Fifty years on, Alan Garner concludes Weirdstone trilogy


Professor Colin Whisterfield, now a deeply troubled astrophysicist at the nearby Jodrell Bank radio telescope observatory, combs the cosmos looking for Susan, who disappeared at the end of "The Moon of Gomrath".

With no memory of Susan's disappearance or indeed of anything before he was 13, Colin visits a psychiatrist, Meg, who tries to help him uncover his lost secrets.

The modern story is intertwined with that of The Watcher, a mysterious pre-historic man, who must find "the woman" to prevent the world from ending.

"Boneland" is described as a novel for adults, though magic is in the air. It is published in the UK 30 August by Fourth Estate.

Alan Garner, 77, answered questions about the conclusion to his Weirdstone trilogy, which has taken 50 years to complete, via email:

Q. Why have you decided to return to the Colin and Susan characters after almost 50 years?

A. I never "decide". Nor do I consciously go looking for stories. It feels as though they come looking for me.

Q. Had you always planned to write a third book in the Weirdstone series?

A. I considered it, after "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen", because there was so much interesting research material unused, but by the time I finished "The Moon of Gomrath", in 1962, I couldn't face spending any more years with Colin and Susan. I'd begun in 1956 and had moved on. They hadn't.

Q. How did the story evolve to the point you wanted to complete the trilogy?

A. In 1996, with the publication of "Strandloper", I met adults that had grown up with the first two books who said that they felt that there was a third book "missing". But I was entangled with "Thursbitch" at the time, and it was 2003 before I was ready to formulate the questions: what happened to Colin and Susan, and where would they be now? It seemed worthwhile to find out.

Q. Myth is an important element in "Boneland". What draws you to myths and what place do they have in the modern world?

A. Myth is essential to humanity, not just to "Boneland". Myth is, at all times, unencumbered Truth. Myth has been integral to me throughout my life, and is the only subject I find worth writing about.

Q. What inspiration do you draw from the country around you?

A. Along with many of the world's cultures, I feel a symbiosis with the land. "We" are the same and inseparable. This sense has been lost where the Industrial Revolution caused the dispersal of communities into cities and political, religious or materialistic pressures brought about mass emigration across the seas. Today it is hard for people to live and work where they and their ancestors were born. The severance leads to alienation. I was fortunate in not having to experience that.

Q. Although many of your earlier books are read by children, adults also enjoy them. Had you always intended to target both children and adults?

A. I never "target". I write the story as it comes, for its own sake, no other. Who reads it is beyond my control.

Q. How do you approach planning and writing a novel?

A. I don't plan. Images appear, unbidden, which suggest areas of research. The research develops its own pattern, and when there's no more research to be done I "soak and wait", as Arthur Koestler expressed it. Then, subjectively, the story starts of its own accord, and I write as it unfolds. But it's probably complete in my unconscious, as a result of the soaking and the waiting, before I can be aware of what's happening. This could explain why I get the last sentence or paragraph of the book before I know what the story is. The history of creativity is littered with examples of the artist, or scientist, or mathematician "seeing" the answer and then having to spend years in discovering the question.

Q. What was the focus of your research for Boneland?

A. The universal myth of The Sleeping Hero.

Q. Do you write every day?

A. No. I can't force words to come. They have to gestate. When they are full term, they appear.

Q. Can you say anything about your next project?

A. No, except that it's there.

Q. What fiction excites you at the moment?

A. I don't read fiction.

Q. Do you read e-books?

A. Not yet.

Q. How do you feel about your own work being made available in e-book format?

A. In principle, I have no objection. But whereas an e-book is simply the text and nothing more, to hold a physical book, the product of many skills, is a complex experience, involving touch and smell and memory. I value the fact that there are books in my library that have passed through other hands, been read by other eyes, spanning more than 400 years; and they still work. I can't imagine a reader being able to form a personal relationship with an e-book.


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...