Every week we feature a Q&A session with one of our Crime Cymru authors. This week, Gareth W Williams talks about the need for perseverance on the rocky path to publication.
I think I got the writing bug after I had a piece printed in the school magazine, in Welsh, and people told me it was quite good. I can’t remember what it was about, but I thought, wow, people think I’m smarter than the average bear and girls liked smart bears. I promptly forgot about the experience and wrote absolutely nothing after that for years. I didn’t get the girls either. Then I started teaching and I was roped into writing the school Christmas productions. People seemed to like those too. I can remember quite a seminal moment for me, at the end of a play wot I wrote called a Christmas Cracker which had quite an emotional ending, when I saw some members of the audience holding back a tear or two. They’d also been laughing minutes earlier. I thought wow again. ‘That’s the stuff wot spilled out onto the paper on my kitchen table, and it worked!’ I had that smarter than the average bear feeling again. I think it’s a power thing. The stuff in my head, for an hour or so, had taken over the minds of lots of other people. Intoxicating! I wrote lots of productions after that. Some great young actors helped: Catherine Benjamin, Chris Corcoran and Carolyn Hitt, to name but a few. I also had wonderful producer/directors in Cath Confrey and Al Brown (God rest his soul). I was writing in English, despite being the Welsh teacher.
I soon had my comeuppance. I’ll write some stuff for the media, I thought. Had an idea. Wrote it for Radio Cymru. They said it was too visual. Oh well! I’ll write for the telly then, I thought; so I started. Good idea; sitcom; good initial response from the script editor. Did some edits. (Real pain in the posterior with Tipex, before the days of word processing.) Some director didn’t like it. I got dumped. I started to realise the old adage of ‘it ain’t what you know it’s who you know wot counts’. The bloke who got the work was an actor on the inside, and it was crap! Maybe mine was too. I pouted.
I’ll write a novel, I thought. I’ll show ’em! Wrote one; got rejected again. How many geniuses like me are there writing in Welsh, I thought. They must be blind. Must have been some ancient, jaded minister from Llansanffraid ym Mechain who read it and I wasn’t his regular cup of tea. I threw the draft in a drawer to forget about it, thinking this writing lark was not for me. Changed my job; education advice; got about a bit. Met the commissioning editor for the WJEC, which then had a publishing department. Mentioned I had a lost masterpiece. ‘Show me,’ he said. So I did. It was on a shelf in three months, after it was knocked about a bit, ‘Gwenyn’ (Bees), published by Gomer Press. A star was born. It ain’t wot you know …! So I wrote nothing for the next twenty years. Typical!
I retired and thought: ‘What shall I do? I’ll write.’ I had half an idea in my head and wrote ‘Y Teyrn’ (The Overlord) and sent it to Gomer. There must have been a vague memory of me in the dark distant past and they liked it. Times had changed and things had moved on since the age of that pesky minister. The book spawned the trilogy and ‘Y Llinach’ (The Dynasty) ‘Yr Eryr’ (The Eagle) followed. Not so much detective stories, more stories about a detective, I suppose. Set in a fictional Welsh idyll on the West Wales coast where there’s plenty of action and intrigue but hopefully the novels do question some fundamentals of Welsh society too. But if they are good page turners it’s good enough for me.
I’m originally from Rhyl; not the most glamorous of locations, but a wonderful backdrop, especially in 1969, for intrigue galore, based partly in my reality at the time, with some embellishment, for Promenâd y Gwenoliaid, (Swallows’ Promenade).
Gomer Press folded, their publishing side at least. Nothing to do with me, but it was the demise of my benefactor. What was I to do? Talent floundering in a void! Gwasg y Bwthyn came to my rescue and hopefully ‘Straeon Annisgwyl’ (Unexpected Tales!) and ‘Helga’ will see the light of day before I put my tools on the bar.
My advice to aspiring authors: keep knocking; and when someone eventually opens the door, stick your foot in and keep it there.
Read more about Gareth W Williams
To discover Gareth’s books, follow the link here to his Amazon page.