I had just finished writing The Daughters of Carwyn Ap Hugh when a rather nasty news item came to my attention about an Austrian man who was on trial for rape, incest, false imprisonment and various obscenities that seemed very much like what was described in this story. It is a complete coincidence. This is definitely not based on his horrible activities and I’m not going to attempt to link to the news stories.
The story evolved, essentially, from looking at a map of the Brecon Beacons and noting just how many little valleys there were. I got to wondering if it was possible in these days of satellite TV and GPS locations and so on, to have a valley where people had not moved forward technology wise since the 1950s. I concluded after some thought that it wouldn’t be possible for it to happen innocently. Some sinister force would have to be involved. I then toyed for a while with the idea of aliens keeping the valley in some kind of time bubble, but that just seemed a bit too sophisticated.
I then went back to the central theme of Countrycide, one of the Season One Torchwood stories. Sometimes The Monsters Are Human. Carwyn Ap Hugh, the patriarch of the family, is the one who has held the valley back, simply by cutting himself off from the outside world and keeping his daughters by his incestuous relationship with his first daughter under his thumb. The rest just compounds the horror little by little.
How to actually get lost in Brecon is tricky, in fact. I had to invent a broken compass and some very convenient mist. The remarks about Welsh weather are a variation on a theme. A Welsh comedian called Rhod Gilbert did a very funny routine on the topical quiz show Mock the Week, in which he pointed out that rain was natural to Wales and that global warming could only improve matters. A tongue in cheek view, of course. But one I imagine Welsh people would enjoy sympathising with. At least, I hope they do. I am giving the Welsh here something of the Irish ability to laugh at themselves. I fondly believe that is true. Likewise, I hope any Welsh people reading this story, especially those who live in remote valleys, will take the comments about inbreeding with a pinch of salt. I could point out that we tell very similar jokes about parts of Lancashire and I could tell you some stories about the West of Ireland if I had time. So it’s definitely not personal.
My original plan for when Alun reached the dual carriageway was for him to flag down a lorry. But just as I was about to write that I had a very wicked idea. Doctor Who and Torchwood regularly close roads around South Wales for filming. So why not have him stumble upon a location shoot for a ‘popular drama’. Just another little in-joke to lighten the load of this rather dark story.
I didn’t bother to go into the details of the raid on the house. I skipped straight to Carwyn and his women being brought out by the police, Owen examining the bodies, and the children being put into a car by social services. I think readers could fill in the blanks. Suffice to say the raid was bloodless. Ianto assuring Alun that he hadn’t managed to have sex with his captor was a detail that needed to go in there, I think.