Profile: Fflur Dafydd
26th February 2007
Fflur Dafydd, lecturer of Creative Writing in Swansea's
English department, has an awful lot of strings to her
bow. With a repertoire including short fiction, journalism,
lecturing, singing, songwriting, screenwriting, poetry,
novels, plays and short films, it's difficult to see
how she fits it all in. She admits she's not one of
those writers who has a strict routine. "I wish
I did!" she quips. "I wish I could just wake
up at seven and finish at three and be done for the
I have a gap, an opportunity to write, I just have to
seize it." In fact, Fflur appears to think that
having a varied and involved working life is beneficial
to writers. "It was worse when I had nothing to
do. I had weeks and weeks of space and I just couldn't
arrange my writing."
evident from Fflur's work that this experimentation
within writing in various fields has a positive effect
on her writing skills, as well as keeping her motivated.
Her time with bands Y Panics and Y Barf have affected
her short fiction. "It's very similar, putting
together a collection of short stories to a collection
of songs, the way you organise them."
work on classic Welsh soap Pobol Y Cwm has also been
a learning curve. "You're given the storylines,
you have to create around a set story. It's great because
it teaches me a lot about the process of editing, of
being succinct and using basic, realistic dialogue.
It's a good discipline to learn in relation to writing
something like a novel." On the experience of writing
a novel she admits that it takes "a lot of determination
and discipline". A novelist has to "live with
an idea for months".
novels Lliwiau Liw Nos and Atyniad are part of a vibrant
Welsh language literary scene. Fflur considers her Camarthen
upbringing to be "all important" to her writing.
"I think the Welsh cultural identity is integral
to all my ideas." She's a predominantly Welsh language
writer, but much of her work has been translated into
English and even into Norwegian, German and Italian
because of her involvement in writing on the continent,
most notably the Scritture Giovani collection of European
writing in 2005. "I hope that some of the Welsh
identity carries over to other languages. I like the
idea of taking the Welsh language elsewhere."
believes writing in Welsh is "personally more exciting"
with "so much more to be done." She sees Welsh
as a language that's still evolving. "Writing in
Welsh is like stepping out into untouched snow, almost
- there are no footprints. It's more difficult to find
new ground in English, because there's so much that's
gone before. It's difficult to find a distinctive voice.
Welsh gives you the freedom to try something different."
Fflur's passion for literature is evident. Her influences
include the Welsh-Jewish writer Bernice Reubens, fellow
Swansea lecturer and author Stevie Davies, Booker Prize
winner Kazuo Ishiguro and the welsh Poet R.S.Thomas
who Fflur wrote her PHD thesis on. Fflur sees a language
based degree as a good grounding for a writer. "A
literature degree shows you so much about how to approach
literature. It gives a writer a richness of reference
and knowledge of how literature has developed."
However, Fflur isn't fatalistic about writers without
this level of formal education.
mean, there are people in my MA class who don't have
a literary background, we've got chefs and engineers
and things and they all bring their own experiences
to their writing." Dafydd's work as a lecturer
introduces her students to the vocation of writing and
her own entry into the literary sphere has a similar
ethos to the rest of her career. Her first piece was
a short film called Bathtime produced by the Welsh College
of Music and Drama. She later got published in various
Welsh language journals and wrote for S4C.
first novel was published in 2005. Her prolific writing
has seemed to lead Fflur to her preferred form, prose,
but she's not about to rest on her laurels yet. "I'm
working on an English translation of my novel Atyniad,
due out in 2008, a collection of Welsh language stories
that should be out this August, I've got another novel
in the pipeline and I'm finishing publishing parts of
my thesis on R. S. Thomas.'" Surely that's enough
for one woman to deal with? Perhaps not.
is heading to Helsinki for a residency and is attending
some festivals in Croatia. She feels that residencies
abroad "open up your mind, you get an insight into
the way people are living, it fuels experience."
Fflur's plan for the future are indicative of her appetite
for writing, "I just intend to carry on getting
Dafydd's novel 'Atyniad' is available now from Y Lolfa,
£6.95. Fflur's music is available for download
on her Myspace page.