Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Molly Ringle: Guest Post & Giveaway


The Larks are excited to welcome author, Molly Ringle, to The Nest today. Andrea is a huge fan of Molly's work.

Molly is taking our readers on a tour of the sites from her novel, What Scotland Taught Me.

Madainn mhath! That's "Good morning" in Scots Gaelic, which I use because Andrea has asked me to show you around the sites in my novel What Scotland Taught Me. But don't worry, I include the Gaelic only for flavor; no foreign language knowledge is required for this tour.

In the novel, American protagonist Eva, straight out of high school, does a grand job of mucking up her romances and friendships when she takes a work-abroad trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. Meanwhile, her ghost-hunting friend Amber ends up chomping off more than she can chew when she goes looking for the many restless spirits of Edinburgh. When I graduated from college, I spent three months working in Edinburgh myself (minus most of the relationship drama, and definitely without seeing any ghosts), so I have firsthand knowledge of many of the locations. The others I checked out either through websites or through asking British friends. All destinations are sure to make Scotophiles and Anglophiles drool.

Ready? You don't even have to fasten your seatbelt. Unless you regularly fall out of your desk chair; then maybe it'd be a good idea.



The Royal Mile--"actually 1 mile and 107 yards in length," its website informs us--stretches from Holyrood Palace on the lower end to Edinburgh Castle at the top. If you find yourself panting for breath on the steep climb, you can slow down and admire the brick-paved streets; the pubs and souvenir shops; the statues, churches, and cathedrals; and the tall stone buildings, many of which date from the 16th century. Branching off the bustling main street you'll notice lots of creepy narrow alleys, some of which are called "wynds" and others "closes." Several of those, along with plenty of the buildings you're passing, are said to be haunted. Mary King's Close is the most famous, where several victims of the Black Plague were supposedly bricked up--alive--and left to die rather than allowed to spread the disease. Dark. So! Come see the castle.



As you'll have noticed, there is a big stone castle looming on a cliff right in the center of the city. Edinburgh Castle was begun as a hilltop fort back around 900 BC, and has been slowly built upon and improved ever since. The teens in my novel take a tour of the castle--as you can too, if you fork over the entrance fee--and Amber, the ghost-seer, senses some despairing spirits in the dungeon. On a different visit, she spooks her friend Eva by chatting about the ghosts of the roughly 300 "witches" (almost certainly innocent women, of course) who were executed outside the Castle in centuries past. But while you're up here on the rock, do take a moment to admire the view of the city and the Firth of Forth--the body of water leading out to the North Sea. Brr! It's windy. Let's go back down.

Princes Street, and Princes Street Gardenshttp://www.princes-street.com/


Parallel to the Royal Mile runs Princes Street. It's not "Princess," it's "Princes," named for two royal boys back in the 1700s. Shopping is mainly what you do here--shops line the street, along with cafes and restaurants if you get hungry. Also along this street you can find Princes Street Gardens, a park stretched along the foot of the Castle's rock. In my book I employ the gardens as a handy place for my characters to sit on benches and have arguments. Fun fact: for a couple of hundred years, the green valley that is now the gardens used to be the Nor Loch, a moat of sorts for the Castle. But when it became polluted with all the stinking waste you'd expect in a city, it became too disgusting for anyone to live with, and was drained. It now hosts trees and flowers, and trains run along the valley's bottom. Speaking of trains...

Waverley Station


In my novel, this train station in the middle of Edinburgh is the site of Eva doing something she perhaps shouldn't, and getting caught. In addition, North Bridge, a road and pedestrian overpass, stretches above the station and its tracks, and is another minor location in my story. A character admits they considered jumping off it once. Morbid.

Greyfriars Churchyard (or Cemetery)


This graveyard caught my attention in reading about Edinburgh's famous ghosts, because "Bloody" George Mackenzie, who is buried here, is one of the most troublesome spirits in the city. On one night, my characters go looking for him near his grave. Not something I'd do for fun, personally.

Canongate Kirkyard (or Cemetery)


Canterbury, England


When Eva needs a break from Edinburgh, she takes off for a visit to the south of England--Canterbury, specifically. Its main attraction is Canterbury Cathedral, which has been, in Eva's words, "the town’s big tourist draw since the Middle Ages. I worked on my distraction technique by looking at the spot where Thomas Becket had been brained by swords, and pondering how unpleasant that must have been for him." Okay then--back north we go!

Inverness, Scotland


Edinburgh isn't actually in the famed "Highlands of Scotland"--it's in the Lowlands. But Inverness, 150 miles north of Edinburgh, is considered the hub of the Highlands. By the time you hop off at the station in Inverness, the railway signs are displaying Gaelic as well as English, and the clusters of towns and cities have given way to rugged stretches of heather-covered hills. Inverness is a quiet city with a fantastic selection of single-malt whisky (you're also now in the heart of single-malt Scotch country), and the gentle River Ness runs through it--from, you guessed it, Loch Ness. (You're also not far from Nessie now, if she exists.) In my novel, a sentimental reunion takes place on the white footbridge that crosses the Ness, so wander out there and indulge in an emotional sigh.

And I don't know about you, but I am now positively PINING for a ticket on British Airways, leaving today. But I can settle for a dram of whisky and a good book. Happy holidays and happy reading!


To enter to win an ebook copy of What Scotland Taught Me, fill out the rafflecopter form. The giveaway runs from December 19-26. The winner will be contacted via email on December 27. Good luck! 

19 comments:

  1. I want to visit Scotland one day. The Canterbury Cathedral looks stunning and since it's been around since the Middele Ages, has such a long history.

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    1. Canterbury is one of the sites I haven't actually been to! But yes, those medieval cathedrals--I did see Westminster Abbey and some others--blew my American mind. (900 year old building?? Whoa!)

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    2. Scotland is on my bucket list too!

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  2. Thanks for hosting me! I really did make myself nostalgic for the UK in looking up these photos and tourist sites. Will have to pay another visit one of these years.

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  3. This looks so interesting, and can't wait to read the book!

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    1. Cool--thank you! I hope I get Edinburgh a few extra tourists by showing off its photos. :)

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  4. What a lovely post with wonderful pictures! I love Scotland and wish I lived there (well. Maybe not in cold December, but in general.) I'd love to read this book because I love anything that takes me back to Scotland.

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    1. Thank you! Oh, it is VERY cold (and dark!) in December indeed, but I sure wouldn't mind a vacation home there. For springtime perhaps. And I'd love to see more of Scotland--there are plenty of counties and castles I haven't visited yet! Hope you get to do so as well.

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  5. I haven't made it to Scotland yet. My plan is to travel for several weeks and see as much as I can. Can't wait to see Scotland! Thank you for giving us a brief glimpse!
    Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks Phoenix--hope you get to see it soon! It makes for a lovely vacation. Good luck!

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  6. I'm glad I stumbled on this page via twitter. I'm from Scotland so will definitely add this to my tbr list. I like to read books set here.

    And I agree, we certainly don't get visitors for our weather :)

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    1. Say hello to Scotland for me, Ava! And since I'm from the Pacific Northwest, land of clouds and drizzle, I didn't think the weather too bad really--familiar, more like. :) Would love to see more of the Highlands and the Islands.

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  7. Looks like a really great read, and very intriguing. The pictures look really great. Makes you want to take a trip to Scotland.

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    1. Thanks! Looking up those photos made me miss the UK. It's a wonderful vacation destination. Good luck and happy holidays!

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  8. How fabulous to travel vicariously. A post & book after my own heart.

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    1. Thanks, Mary! Travel in real life is hard on the bank account. But reading, yes, it's a good substitute! Happy holidays and best of luck.

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  9. You have painted such a beautiful picture if Scotland. I hope to make it there

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    1. Thanks Heather--I hope you get to visit! Best of luck, and happy holidays.

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