Interview with Sydney Williams, author of historical fantasy Princes and Kings: A Rose in a Thorn Bush
In the year 1240 AD, the land of Gwynedd Wales found themselves without a leader when their king, Llywelyn the Great, died at a ripe old age. The natural successor to the king was his son Dafydd, who took on the job of ruler after his death. Soon after taking on the job he was forced to sign a treaty with the king of England and send his brother Gruffudd and his nephew Owain to England to be imprisoned in the Tower of London in exchange for keeping his land and title. His other nephew, Llywelyn, became the new head warrior after his father’s imprisonment, travelling the country and patrolling the borders to the north and the south. After four years imprisonment in the Tower of London, Gruffudd died while attempting to escape from his tower cell, and his son Owain was released by the king himself. He wanted Owain to help him start a civil war in Gwynedd. Meanwhile, after finding out about his brother’s death from a letter sent by his nephew Owain, Dafydd declared war on England, prompting Owain to escape Winchester Castle, where he had been recovering from his time in prison to find his brother Llywelyn and help him in the war between England and Gwynedd. During the course of the war, Dafydd was killed in battle, leaving the Welsh army without a leader. Being the brave and noble man that he was, Llywelyn called the men to him and, with his leadership, they managed to send the English packing. With the new weight of responsibility thrust upon his shoulders, Llywelyn rode home at the head of the army to find that his world had changed. Now not only was his father gone but his mother as well, and the land of Gwynedd was once again without a leader. It became clear that the best man for the job was Llywelyn himself, and he decided that there was nothing else to do but become the new ruler. He would do anything to keep his people safe, even if that meant taking on a responsibility that he felt he was too young for. He would never abandon his people for anything and let the English take everything from him.
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Excerpt from Princes and Kings
Chapter 1: A Funeral to Remember
The town of Aberfraw Castle in the Valley of Clwyd Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales in the year 1240 AD
It was a cold, damp afternoon. In the town of Aberfraw Castle, all of Gwynedd wails as a procession of finely dressed nobles carried the coffin of the late King of Gwynedd, Llywelyn, the Great, through the streets. From all over the land, Gwynedd’s subjects arrived: they came to look upon the face of their dead King and to mourn his passing. The cobbles, slippery from a powerful rainstorm the night before, hampered the procession of nobles as they prepared to lay him to rest. The sky was still overcast with clouds that promised more rain as if nature was mourning for the great man. Filthy street urchins roughly shoved through the crowds of people, trying to catch a glimpse of the nobles while more fortunate children sat upon the shoulders of their father to see the royal party in their fine outfits.
Leading the royal procession were the King’s two sons, Dafydd ap Llywelyn and Gruffudd ap Llywelyn. Gruffudd, the King’s younger and illegitimate son, had no claim to the throne. He didn’t mind; he had never wanted to be a ruler. Gruffudd preferred being the head warrior of the royal army, protecting the people of the land in that way. It gave him a sense of freedom somehow that he felt being ruler would not. He was resplendently dressed as any noble should be in a thick green wool tunic, wool leggings tucked at the knee with high leather boots. His height and physique gave him an air of command and respect, both on the battlefield and off it, and gained him a lot of respect with the people of the land.
Gruffudd’s wise gray eyes turned towards his wife, Senana, who walked beside him with her head held high, giving her an air of great confidence. She felt him looking at her and caught his eye with a loving smile. Smiling back, he felt blessed to have such a woman by his side. From the moment they first met, he had known that she was the woman he would marry. Her light brown hair fell in the way that he liked, in a single braid that snaked down the back of her dress. Her dark-green silk skirt complimented his tunic and set off her deep blue eyes nicely. Such eyes any man in love could easily get lost in.
The heavy air wasn’t helping his somber mood. Instead, Gruffudd felt like it weighed heavily down on his heart, finding it hard to breathe. He had loved his father very much and would miss him terribly. He felt the loss of his father like a dagger to the heart. But he would not cry. He told himself that he had to stay strong for his children who must also be feeling the loss of their grandfather. He felt blessed that he had at least been able to say goodbye to him.
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An Interview with Sydney Williams
-What inspired you to become a writer?
As a child my parents would read to me and I loved how authors created new worlds through their writing. I knew from a very early age I wanted to be a writer and create my own worlds as well. I think what books inspired me to write the most was the Harry Potter series. The world of magic the author created in those books was so fascinating that I still love those books even to this day and I still listen to them on audio book now and then.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
If I could visit my book’s world for a day, I think I would go horseback riding with my main character, Llywelyn. I love horses and horseback riding, and to have the chance to talk with Llywelyn would be amazing.
-Which one of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
That is a hard question to answer because there are a couple I would go out for drinks with. I would go out with Llywelyn for sure, but I think I would also go out for drinks with his man-servant, Olan.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
This is a very interesting question. I think if a dwarf challenged me to a duel I would try and talk him out of it, because no matter how you look at it I am at an advantage over the dwarf. It wouldn’t be a fair fight.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
There are actual a couple of genres I could never write, horror and romance. I am not a fan of the horror genre myself and I don’t think I could write something I am not a fan of. I like writing about love, but romantic novels require you to be somewhat graphic and I am not someone who could write something along the lines of 50 Shades of Gray. As a reader when there is romance in a book I like it when it is subtle and suggested what is going on rather than being graphic and so I try to write that way for my own writing.
About Sydney Williams
Sydney has a big imagination and has been writing and performing from a young age. After going blind from Leukemia at the age of three, she found release from the medical part of her life through her music and her writing. In high school she excelled in English and history and after she left school she continued to write and to create her music. She formed her band, The Undercurrents with her best friend and drummer, Alex Nacci at the age of 22 and has been playing music with the band ever since.
Her book, Princes and Kings, is her first professional novel and it is book one of the historical fiction series she is writing titled, A Rose in A Thorn Bush about the last king of Wales. She was introduced to her main character in high school and with the encouragement of her Business Abilities coach she finely decided to write his story. Splitting the story into three books. Sydney has always enjoyed reading historical fiction and has found it an interesting genre to write in. After her series is finished she plans to continue writing about different historical British characters for as long as she can. Being Welsh on her father’s side and Scottish and English on her mother’s Britain is a place that interests her greatly and she has enjoyed writing about one of its characters. Giving her a chance to explore her heritage in a fun and exciting way and she looks forward to sharing her passion for the genre and the history of the British Isles with the world.
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