I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave, and sharing a guest post from Richard Williams…
Time and Space in the Writing Process
I think it’s always good to deliberate the impact of ‘distance’ (time and space) and its benefits in enabling a story (particularly those based on real events) to become far richer than if it had been written at the time of the novel’s setting. Hindsight can be a wonderful thing. To see how places and people evolved over time after the novel setting can give a more informed perspective on the real significance of those events brought to life in the novel, and their lasting impact on their environment.
And the space benefit – living a long distance from the world of the novel, this can enable the writer to see, by delving only periodically into that world, the people, places and events move and age in defined stages – which may be in stages of progressive development or stages of decline and decay.
I grew up as a real Pembrokeshire boy. A farmer’s son, big into sports and the great outdoors. The freedom we had as kids was remarkable. By ten years old I was mobile and fully independent on my Mongoose BMX. I’d ride for miles all over north Pembs to meet up with my mates to make jumps. By early teens we’d started surfing, so the BMX became redundant quite quickly, and it was back to lifts from my mother in the Land Rover to Newgale beach until I passed my driving test. Around the same time, my father pulled me into working on the farm – a decent sized dairy, beef and arable farm. Over the next few years I grew to despise the farm – it felt like a trap, I couldn’t escape milking on weekends and the harvest work during school holidays while my friends we off doing amazing things (in my memory!). My Dad worked me hard (which I would thank him for in later years) and he hated seeing my lounging around the house. I couldn’t wait to escape.
And after my A-levels, I did – to Australia, and hardly came back much for four years. I go home regularly now – three to four times per year, but I’ve never lived full-time back in Pembrokeshire largely due to work opportunity and circumstance.
The periodic visits, usually one per season, allow me to notice the people from my community, their steady decline into old age, the hard realities of life in the faces of the ravers that used to live only for the weekends, for the hedonistic parties. Community life steadily eroded by a downturn in rural industry and a brain drain of bright kids moving up the line to Cardiff and beyond to find opportunity not made available in a rural county, with the double edged sword of a protected national park restricting development.
The internet, computer games and mobile phones chipped away further into the fragile remains of village youth community, but it was social media that was the last connection that truly disconnected the young people from their immediate surroundings.
When I look at rural Pembrokeshire life now compared to what it was in the 1980s and 1990s – the tail end of the golden era of British agriculture – I see a bygone era of community that is probably never going to return. The wealth of the industry has dissipated and the air of confidence and enjoyment in the farms, lanes and pubs seems to have drifted away. Yes, there are still the annual balls and dances, fundraising events and concerts, but the vibrancy and inter-connectedness of everyday community life is a lot weaker today. Just look at the atmosphere in the pubs. The characters are still there, but not in force like they always were before. And those that are left are mostly very old.
From my observations above, noted over twenty years, I finally came to the realisation that those days, around the early 1990s, were probably the last hurrah to our rural community utopia. I just really wanted to document it, and give some kind of immortality to some fine Pembrokeshire characters – their sayings, mannerisms, and playful nature, who are dotted throughout the characters in the novel.
Had I never moved away, I’m not sure I would have noticed these changes so much, less had the enthusiasm and drive to want to document it in a novel. When I’ve spoken to locals back home and told them some of the stories from the book they try to look amused and impressed, but I can see, “well there’s nothing bloody interesting about that, boy,” written all over their faces.
I hope some locals do read the book and notice themselves in elements of the characters. Maybe then they will see how unique they and their communities are. The young people of Pembs also, if any do read it, I hope it inspires them to fight to maintain and even work to bring some life back to Pembrokeshire’s rural communities.
Thanks for such a thought provoking post, Richard.
Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave by Richard Williams is out now (Graffeg) £8.99 paperback and can be purchased here.
About the Book
Pembrokeshire – 1994. Mostyn Thomas is an ageing farmer, down on his luck, on the brink of bankruptcy. When he runs into Jethro, a young raver, his fortunes appear to take a positive turn. The pair hatch a plan to solve Mostyn’s money problems by holding a rave on Mostyn’s secluded land. Secretly mobilizing the locals of the village pub they plan the greatest money-spinning event in the history of Little Emlyn: Lewistock.
But not all goes according to plan. As we count down to the August bank holiday rave and young revellers begin to pour in from all corners of the county, the tension ramps up. Moneylenders, drug dealers, the county council and the bank all set a collision course with Mostyn and Jethro. It’s not clear who will get out alive… The novel is a powerful portrait both of a struggling Welsh farming community and the unstoppable rave movement of the 1990s, Mostyn Thomas and the Big Rave is also a poignant, warm-hearted novel about redemption: unlikely friendships and lucky escapes.