I chose the title ‘Riduna’ for my debut novel because I felt that the name summed up the magical image of the island of Alderney, which I held in my imagination. So much has been written of the Second World War and the tragic circumstances in which the island became a German concentration camp once the islanders had been evacuated. Certainly, anyone who has an interest in Alderney cannot help but read the amazing stories of how the islanders were dispersed at the beginning of WW2, and how many finally returned and painstakingly rebuilt their homes and their lives.
The story of ‘Riduna’ began in the late nineteenth century and, as many of you know who have been reading my blog, was inspired by the life of my great grandmother who was born on Alderney in 1865. An early blog tells of the real story of Harriet Hopkins, which is as fascinating as the work of my imagination.
I chose the name ‘Riduna’ to distance my novel from the more recent tragic period in Alderney’s history of WWII. Riduna, allegedly the Roman name for Alderney (as Aurigny is the French name; the local dialect up to WWII) spoke to me of a more romantic era, with military presence in bright red uniforms, catching the eyes of the local island girls. It told of a time of innocence (and not so innocent!) when the island was relatively protected from the outside world. (The island still is to a certain extent, although a friend and islander once said that I gaze on them with rose tinted spectacles!)
It is as I have continued to write, moving on to the First World War and beyond, that I have found it increasingly difficult to continue to use the name ‘Riduna’ and have, more than once, wanted to change the name back to Alderney. And yet, using a less well known name has its advantages, in that it allows more of a free reign for my creative juices to flow!