September 18, 2018

With blossoms bursting on the fruit trees and the year reinventing itself with the spring, it seems a good time to launch a new piece of creative fruit—my second novel, Songwoman. After a long gestation, I’m delighted to present it to you here, nestled among my blood plum blossoms. You can find it in book shops from October 1, 2018.

This novels continues to swim in the waters of Britain’s tumultuous, mystical Iron Age, but is far more grounded in real history than its big sister, Skin. Songwoman covers the period of Roman colonisation spanning AD 47-52, when a powerful and charismatic War King, Caratacus, led a resistance campaign of guerrilla warfare that threatened to de-rail the formidable machine that was the invading Roman army.


So many inspiring thinkers and their ideas have fed into this book. Firstly a Welshman called Gwilym Morus-Baird, who is a scholar of the Welsh Bardic tradition and teaches courses in Welsh mythology. Many a morning I awoke before dawn to listen, enthralled, to his live seminars on the symbolism contained in ancient Welsh texts, such as The Mabinogi and The Book of Taliesin.


I was also hugely influenced by the ideas of fellow Victorian, Dr Lynne Kelly, who you may have heard on Richard Fidlar’s Conversations. Lynne has conceptualised a theory of how pre-literate societies held and organised vast knowledge systems in memory and orality. Her book, The Memory Code, gave meaning and purpose to so many seemingly mysterious monuments from the ancient British landscape. Her work was a doorway through which I could walk right into the lives of my Iron Age characters.


As always, my greatest inspiration is the country I live on, the bush, trees, gardens and animals that are my lungs and spirit and animate my every day.


I hope you enjoy Songwoman. Let me know if you do, and go well.