It is my great pleasure to have Gillian Hamer on my blog today. She is the author of three exquisite, crossing genre books (Closure, The Charter, and Complicit), all set in Northern Wales.
Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian’s heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean. A company director for over twenty years, she has written obsessively for over a decade, predominantly in the crime genre. She is a columnist for Words with Jam magazine and a founder member of Triskele Books. She splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she finds her inspiration.
Without further ado – take it away, Gillian.
My love of North Wales and Anglesey is genetic, passed down particularly from my father who spent most of his childhood holidays along the North Wales coast as his family (courtesy of a car mad eldest brother) were one of the lucky ones to own a motor at that time.
Consequently, that passion filtered down into my childhood too. Caravan trips were followed by a family owned cottage, and some of my earliest memories (like digging for treasure from the Royal Charter on Red Wharf Bay) have later made their way into my stories.
Anglesey is such a beautiful island (if you catch it on a good day with the sun shining) and reminds me very much of the landscape of Cornwall. It has the same rocky coves and golden beaches, the same high cliffs and tidal estuaries, and most importantly the same strong Celtic traditions.
It also caters for my love of history and archaeology. You can’t help but admire the Neolithic remains, from burial mounds to hut circles. Plus the Roman influences, from abandoned towns to Bronze Age slave chain finds. Coming from the Midlands, right in the centre of the UK, I’ve always been amazed at the wealth of archaeology to be found around Anglesey, but after reading Island of the Seas, I came to realise that the coastal areas were populated so much earlier than the mainland, because of the inhospitable forests that covered most of Britain, and the earliest transport being ships. It was easier for Bronze Age people to transport themselves and goods from Cornwall to Anglesey than it was to venture inland.
I find inspiration everywhere on the island. My first novel, The Charter, came from the earlier mentioned tale of treasure hunting. I grew up with the legend of the wreck of the Royal Charter and have visited the church at Llanallgo (that features in the novel) many times.
With Closure (which was actually the first book I wrote about the area) I used my love of
Llanddwyn Island (on the Menai Straits opposite mainland Caernarvon) as the inspiration and setting. The name Llanddwyn comes from the Saint of the same name, who is actually the patron saint of lovers. There is an ethereal quality to the place, which I just had to write about, including the pilot boat cottages and lighthouse as they are today.
And finally, in Complicit, I used my love of history. I’ve spent many hours in Beaumaris, or one of the other villages along the Menai Straits, staring out at the beauty of Snowdonia Mountains on the mainland opposite, and pondering where the Romans actually staged their invasion. There have been rumours and counter-rumours over the years, but still it is a mystery, and I wanted to explore what it would have been like at the time, from both the Roman and Druid sides.
I’ve enjoyed taking these real life historical facts and threading them into modern day murder mysteries. However, in my next books, I step away from the past and focus on the present, with a series of straight crime, police procedural books, titled The Gold Detectives.
But it goes without saying, location won’t change, Anglesey and North Wales will remain at the heart of my novels.
Gillian, thank you for sharing your writing inspirations with us. Now, just in case you aren’t totally hooked and already on your way to buy one of Gillian’s books, I want to share my five star review of, Complicit.
Prose that snaps off the page, crisp, clear and powerful
I loved this book and simply couldn’t put it down. If it takes a special reader to enjoy bouncing from AD60 in Northern Wales to a police investigation in 2013, then I must say, I am that reader.
No spoilers in this review – the book is a mystery wrapped in layers of history and I won’t give any of that away. What I can say is that the characters in this book come alive with thoughts and emotions that ring true and make the reader truly care about what’s going to happen to them. I was amazed at Hamer’s ability to describe a setting with such clarity – be it a windswept cove or the inside of an older woman’s home. Thinking back on the novel, it is almost as if I had been watching a movie rather than reading a book, the images of the setting are so clear.
Without a doubt, I am on the lookout for more of this author’s work. Bravo, Gillian Hamer.
Click any of the three book covers above to go directly to Amazon.com or follow this link to a special boxed set of all three titles.
All photos courtesy of Gillian Hamer with many thanks