The boy Laddy Merridew, sent to live with his grandmother, stumbles off the bus into a small Welsh mining community, where he begins an unlikely friendship with Ianto Passchendaele Jenkins, the town beggar-storyteller. Ianto is watchman over the legacy of the collapse many years ago of Kindly Light Pit, a disaster whose echoes reverberate down the generations of the town.
As I said on my Amazon review, "... I finished The Coward's Tale this afternoon and I think it astonishing... It is a poem, it is stories, it is a novel, it's a song, it is about death, life, family, tragedy, history. It is about the power of story and the telling of stories and what that does for the individual, for the community, for those who have experience great loss and are trying to rebuild and move forward. For me it had echoes of the Holocaust. And the way it all came together was immensely powerful..."
So, enough of all the superlatives, let's hear from Vanessa! This book is very much rooted in place, and so I asked her the questions I ask all those who are part of my Writing & Place series here on the blog:
Tania: Where are you?
T: How long have you been there?
T: What do you write?
T: How do you think where you are and where you've been affects what you write about and how you write?
Well, I'd like to state that I am an "unfriendly beast" too, that's probably what all us writers need to be otherwise we'd be socializing too much to write! Thank you, Vanessa, for this insight both into the book and your life, and for the fabulous images.
I urge you all to get hold of a copy of The Coward's Tale (link goes to the Book Depository, with free worldwide delivery), which is published by Bloomsbury, and find out more about Vanessa's writings and activities on her blog. Amazingly she is defying the laws of physics today (or perhaps becoming a quantum particle) by being in three places at once - catch her over at Claire King's blog and Sara Crowley's blog - and tomorrow she is further afield! Thanks for coming, V.