Detectives have featured prominently in literature over the last century, Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Simon Templar are perhaps amongst the most fondly remembered, but now they have a Welsh rival .
Astrid Price, a red haired private eye that used to play as an outside half for the Welsh Women’s Rugby team and embraces the art of Tai Chi when placed in a tight corner during her investigations is the star of two books by 70-year-old Newport author and former school teacher Alan Roderick.
Alan has previously written 12 non-fictional books about Newport and Gwent, but recently published two fictional books, a short story anthology and a novel, in which his creation, Astrid, fights crime on the streets of South Wales in an alternate reality under a newly independent Welsh republic.
Astrid came about when Alan signed up for a Creative Writing course in Newport a few years back. Presented with a short story project, Alan combined his love of detective stories with the name of a leading character from a romantic story he’d written several years before.
“That short story never got anywhere, but I liked the name and filed it away in my mind for future reference,” Alan tells Andy Howells, “Once I wrote the first ever short story featuring Astrid, I couldn’t stop writing and the ideas just came pouring out,”
Alan was keen to make Astrid a uniquely Welsh creation and reading the books, it soon becomes apparent that Astrid’s Wales is very different to the one we inhabit today, both politically and physically.
“The only way I was ever going to see an independent Wales, let alone a Welsh Republic, was to dream one up for myself,” says Alan, “. It also helped create what I hope is a unique environment for Astrid and her adventures. “
“The towns and cities are still located in the places they always were, the three main cities now go by their Welsh names Caerdydd, Abertawe and Casnewydd.
“The Casnewydd in the books has lots of streets, shops, places and institutions I would like to see in the real life Casnewydd and Newport, such as Wales’ greatest Department Store, Jones, Jones & Jones, not to mention the new motorway linking North and South Wales together plus the new Bwled/Bullet train also connecting the two parts of the country which will take a while to be replicated in reality.”
Alan’s most recent book sees Astrid on a quest to find the semi-mythical Golden Lovespoons which once formed part of the Welsh Crown Jewels.
“it seemed a logical progression to write a full-length novel about her. It was a challenge to me, with my non-fiction background, to see whether I could do it. I wanted to write a novel that I would like to read myself, something that would be ever so slightly ‘exotic,’ even for people living in or familiar with present day Wales or Cymru as Astrid would call it.”
- Astrid Investigates: The Complete Astrid Price Short Stories and Astrid and The Golden Lovespoons by Alan Roderick are published by Cath Drwg. Copies are available in book and kindle formats from all good bookshops or by contacting the author via email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Photograph of Alan Roderick by James Albright