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New author publishes 'Welsh Harry Potter'

A new author, Simon Rodway, has taken inspiration from the Harry Potter series to write a novel for children, Cadi Goch a’r Ysgol Swynion (Y Lolfa).

Fantasy is a hugely popular genre in English, but one that is only just establishing itself in the medium of Welsh. Simon Rodway says: 
“I wrote the story of Cadi Goch in the first place for my daughter, Manon, who was 7 years old at the time. She had been totally entranced by the Harry Potter series, and I wanted to create something similar that was Welsh in character as well as being in language. Welsh folklore is an invaluable source for fantasy novels, and the story was a way of opening the door on to these legends, and a world that’s deeply rooted in the landscape around us.”

The book discusses themes that are relevant to modern Wales – closing the village school, the relationship between local people and immigrants and people who’ve moved to the area, language politics and the place of ethnic minorities in Welsh-speaking Wales. 

“As well as using folklore to create an imaginary world, I wanted to root the story in modern Welsh-speaking Wales, in particular north Ceredigion, which has now been my home for over a quarter of a century. I wanted to show the reality of living in a rural area by reflecting the economic squeeze on the countryside, the social and language tensions due to the arrival of non-Welsh speaking people to this area. Also, I wanted to emphasise that there are Welsh-speaking Welsh people from different ethnic groups, and that their experience of Welshness is slightly different. This is important to me, as my children are of mixed heritage, and aren’t white. Then again, there isn’t a moral to the story, as such, it’s just my attempt to portray a complicated world, in which friendship and a readiness to listen to other people’s stories are important,” said Simon Rodway.

The novel has received praise from poet and author Eurig Salisbury, and author Caryl Lewis who describes it as a “magical and fun novel. School isn’t boring for Cadi!” 

“Choosing to tell the story from the perspective of a girl was an obvious choice as I wrote the book for my daughter. This was a bit of a challenge, to try and imagine the world through her eyes,” says Simon.

Cadi Goch is a nine-year-old girl who lives with her father and stepmother in a small village in Ceredigion. After her local school closes, she’s offered a place at the Gwyn ap Nudd Academy, a magical school in Annwfn, the Land of Fairies – and she’s over the moon! But then it becomes apparent that the bully Tom Jarvis will also be there. Worse than that, Cadi and her friends discover a plot by a cruel queen. Can Cadi, Tractor and Mo stop her and save the Land of Fairies?