Thicker Than Water
Release Date: 18 August 2016
Publisher: Honno Press
Some secrets take their time to travel home
Gareth Maddox has his own successful Cardiff Bay law firm, a clever and talented wife and four perfectly imperfect children. Then along comes Cassandra Taylor, managing director of a Canadian shirt company wanting to set up a major manufacturing plant in the Welsh valley Gareth hails from. It seems like the kind of work he will excel at and an ideal way to see the valley pull back from joblessness and despair.
Back at the end of the Great War, in the wake of a community splitting strike, Gareth’s Great-Great-Uncle Idris sailed off to Canada in search of his fortune and a new way of life. Behind him Idris left his twin Tommy and Maggie, Tommy’s wife, who shared her childhood and much else besides with both brothers.
Decades later, Maggie’s secret life is revealed – and for Gareth nothing may ever be quite as it was before Perfect Ltd came to Wales.
Welcome to Celtic Connexions, Bethan. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a lawyer based in Cardiff, specialising in employment and corporate law, a proud Mum of two and a happy wife which is just as well as my husband is also a lawyer and we work together. I run a women’s networking group called Superwoman which also raises money for charities at its events, I write a bi-weekly column on law for Wales’ national newspaper The Western Mail and regularly review the papers for a variety of BBC Radio Wales programmes.
I was born in Toronto but from the age of 5 I grew up in Clydach Vale in the Rhondda Valleys, where my mother also grew up. My parents didn’t speak Welsh themselves (my Dad is a proud Lancastrian) but they sent me and my three siblings to Welsh medium schools and I am fiercely proud of being a fluent Welsh speaker. My children also attend Welsh medium schools.
My favourite way to relax is for the four of us to walk our two dogs on the beach at Barry Island. I am a better version of myself when I am by the sea.
How old were you when your family moved from Canada to Wales? Did one or both of your parents have Welsh roots?
My parents were the first in their respective families to go to University, attending the LSE. My Dad is from Wigan and my Mum from the Rhondda. They met at LSE and married in 1961. They and a number of their friends from university made a move to Toronto, Canada after graduation. My father also had an uncle living in Oshawa and they visited there a lot. They stayed a number of years and had me and my brother there. My Mum got homesick and wanted to move back home to be closer to her family. I was five when we moved back to Wales.
How long have you been writing?
I always said I was going to write a book some day but it wasn’t until around 12 years ago that I realised that if I didn’t sit down and actually start writing I was never going to do it. So I did!
Have you written and published any other books? If so, what are they?
My first novel, Back Home was published by Honno in 2009 and my second, Two Times Twenty, was published in 2010. It has taken a while for me to write Thicker than Water as my day job has been very busy in recent years. This one features the Rhondda, lawyers and Toronto. There are always lawyers somewhere in my books!
I see from the back cover blurb, you have a Canadian going to Wales to start a business. Is this based on your own family history?
No, it’s just a story. But if any Canadians would like to start businesses in Wales that would be great. I know a good lawyer!
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I had to google what that meant! A panster. I start off with an initial idea and make it up as I go along. Like all writers, I keep a notebook and write down things I see or hear in real life, especially funny things people say, and sometimes I write entire scenes around one funny sentence. Being a panster does mean a lot of re writing when the story goes in a different direction than you had been writing. Perhaps I should convert to being a plotter.
When you write, do you like to listen to music or do you prefer complete silence?
I don’t listen to music, no, but there is rarely complete silence when I write. We have a busy house with children coming and going and two dogs and I often write in short bursts of time throughout the day in between legal work. I am pretty good at blocking out external noise when I am concentrating on something, though, which my family find a little annoying.
ABOUT BETHAN DARWIN
Toronto born but Rhondda raised, Bethan studied law at King’s College London and was a partner in a law firm in the City of London for some years before homesickness got the better of her and she returned to Wales.
Bethan is now a solicitor and partner at a Cardiff law firm. She also runs women’s networking group Superwoman, writes a bi-weekly column for the Western Mail and is a regular contributor on BBC Wales. She and her husband have two children. It’s a struggle finding time to write fiction but she squeezes it in instead of doing housework or going to the gym.
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