I was looking for historical fiction for my son in Hungerford Bookshop last year when I noticed the ‘Bron’ series by Iris Lloyd and asked about it. “Oh no,” came the reply, “not suitable for children.” Intrigued, I decided to buy the book for myself and was very glad I had asked the bookshop’s advice. I went on to enjoy all five ‘Bron’ novels which chronicle the life of a feisty girl raised in the pagan settlement of Byden towards the end of the Roman occupation – a veritable steamy saga.
When I later met Iris, she appeared to be an unassuming, demure lady in her eighties. After having read ‘Bron’ I was curious to scratch the surface and discover more about her…
PP: Where did the inspiration for Bron come from?
IL: I used to live in Beedon and work on the archeological dig there. One night when I was driving home to my creature comforts and the weather was particularly filthy it got me thinking about what it would have been like to live there 2,000 years ago. It also helped that we found several artefacts from the Roman era that I could spin a story around such as a Medusa medallion, a fish (Christian) brooch, baby skeletons, a ring and the skeleton of a dog.
PP: How old were you when you started to write Bron?
IL: I was 70. I thought it was time to write the novel I had always promised myself I would write after years of writing plays and newspaper articles.
PP: That’s impressive.
IL: It’s never too late to live your dream. You should never give up on what you want to do with your life.
PP: How easy was Bron to write?
IL: The first draft took me 7 months. 180,000 words poured out of me – so many that it was split into Part 1 and 2 of Bron.
PP: There’s lots of very racey scenes in Bron. How did you manage to write those?
IL: I have to admit I couldn’t have written them while my mother was still alive…and my daughters have asked me where they came from! A lot of the characterisation of Bron comes from my own life and experiences and the experiences of family and friends. Some comes from watching television but mostly it’s from my own imagination.
PP: What is your writing routine?
IL: I have a snooze in front of the telly after supper but when my daughter goes to bed about 11pm that’s when I start writing. It’s peaceful then and I’ll go through to 1.30 – 3am. Then I get up at 8.30am to do my daily jobs, socialising, voluntary work and editing the Church magazine.
PP: Do you think that you live a double life?
IL: I’m not sure. What I do is write but I have to do it on my own when it’s quiet. I have also been a dancer all my life and used to teach tap dancing to adults but I retired from that a year ago. I am now 83 after all!
PP: What are you writing at the moment?
IL: When I finished Bron and the Beedon dig closed I immediately threw myself into another novel called Flash Black which is set in the first Elizabethan era and will be published soon. Now I am adapting Bron as a TV script. I’ve done a script-writing course and I know the characters and the story so well that I think I am the best person to do it.
PP: That’s amazing Iris. Best of luck – can’t wait to see Bron on telly!