The fable is dark, moving, sexy, and hilarious.
It tells of Myfanwy Maboob, and of her lifelong struggle with the puzzle of beauty.
Estranged from the piano, and having become secretary and handmaiden to the loathsome egotist Spiff Abrahams, Head of Jazz at the Royal English Conservatory of Music, Myfanwy now leads artists and countrymen out of the compressed servitude of the modern world and into the Promised Land of neighbouring Wales, a place of music and honey that will be known as Idristan.
However, running an Utopia is not as easy as it sounds; Idristan soon becomes vulnerable. As the money and petrol run out, the shallow and materialist dealmakers creep back in. All Myfanwy's dreams are compromised, and the true Idristani dwindle.
But all is not lost, for it is revealed that in the end of her days also shall she be in their beginning!
Idristan is a comic romp, a moving tale of a personal journey, a trenchant examination of modern culture, a sex feast, a book about music, a book about squash, a book about improvisation, and a book about love.
Most of all, though, it is a book about the intensity of human experience and the mystery of time....


About the Author

Nick Weldon is the author of a number of songs, poems and translations. His play `Laura-Mae and the Olivardies' was broadcast on BBC Radio Four.
He also works as a professional musician, and is the eldest son of the writer Fay Weldon. Idristan is his first novel.
Here are his answers to some interesting questions about the book:


Questions and Answers about Idristan:


Q: Some of the settings and characters ring very true. Are they based on real people and places?

Nick: It's a work of fiction, and everything and everyone therein comes entirely from my hot imagination. However, I was recently approached by a celebrity saxophone player.
"Spiff Abrahams - is it me, Nick? Is it me?", he asked, anxious in manner. "I don't know, mate, do you balance your horn on the end of your penis?", I replied. For a moment he seemed unable to speak, so I continued, "no it's not you, and it's not me, but on the other hand it's all of us, all us males caught up in the web of our own imagined prowess". Alan seemed relieved. "That's all right, then", he sighed, and went away towards his next gig.

Q: Why the fascination with Wales?

Nick: It's in the blood! My father was half Welsh, his name being Colyn Davies. I've been working down in Cardiff a lot recently, and must be rediscovering my roots.

Q: It's a very funny book, but the humour increasingly gives way to other, darker elements. Is it a comic or a serious work?

Nick: Both. I use humour as an end in itself, and also as a device to intensify darkness.

Q: What authors do you admire, who have influenced your writing?

Nick: Obviously my mother Fay, who trained me from an early age in the economy of words. And in one sense I see Idristan as a collection of the things Fay forgot to write down while she was being a woman. Otherwise, Samuel Butler, Voltaire, Gore Vidal and Gabriel Garcia Marquez are the writers who gave me the framework for Idristan.

Q: Do you see your writing as having any political dimension, then?

Nick: I'd say a socio-cultural dimension rather than an overtly political one. I believe that there is a creative act at the heart of human perception, that as human beings we organise experience by an act of metaphor, and that our alienation from this creativity in modern society leaves us sick and despairing. Hence the symbolic flight of the artists to the Utopia of Idristan!

Q: Why has it taken you so long to produce a novel?

Nick: I'd tried several times before, but always failed, despite meticulous planning! This time, I started writing while ill, without any intention of producing a novel, and with no preconceptions about plot, character or structure. I wrote as in improvising music, in some sort of strange dream, and at the end of six months I had a novel.

Q: Yet the narrative structure is very complex. Did you not at least plan this out?

Nick: Not really. I just described where the people were and what they were doing as accurately as I could. It turned out that small parts of the main contemporary narrative were rolling themselves out, expanding into larger more detailed sequences that were happening in the future; these long future events then rolled on to form the beginning of the contemporary narrative. This meant that certain events in the novel (such as the puncturing of the squash ball) have a value in all and any time, past, present or future. This was as close as I was able to get to the feeling that being alive is the experience of one long 'now', and I got there instinctively, by an act of transcription, rather than of intelligence. (more on time below!)

Q: Was there anything in particular that triggered the novel in your mind?

Nick: Two things. Firstly, last year I wrote down all my stale old stories about myself in a memoir. Suddenly, finally, I was able to envisage other people. Secondly, I've started to play and learn the orchestral repertoire, and this has really helped me to understand about writing in larger and more complex forms.

Q: What writing plans do you have for the future?

Nick: I'll knock the memoir into shape, and perhaps start thinking about a book on improvisation, as well. And it's obvious to me that Idristan is really a trilogy, so I'll make a start on the next volume soon!

Q: I raced through Idristan and enjoyed it hugely. Tell me, is there emerging here a realisation of the movement you invented years ago called ‘Men Before Metal’?

One thing I’m curious about: I know magical realism gives you licence in a sense to play around with time, space, etc., but internal consistency is usually maintained for the most part, and Idristan does this, sometimes, I have to say, ingeniously and skilfully. I was puzzled at the end, though, by Jamal’s chronology; perhaps I missed something, but it seemed as though he was two different people. (Paul MIlnes)

Nick: Hi Paul, I am so pleased that you read and enjoyed Idristan. I'd forgotten about 'men before metal', but of course you're right, the novel is almost exactly that, although I'm trying to get even further back, into a world of primordial being (rather similar to jazz experience!) where the cultural layers of space and time don't yet exist. This is the world that Quintus begins to describe to Myfanwy on the houseboat, a world which is 'one big now'.
There are several time frames within the novel. There is firstly the normal run of events from the present into the future, in which Myfanwy loses music, becomes a secretary, leads the artists to Idristan, gives birth, mourns, cooks and dies. But all these events are also contained within, and expressed through, a shorter time frame, which is the time in Myfanwy's life between her losing music, loving and losing Quintus, and finally becoming a secretary. The two stories, the two times, longer and shorter, are one and the same. The short story is both a small part of the long story, and also its complete expression.
In this world (to me strange, but alarmingly real), each character has its own pair of time frames. All the events in the first book, for example, occur within the space of Len's fever!
Therefore the normal laws of chronology are, as you rightly say, abused, and Jamal can be a young man both early and late in Myfanwy's story, and still be the same person. Here's a thought - is Heidi one person, or two?