Tuesday, 3 April 2012


The tangwyr arrives
The Tangwyr Arrives!
Remember that post back in January? The one about the metal artist who sent us photos of a tangwyr he had created just from the picture on the front cover of King’s Envoy? Well, I am excited to announce that the creature did finally make its way to my house, and in time for my birthday!
Apologies to anyone who has already seen this on my Facebook page – but it’s such a fabulous thing, I just had to post it here too.
Yes – the tangwyr has landed. Its creator rang us up one day in early March to tell us that he had finished the sculpture, and that he would be very happy to come and install it for us. So we fixed a day, and he arrived with the creature in his truck – a truck that also carried the huge metal head of a horse. Good job it wasn’t a unicorn, or I would have had that off him, too!

Gorgeous horse-head sculpture

We had already decided where the tangwyr would go, and Dave helped assemble and steady the platform that would allow the artist to reach the relevant branch. He was able to carry the beast by himself, and it was installed quite simply by attaching it to the end of a long steel pole. It moves slightly in the wind, which I love because it gives the creature life.
The artist has lacquered the underneath of the tangwyr, but not its head and back. The back of it will continue to go a lovely rusty color, which matches well with the book cover, while its undersides will retain that gorgeous steel-blue of naked metal.
I simply adore it, and it sends shivers down my spine each time I see it. I still can’t believe this impressive creature came out of my head.
Now – if only Drum, Sullyan’s magnificent warhorse, would also turn up on my doorstep, my dreams would be fulfilled!

Coming in to land ...


The other day I was chatting with fellow writer Rachel Summerhill, when she asked a question that got me thinking. The subject of our conversation was my novel, King’s Envoy. Rachel had just finished it, and had told me she would post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I was thrilled, of course. It is always lovely when someone takes the trouble to record what they like about a novel, and say how eagerly they are looking forward to the next book in the series. This is what we writers thrive on – the knowledge that others have taken as much out of a novel as we put into creating it. It’s not necessarily an ego thing (although it might be for some). What it’s really about is knowing you have made a bond, both physical and spiritual, with a complete stranger. That, to me, is still a very special feeling.

But that isn’t what got me thinking. In her email, Rachel also asked me various questions about the plot and the characters. Very interesting questions. She made some assumptions, based on what she’d read in King’s Envoy, about how the story might continue. They were questions I didn’t want to answer (sorry, Rachel!) because I didn’t want to spoil her enjoyment of books two and three. But they did get me thinking. They made me recall an earlier review I’d received, where the reviewer mentioned a feeling of the reader having been “played”.

At the time, I wasn’t sure whether this comment was a negative, a positive, or simply a statement. I didn’t really give it too much thought. Rachel’s plot questions brought it back into my mind and I began to wonder if any work of fiction can be created without the reader being played.

After all, isn’t that what mystery novels do? What thriller or murder novel would entertain so well if the reader wasn’t constantly being deceived, or pointed in the wrong direction? Even the gentlest of period romances have an element of playful misdirection . The heroine is going to marry the dashing hero – Oh no! He’s turned out to be a bounder, or worse, already married, and she’s left nursing a broken heart. Even Agatha Christie wouldn’t have sold half so many novels if the perpetrators of all those foul murders had been easy to spot, hiding behind the butler.

I will be honest. When I was writing my Artesan novels, this issue of deliberate misdirection was not uppermost in my mind. It was only once the series was finished that I realized it was, in essence, a mystery thriller. It came as a surprise to me – I thought I was writing an epic fantasy adventure! It just goes to show how important it is for a writer to read. So much can be absorbed simply by reading the work of the masters.