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Bookcase Focus: An Interview with Aled Jones Williams
Wales Literature Exchange interviewed our Bookcase author Aled Jones Williams about his writing and his influences.
What first inspired you to be an author and where do your ideas come from?
I have always written something or other since I was a child, even if that did mean when I was eight copying out ‘To be or not to be...’ and claiming it as my own. Perhaps that early plagiarism became indicative of what has always happened in my writing life: my best writing occurs when I read. I never stop reading as I am writing.
I seldom have ideas. A character appears within a particular situation. She or he may say something. If after a few weeks that character and situation persist in my mind, then I know that I need to travel with them. It’s a kind of invitation more than ‘inspiration’.
How would you describe your writing?
Small scale, probably. A few characters, two, three at the most, within a rather tight setting-a house, small town. Minor characters appearing briefly interest me. I attempt a limited time-scale; a few weeks if possible.
Which authors have influenced you the most?
Kate Roberts, Jane Edwards, George Eliot, Ivan Turgenev, Joseph Conrad, J.M. Coetzee.
In your opinion what are the biggest challenges that writers face today – and do you think these challenges have changed since you started writing?
To write in Welsh is a political act. By doing it you are always undermining the all-pervasive Britishness that attempts to swamp our culture. (For ‘British’ read ‘English’ by the way.) The challenge is to remain faithful to that. In-built into so many, even the most ardent, is a feeling that Welsh is not up to the job. This is an unconscious thing brought about by years of subtle and not so subtle subjugation. Writing in Welsh is to protest against this and make plain its folly.
What are the hardest and easiest parts of being a writer?
The hardest part is beginning. I am a prevaricator. A form of fear probably. It is also hard to let go of your people at the end. I always grieve their loss.
I cannot honestly think of anything to do with writing that’s easy.
Which writer from Wales would you recommend to readers and why?
I would recommend Angharad Price for the beauty of her language and her profound intelligence.
Nostos by Aled Jones Williams was selected to our 2018 Bookcase, our annual selection of recent Welsh literary works which we recommend for translation, and Y Wraig ar Lan yr Afon is selected to our 2021–22 Bookcase.