Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Publication day – the inspiration of having a Welsh novelist in the family

Growing up in Australia. I was raised on childhood stories that occurred in a far away place my parents fondly called ‘home.’ Dad talked of Ilford, during the blitz, and how this father an art metalworker had worked on the Bank of England’s wrought iron doors. Mum spoke of growing up in industrial South Wales. Her father had worked on the docks, she told us. But she was related to Lord Llewellyn Haycock. Her cousin was the 1960s historical novelist John James.

Now, growing up in Australia I wasn’t too impressed by the notion of having a lord in the family (even if he did earn the title). However, I recall thinking: maybe one day I’ll write a novel too!

I married young and had a pocket full of children and the novel writing dream got forgotten. Though, at one point, I did order John James’s, Not for all the Gold in Ireland, through our local library’s interlibrary loan service. It was strangely compelling, with characters called Taliesin and Rhiannon and Pryderi. I didn’t realise at the time those were names from the Mabinigion.

Later when I finally set out to write a novel of my own, I decided on a whim to include Welsh characters. Through a process of hap a damwain, those characters became storytellers. I read a host of Welsh fairy tales in the course of my research as well as the Mabinogion and thought, hang on a sec, where have I heard these names before?

I learned Welsh while drafting my novel and began writing to Gwyn, another of mum’s cousins. Gwyn had researched the James family tree. The accompanying booklet had articles about Lord Llywellyn Haycock and John James (so it was all true!). When Gwyn heard I was writing a novel, he sent me an obituary for John James which he had published in his church magazine. Among other things, he wrote:

“His immediate family and myself hope that his written work will remain as a tribute to his genius, and that possibly, someday, one or two of his descendants will display some of his talents.”

Now, I’m no genius but I am descended from David James, John’s grandfather, and, I think, Gwyn therefore considered me one of those descendants. Gulp. No pressure. I’d in fact won myself a supporter and, I guess, in some ways, today Gywn’s hopes have been fulfilled.

Stranger still, I have since learned where the names Taliesin, Pryderi and Rhiannon originally come from. My book is set in a different era to John James’s Not for all the Gold in Ireland, and depicts migrants sailing to Australia. Yet, in the end, I’d drawn inspiration from the same myths and legends mum’s cousin had, all those years ago.

***

The Tides Between is available through: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and GooglePlay. A hard copy of the book can be ordered through Odyssey Books. Or alternatively, through your local bookstore (order details below).

Book Details

ISBN: 978-1-925652-22-2 (pbk) | 978-1-925652-23-9 (ebook)

Category: Young Adult / Historical Fiction

Trade paperback: 300 pages

Publication Date: 20 October 2017

RRP: AU $23.95 (pbk) | $5.99 (ebook)

Previous

The things I never meant to achieve

Next

A sense of completion

8 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the publication, well-deserved after your long period of research, Welsh-learning, and the interminable process of getting the right words onto the page! Cheers, Earl

  2. How hard did you find it to learn Welsh? I love the sound of the language, so musical and I imagine the poetry can’t really be translated.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Not as hard as you would think. The saysomethingin course produces fluent Welsh speakers. The lessons are free. They have a great support forum and people meet up to practice regularly. They also have language Bootcamps which are amazing. I’ve done two of them.

  3. llongyfarchiadau – Congratulations on P day. It sounds as if you have been on quite a journey.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Diolch yn fawr! It has been long and hard with buckets of self doubt but today it all feels worthwhile. ?

  4. John

    Llongyfarchiadau Liz, byddaf yn edrych ymlaen at ddarllen eich llyfr chi x

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Diolch yn fawr iawn John. Gobeithio dy fod ti’n mwynhau’r llyfr

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: