Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where do stories start?

Looking back along my life, I can see several times and places where the seeds were sown that ultimately merged into Storyteller. One of the earliest was planted by my grandfather, who used to tell us bedtime stories: an old man telling about things that happened when he was a boy. Not the great elaborate tales that Gwernin tells, but stories nontheless. That is a seed with very deep roots indeed.

Another seed was planted on an October day when I was fourteen, when my high school Latin teacher brought in a book to show us, a book which had recently won a Carnegie award. It was about a young man in Roman Britain – at the end of Roman Britain – a time and place which was new and exotic to me. The book was The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff. I read it, and went on to read – and re-read down the years - everything else I could find by her. Most of her books are for young adults or children, but the best are good stories suitable for any age. One of the last she wrote – she died in 1992 – was The Shining Company, set in 6th century Britain, and one of its central characters is the poet Aneirin, who appears in my books as the young bard Neirin (the original form of his name). He looks different in my version, and his background and life story are different, but down at the core he is much the same person - as he has to be, to write the great poem Y Gododdin by which we know him, 1400 years later.

There were other seeds, of course, and maybe I’ll blog about them another day. But for now, I’m back to packing.


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