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Thursday
Apr142011

River Severn, Wild Children, Myths & Legends, Sabrina Fludde

I’ve been told that there are only a handful of railway stations in the world which are built over rivers.  If that’s the case, my local station is one of them.  I walk beneath it every morning.  Its underbelly is a riot of girders, arches and massive pillars planted ten-square in the bed of the River Severn.  Pigeons look down and coo as I pass beneath.  They have their homes up there in the darkness.  However far the sun may penetrate, there are corners of that bridge where it never reaches.

A few years ago I imagined children living up there amongst those girders, inhabiting a hidden limbo-land between railway station and river - wild, homeless children whose only connection with the outside world was to watch it pass beneath them on the towing path or hear it thundering on the rails overhead.  That was the beginning of my novel ‘Sabrina Fludde’ and that in turn was the beginning of my ‘Children of Plynlimon’ series of novels, named after the great Welsh mountain from which the Severn and its sister-rivers, the Wye and Rheidol, originate.   What led those children to the darkest corners of that bridge?  What were their stories - and did they ever get away? 

First the experience of writing  ‘Sabrina Fludde’, then ‘The Red Judge’ and ‘Mad Dog Moonight’ after it, felt like a long journey down an unknown river. Once I’d taken to the water I never knew what was coming next.  I love writing that way.  I love a creative journey that springs surprises.  One day I’ll blog about some of the strange places I visited whilst researching those books, the characters I came across and the discoveries I made.  There are legends, and histories and hidden corners of our English and Welsh rivers that are extraordinarily rich.

But, for now, it’s dog-walk time.  Down the Water Lane, along the river, under the bridge where I’ll try to get a decent photograph to put in this blog.  And as I pass from light into darkness I’ll look up, as I always do, and half-believe those children I wrote into being are real and watching me as I watch them.

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