Interview with Welsh Icons (an interview about Wales)
21 October 2009
Welsh author Rhys Thomas is currently on the promotional treadmill with The Suicide Club, his debut novel published by Transworld.
The Suicide Club tells the story – through the slightly warped eyes of Richard Harper – of a group of intelligent teenagers who enter into a suicide pact.
The book was written well before the Bridgend tragedies.
His second novel is already set for a 2010 release and explore what would happen if a biblical event of Old Testament proportions happened today.
WI: What is your favorite place in Wales?
RT: That’s a toughie. There are so many amazing places. I did a geography degree and for my dissertation I studied some lumps of mud right next to a tarn called Llyn y Fan Fach. That’s a great place. It’s so quiet there that you get a sense of eerie stillness that I sometimes found to be a little disconcerting. If you go there you’ll understand what I mean. The area is covered in peat and people have been known to disappear right into the land, never to be seen again, just sucked into Wales. I love that fact. There’s a small plane buried there somewhere as well. The tarn itself is where the story of the lady of the lake – not the King Arthur one – came from and it’s also said to be near an entrance to the underworld. So I’d say the big lumps of mud next to Llyn y Fan Fach is my favourite place. For the record, the lumps are really called pronival ramparts. A close second is Talygarn Lake.
WI: Favorite Welsh band or musician?
RT: Manics. I went to the same uni as Nicky and Richie and also think that their new stuff is amazing. Autumn Song has a riff beaten only by Sweet Child O Mine! I do love the other bands though: Catatonia, SFA, Sterophonics‘ first album, Euros, John Cale, etc, etc. I’ve never seen the Manics live for some reason. My brother says they’re the best live band ever because they just play amazing song after amazing song.
WI: Favorite Welsh food or drink?
RT: Welsh cakes
WI: What does Wales mean to you?
RT: I really love Wales, its landscape and its history, though I’m not as fiercely nationalistic as some to be honest – I don’t, for example, want others teams to beat England – apart from in rugby obviously. My love of Wales is just a quiet internal thing I think. Wales is truly a beautiful place. The valleys, long ago, were covered in British woodland and would have been one of the most spectacular places in the whole world. So I guess the answer to the question is beauty. I know that’s a bit trite, but I really do love the landscapes here, even the desolate ones. There’s something old and savage about it all and the fact that they’re not instantly spectacular endears them to me even more.
But just Wales as a whole is great to me; the industrial history, socialism/community and everything it bred. All that stuff is still bubbling away underneath. Although lots of people would disagree, I think there’s a deep vein of fairness and compassion in us Welshies, even if it’s sometimes hidden. My friends sometimes make fun of my not leaving Wales for London or somewhere but I don’t really get that. I’d leave for work, but nothing else. I don’t feel an urgent sense to get away. As a writer, where I live doesn’t affect my work in a technical sense. I think it’s just a connection that you either have to Wales or you don’t; difficult to understand unless you feel it. Wales is so great, especially Cardiff at the moment. You really get a sense of something special going on here.
WI: What do you most miss about Wales when you are away?
RT: The idea of it.