I read Llinos Cathryn Thomas’s queer paranormal romance novella, A Duet for Invisible Strings, in March. I was right in the middle of a pandemic-panic reading slump and this novella really was a breathe of fresh air that got my brain back on track.
… a beautiful romance, with paranormal elements and an older sapphic couple.— Foxes and Fairy Tales review
So, when the author offered to work up some of my questions into a guest post for Foxes and Fairy Tales, I jumped at the chance. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did and that it tempts you to go and check out A Duet for Invisible Strings for yourself.
Violinist Heledd is secretly in love with her irrepressible conductor Rosemary, but a secret from her past could tear them apart, in this contemporary fantasy romance inspired by Welsh folklore.— A short pitch of A Duet for Invisible Strings from Llinos Cathryn Thomas
By Llinos Cathryn Thomas
I will always be grateful to whoever made sure that my childhood library, in a small village on the North Wales coast, was well stocked with books of Welsh mythology and folklore. I was lucky enough to read stories – about a lake monster in Llyn Barfog, about the drowned community of Cantre’r Gwaelod in the curve of Cardigan Bay, about changeling children in Capel Curig – that took place in the landscape I knew, and that made my surroundings seem magical to me too.
The shine wore off in my teenage years, as fitting in with my peers became more important and more impossible, and I started to long for a fresh start. As an adult I moved to London, a place full of a completely different kind of magic. It was the kind of magic that saw me emerging from Piccadilly Circus station on a seemingly ordinary summer Saturday and finding myself at my first ever Pride parade – where I felt a sense of belonging unlike anything I’d experienced before.
Settling into the rhythm of London, I found that on my visits back to Wales I had a renewed affection for it. That’s part of what made me want to write A Duet for Invisible Strings: it gave me the chance to explore this contrast between my two favourite places in the world. I got to write about busy London streets and concert halls and cramped flats, as well as mountain views and quiet country roads and woods where something strange is waiting, just beyond the trees.
I know I’m not the first person to write about this tension between country and city – so many of us have made lives in London but still feel the pull of our original homes, still have this feeling that we discovered something wonderful, but that we also left something important behind.
For my protagonist Heledd, that tension is supernaturally heightened – the same magical force that compels her to return to Wales is what makes her determined not to. She’s certain that her return will mean giving up the things that are important to her, but part of her still longs to make peace with her past.
For me, though, that sense of belonging in two places is mostly a positive thing. Writing Duet gave me the chance the take the Welsh folklore I loved growing up and blend it with the queer romance I’ve come to love as an adult, embracing my favourite parts of both.
Summary of A Duet for Invisible Strings
Heledd, leader of the first violins, has been in love with her irrepressible conductor Rosemary for years.
She’s keeping a secret that means she can never be with Rosemary, but the time they spend working and performing together is enough for her – until a near miss with a speeding car forces her to reevaluate everything she thought she knew.
When the orchestra is mysteriously summoned to perform in the Welsh village where Heledd grew up – a village she hasn’t returned to in decades – the life she’s made for herself begins to unravel, and her secrets threaten to escape.
Llinos Cathryn Thomas was born and raised on the North Wales coast, where she read a lot of Welsh fairy tales and legends and watched a lot of Star Trek – which probably explains some things about how she turned out. She is the author of two speculative F/F romance novellas, Sparks Fly and A Duet for Invisible Strings, and is working on a novel.