My guest on the blog today is Alys West, a fellow Write Romantic and Yorkshire lass. Alys is kindly sharing her five photos with us, and I’ve really enjoyed looking at them. I’m sure you will, too.
My first novel, Beltane, is set in Glastonbury and I’ve spent a lot of time down there in the past few years. It’s become a bit of a spiritual second home to me and I always feel revived when I return home. Glastonbury Tor plays an important part in the action in Beltane and I’ve spent a lot of time walking up it and round it figuring out who can see what from where and all those other kind of technical things which can really bother me as a writer. I took this photo last June from the Avalon Orchard at the base of the Tor. It’s a beautiful haven of aged apple trees and a lovely spot to rest after you’ve hiked up the Tor.
As I live in York I visit Whitby pretty regularly and it’s one of my favourite places. When I wrote The Dirigible King’s Daughter which is set in Whitby and York it was great fun to imagine these places in a steampunk universe. It helped that Whitby has a steampunk festival twice a year so I’d already got pictures in my head of people in steampunk costume walking about the town. The Dirigible King’s Daughter is pretty light for steampunk in that it focuses on the romance between Harriet, a very determined young lady who never leaves home without her pistol, and handsome pilot Charlie. I tend to think of it as what would have happened if Georgette Heyer discovered steampunk!
In 2014 my writing pals and I published a short story anthology called Winter Tales: Stories to Warm Your Heart to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust. The CF Trust is particularly close to my heart as my nephew has cystic fibrosis. In many ways he’s a normal (if pretty naughty) little boy. He tells jokes about poo pretty constantly, thinks reading is for wimps and is literally never still. But a huge amount of time and effort has to go into keeping him well through a daily regime of physio, exercise and medication. At the moment he’s unaware of the huge challenges which he’ll face as he gets older and the fact that his life expectancy is still significantly shorter than other children of his age. By buying Winter Tales you’d be helping to support vital research which will help Thomas and other children like him to live more normal lives for longer.
I fell hopelessly in love with Orkney the first time I visited it and it was therefore not surprising that I decided to set Storm Witch, my third novel (and the follow up to Beltane) there. It’s a joy to write about a place that I love so much and when the book is finally out (hopefully in the autumn) I hope it inspires other people to visit these beautiful islands. This photo is of Stromness which is a gorgeous tiny town built by people whose lives depended on the sea. It has tiny lanes which are barely wide enough for a single car, house with their own pier and unexpected snatches of views across the voe.
Last time I was in Orkney I got on a tiny plane and took the 15 minute flight to the island of Westray. Westray has less than 600 inhabitants and there’s only 18 square miles of it so it’s small in a way that I’d never experienced before. When I got off the plane the lady who runs the airport (which is about the same size as a large garden shed) knew exactly who I was and who was coming to collect me. There’s masses of history and archaeology and wildlife. I saw more seals in one day than I’ve seen in my entire life. I also got to walk on these beautiful white sands.
Alys West writes contemporary fantasy and steampunk. She started writing when she couldn’t find enough books to read that had all of the elements that she loved; fantasy, romance and suspense, although her love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have had something to do with it too. Writing steampunk was a natural development from her obsession with tea. How could she not write in a genre where the characters shared her belief that 90% of the world’s wrongs can be solved with a nice cup of tea? It also gave her a great excuse to spend her time looking at Victorian fashions and call it research.
Alys is doing a MA in Creative Writing at York St John University and also teaches creative writing for Converge, an arts project for people with mental health issues. She’s currently working on the follow up to Beltane called Storm Witch which will be published in late 2018.
When she’s not writing you can find her at folk gigs, doing yoga and attempting to crochet.
Beltane is available to purchase as an ebook or paperback by clicking here
The Dirigible King’s Daughter is available to purchase as an ebook or paperback by clicking here
Winter Tales is available to purchase by clicking here
You can find out more about Alys West on: