(© Gail Johnson Fotolia)
Dragon Line has its setting in North Wales and the marcher lands of eastern Powys and Shropshire and, as I've been working on some scenes where some of the major characters are introduced to the Snowdonia area, I believed it would be appropriate to discuss this glorious area of wilderness during my latest blog. There are numerous reasons why I've chosen this as a setting, mainly down to the fact that I know the area well, have lived and worked there and because of the strong Celtic and Welsh connection to the theme of the novel.
Snowdonia (or Eryri, as it is known in Welsh) is a fabulous mountain area in North Wales (for those who have never been their) renowned for its ruggedness as well as natural beauty. Myself and my partner have spent the past two years on holiday in this area and we are going there again this year (I'm certainly looking forward to our next visit in June!) Using it as a setting is certainly a real panacea when writing, as it helps to distract my attention from the 'rat race' which is the urban environment!
Of course, Dragon Line is set in the future after the catastrophic effects of Climate Change and Peak Oil have kicked in. The challenge is in visualising how the landscape of the British Isles will appear after such an event occurs, which for me links in with my previous posting regarding James Lovelock. In his book, he discussed how the countryside itself has changed radically since the days of his youth and how it may continue to change, maybe not for the better. With Britain becoming an oasis of refuge when the rest of the world bakes, the countryside may be sacrificed even further to the needs of urban expansion and food production. He suggests that areas of countryside will still need to be conserved for recreation, such as National Parks. Snowdonia is one such place.
In the scenario for my book, urban dwelling falls into terminal decline and lifestyles become post-industrial, as the world falls into a new dark-age. In the rural areas, there is a return to feudal existence, which in itself brings about a change in the appearance of the landscape. Britain's climate may be a lot warmer, which would bring about changes as well, but it would not suffer the same onset of desertification as would be experienced in other parts of the world. I would assume that mountainous area such as Snowdonia would retain its wildness. With high, craggy mountains such as the Glyders and the Carneddau, I can't see that there would be much scope for development.
For centuries, this has been an inaccessible area, populated by a people who have clung to their identity and culture fiercely, despite external influences as a result of conquest and occupation. During the middle ages, the area provided ideal territory for guerrilla warfare and the tactics used by local Welsh tribesmen were rumoured to have inspired the Commandos of World War II. In the scenario for the book, this sense of hardiness and resilience continues with the local warriors who have emerged to gain control, as well as a deep mistrust of outsiders, something which the main character encounters on his arrival in the area.
Aside from the roots and causes of conflict which will be featured in the book as a result of this setting, I hope my writing will also provide an opportunity for others to share the wonder and natural beauty with which this region is imbued. If anything, I hope it will draw people's attention to the importance of appreciating and helping to conserve such areas – a gentle reminder of the huge value of our unique planet and why we should do as much as possible to realise our part in the biomass which we inhabit.
For those who are interested in finding out more about the Snowdonia National Park, the following is a link to the official website: