BOOKS: AUTHOR'S NOTES; Kitty Sewell, Writing as Kitty Harri, Has Been Long-Listed for Wales Book of Year with a Tale Linking Wales, Spain and Its Bitter Civil War

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 29, 2008 | Go to article overview

BOOKS: AUTHOR'S NOTES; Kitty Sewell, Writing as Kitty Harri, Has Been Long-Listed for Wales Book of Year with a Tale Linking Wales, Spain and Its Bitter Civil War


Byline: KITTY SEWELL

THOUGH "psychological suspense" seems to have become my genre, I've had Hector's Talent For Miracles in me from a time when I had no idea that I would become a writer - hence the pseudonym of Kitty Harri - so as not to confuse my readers.

It involves two countries in which I have lived and which have shaped my life. Though the novel is set mainly in contemporary Spain, the roots of the story goes back to the Welsh involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

Having lived in Wales for over 20 years, I became aware of the strong connection between the disaffected Welsh mining communities in the 1930s and their Spanish counterparts.

This solidarity was fuelled by the brutal suppression of miners in the northern Spanish province of Asturias in 1934.

When the Civil War broke out, it compelled many Welshmen to go and join the fight against the universal oppressor, those who exploit the working man.

Mair in my novel is a young Welsh veterinary surgeon who sets out to fulfil a dying wish of her father, to find traces of Geraint, her grandfather, in order to clear his name. Geraint had disappeared whilst fighting with the International Brigades in Spain in 1937-38.

As his body was never recovered, the hint of desertion blackened his name and the mystery of his disappearance was never resolved.

Mair quits her dreary job inseminating cows, and goes to Spain on the quest that will change her life.

In the small Asturian town of Torre de Burros she meets Hector, the main character of my novel.

Hector is based on a real person from my youth. I attended school in Spain, and there I had a friend whose uncle was considered simple. He lived a comfortable life with his sister and her family, never having held down a job or been useful in any way.

But there was something about him that always intrigued me. The look in his eye was disconcerting and slightly sinister, but far from stupid.

One day I ventured into a very seedy part of the city, Las Palmas, where I would normally never go, and spotted this man playing chess at a table outside a bar.

Observing him at a distance, I learnt to my astonishment that he was not who everyone thought he was. …

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BOOKS: AUTHOR'S NOTES; Kitty Sewell, Writing as Kitty Harri, Has Been Long-Listed for Wales Book of Year with a Tale Linking Wales, Spain and Its Bitter Civil War
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