Ask any writer and they will tell you that here in South Wales we have the most inspirational surroundings, settings and history anyone can ask for.
Robert David is one of those people and has recently published his debut novel ADEN TO ZANZIBAR which is set in South Wales during the 1960s and is available through Amazon and Apple Books.
The story is best described as ‘a haunting psychological suspense at the margin between reality and illusion’ and is the first in a series of three Plain Sight novels.
Robert draws his inspiration from where he grew up: Bridgend, the Rhondda Valley and the desolate coast and dunes of Kenfig and Sker, as this short excerpt from the book shows.
‘The terraced houses were piled on top of each other ready to tumble into the Rhondda Valley and the grey, lifeless river far below.’
Robert thinks his love of language came from his father who read him Mathew Arnold poems as bedtime stories.
‘I was two or three, so it was unusual, to say the least, but I can still remember the rhythm of the words and the images they created.‘
He worked in opencast coal mines before going into business to run his own companies. But he was always writing and, eventually, business was no longer enough so gave it up. He now writes full time, working in a shed that looks due west over rolling countryside to where he was born.
‘It’s taken a while but, at least, I’m doing what I always wanted to do.‘
Aden to Zanzibar, and its sequel, Two Penny Blue, (to be published in Spring 2021), are set in South Wales during the 1960s.
As Robert says – ‘It is a Wales of contrasts: the iconic Valleys of coal mines and the windswept coastline of dunes.’
‘The village of Trebanog is at the top of the Rhondda Valley. My mother’s family had a shop there, now gone, and my earliest memories are of the kindness and love of aunties, uncles and cousins who always said I was, ‘Good as gold,’ even when I wasn’t. It was hemmed in by mountains, filling the view from every window. Life was uphill and the buses ground their way to the top at not much faster than walking pace. The rain drifted in grey sheets down to Porth and the – then – lifeless, coal polluted river at the valley bottom.’
‘The valleys fell away toward the sea, widening and flattening to a coast of dunes running from Ogmore to Porthcawl, to Rest Bay and Pink Bay, to Sker Rocks and the almost inaccessible ten mile bleakness of Sker Beach, to the clouds of steam boiling out of the steel works at Port Talbot and, behind, the oil refinery, burning off gas from high masts like eyes in the smoke.’
We put a Zoom call in to Robert recently to chat about the novel, the characters and the places which inspired him to write the book in the first place. But we began with the subject matter, and was it something people expected from him?
ADEN TO ZANZIBAR is out now, and if you’d like to get yourself a copy, just click on the cover picture below.
The sequel TWO PENNY BLUE will be out in the spring, and the final instalment, WATERMARK, in the autumn.
As we said, Robert is South Wales through and through, and you can find out more about him at his website HERE