Wales—My Spiritual Homeland
According to DNA analysis, I can claim about 6% Welsh ancestry. But that small amount somehow has extraordinary influence over me. Long before I began writing fiction, the King Arthur tales penned by Mary Stewart and Rosemary Sutcliffe created a magical image of Wales in my mind. Which meant when I started writing my first historical romance, I knew it had to be set there. I made my first trip to Wales in 2004 and found the country just as enthralling as I had envisioned. I’ve set a half dozen books at least partially in Wales, including the Dragon of the Island series and my latest series, the Lords of the Borders.
How do I explain my passion for Wales? Well, it is incredibly beautiful. Rugged and wild, with dramatic mountains, verdant forests and spectacular coastal views. It seems greener than the rest of Britain and somehow more enchanted and mystical.
In addition to the many Arthurian legends that take place in Wales, Welsh folklore is filled with tales of fairies, magical beings and spells. Wales has been a focus for spirituality for millennium. Many of the stones from Stonehenge, the most ancient, sacred monument in Europe, were imported from Wales. The Druids had their final stand with the Romans on the isle of Anglesey off north Wales and numerous stone monuments still dot the landscape.
In more modern history, because the conflict between the Welsh and the English played such a large part in the politics of the medieval era, there are more castles in Wales than in any other part of the British Isles.
As hard and as long as the Welsh fought to hold onto their political independence, they eventually lost the battle. But they were able to retain much of their Celtic heritage, as well as their language. All the signage in Wales includes both Welsh and English terms, and today over a quarter of the population still speaks Welsh.
Although conflict and war forged Wales, I prefer to focus on the positive aspects of history and to savor what remains rather than dwelling on what was lost. The country remains a stunningly beautiful place and the fierce red dragon still rules this ancient realm of heroes and legends.