I first came across Kergohan without knowing it. We were on our way down to the coast, coming south through the Landes de Lanvaux, the long strip of forest that stands on a low range of hills in central Brittany. The descent takes you through beautiful woodland, deep shade in the dappled sunlight, with massive stones standing alongside the road as it twists down into the open fields. It was high summer, and the sunlight weighed on the flat fields that opened out away from the Landes. It was somehow the right place, empty and yet full of all the means for life, with that sense which pervades Morbihan that the warmth belongs here, that the colder lands of the Channel lie at your back, beyond the Landes and over the Black Mountains to the north, where the heather catches the mist like dew on the craggy Monts d’Arrée.
The moment stayed with me, but it was some years later that we took ourselves off the modern road and drifted slowly into Plumergat, the village that sits comfortably within reach of the Landes and of all the rich land that lies below the forest, itself still wooded in patches too. And Plumergat, sleepy but still impressive, stayed with me too, as the ideas were forming and the story was beginning to be peopled with characters – some Breton, some French, some English from Devon, and some who were a mixture of these, as the story itself was beginning to be.
And that year too, I finally had a vision of Kergohan itself, unexpectedly, as visions should be, in the hanging mists of the early morning, en route again, myself sleepy, drifting along a ribbon of a road, sitting in a hollow with the woodlands above it, a manor with an older tower but with the fine architecture of a later time: unnamed, with no signs to it, seen momentarily and then gone. And for me, the two moments came together in a trick of memory, the descent from the forest into the open land and there in the patches of woodland, to one side, some distance from sleepy Plumergat, the manor of Kergohan, waiting for events to enfold it and characters to people it again.
And so the Kergohan saga was born, and the names came to live in the characters as they walked and rode and lived and loved on the warm, dusty land in the springs, summers and autumns of successive seasons.
The first novel of the saga is The Baron Returns.