Time to meet the first character in “Fates Maelstrom”, my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel. And the opening mystery in the North Wales-based series, “Snowdon Shadows”. As some of the characters appear in the sequels, the key question is, “Who survives to tell the tale?”
Twyla Anemone Locke?
In the opening scene, this nineteen year-old Welsh gypsy girl, is the main suspect in a murder, and being grilled by the police.
So Twyla, why should we care about you?
I want the chance to help my family and my community in Craig-o-Niwl, and I need someone to listen to my side of things before the mouthy men – the police or Heddlu – jump to conclusions because of my gypsy blood.
I just want to continue studying for my Diploma in Horticulture at Northop College. But all that changed when I got arrested for my English grandfather’s murder. Why me? I loved my Pappus, so I must be innocent. I spent time with him at his home, Hawktrewen Park, because I adored him.
My apologies. It’s hard not to pry. Is there a reason for their suspicion?
Other than the evidence they claim to have? I’m not good at being accused of something. All my guilt turns on me. The voices come back. The past mistakes. My blood.
What voices? What mistakes? Are these important to your character?
The voice feels like a shadow haunting me. It has lurked throughout my life – in my memories, experiences, and nightmares. I can hear her voice. Yes, she’s a girl like me. I’ve always been aware of her shadow, ever since my first bad dream. My earliest memory is a nightmare of a boat on a lake and clinging onto someone for life. It was explained as a genetic memory of my parents – of my dad Alex saving my mum Jewell and their unborn child from drowning – the night that I was born.
When I was a kid, the shadow became my invisible friend, called Midge. I talked to her and even blamed her – she was the sister I never had. She was my confidante when hiding in bushes or trees away from other kids. And when I was sick, then so was Midge.
Now I’ve been arrested for a murder that I can’t remember commiting. When I was younger, I could have blamed Midge. If the shadow is real could it steal my ID, my memories, and my life? Because some people feel that my madness and amnesia is a means to hide from my guilt.
They say that I’m a serial offender and a juvenile delinquent. But the crimes were real petty – not even bad ones…all misunderstandings. It’s just prejudice because I’m a gypsy. Okay there were four charges but I can explain them all, if anyone gives me the chance – which they don’t.
Are we talking about prejudice because of race?
My dark, foreign looks make me stand out. Some might be kind and say they’re exotic. My skin might be olive, and could be called Mediterranean. But there’s more Eastern blood in me – mixed with the gaje from my dad. The dark brown eyes and black hair must be from my gypsy mother. Maybe the strong bones and muscles are my father, but they make me like a tomboy, when I dress in jeans.
How would you describe your personality?
I lack self-confidence and will often question myself. But that’s better than acting too quick. When compared with friends, I’m an overweight underachiever. I’ve yet to do what my parents dreamt of doing. They died before they could make the community better. On good days I am determined. But more often it’s better to close the world off, and deal with things in my head.
Do people understand you? Or do they all shun you?
People close to me, like my fellow gypsies at Horn’s Rhych, they understand me. However, I often wonder if other people understand me. Even friends at college can act weird towards me – asking ‘is that what Gypsies think/do/like?’, or even expecting me to read their hands or cards. One even produced a crystal ball. I’m just a gardening student not a fortune teller.
But some folks are antagonistic. ‘You’re different’, ‘you smell’, ‘my phone got stolen… by her.’ The mouthy men think that about not just me. I’m an outsider and so are my people.
Yet the locals come to the Rhych and buy plants and food from us. Most of them don’t stare or act rude. The Welsh have been treated badly themselves, so understand about prejudice. You could say that the English are the outsiders, or invaders, that took the land and the prime jobs. But then I’m part Locke, and they’re the local English landowners.
What is your worst fear?
I’m terrified of dying young like my parents – at 19 like my mother. That’s why I’m afraid of lakes – they died on Lake Como. Drowned. Well, my father did, having saved my mum. But then she died a few hours later giving birth… to me. And I’m now nineteen and it will be months before my twentieth birthday, so it could still happen.
What do you think is going to happen next?
The mouthy men will find me guilty of murdering my Pappus. That will cause trouble between my two families, and mean the end of Horn’s Rhych. And the end of my parents dreams for Craig-o-Niwl and Hawktrewen estate.
What are you going to achieve in this story?
I need to prove my innocence, or someone else has too. And find the real killer. If not then I must ensure that the two communities don’t blame each other for my failure. My ancestors will not forgive me, even if they can torment the murderer. They are talking to me already. Their eyes see everything.
Are you going to die in this story?
I hope that I live. Unless my death helps solve the crime. Or is my health going to kill me? What would be the point of that? I need to die achieving something.