Born in Newport, and still living there today, Catherine Fisher’s Welsh heritage has had a big part to play in her success. NATALYA SMITH talks to the former Young People’s Laureate for Wales about what inspires her.

THE poet and novelist is most well-known for her children’s books, including the critically-acclaimed Incarceron series, the Obsidian Mirror books, and the Oracle trilogy.

The books, some of which have been shortlisted for awards, range from fantasy with elements of Celtic mythology, to more futuristic settings.

Ms Fisher’s fascination with myths and legends started at an early age.

“Growing up I was inspired to write by other authors, such as Alan Garner, William Mayne, those fantasy writers of the 1960s. I knew I wanted to be like them.”

She credits her childhood and life in Newport as “very influential” when it comes to writing her novels.

She said: “The places around Newport have inspired many different scenes in my books. Going to school in Tredegar House was very interesting and atmospheric, it’s your default big country house.”

Indeed, the grounds and rooms of the house have served as an inspiration for several settings throughout her works, most notably The Lammas Field.

South Wales and its surroundings recur throughout most of her work. Of her nineteen published novels, Ms Fisher’s favourite is Corbenic, her “own take on the Holy Grail quest”.

Transposing the tale to familiar locations such as Chepstow, Bath, Caerleon and Glastonbury, she says that “I found it interesting to rework that legend for a modern setting and be able to tell it vocally”.

Currently working on a new book, a Christmas story for younger readers called The Clockwork Crow, she asserts that the best thing about being an author is that “you can become anybody, enter any situation and any predicament. You don’t have to leave your own body to become someone else”.

In addition to her novels, she has also published three books of poetry, with a fourth, The Bramble King, in the works.

She said: “I would probably say I prefer writing poetry [to novels].

“It’s more difficult to write but much more rewarding in many ways.”

Ms Fisher’s advice to budding authors wishing to write and publish novels of their own is to “read everything you can, write what you know, and don’t be put off by criticism. You’re going to get lots of rejections, but if you keep going, it will be worth it”.