Steffan Powell is a Welsh journalist and presenter from the Amman Valley. In 2021, Steffan became BBC News’ first-ever gaming correspondent. Steffan has also been named by the Institute of Welsh Affairs as one of 30 people who will shape the future of Wales.
In his role, Steffan combines his love of all things fantasy with a passion for human-led storytelling, to explore the global impact of the gaming industry on society and culture.
Steffan also presents Welsh-language programming on S4C, and in 2023 is challenging himself to read Welsh language novels.
“I come from a family of readers; it has always been a big part of how we connect.”
I was an avid reader growing up. When we’d be driving anywhere as a family, I always had my nose buried in a book – it made the journey go quicker!
I come from a family of readers; it has always been a big part of how we connect. When it was a school half-term or summer holidays, for a treat, my parents would take me and my sister down to the book shop to choose new books.
My parents always encouraged us to read books because it’s a little piece of escapism, books take you to places you have never been, even historically speaking, they can take you back in time. They make you feel like you can do anything – I always loved that about reading.
The world is full of ‘stuff’ these days, there are so many distractions. Life goes so fast; everyone is always rushing from one thing to the next. Books have the ability to slow you down a little bit – disconnecting from everyday life in a positive way.
“People who speak Welsh have an advantage when it comes to reading fantasy novels.”
There are two distinct genres I have always adored: fantasy and crime.
The fantasy genre is what inspired my love of reading, particularly Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and The Hobbit. LOTR was the first “grown-up” book I finished. I was so proud of myself because it’s such a massive novel. The LOTR world really expanded my mind in such brilliant ways. I just loved the world that Tolkien created, it felt so real.
People who speak Welsh have an advantage when it comes to reading fantasy novels, especially LOTR. The names feel almost familiar, you see Galadriel written down and think ‘oh that’s perfectly normal’. I know Tolkien had an affinity with Wales and the Welsh language, which certainly helped me connect with him and his work.
Books expand your imagination in the world you are in. I used to live on top of a brilliant hill with rolling green fields, mountains, and forest. The forest behind my house could have been Lothlórien from Lord of the Rings. Stepping out of my house and walking up the hill as a 10-year-old was the equivalent of walking up Mount Doom. These novels bring real spaces to life – and let your imagination run wild.
Broadly speaking my reading tastes have largely stayed the same throughout my life.
I love crime novels, but this has branched out into thrillers, particularly with a historical twist. I love historical fiction because I come across such heavy stuff working in daily news, I need the escapism when I’m at home – reading takes me away from daily life.
“Reading has massively contributed to my journalism career, especially my vocabulary.”
Reading is a huge part of my job, I spend all day reading reports, reading news scripts, reading news online. I’m still trying to find the balance between reading for work and reading for pleasure, I wish there were more hours in the day!
Reading has massively contributed to my journalism career, especially with my vocabulary. When I was a teenager, I used to be quite proud, maybe annoyingly so, of the words I could drop into conversation.
Being able to read in two languages improves your ability to be creative with your vocabulary. Words are the currency of a journalist, and if you look at all the well-known British journalists, you’ll find they are all big readers.
“Reading novels in Welsh sparks different parts of your brain.”
I read a lot of Welsh-language books when I was much younger, children’s classics like Sali Mali and Y Pry Bach Tew. Then in my teenage years, I sort of stopped reading books in the Welsh-language because there didn’t seem to be much fantasy fiction available in Welsh.
I read a lot more books in the Welsh language now. My mum has been a huge advocate of the Welsh-language author, Kate Roberts, and is always encouraging me to pick up more Welsh-language novels.
Reading novels in Welsh sparks different parts of your brain. There is a brilliant novel by T Llew Jones that I remember reading when I was younger, the start of the novel is imprinted on my brain because it was so visceral. The way he used descriptive passages in Welsh that really resonated with me, I don’t think it would have had the same impact in English.
There is something about reading books that are set in your communities, your villages, your world. I think as a teenager, I wanted to escape and go somewhere different. Whereas now that I’m a bit older, I want to go back.
Steffan’s Reading List
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
Tân ar y Comin – T Llew Jones
Te yn y Grug – Kate Roberts
Sali Mali – Mary Vaughan Jones
Y Pry Bach Tew – Mary Vaughan Jones