the visitors' centre on the very top of Snowdon from my study window. It's truly beautiful here. I'm very lucky x

  3. I'm in west Wales - my tenth year here and I count my blessings every day! We can just see the top of Snowdon from an upstairs window, but we overlook Cardigan bay.

    1. It is a beautiful place to live, isn't it Chris? I didn't realise you could see Snowdon from that far away! I 'climbed' it once (on the train!) with my son but sadly it was an overcast day so we could only see glimpses of Anglesey and not much else :-(

  4. I envy you your view of Snowdon, even though I'm only a few steps away from a view of Pen Y Fan. Love the book, by the way- great blurb!

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! It is amazing, particularly when there is snow on the top (like last week) and the sun is shining!


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