Writing poetry and making up stories since she was a child, Ann only started to write seriously when her children were grown. Her main ambition is to write science fiction, but along the way she got fascinated by local history and distracted by a major stroke. However, she wrote poetry about her stroke and spent her recovery writing a local history book. Taking early retirement gave her more time to concentrate on her writing.
The result is two exciting new books about little-known pieces of Swansea and Gower history:
What began with a curiosity about the heyday of Swansea Castle, resulted in Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, the only book about Alina de Breos and the part that Swansea and Gower played in the toppling of Edward II from the throne.
Now there is a second book, set a century before the first. This tells the story of how King John's brutal treatment of William de Breos, Lord of Gower and a lot more beside, led to rebellion by many of the great barons and was the final spark that lit the fire of Magna Carta.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in south London, England and always loved to write. Even as a child I wrote poetry and short stories.
What's the story behind your book Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth?
The ruins of Swansea Castle are right in the middle of the city, and I was looking up at them one day when I wondered what the castle was like when it was intact and in use. I went home and Googled it, as you do, and got fascinated by Gower medieval history. Swansea is famous for its industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, but before then I always thought it was a quiet backwater. It turns out that the medieval Lords of Gower were involved in every major event of British history for over 300 years after William the Conqueror. History in school was boring, but this was real people's lives and it caught my imagination.
When I first wrote the history, I didn't know what to do with it. Then I had a stroke which left me disabled. Preparing the book for publication and learning how to promote it, gave me a vital interest in the days that followed, and saved me from falling into depression at all the things I could no longer do.
A local publisher sat me down and explained why no publisher would touch it – because it is too small a market to justify the publishing costs. I wanted to tell the story, so I self-published. Because the market is principally locals and tourists, I needed a print book for people to buy on impulse, although there is an ebook as well. My judgement was right, as I have sold only a few ebooks.
When I was medically retired by my employer I used money from my pension to pay for the printing, and expected not to recover my costs. To my surprise and delight I sold over 250 copies in the first summer season and not only covered my costs, but made enough profit to finance another print run and put money towards the second book!
Alina de Breos' husband seizes the Lordship of Gower in an attempt to protect her inheritance. This rebellion which starts in 1320, gathers other barons in a country-wide uprising against a weak and distrusted king.