I didn’t know what to expect when I left Switzerland in 2006 to study English Literature with Creative Writing at Bangor University. I’d only been there briefly for an open day, and my mind was filled with images of a small town wedged between the mountains and the sea. I felt trapped between the familiar and the unfamiliar, the person I’d been back home and the person I would become in this new place, but I was sure of one thing. I wanted to give myself the best possible shot at becoming a writer, and Bangor seemed like a good place to start.
As it turns out, I was right. Bangor isn’t just where I learned to write half-decent poetry and craft a story with a more critical eye, although I value those skills immensely to this day. Bangor is where I felt comfortable enough to find myself and meet others like me, forming friendships that would last decades. It’s where I met my future husband and where I confirmed my desire to keep working towards my goal of being a published author, no matter what.
After all, how could one ever fail to be inspired, surrounded by so much wild beauty? Sometimes, I felt like I was living on the very edge of the world, tucked away in a secret cove full of a special kind of magic made of steel-grey water, towering clouds and whispered words. To this day, I still have old copies of Seren with some of my nature poems inside.
When the time came to make a decision about my future, I chose to stay another year and study for an MA in Creative Writing. In 2010, I wrote about my experience at Bangor for the International Student Short Story competition, organised by Newcastle University. The resulting story, “Puzzled”, was published in the 2011 anthology, Crossing the Lines.
After I finished my MA, I tried everything I could to find a job that involved some sort of writing. In late 2011, I landed a six-month internship in communications with the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, where I helped prepare and publish their quarterly magazine. Highlights included attending a session of the Human Rights Council at the UN.
Once my internship finished, I moved back to France to live with my mum. The months I spent in the Auvergne, helping out with the family B&B, would later inspire me to set part of my Bloodlender Trilogy there. In January 2012, I finished my first novel, a dystopian thriller I promptly shelved and haven’t looked at since.
Then, in June 2012, my fiancé and I moved to Luxembourg, a country we knew very little about but where we had both been lucky to find jobs. It was almost like going to Bangor all over again, the start of a new adventure with new friends and challenges. There, I worked as an in-house copywriter in a marketing company for three years before setting up as a freelance copywriter and translator in 2015.
The path to publishing hasn’t been an easy one, but I don’t regret any of it. In 2016, I finished Mirrormind, the adult fantasy novel I’d been working on since my first year at Bangor, and started looking for an agent. In 2017, encouraged by positive feedback, I wrote Bloodlender, a dark coming-of-age fantasy about an untrained blood magician living in Vichy, France. After several rewrites and exchanges with agents, I finally made the decision to self-publish and haven’t looked back. Bloodlender came out in March 2022 and its sequel, Timebender, came out in March 2023. The final instalment of the trilogy, Riftmender, is planned for release in April 2024.
While I haven’t been back to visit in recent years, I look forward to the day my husband and I can take our children to Bangor, show them where we met, and rediscover the place that helped shape us into who we are today.
Bloodlender and Timebender are available as ebooks on Amazon, Kobo, Apple and other online retailers. Paperbacks are also available on Amazon and can be ordered through any bookshop.