I once made a promise to myself. Lying in a ball on a rug, hoodie pulled up over my face, panicked breathing refusing to ease.
It was a fortnight after I left the police on the tenth anniversary of my starting in the service, and I was broken. Blowing the whistle to Parliament on the national failure to record crime properly and the manipulation of resource statistics had taken years but, by May 2014, it was done and I’d forced things to change for the better for victims of crime. The price was a heavy one: the loss of the career I loved, the loss of financial security, the unemployability which comes with doing the right thing.
The promise was a simple one, a child’s almost. I’m never doing that again, it’s just too much.
Just under two years later, I was lying in a bedsit in the dark, listening to the night-sounds of the sink estate and the alcoholic Scotsman screaming to the dark in the room above, stopping to urinate on the floor in elongated blasts. I had been bankrupt for a fortnight, after a road closure of several months killed off the pub I’d managed to renovate and restore.
Life really can be peculiar, because it’s there I found peace in myself for the first time in many years and started to write Forever Completely, a catharsis in fiction. An escape. Oddly, this running away had the effect of opening the door on a journey. A road home to a place where I belonged. A place I could build for my family. The Welsh word for this is Cynefin.
And so it was, in the most miserable of circumstances, Cynefin Road was born. A small, independent publisher working to make book magic on a wing and a prayer.
But this wasn’t intended to be some vanity project, nor a money making escapade. Just a place for beautifully written stories which gives authors a fair deal – a 40% royalty – though advances are still well beyond reach. And it’s slowly building into something wonderful.
My soulmate works full-time while we face the precarious nature of my work as a publisher and crowfunded journalist, but that’s part of the path to building something truly special and, though it causes its stresses, we are committed to the long term dream.
Cynefin Road now has a growing collection of titles, from a wonderful authors, from children’s stories, to sci-fi, to non-fiction – it’s a privilege to have writers like Stephanie Shields, Lu Thomson, Thomas Heasman-Hunt, Soledad Osraige coming home, with others on their way. And then there’s our fabulous house illustrator, Kathleen Day. Best of all, we are receiving new submissions all the time.
But what is home without people to share it with?
And that is why I want you to come home too.
But, I suppose, I should probably explain why things need to change from how they are now, especially as the things I’ve been writing about as a journalist take new turns and the tide seems to have turned. And I have to do that before I explain exactly where we are headed.
It all started because the promise I made to myself on the floor, laying there with palpitations, wasn’t one I kept. And after the door was opened an unexpected trip began…
Come Home continues tomorrow.