Award-winning poet and writer Aneirin Karadog tells us of his love for Welsh-language horror and sci-fi novels in the latest of our ‘Joy of Books’ Q&A series.
What books are on your nightstand?
Currently on my nightstand (figurative nightstand as the books I read at any given time tend to be dumped around the house like a reminder of where I have been that day or night) is And They Blessed Rebecca by Pat Molloy – I didn’t realise that so many focal points of the Merched Beca Movement were based where I have settled with my family in Pontyberem and the surrounding area. I am also reading John Gower’s follow on from Y Duwch which is called Y Dial and is equally as gruesome in places! As well as that, I’m reading Mynd by Marged Tudur, her first volume of poetry that deals in a non-sugar coated way with the loss of her brother Dafydd Tudur. A great read.
What’s the last great book you read?
Gwirionedd by Elinor Wyn Reynolds is a must read and left a big impression on me. It is a book born out of real life experience that could not be written by anyone else and that cannot be repeated or serialised, commercialised or exploited. Like a brilliant poem, it is frozen in time as the accomplishment of a talented author.
Can a great book be badly written? What other criteria can overcome bad prose?
It is probably not a poet’s place to go pontificating about prose, good or bad, but I do believe that great ideas can be badly executed. It may be due to the lack of a good editor or time constraints meaning that it is a rushed job, but while hitting on a great idea can lead to originality of concept, it can totally be botched by poor execution. I think one must find one’s voice to be sure of some success in terms of having the idea and then putting it into words.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
Reading is a great form of relaxing so if conditions can be created that aid said relaxation (such as quietness, a list of chores having been completed and a tidy environment), reading becomes very pleasurable. The hustle and bustle of everyday life seems to be an easy excuse so as not to read. I increasingly need to step away and make time and space for reading.
What’s your favourite book no one else has heard of?
There are three sci-fi/horror books written by D. Griffith Jones in the 1960s that deserve more attention. Maybe they could be drafted slightly better but the ideas of each novel are ahead of their time and very exciting. They are Ofnadwy Ddydd, Y Clychau and Pe Symudai’r Ddaear. The first two novels are zombie stories (one of them written before Night of The Living Dead was released in 1968) – Y Clychau brings a new twist to Cantre’r Gwaelod, the legend of the lost city in Ceredigion Bay where those that perished come back to life from the marsh lands of Cors Fochno. Pe Symudai’r Ddaear explores the idea that Wales physically breaks away from the island of Britain, a pertinent thought these days!
What book would you most like to see turned into a movie or TV show that hasn’t already been adapted?
I think Jon Gower’s books, Y Duwch and Y Dial would make great films or TV series. Llwyd Owen also has a wealth of stories that I am surprised have not been adapted to TV yet.
What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?
Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects.
Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?
I don’t think as humans that we can ever write enough about time travel. It is a concept that has gripped me since a young age.
Do you prefer books that reach you emotionally, or intellectually?
I am always looking to be challenged and enriched intellectually and I love it when I unexpectedly react emotionally to a book. I have also been told to read books due to their emotional nature and found that said books didn’t have the same effect on me emotionally.
How do you organise your books?
Aneirin Karadog teaches at Aberystwyth University and stars in this year’s free Hay Festival Scribblers Cymraeg event (live online now), which encourages transition year pupils (Year 6 and Year 7) to get creative with the Welsh language.