Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Step into a good book!

Step into a good book!

I’ve always had a thing for those movies or TV shows which show people able to actually leap into a book and visit its locale. A scene from the Disney classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks comes to mine and countless others. I always thought that would be the coolest thing!

But if you haven’t tried to literally jump into a good book lately, it’s rather a tough task…

So I decided that I’d have to settle for the second best thing, which was actually visit the setting of one of my favorite novels.

The Winter Sea” written by the extremely talented Canadian authoress Susanna Kearsley
It was time for me to once again cross the pond from the U.S. to the U.K. The destination was Edinburgh, Scotland for a highly anticipated second visit. It was actually the first time overseas I’ve ever visited the same place twice.

My dear friend Carole and I both thoroughly enjoy Kearsley’s novels, so she was game as well to visit its locale. Heading north by train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and then farther on toward Petershead by bus, we finally reached our literary stop of Cruden Bay, Scotland.

Slains Castle ruins and The Winter Sea novel
The Winter Sea is set within two time periods -- the present and the 1600s and it all revolves around the Cruden Bay area and the expansive ruins of Slains Castle. And the castle was where we were heading for the day!

Slains Castle is actually referred to as “new” because it had to be rebuilt in the late-1500s after King James VI blew up the previous one as a punishment for the Earl of Erroll’s part in the rebellion. The castle remained with each Earl of Erroll until 1916 when it was sold. The new owner let it fall into disrepair and eventually had the roof removed so he didn’t have to pay taxes on the property. Thus the once majestic castle became ruins.

Standing in Slains Castle ruins
Before our visit to the castle, we stopped at the St. Olaf Hotel for a nice lunch of chicken curry and rice, a favorite of mine. The hotel is where Kearsley stayed while researching her novel and the nice waitress/hotel manager told us about her visit and even let us see the room she stayed in.

Then after a very out-of-the-way walk, we made our way to the castle at the end of a muddy footpath. It was so worth the trouble though because it was still in great shape for ruins and it was gorgeous.

Even teetering precariously at the edge of a sea cliff, which continually shrinks from erosion, had not taken away its splendor. As I walked through the enormous hallways and rooms, I could not even fathom how grand of a place it must have been in its heyday.

And the vibrant images of Kearsley’s novel just came to life right before my eyes. It was as if I was inside the book’s pages myself and I must say it’s always great to find oneself lost inside a good book. Wouldn’t you agree? :)

Have you ever visited a favorite book locale? Is there one you’d especially like to see? I’d love to hear your stories.

Morgan Tarpley is an award-winning newspaper reporter and photographer in Louisiana. She is also a historical novelist currently seeking representation. Besides writing and traveling to over a dozen countries, her interests include acting in her local theater, photography, historical re-enactment and singing.

For more information about Morgan, visit her website (
www.morgantarpley.com) and blog (www.pensonaworldmap.com). You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Goodreads.


  1. Morgan, the photos in Scotland are beautiful. What a wonderful trip, and definitely worthwhile doing twice. I like reading books about places I've already visited in real life.

  2. Morgan, I love your photos and I love Scotland! I also enjoy reading books about places I've visited, where I can truly be caught up in the ambiance of the location.

    1. Hi Shirley! Thank you! I enjoyed visiting this locale very much! :)

  3. Hi Morgan,
    What a fantastic trip. Wow, you must have so many memories stored away. I've come across that book before and would like to read it too.

    1. Thanks, Paula! There were some great memories made! :) And you should definitely read "The Winter Sea"! It's fantastic