BLOG Gwen Davies

NWR Issue 95

Hay; summer author interviews and books; autumn preview

Spring must have sprung because the Hay Festival catalogue landed last week. In New Welsh Review’s Hay session on 8 June, I will be talking to Horatio Clare and Fflur Dafydd about the political aspects of their novellas, The Prince’s Pen and The White Trail, the latest in Seren’s Mabinogi series.

Fflur has long been a political author, lampooning ideological purism in Twenty Thousand Saints, and creating, in The White Trail a feminist pastiche of the medieval quest for the perfect wife. Although he’s now partly based in Verona (when he’s not profiling sailors on cruise ships), Horatio grew up on a Black Mountains farm, so is practically a festival neighbour. His radical interests emerge in The Prince’s Pen, with its freedom-fighter protagonist and post-apocalyptic setting where climate change has transformed England into an archipelago and Wales wields power through its control of water.

The feature of which I’m most proud in this new website, launched last month to celebrate my first year in post as editor, comprises exclusive author interviews. 25 May sees our summer selection go live with a unique take on Horatio by Ellie Rees, his former teacher at Atlantic College, St Donat’s. Ellie’s only previous interview with him had been twenty-two years ago when he applied to the college. That had focused on whether he would stay off drugs. She describes her exclusive for New Welsh Review as ‘a return match… He [had been] a skinny, scared sixteen year-old who had recently been expelled from Malvern for smoking pot.’ Now, she says, though Horatio ‘talks fluently’, he makes poor eye contact!

Our online summer interview trio will also include Katherine Stansfield talking to Newquay poet Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch about her new collection Banjo, which gets a rave review in the forthcoming magazine (also published on 25 May). And our showcase is completed by my own conversation with Gee Williams, whose new short story volume A Girl’s Arm, is highly praised by Rachel Trezise in the same issue. Banjo is launched at Hay on 5 June.

In addition to these interviews, other features of this newlook website include editor blogs, extra reviews (current highlight: Ffion Lindsay’s review of The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals), as well as tasters from the current magazine (such as Robert Minhinnick on Porthcawl’s international Elvis Festival) and full archive pieces, including the last interview before Philip Jones Griffiths’ death in 2008 with Wales’ greatest photojournalist, by Amanda Hopkinson.

Subscribe to NWR now, keep checking online or risk losing track of our summer issue and autumn plans to visit the Orkneys with John Harrison, step north of the Arctic circle with Susan Richardson and to celebrate William Condry as well as marking Brenda Chamberlain’s centenary through previews exploring her fiction (an advance review of her only novel The Watercastle) and drama, with Damian Walford Davies on his edition of her play The Protagonists, out in the Library of Wales series this October.

This is a version of Gwen’s Insider column for the Western Mail published on Saturday 28 April 2012.


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