Stumbling on Wellies and my Welsh Heritage

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This blog was originally posted on Laurel Anne Hill’s fascinating blog, find it here.

Down a Rabbit Hole to Enlightenment
A few years back, I was aimlessly zipping around the internet, looking for a good book to keep me out of trouble, and landed on a genealogy site. It claimed that with just a few clicks my true heritage would be revealed. I laughed…there must be a catch. What would I have to sign up for if I clicked down that rabbit hole? But as I hadn’t found a book to keep me from it, I decided to try it.

I was shocked when, without signing up for anything, I really did find myself back where my ancestors had stumped around in Wellies (and whatever came before Wellies), for nearly 500 years. It was a little place, a Welsh village called Trelawnyd.

I expect if you’re European or Asian, ancestral roots that go that deep might be a yawn. But for me, a child born of the American melting pot, it was intoxicating. Suddenly, I had history. I giddily began researching all things Welsh: rain, sheep, their obsession with consonants, more rain and, of course my ancient ancestors, the Celts.

Thrown out of the Pub?
I tried to imagine what a village, filled with people who looked like my stodgy grandfather would feel like. What would happen to a sunny Californian like me in a tiny Welsh village, where everyone knew everything about everyone but me? Not knowing the customs or politics, how long before I put a foot wrong and was barred from the one and only Pub in town? I wouldn’t last a week.

Having weathered a move from California to Utah as a kid, I knew something about how it felt to suddenly find that I had morphed into an alien creature overnight. I remembered how it hurt inside when I felt the need to change everything about myself, just to fit in.

A Village called Trelawnyd
Over time, the concept of building a story around that long ago move, with a nod to my ancestors, took shape. As I wrote, elements of my Celtic heritage hung their caps in almost every chapter. I couldn’t keep them out. And where does Ambril’s Tale take place? You guessed it, it all takes place in the fictional village of Trelawnyd, California.

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