Press Release: Cysgod y Darian by Meilyr Siôn

Being on tour can be a lonely business – even if you’ve got one of the main roles in smash hit musical The Lion King.

Actor Meilyr Siôn spent three-and-a-half years in his role as Zazu the African Hornbill in the long-running touring version of the Disney-inspired West End hit.

In order to fill the time between performances across the UK and in Europe, actor and author Meilyr wrote his latest book for children Cysgod y Darian (GOMER).

“I was in Switzerland with The Lion King for seven-and-a-half months. So whenever I wasn’t on stage, back at my digs, I would be writing,” said Meilyr who is originally from Aberaeron but now lives in Barry. “It kept me amused and it was something different to being on stage.”

“It was only a very rough draft but it was definitely something I wanted to continue with and get published,” said Meilyr.

The result is Cysgod y Darian – an adventure story about a boy  - Ioan Arthur - who is thrown into a world of secret societies, fierce Vikings, supernatural powers, telepathy and time travel.

Meilyr called on his love of mythology as inspiration for Cysgod y Darian. “I’m a big fan of Celtic and Scandinavian mythology but I really love mythology from all over the world. You see the same themes recurring – for example Jason and the Argonauts is similar to Culhwch and Olwen.”

He is also a big fan of fantasy and science fiction writing but feels there is very little with a Welsh element. “So many books are based in England and talk about events happening in England. I wanted to bring all the action closer to home.”

There is a strong historical element to Cysgod y Darian – Meilyr hopes this will spark an interest in his young readers.

“History books can be a bit dry – I wanted to write something a bit more adventurous,” said Meilyr. “I would also like to see more Welsh history taught in schools. We do not celebrate our history enough – we’re almost apologetic about it.

 “We have so much history to be proud of in Wales – the Tudors, the Middle Ages, the Romans, the Celts all the way back to the Bronze Age and Stone Age. We need to raise the profile of Welsh history.”

 The book also deals with some tough issues – Ioan Arthur – the main character in the book has lost his father. He has moved to a new school and is the target of school bullies.

 “Most of the action in the book is set in the past, but a lot of the problems faced by Ioan Arthur are very modern ones. The book looks at how he deals with the loss of his father. I wanted to inter-weave the past with the present and create a book that is full of adventure, excitement and tension.” 

As well as writing and acting on the stage, Meilyr is well-known for television roles on programmes such as Pobol y Cwm, Holby City and Teulu. He has also recorded several dramas for Radio 4, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.

Cysgod y Darian will be the fifth children’s book that Meilyr has written for GOMER. Others include Swigod: Bwystfil Bryn Bugail and three books in the Cyfres Parc Deri series - Bwyd i’r Bwlis, Pryderi Mewn Picil ac Ysbryd y Sbwriel.

Cysgod y Darian by Meilyr Siôn is available now, priced £5.99 in local bookshops or directly from the Gomer website For further details, photographs or an interview with Meilyr please contact Gomer marketing officer Cathryn Ings by e-mail  or phone on 01267 22140.