The Raven Heir: how the wilds of Wales helped author Stephanie Burgis find her place in the world
Published on: 05 August 2021 Author: Stephanie Burgis
Author Stephanie Burgis found inspiration for her book, The Raven Heir, in a place steeped in magic and history – the beautiful woods and valleys of Wales.
Finding a place to belong
I’ve lived in many different places in my life, but it was only when I moved to Wales in 2009 that I finally felt I’d found the place where I could root myself forever. So it’s not surprising that the gorgeous and magically powerful landscape in my new book, The Raven Heir, was directly inspired by the beautiful and magical mountains, woods, and castles that I’ve been surrounded by throughout the past twelve years - as well as by the fascinating history behind them.
I can’t count how many times I’ve visited Raglan Castle with my children over the years, but I’ve loved it more and more every time. When I found out about its connection with the Wars of the Roses, that period of history suddenly felt far more present and real to me than it ever had before. When Henry Tudor (the future Henry VII) was a child, he was held there as a ward/prisoner, considered dangerous to the throne simply because he was an alternate heir who could claim it through his parentage. As I read about the fury and terror of his mother, who fought for years be reunited with her beloved son, I imagined how I might have felt in the same situation...and what a difference real magic might have made to their story.
The mountains near Rhayader
Building a fantasy kingdom
In The Raven Heir, my heroine’s mother is a sorceress with powerful magic at her disposal, so she flees to an enchanted forest to keep her children safe from all of the brutal wars over the throne in their own kingdom of Corvenne...a kingdom whose landscape just happens to be based closely on that of Wales.
Of course, when it comes to magical forests and woods, I didn’t have to look far to find inspiration! Our family visits our own local woodland, Coed Cefn, at every chance we get. My children have battled imaginary goblins and other magical creatures there countless times. It was only too easy to imagine a similar setting for my heroine and her triplets - one that would weave real magic into the air along with the gorgeously magical atmosphere of our real-world Welsh woodlands.
The woods at Coed Cefn
And as I live in a valley, it was only instinctive to decide that the deepest magic of their fantasy kingdom would be centered on a mountain. After all, I’ve lived surrounded by mountains for twelve years now! Their strength and endurance has been a true comfort in hard times, and the mist that twirls around their sides has whispered of magic to me and my children every day, as we’ve imagined dragons flying through that mist or hiding behind it.
In The Raven Heir, my heroine has to quest across a perilously beautiful and magical land with her triplets to, together, save their family, mend a broken crown, and find out their true place in the world.
In my life, I’ve been lucky enough to find my own place here – and I hope you can read my love for it in every line of this book.
Inspired by Wales!