Writers' Club

R. T. Griffiths

This week we caught up with R. T. Griffiths, fire fighter, football player and manager, and children's book author; a man of diverse talents! It was a pleasure getting to know the inspiration behind his book as well as his plans for the future...

Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Rhys Griffiths. Im now 40 (!), three years older than when I wrote Billy's Grandad and the Search for Horris. I suppose in some ways I’m the last person people would have expected to publish a children’s book, perhaps thats one reason why I pursued its publication. I'm a fire fighter in South Wales and have been for sixteen years and I’ve also been a footballer, both professionally and semi-professionally for twenty years. I now manage Penybont in the Cymru Premier League. I've also had a history with the sport of boxing so I’m not exactly your stereotypical children's author. Most significantly, I’m a father of two boys who are my life, and who were the catalyst for the story.

What first inspired you to start writing?

My grandfather died in 2008 long before my oldest son was born in 2014. He was a wonderful man who was so much fun to be with; the perfect grandad. Growing up he influenced me and all his grandchildren, and we still feel the void left by his passing to this day. My children knew who the man in the photos was, “Grandad Bill”, but it dawned on me one day that they don't actually have any idea of who he was. They didn't ‘know’ him. I therefore started writing a little story, a rhyme really, to recreate some of the adventures we had with him when we were children. Once I began it didn’t take too long and soon I was reading it to my older son. The premise of the story is a genuine memory of mine, including the trapdoor and the spider. Naturally, he started asking to see the pictures of the story. Next thing you know I'm drawing too!

What made you want to work with Rowanvale and be published?

I looked at a few publishing companies and they were mostly very encouraging, but Rowanvale’s response seemed more genuine. It felt like they really liked the writing and that was very important to me.

When you’re not writing, what are you reading?

Books very different from my own! In the last two years I’ve read at least half a dozen books on World War Two and in particular Auschwitz. The Tattooist of Auschwitz was very moving.

I also read books that will aide me in football management. Not necessarily based on football, but more on dealing with people. My father gave me How to Win Friends and Influence People when I was in my mid teens. I've read it several times and have learned from it each time.

I'm a Welsh language learner too, so I try to read in Welsh as often as possible.

Which work are you most proud of?

I've only written the one book, but I am proud of it. I've read dozens and dozens of its type, and I genuinely feel it's one of the better ones. More than anything though, I created another lasting tribute to a special person, and gave some life to his memory in the eyes of my own children. My Nana is still going strong, and I gave her the first copy of the book (it was actually the proof copy). It was a moment I won’t forget as she is equally as special as he was.

What’s one thing you always have with you when you’re writing?

In my case it was my children. Not necessarily something I would advise if you’re trying to recreate War and Peace

What is the one book you would take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?

Presuming it wouldn’t be some kind of survival book, I’d say the books that have had me most enthralled would be Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks or The Cloud Garden by Hart Dyke and Winder.

What is the best part about being an independently published author?

I put enough pressure on myself, I don't need external pressures too! I also have complete autonomy.

What’s next for you?

I do have other ideas for Billy and his Grandad; maybe one day I’ll do another. I've also got ideas for screenplays and a book about music. Who knows?!