For our tenth wedding anniversary, my husband Don and I traveled to Wales. Our best vacation ever took place only a couple of years ago, but it feels a long time ago, since it was back in the day when one could travel and move about freely. We planned the trip partly because I had written the first book of the Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn series (which is set in Wales) without ever having been to Wales. Progress on the second book was moving along and I realized, I needed to visit. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous. What if the Wales that I imagined as I wrote the books, was drastically different from the real Wales?
Well, a few differences jumped out as we began to explore. For one thing, a lot more sheep inhabit Wales than I ever realized. There are four sheep for every one person in Wales. Consequently, sheep began to populate my storyline. In fact, the sisters at Gwenafwy start a small flock of Mountain Sheep and a new character enters, Ben Holden, the caretaker of the sheep.
Another difference—and this might sound strange—but Wales is grander than I imagined with its vast green hillsides and stretches of rolling land. The landscape is no less than stunning. I occasionally have my characters, especially Sister Agatha, stopping to breathe in the beauty of the countryside. And as she should. The natural world of Wales is overwhelming in its magnificence. The climate is also windier and cooler than I had imagined. I bought a fleece the second day that I was there.
But lots of the Wales I imagined was the same as the Wales that I visited.
The people were incredibly friendly and down-to-earth. Sister Agatha and her love of the Welsh people is well deserved. I met so many kind and generous people, it made me want to move there.
The churches and castles were exactly as I pictured them. In fact, they were even more of what I imagined. If that is possible. I stood in the pulpit of St. Asaph’s Cathedral—a pulpit where a major character in the story stands—The Bishop Suzanne Bainton. The pulpit and the cathedral itself were spectacular. The many castles, fortresses, and stone churches are now being incorporated into Sister Agatha’s world.
Wales. A fabulous setting for a mystery novel. An even better place to visit.a Rafflecopter giveaway