The Silence of the Stones was the second of my novels to be published; a mystery, set in beautiful West Wales where I live, it almost wrote itself.
The initial inspiration came from a holiday with a young friend to China in the autumn of 1989, six months before the Tiananmen Square massacre. We’d been to London to see the emperor’s warriors and decided there and then that we wanted to go to see them in Xian in the emperor’s tomb. We started saving – I took out a loan, and off we went courtesy of Air China, a seventeen-hour flight, and far too many noodles. We spent three weeks exploring an amazing country, flew over the Gobi Desert, went to Hong Kong, and returned with memories that will stay with us forever.
While the tomb at Xian was a sight that took away our breath, each face of the warriors based on a real person, it was the Great Wall of China, snaking for mile after mile across the mountains that inspired the story. It’s said that there are thousands of workers buried inside the wall. It started me thinking about ‘if walls could talk’ what would they say?
The story I eventually wrote has nothing to do with China, but here in Wales, we have standing stones and Celtic crosses, and in Nevern Church there’s a windowsill with Ogham writing inscribed into it. It got me thinking again about what stories the stones might tell us could we but read them – what secrets might they hide?
It was around the time I was mulling the story that Madeleine McCain disappeared, and Angela Canning, unjustly imprisoned after losing a baby to cot death syndrome, was released from jail. This got me thinking of the heartbreak and injustice suffered by these families which wound their way into my story of secrets and deception.
My main character, Alana, has been described as juvenile and self-centered. Yes, she is, I hold my hands up, and her story arc shows her growth as a person and a mother as she takes responsibility for and comes to love her young daughter, Saffy. Alana’s relationship with her mother is informed by my relationship with my own mother. Not that my mother was anything like Alana’s, thank goodness, but she wasn’t emotionally demonstrative, and somehow, I grew up from a very early age, thinking I was responsible for her happiness. This tied me to her in ways that weren’t really good for either of us.
This is why Alana – my alter-ego – shows enough ‘self-centredness’, I would call it courage, to leave her mother when she got too demanding and take herself off to make a life for herself doing what she wanted to do – paint and sculpt. As an artist as well as an author, I understand that compulsion too. Few of us get the chance to be really free to do what we want in life, to follow our dreams. Yet, we only have one life, and those who have the courage to break ties are often labelled selfish, like Alana.
But of course, being me, Alana can’t walk into a happy life – oh no; she finds a village closed against her when she inherits The Haggard from an aunt she hadn’t known existed. This village has a secret Alana is at the heart of, but which the villagers are determined she won’t find out about.
A psychological mystery of murder, secrets, and runes where nothing is quite as it seems…
2 thoughts on “THE STORIES BEHIND THE STORIES – THE SILENCE OF THE STONES”
There are so many threads here woven into the tapestry that became Silence of the Stones. I read it and loved it, but I shall reread it with “different” eyes.
Writing feels like baring your soul – I suppose I just found the courage to bare it a little more. 🙂