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History Author Origins

How did I become a history author?

I didn’t like history when I was in school, it seemed to be all lists: kings, wars, laws, and so hard to remember or relate to. But I always loved old buildings. Moving to Wales when I was 20 was wonderful because Wales is full of castles. Swansea, where I live, has a castle ruin right in the city centre.

The past and the future together

Swansea Castle with the BT Tower behind

One day I was in the city centre when I looked up at the castle and wondered what it was like when it was lived in. These thoughts usually pass by, but it stuck with me so when I got home I Googled it. I thought that Swansea and the Gower peninsular were backwaters up until the industrial revolution, so imagine my surprise when I found that this area was involved in all the major historical events in English history for 200 years after the Norman Conquest!

My original idea was to write a fantasy story about a woman who finds an old key which takes her back in time to the heyday of Swansea Castle, but as I researched, I discovered the de Braose Lords of Gower, and Alina de Braose in particular. There was no book about her so I pieced her story together from lots of sources.

Then I had a stroke.

While I was in hospital there was so much empty time, and my mind wasn’t affected by the stroke, so I spent my time writing a flood of poetry, and thinking about Alina. I realised that, with the information I had, I could write a book about her. When I came home from hospital, instead of vegetating in the corner, I got on my laptop and wrote Alina’s book.

Alina the White Lady of Oystermouth cover 5 starsI spoke to a publisher at a book fair and he explained why no one would publish it, so I thought hard and decided to self publish. I was so lucky the facility to self publish had come so far. The other piece of wonderful luck was my husband’s idea to email the local art college and find a student to draw illustrations, which were amazing.

Swansea Castle drawing

Swansea Castle illustration

Contrary to the publisher’s opinion, the book sold 400 print copies in its first few months, and readers kept asking if I was going to write any more. The rest, as they say, is history.

Head shot Ann Marie ThomasAnn Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, Intruders, Alien Secrets & Crisis of Conscience are out now Follow her at