Meet A Welsh Author — Chris Lloyd on a childhood among library shelves
My latest guest in the Meet A Welsh Author series is Chris Lloyd, a Welshman who boarded a bus in Cardiff just after graduation and ended up in Catalonia where he stayed for twenty years. His fiction reflects his detailed knowledge of the Catalan region and his deep interest in the World War 2 and the French Resistance.
Now back in Wales, he is working on the second novel in his “Occupation” series featuring a police detective in Paris in under Nazi rule.
He is also an active member of the Welsh crime writing collective Crime Cymru.
Earliest Reading Memory
Joining my local public library in Penarth. For every fiction book you took out of the children’s section, you had to take out a non-fiction book. Thanks to that wonderful idea, I’d take a chance on reading books about subjects I might never have discovered otherwise. It opened up whole new worlds at just the right age and spawned a curiosity to discover new things that has never left me.
The Author Who Changed My Life
When I was ten, my mum gave me a copy of The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier and I was enthralled. It’s the story of a Polish family who are split up when fleeing Warsaw in World War Two and their struggle to find their way back to each other and the people they meet along the way.
More importantly from my point of view, it was the moment I knew I wanted to be a writer. Looking back, I think it must have been the power of a small story, expressed so vividly, to tell a universal tale that affected me so much.
The Author I Keep Returning To
Robert Harris. I’m so in awe of his ability to switch historical periods, themes and sub-genres. He has that perfect blend of attention to detail and historical fact without overloading, he creates characters that are always relatable even when they’re from ancient history or remote niches of society, and he wraps it all up in vivid worlds told through powerful, engaging stories.
Most Recommended Book
This would have to be The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. It’s the most sublime work of historical crime fiction, featuring a protagonist who spends the entire story in a hospital bed trying to solve the murders of the princes in the tower. It’s not only supremely skilful storytelling, it also contributed to the historical debate on the figure of Richard III and the infamous murders attributed to him.
You Won’t Find Me Reading …
Despite all my best intentions to be open to reading all writers and genres, I do have to admit that I’d struggle to be able to read a book by an author whose political or social views were ones I found thoroughly objectionable.
The Last Book I Bought
I’m going to cheat slightly and say the last two I bought. Writing the Occupation series calls for a lot of research, so much of my book-buying is research books. I’ve just bought Fighters in the Shadows by Robert Gildea, an exploration of the French Resistance, which I’m looking forward to reading.
The other book is a novel – Exit by Belinda Bauer – and it was just too tempting, so I bumped it up my TBR pile and started reading it straightway. It’s fabulous!
I Would Love To Have Dinner or Drink With …
Terry Pratchett. I’d just sit back in awe and revel in his extraordinary imagination and use of language in the hope that some of it would rub off on me. And I’d have so many questions to ask.
My Favourite Writing Place
I’m very dull here, I’m afraid, as I love my writing room at home. We moved last year, and I have what was the dining room, with lots of light and space, and a view of the back garden. It’s such a privilege to be able to work there every day, even though the squabbling squirrels can sometimes be a distraction.
On a practical note, I also like to work with two screens – one with the manuscript, the other with the outline on to remind me what I’m supposed to be writing – so I’m not very portable in that sense.
I Wish I’d Written …….
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I love how a story that is so silly can be so intelligent.
The Author Behind The Name: Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd left Wales for Catalonia soon after graduating in Spanish and French. His 20 year sojourn in Catalonia spurred him to write a trilogy set in present-day Girona, in northern Catalonia, featuring Elisenda Domènech, a police officer in the devolved Catalan police force.
He has also lived in Grenoble – researching the French Resistance movement – as well as in the Basque Country and Madrid, where he taught English and worked in educational publishing and as a travel writer. More recently, he worked as a Catalan and Spanish translator.
He now lives in Wales, where he writes the Occupation series, featuring Eddie Giral, a French police detective in Paris under Nazi rule. The first book in the series – The Unwanted Dead – won the HWA Gold Crown Award for best historical novel of the year and was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger Award for the best historical crime fiction. It was chosen as Waterstones Welsh Book of the Month in September 2022..
The second book in the series, Paris Requiem, will be published in February 2023.
You can follow Chris via his website and at Twitter @chrislloydbcn
The Unwanted Dead: Synopsis
Paris, Friday 14th June 1940.
The day the Nazis march into Paris. It made headlines around the globe.
Paris police detective Eddie Giral – a survivor of the last World War – watches helplessly on as his world changes forever.
But there is something he still has control over. Finding whoever is responsible for the murder of four refugees. The unwanted dead, who no one wants to claim.
To do so, he must tread carefully between the Occupation and the Resistance, between truth and lies, between the man he is and the man he was.
All the while becoming whoever he must be to survive in this new and terrible order descending on his home.
10 thoughts on “Meet A Welsh Author — Chris Lloyd on a childhood among library shelves”
I might read more of a balance between fiction and non-fiction if my library had set the same criteria as Penarth did. That was inspired thinking!
Happy to hear that someone else has squabbling squirrels to contend with, as well – at least, they mean we take regular screen breaks, Chris, so they’re not all bad! Great interview, both.
I was impressed too with the library’s approach. I was a regular at our local branch when I was young but never got any suggestions about what to read. They just let me browse the shelves on my own and pick whatever appealed.
Very interesting and I particularly love the story of the librarian!
As I used to live in France in the foothills of the Pyrenees, a French Resistance hotspot, and as my daughter lives in Catalonia, I’m surprised not to have come across Chris Lloyd – though this will now change. Having a Polish father ensured that The Silver Sword was one of the books from my childhood that made a deep impression too. Thanks for this interview – fewer thanks for adding to the tottering pile of Must Read authors 😉 !
Sounds like these books will be the perfect fit for your family Margaret. I make no apologies for adding that list of books to read though – I’ve picked up enough titles from your posts so only fair to share the “burden” 🙂
Fair exchange then?
Great interview. I love Chris’ work. Thanks, both.
I’ve earmarked The Unwanted Dead for some Christmas reading.
Terrific interview, Mr. Lloyd has now joined my TBR wishlist!
He will be delighted to pick up another reader I’m sure