People ask why I selected one of the most difficult names to say in the English language for one of my characters. Honestly, I never gave it a moment’s thought because when I met Arianrhod (pron. Aree-ant-hod) in a Welsh story, she leaped off the page. Her name often translates as Lady Silver Wheel, and that means the ever-turning wheel of the year. But it can also represent the silken circle of a spider’s web or a woman’s spinning wheel. She is clever, industrious, beautiful and she takes no prisoners. Just the occasional lover.
Somehow her name echoes from a story I was told by my grandmother whose maiden name was Vera Jones. Although she was born in Australia her grandfather, Tom Jones, (and yes, he could sing) was a Welsh convict transported to Australia from the rotten hulks of the river Thames in London. One bitter winter, sometime around the 1830’s, Tom walked the hundred miles from Colwyn Bay in northern Wales to Manchester, sleeping rough along the way. As soon as he arrived, starving, he stole food and was arrested and taken before a magistrate who condemned him to transportation to the colonies. Twenty years later Tom Jones became the mayor of the small country town in western New South Wales to which he was transported. So, Tom told his Welsh stories to his granddaughter, Vera and she re-told them to me, never once mentioning he was a convict. Our family learned about what happened to him in the nineteenth century only in the twenty-first century when time had washed clean the shame of convict ancestry. Ariana, the shortened version of Arianrhod, was the name of the mother he left behind or so this fanciful story went.
Whenever my characters are in Wales, this man, whose name he claims is Tom Jones, stands behind me as I write. Obviously, I never met him, but I am sure he is my grandmother’s grandfather. I can tell it is him whenever he stands behind me speaking in a lilting voice that sounds like a lullaby. He pushes me by making rude comments about the goddess. He says things like, "In all truth, I doubt Arianrhod was ever a virgin" or "her skin was paler than moonlight,” or "she was more beautiful than a fragrant spring breeze, " and even, "she never needed a husband just a sperm donor."
My Arianrhod is influenced by my muse and lives in Caer Siddi closer to the Northern Lights than the legends suggest. She returns during the day to her rocky island off the coast of northern Gwynedd still visible today at low tide. As a character, she is so beautiful and alluring that for most of my novels she is depicted as a poisonous spider which allows her to be the perfect spy and go everywhere, see everything and keep interfering. She says, “I get around as a poisonous spider ready to shock and bite because as a raft spider I endure no complications.” If she were to take her true form, most male characters wouldn’t be able to breathe or to stop ogling. Once in every 500 years, Arianrhod falls in love, and fortunately, it is with one of my favourite men in The Curse of the Dragon Kings.
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