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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
1,000-mile walk inspires novel
Lloyd Jones
Lloyd Jones began his journey as he recovered from alcoholism
An author who walked around Wales after battling alcoholism is publishing his critically-acclaimed book inspired by the 1,000-mile trek.

Mr Vogel is the debut novel by Lloyd Jones, from Conwy, north Wales, a former newspaper editor and nurse.

The 53-year-old writer began his walk as part of recovery from alcoholism.

"I started writing the book earlier but it wasn't until I was half way through the walk around Wales that I thought I could marry the two," he said.

He describes the book as half-fact and half-fiction, bringing together a motley cast of characters as a man goes in search of the mysterious Mr Vogel, whose "Vogel Papers" are found in a second hand bookshop.

Wales is a bit like a Russian doll - when you open it up you see one thing but there's another Wales underneath
Lloyd Jones

Author and travel writer Jan Morris has called it "one of the most remarkable books ever written on the subject of Wales".

The problems Mr Jones had with drink led to a period sleeping rough and time in hospital.

His journey was carried it out in five-day spurts over the course of a year, following circular routes and cross country, ending in Little Haven in Pembrokeshire.

Mr Jones, from Llanfairfechan,, said: "I'd made quite a big mess of my life, was in a stressful job, the usual middle -aged crisis, but instead of a constructive answer, I turned to drink and eventually resolved it," he said.

Lloyd Jones walking on the road
Mr Jones has crossed Wales three times in different directions

"The reason I mention it is to give other people going through similar problems, and there are thousands in Wales, a little bit of hope and to realise they can be happier as a result."

Mr Jones stirred a wide range of characters, including a pig and a teddy bear into Mr Vogel, and mixture of fantasy and detective novel, which has been chosen as the Wales Book Council's book of the month.

"It took two years to write, there's lots of mythology in it - it's a real lobscouse (stew)of a novel."

He finds Wales a fascinating subject and will take to the roads again while he works on his second novel.

"I discuss it in the book. Wales is a bit like a Russian doll - when you open it up you see one thing but there's another Wales underneath.

"It's small enough to feel very close to and large enough still to be filled with mystery."

Mr Vogel by Lloyd Jones is published by Seren at 7.99.

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