Research was so much fun. I read more than 30 books about Glastonbury or the historical period. I had lots of notes and a solid outline when I went to stay for two weeks with a lovely family who live six miles from the town on a bike track along one of the many drains that crisscross the Somerset Levels. They graciously took me into their family, loaned me a bike, a map and a pair of Wellington boots and set me loose to explore.
I climbed the Tor in the rain, slipped on the grass, fell in the yellow mud, and felt the wind tug at my clothes. Then I came home and wrote the first draft of the chapter where Colin climbs the Tor. I climbed again in spectacular sunshine on the anniversary of the abbot’s death, and sat on the grass singing, “Knowing you, Jesus. There is no greater thing,” which had become my theme song for the writing of this book. I watched the mists creep out of the drain across my path like a living thing, and stood in awe at the dance of the starlings as they roosted over the bog.
My thanks to the present owner of Sharpham Manor, who patiently answered my questions about the house, and to Otto Dyga, who explained the cutting of turves and the building of ruckles. I can heartily recommend the cream of mushroom soup served by The George and Pilgrim Inn.
When you are researching a setting, know as much as you can ahead of time about what you need to see. Take along a digital camera. Not only can you photograph signs with information on them instead of getting writer's cramp taking notes, but a quick snap of the crenellations on a wall or size of the back gate captures the details you might not have thought to write down at the time.