Why the picture of Glastonbury Tor?

Beltane is my first novel and it’s set in Glastonbury.  The original spark of the idea came from staying in a bed and breakfast near Glastonbury Tor with a friend almost ten years ago.  It was very alternative.  People had conversations about angels over the breakfast table. Daily group meditation was pretty much compulsory.  The woman who ran it was a very strong character and to be honest, my friend and I found her a little bit scary.   Years later I started wondering what if someone who ran a New Age retreat didn’t have good intentions towards their guests.  And from that I had my antagonist, Maeve.

Because of that there was never any question as to where I should set the book, the practical considerations of writing a book set 250 miles from home (I live in York and it’s about a five hour drive to Glastonbury) didn’t really cross my mind at the beginning.   About a year in I realised that even with the help of Google Streetview I had too many unanswered questions so I planned a holiday/research trip.  It was fantastic to spend a week in the place that I spent so much time writing about and huge number of new ideas came out of being there.

One of the amazing things about Glastonbury is that you never know who you’ll meet.  At the Chalice Well I started a conversation about the weather and within minutes the guy I was talking to told me he was a druid and that after buying his house he’d grown a tall hedge around it because he practised druidic rituals in the garden.  My imagination was obviously working over-time as to what exactly these rituals involved but the conversation sparked another idea and I knew this was all going to have to go in the book.

Angel at Chalice Well
Angel at Chalice Well

I’ve been back to Glastonbury quite a few times since then. In fact, I’ve been so often that I now have friends there.  I’m going back at the end of this month and I can’t wait!  There is something about the place, for all its bonkersness, which I find really soothing.  I honestly feel like it’s good for my soul to be there.  OK, there’s a dark side to Glastonbury as there is anywhere else (and you only have to look at the vandals who’ve attacked the Holy Thorn on Wearyall Hill to see that) but there’s such a positive, creative buzz about the place and I just love that.

Holy Thorn, Wearyall Hill
Holy Thorn, Wearyall Hill

The festival will be on when I’m there this time.  Much as I love music, Glastonbury Festival has never really appealed to me (well, apart from when I wanted to see Hothouse Flowers play there back in the early nineties but that’s a different story) and I have no idea if the place will be changed with the proximity of thousands of festivalgoers.  It’s going to be interesting to get there and find out.

9 thoughts on “Why the picture of Glastonbury Tor?

  1. Hi Alys, great to read about your inspiration for Beltane. Glastonbury is somewhere I’ve never visited but I’d love to as it does truly sound magical. I’m now signed up as a follower and look forward to reading more.
    Julie xx

    1. Hi Julie,
      Thanks for reading my post and leaving such a lovely comment. I’m sure you’d enjoy Glastonbury. There’s a place called The Chocolate Temple of Love which I think you’d rather like!

  2. I love Glastonbury too. I love Chalice Well, and the George & Pilgrim and the shops. I think its a great place to set a novel and has some wonderful characters. I really like the way people challenge the accepted norms there, some of the things make perfect sense.

  3. Lovely to see you have your own blog, Alys. I love Glastonbury, as.you know! It’s the kind of place where you just stand and stare, soaking up the vibes and getting goosebumps. You’re right – you hear some strange conversations in the town but that adds to its charm and fascination. The sight of the Tor still gives me chills. I definitely want to go back soon. I have an idea for a novel set there and so I’ll need to research. That’s my excuse anyway! 😉 xx

    1. Hi Sharon
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know exactly what you mean about the Tor. Every time I go back I get that feeling the first time I see it again. I’ll look forward to hearing about your ideas for a novel set in Glastonbury and if you ever need a hand with that research then let me know!

  4. I loved seeing these photographs and I can picture the scenes in Beltane even more clearly as a result. I can’t wait until others get the chance to read your novel and share in the fantastic sense of place you have created, which those of use lucky to have a sneak peek have already experienced. Jo xx

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