Today I am so pleased to welcome Sylvia A . Winters to Joyfully Jay. Sylvia has come to talk to us about her latest release, Bat’s Children. She has also brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I started writing Bat’s Children sometime back in 2013, but didn’t actually finish it until two years later. So it’s been a long time in the making, really, and I’m very pleased now that it’s on its way into the world.
Bat’s Children is mostly set around Pontarfynach or Devil’s Bridge in Ceredigion, Wales. It’s a beautiful place that I visited a lot growing up. It’s also a little eerie, with a lot of myths and legends surrounding the area. As a child we used to cross over Devil’s Bridge and my parents would always tell us to wave to the devil, which we dutifully did, of course, in case he got offended. It’s quite a hilly, almost mountainous region where the mist creeps in so thick you can barely see your hand in front of your face. I used to get pretty spooked walking out through the lanes at night. Once, my dad was driving us home and the road had crumbled away into the valley and instead of reversing back five miles he drove the car up the side of the hill around the broken part (it was probably best my mother wasn’t there for that, she either would have killed him or died herself of fright). Even now it’s easy to imagine it as it would have been back when Bat’s Children is set because really, it feels way behind the 21st century at times, like its still wild.
Although we crossed over the bridge fairly frequently, I didn’t get a chance to actually walk around the falls themselves until I was about 18 or so, and it was then that I first heard about Plant de Bat or Bat’s Children, on an information plaque by an old blown out cave. The legend is that three wild children, two brothers and their sister, used to rob the roads above the Devil’s Falls and used the cave as their hideout. When they were finally caught, the cave was blown up so no one could ever use it for nefarious purposes again. My story uses that basic premise, but it’s loosely based. There isn’t much detail about Plant de Bat, about who they really were or even what time period they lived in, so I was free to let my imagination run away with me.
I’d like now to share a short extract from the story, written from Tomi’s point of view. This is one of the first scenes between him and Arwel, and a bit of a brief character study of Arwel and his siblings.
Tomi buried his face in Arwel’s neck, knowing that soon the sun would rise, and their time here would be over. He would return to the shop; Arwel would go home to his siblings. Neither of them would speak about what had happened, neither of them would ever tell another soul, and Tomi would have to endure his father’s talks about finding a nice young woman and settling down. He supposed that had to happen sooner or later, but he wasn’t ready, not yet, and he knew he would never find a woman that made his heartbeat quicken and his skin tingle the way Arwel did.
He smiled, pressing soft kisses to Arwel’s neck, eager for one more moment of bliss before they returned to their separate lives. Arwel stirred, moving closer, his eyes flickering open. A brief look of surprise passed over his face, as though he hadn’t expected Tomi to still be there when he woke.
They lay in each other’s arms for a while, until Tomi could no longer ignore the brightening light. It would soon be time to open the shop, and although he could afford to be a little late with the items he was bringing home, a little was all the leeway he could gain.
They didn’t say goodbye. Tomi dressed himself, pulling his boots back on as Arwel searched for his shirt amidst the pile of blankets. He was still looking for it when Tomi left, in silence, without a backward glance.
It was a little over three miles back to town, not a bad walk, but this time of year the fields were thick with mud, and Tomi didn’t want to be seen out on the road. People might talk, wonder where he’d been. Around here, people had little more to do with their lives than gossip about others. His lip curled at the thought of it. Busybodies who thought all the comings and goings of the town were their business.
Of course, he had it easy in that regard. No one much cared about him, for the most part. But there were some things they would care about, especially if it concerned Bat’s three notorious children.
There could be no hiding that Arwel and his siblings were bad stock. The whole town knew it. Their father had been bad and his children worse. Wild, people said. The more sympathetic among them would point to the lack of a mother, but they were few and far between. Most didn’t care how or why, they just felt in their bones that the children were bad. Tomi was perhaps the only one who knew otherwise, the only one who saw the good in them. Arwel was decent and kind, loyal and loving. Ceryn had a childlike sweetness that mixed badly with her perceptiveness and often came across as madness. She was intuitive, and like her eldest brother she was loyal. Emyr, Tomi wasn’t sure about. Of the three of them, he was the one Tomi had the fewest dealings with, but he knew Arwel trusted him, and that was enough.
Arwel and his family are bad stock, everyone knows it and they’re happy to say it—but left with a towering debt and no means to pay it, survival means living on the wrong side of the law. Arwel has little doubt his life will end via the hangman’s noose, but the risk of execution is better than the alternative.
Tomi makes a living buying and selling pretty things, including those that Arwel passes along from his roadway victims. Tomi has few morals when it comes to business, and if buying stolen goods brings him closer to Arwel, so much the better.
Then one night a robbery goes wrong, and Arwel finds himself on the brink of losing everything he holds dear, including his life, and Tomi doesn’t know if he’ll ever see him again.
Sylvia is a British writer with a penchant for the gothic. She currently lives in the centre of Bristol amongst shabby gay bars, massage parlours, and anarchist hangouts. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time looking after her elderly rats, listening to heavy metal, watching horror films, or in the pub.
She most enjoys writing paranormal, but likes to play with other genres from time to time and has been known to dabble in contemporary, steampunk and historical.
Sylvia has brought two copies of Bat’s Children to give away to readers on her tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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