Cadair Bran is not the only Welsh-based idea I’ve been playing with. I would love to have a dystopian, post-apocalyptic SciFi version of Wales that isn’t magical (ok, maybe has elements of magical realism). But I also want to find more magic in the places I grew up, the places where I live now, the places where industry and its scars have gouged and poisoned all the romance and mystery from the soil.
Pagham-on-Sea is something that does this well, according to my beta-readers, but it’s not my own home county or even in my own country. East Sussex is not South East Wales. Yet the beauty of the Pagham-verse is that I can write about anywhere and link it all together with concepts and characters and locations if I want.
I had another idea, set in Wales maybe (at least partly) and in the modern day, where I could explore the idea of the Fair Folk and what happened to them. Fairies do show up in Pagham, at least in folklore: see my post on the meteor strike and farisee stones on the edge of the New Estate.
I realised that I was struggling to write a fairy story set in the present day because the Fair Folk are all gone now. The world is steel (iron alloy) and we’ve ripped the heart out of the earth. The quarry scars are on the landscape like gaping wounds. And then I thought… what if some Fae were Exiled from the Otherworld and forced out here, unable to return? The meteor strike and farisee stones help the fairies in Pagham-on-Sea deal with the changes in their natural environment. Maybe it helps exiles too.
The Exiles from the Otherworld are now stuck in a post-industrial world they don’t know.
Our daily life is a kind of post-apocalyptic hellscape for faeries.
Even the humans are struggling with change and post-industrial trauma. We find cynefin in our communities, but for the Exiles cynefin is unattainable. Perhaps they had it once, when they came here long ago, and they expected things to be the same. They came through and found concrete and smoke, terraced houses and wire fences, cars and haulage lorries, slag heaps buried under the grass, and swathes of grey instead of green.
They try everything but cannot assimilate properly into this world that is not their own. They spend night after night on Cadair Idris, where they say if you sleep up there you’ll come down either mad or a poet. They are closer to the Otherworld there, but they are not poets when they come down.
Those that have children do not tell their offspring about their great pain, or why they do not belong. The children are born with an ache, a yearning, that they cannot explain. They long for a home they never knew.
I think there is a lot of potential here for some great explorations: and it also explains why Ricky Porter, eldritch soothsayer, never says incantations in Old Welsh. You never know who’s listening, or which side of the veil they’re on.