Mary V Williams was born in a Hampshire village and spent most of her early childhood playing outside with mud, sticks and a dog, before being captured and made to go to school, where she discovered books, poetry and art, which was a small consolation.
With an artistic, loving, but deaf mother, and a father who was an eccentric engineer and inventor, life was never dull. After school, she devoured poetry and novels and began writing her own.
A nice safe job in a bank was proposed when she left school. Hating it, she found herself working with a charity caring for Polish and Tibetan refugees instead. Later, she studied at Manresa College in Roehampton, accompanied, she feels, by the ghost of Gerard Manley Hopkins who had been a Jesuit novitiate there, and met her husband, Peter. Together they made the most of Sixties London and travelled around Europe and North Africa before getting married and settling in Stoke Newington, a melting pot of radical political activity in those days. Mary continued to write poetry and teach but missed green spaces and outdoor life.
After the birth of their two sons they decided reluctantly to seek quieter surroundings outside London and when Peter was offered a job in Lancashire the family moved Up North. Once the culture shock had worn off, the friendliness, scenery and the prospect of a larger house, made this a good move, despite the precipitation. She loved the humour and down to earth attitude of the people. She kept on writing and teaching.
As a family, they swapped houses with a Danish family, travelled by coach to Moscow and Estonia, camped on the Belgium coast, shared a house in Holland and had annual camping holidays with other families. The addition of another son soon after moving north and then a foster son three years later entailed a lot of cooking and mucking out of rooms. Odd socks and raids on the fridge were repeating motifs. Mary felt she needed a different career, and psychotherapy training and an MA in English led to a commission to write self-help books. Later she worked in child mental health, and for the NSPCC, until the war between Psychiatry and Psychology got in the way, then for seven happy years as a staff counsellor in a University.
Left with a huge, empty house once the children had left home, they sold up and moved south to Shropshire, where Peter had embarked on a career as an art therapist. Mary now had time and space to write. A series of books followed: The Poison Garden of Dorelia Jones, A Far Cry, Losing It, and recently The Marsh People (recently republished by Victorina Press). She won the Hippocrates Prize for poetry and the Ware Prize. Her poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies, and her published collected short stories, Unconfirmed Reports From Out There, is available as an e-book. She also founded the Drayton Writers’ Group.
She and her husband presently live in an old cottage and try to keep the garden at bay, though there’s a well under the living room floor and anything could be lurking in that.
In the battle between the authoritarian, all powerful state and its imprisoned slaves, whose lives are controlled by The Masters, there are a few winners. People have been rounded up from the villages by ferocious dogs, under the control of The Masters, and forced to live and work in decaying, inhumane cities.
Provided with basic food and shelter, they have little else, but like automatons, rarely do they rebel.
Scummo meets Kelpin. Her mother is dead. The pair support one another as they travel through the marshy, giant eel-infested lands around the estuary, eventually meeting others who are living as outsiders. Life is uncomfortable and unpredictable, but they realise how precious freedom is; they have to learn about co-operation and compassion and must fight for their survival at times when rival groups try to take over.
All the while The Masters watch.
A dystopian novel pitting outsiders again inhuman tyrants and their servants.
Who will win?