Imogen Rhia Herrad...

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Imogen Rhia Herrad is a freelance writer and broadcaster who records and writes programmes for various national and state run German radio stations about her travels in Europe and South America and women's politics and history across cultures. Her short stories and articles have been published in magazines and anthologies in English. She is German originally and currently divides her time between Cologne, Cardiff and Buenos Aires.


Come to the reading in Swansea's new spectacular Central Library on Saturday 13 June to see Imogen and four fellow authors read from Written in Blood - a new anthology of crime fiction from Honno. It features bodies buried under the patio, old ladies with enviable inheritances, and Imogen's story of a mysterious disappearance:

Without a trace

There were two of them, a man and a woman, ringing my doorbell. I'd got home from work not long before and was standing in the kitchen wondering about dinner. My heart sank when I saw them through the peephole. They looked grave. They looked like bad news.
I opened the door.
'Yes,' I said and cleared my throat.
'Police.' They showed their ID, introduced themselves, and all the while I was wondering what it was they'd come to tell me.
'Isobel Jenkins?'
I nodded.
'Would you mind if we came in?'
'Yes', I said. 'I mean, no, come in, I don't mind.'
I opened the door, led them to the living room, my brain whizzing in overtime.
I sat, they sat, and it was all horribly unreal, like a scene on TV.
'Is your father Peter Jenkins?'
'Yes. Yes, he is.' I thought of Dad – coming home from work when I was growing up; sometimes he was tired and sometimes bubbling over with stories. Of him these days – with his face so pink against his grey hair; sitting at his desk with the new computer, writing, surrounded by stacks of books.
'When did you last see him?' the woman officer asked.
'Why?' I asked. Nervous, wanting to know, not wanting to know; afraid to hear what they'd come to tell me.
She gave me a small smile. Maybe it was meant to look reassuring. If so, it didn't work. 'We will be able to tell you that in a minute. For now, we have to ask you just to answer that question. When did you last see your father?'
'A fortnight ago,' I said. 'I went up for the weekend then. Please, tell me. Has something happened?'

Written in Blood Buy it now on Amazon. Or come to Swansea on 13 June and buy it at the reading, and get five author signatures at no extra cost!


in German:

Wanderer zu Wasser

Wo der Meergott haust

Die äusseren Hebriden

Waliser in Patagonien

Der Große Bruder...

Im Reich des Seigneur

Zankapfel Zypern

Land der Hügel...


From the sensuous sea to flight from the world, The Woman who loved an Octopus is an inspired collection of twelve themed short stories, based on the lives and legends of thirteen Celtic women saints from the first millennium.
Retelling their stories in an intimate, contemporary, sometimes startling fashion, Imogen Rhia Herrad has created a new vision of these women, who were perhaps far from 'saintly' by current definition.
Tydfil is martyred but refuses to die, so she lives on as a ghost for a thousand years and then comes back to life. Madryn flees her war-torn home country with only her baby and the harrowing memories of the torture chamber for company. Collen is the strongest woman on earth and every night in the Circus of the Lord she wrestles to prove it, but is she stronger than the niggling voice of her stepfather? Arganhell sits by the river every day, tied hand and foot because she injures herself if left free, and nobody but Saint Dyvrig cares enough to ask why.
Herrad explores intently and imaginatively the crossover between the physical, sexual, spiritual and mystical in the ancient and modern worlds she visits. The stories tell of refugees, circus acts, rape, love, death and miracles. Her saints inhabit the natural world of streams, islands and birds.
This is not a book of historical tracts or faithful retellings: hugely inventive, Herrad's stories flood old tales with fresh, or rediscovered meaning.


What we encounter in Herrad's work is a spectacular commingling of mystical and contemporary worlds, a hunger for the absence and silence within and a determination to celebrate the omnipresence of these women who haunt, cohere and inspire us.
Menna Elfyn


The Woman who loved an Octopus, and other Saints' Tales was launched at the Hay Festival in May 2007 and made it on to the Top Ten List of books published in Wales in 2007 of the Western Mail's book critic.
Which, for a collection of short stories from a first-time author is no mean feat. She shares the list with such luminaries as Meic Stephens and Caryl Lewis. On top of her appearance at the Festival, Imogen promoted the book by holding readings in several of the sites associated with the Saints' legends featured in it -- Holywell for Winifred, Merthyr Tydfil for Tydfil, St David's for Non. She travelled by modern means - trains and buses - and where possible walked between venues. She spent four days walking from Bangor to Pwllheli on the old pilgrim route that ultimately leads to Bardsey Island at the end of the Llyn peninsula. Imogen described the readings and the pilgrimage as an exciting, inspiring and unforgettable experience.
Read more about it in Imogen's Blog.




Other work:

Imogen has had a number of short stories published in anthologies of new writing by women from Wales, among them
Hortus Conclusus in Honno's anthology "Coming up Roses", which contains short stories all about gardens, and gardening, plants and green things and The Accident, in "Safe World Gone".





Imogen's children's story The Wind's Bride won a prize in the 2003 London Writers' Competition, while "The Accident" made it on to the longlist of last year's Raymond Carver Short Story Awards in the US; it was also shortlisted for a prize in the Quality Women's Fiction 10th Anniversary Competition in 2004.
At the moment, she is working on a mystery novel set in London and Wales, and a book-length account of her travels in Patagonia.


You can read Imogen's short story "The Colours of her Music", online in the InPosse Review, an online literary journal. The current issue is entirely dedicated to authors who write in English as a second or acquired language. Featured are writers who were born (among other places) in Nigeria, India, Japan, Malaysia and Bahrain, and whose native languages are Yoruba, Swedish, Telegu, Russian, Ibibio, German, Arabic and Cantonese.

"The Life and Death of Saint Melan" was published in the winter 2006/2007 issue of Room of One's Own, a Canadian literary journal for women writers. This was Imogen's first appearance in print on the American continent.


In German, Imogen is currently working on a 25-minute radio programme about the cutural history of hermaphrodite or intersexed people, from the ancient Greeks right up to the present - as much as possible in 25 minutes. The programme will go out on Sunday 13 January on Bayern 2 German regional public radio.


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Previous work

This article about Argentinean rock star Celeste Carballo was commissioned by Diva, a UK based magazine for lesbian and bi women.



Imogen's programme about the British Aristocracy ran in December on SWR2, a German radio station based in Stuttgart. Six per cent of all privately owned land in Scotland, and ten per cent in England, is still owned by aristocratic land owners. The UK is one of the two last countries on earth still to have hereditary peers sitting by right in its parliament! (The other country is Lesotho.) The programme explores opinions in contemporary Britain, in "Cool Britannia", about the upper classes - whether they are regarded with loathing, indifference, or - despite everything - a snaking liking. Imogen has also talked to members of the peerage and gentry themselves, and found them to be surprisingly adaptable to modern times. "Heimliche Machthaber" was broadcast on 5 December.


In January last year, German national radio Deutschlandradio broadcast a 40 minute programme by Imogen on "Y Wladfa" or Welsh Patagonia.
And in March, SWR2 broadcast In Gottes Namen? ("In the name of God?"), a 30 minute programme about the state of the abortion debate in Ireland. Aside from Malta, Ireland is the only country in Europe that bans all abortions. The only legal reason for an abortion in Ireland is danger for the life of the pregnant woman.
In 2004, Imogen went on extensive travels in South America, amongst other things to research for a radio programme on the history, culture and present situation of the Mapuche, an indigenous people who have lived for thousands of years in the pampas and mountains of what is today Argentina and Chile. Despite the somewhat less than helpful attitude of the Argentine state, the Mapuche have begun to organise in order to preserve their culture, language and hereditary skills such as their intricate weaving and the art of working silver.

Imogen's piece "Ym Mhatagonia" celebrates her first visit to the strange land that is Welsh Patagonia in the very south of the South American continent. Did you know that there is a small town in Argentina that boasts five choirs and six tea shops, and several dozen native Welsh speakers...? The article is the first one in Even the Rain is Different, a new collection of 28 women writing of their experiences living or travelling abroad.
This collection is a true celebration of the mix of cultural experience that makes the modern woman.
A sneak preview of Imogen's piece (with pictures not included in the book) can be obtained here.


Imogen's story The Wind's Bride won Third Prize in the Children's Fiction section of the 2003 London Writers' Competition.

"...excellent... one of the few stories to integrate its well-judged imagery into its empowering narrative... The [winning] stories...left us moved, impressed, enchanted, and highly optimistic about the future of children's literature."
(From the judges' report.)

 

 

Read Imogen's first published short story Bronwerdd here. Bronwerdd was published in 2002 in the anthology "The Woman who loved Cucumbers" by the Welsh Women's Press, Honno.

"Several stories in this collection take considerable risks... breaking through the naturalistic frame into surreal fantasy. ...Bronwerdd ... is decidedly bizarre. 'I made a spinach woman to be my friend and my companion and my only love', the narrator tells us. The conclusion is extraordinary."
(Glenda Began in
The New Welsh Review)

 



2003- 2009 Imogen Rhia Herrad

 

 

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