The Welsh novelist on badger baiting, being British and the wine and flower shop he runs
"The Dig", your piece in Granta 119: Britain, is about a badger being captured for baiting. Have you ever done it yourself?
No – obviously it's not acceptable. But it certainly goes on in west Wales, where I live.
Why did you choose to write about it?
It seemed the right background to give the people I wanted to write about – the bizarre, determined, repetitive cruelty of catching badgers, and the impending sense that the animal is trapped. So is the adolescent in his situation, and the guy who's organised the dig; they're products of their environment.
Through the boy's eyes, you can almost see the appeal.
At no point did I want to glamorise it. I think it has to be a fairly unnerving acknowledgement that he is being drawn to trapping badgers as a means of finding companionship with his father.
"The Dig" is an excerpt from your third novel, isn't it?
Yes, the working title was Traces of People and it was a much bigger book, but I've pared it back. It's nearly completed – there's just one major decision to make.
You also run a wine business.
It's a flower and wine shop in Aberaeron called Hand Picked. The chances of making money writing are very slim, so you do other things as well.
This Granta is a Britain anthology. What does being British mean to you?
British is a political term, a colonial term, and I acknowledge that's the reality, but it's not something I feel. If I was answering honestly, I'd say I was Welsh. These are facts – I am Welsh and I write. It's not something I have any control over. It's more important for me to be a good writer than being British or Welsh.