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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Places that Inspire – Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle


When I started creating my story Beast in a Kilt (in Secrets Volume 29), the place I imagined the hero living was similar to where Urquhart Castle is on the shore of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The hero, Torr, is cursed. At night he shapeshifts into the form of a kelpie water demon, so he needed to live by a loch where he could swim. And though I named the loch in my story something different (not Loch Ness), this is still the place I envision. Spiral stone steps leading down. I love including these kinds of steps in my stories. It was neat actually being able to climb them. They are very narrow and tight. Basically it's almost impossible for two people to pass.

Torr lives in a castle ruin where only one tower is left standing. An old physician, who is secretly a wizard, lives there with him, constantly trying to concoct a formula which will break his curse.

The day I visited Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, rain was falling and the mist hung low over the loch. It looked exactly like a place legendary creatures might inhabit.



Of course the Urquhart Castle ruin is not a habitable place like the one in my story. I visualize it looking similar but more ancient since my story takes place 400 years ago. For instance, the stone rubble from where the castle was knocked down still covers the ground (instead of lovely green grass).
Above, you can see how much ground the castle covered in it's day because the base of some of the walls still exist. The middle picture shows a view from a tower window, down toward the loch with its peaty brownish tinged water. Then we see the castle wall interior including windows and a fireplace, without the wooden floors that would've divided the space.

To learn more about Urquhart’s long and complicated history visit this page at Electric Scotland.


Beast in a Kilt will be in Secrets Volume 29 Indulge Your Fantasies, release date: July 1 2010.
Beast in a Kilt: Scottish lady Catriona MacCain has loved Torr Blackburn, a fierce Highland warrior, since she was a young lass, but Torr only sees Catriona as his best friend’s little sister. When Catriona’s family promises her in marriage to a detestable chieftain, she desperately needs Torr to save her from a fate worse than death. But Torr is under the spell of a witch of the dark arts and is cursed to spend his nights as a kelpie water demon. He doesn’t believe himself worthy of the virginal Lady Catriona. However, she is determined to seduce Torr and claim him… body, heart and soul, if only they can banish the curse and defeat the enemies who have vowed to possess and enslave them both.
Have you visited Urquhart or any other Scottish castles you enjoyed? What was your favorite thing about them and did they inspire you?
Thanks!
Nicole

18 comments:

Author Casey Sheridan said...

Those are some really cool images you have, Nicole.

I wish I could go visit a real castle. So far, my visits are limited to a book and a calendar on castles that I have at home.

Nicole North said...

Thanks, Casey! I hope you get to visit a castle one day soon! I also love those castle calendars and try to have one every year.

Chicks of Characterization said...

Great post Nicole! Everything about Scotland inspires me!!! I love Loch Ness, it is so magical and you're always waiting for Nessie to raise her head! I visited both Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle last year and have some great pictures if you'd ever like to see them!!!!

Andrea

Nicole North said...

Thanks Andrea! I feel the same way--all of Scotland is inspiring. :) I remember seeing your pictures. They were awesome!! But I might go look at them again. :)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Gorgeous photos, Nicole. Yes, I have been to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. I sat in the boat on the loch and cried. I can't tell you exactly why, but I think that is when I first felt like I had come home. Being in that beautiful country of my ancestors inspired me to relocate there. Of course, being realistic, I know that isn't possible at least until my first million comes in on 'that ship' that surely must have sailed by now. We spent 23 days driving around the Highlands and I would take any of those castles. But at Balquhidder standing in front of Rob Roy MacGregor's grave I could hear the bagpipes, the clanking of swords, the cries of the Highlanders as the ran down the mountains in battle. It was so vivid I swear it was real.

I will never forget and will always dream of the Highlands. It makes those great books like those you write so much more fun to read. Thanks for giving me a few moments today to steal away to my daydreams. Now I am off to work on my GMC for a class I am taking. ;)

Jody said...

Did you go to the water's edge? I know it is said to be peaty brown by none of my pictures of the three visits shows that. I have been to the water's edge but on the northeast side at Dores and I just didn't get the peaty image, the water though much colder seemed like lakes here in Wisconsin in late fall.

I havent' walked down to Urquhart but have stopped and taken lunch there enjoying the scenery, by the third time the DH said NO MORE CASTLES, and off to a distillery we went.
I would love to stay on the loch for a summer but sadly I find it is getting too touristy.

Lexi said...

Great pictures! I've seen Urquhart from a tour bus, but that's it. I'm with Andrea. Everything about Scotland inspires me.

Nicole North said...

Thanks Paisley!! You are a woman after my own heart. Scotland felt like home to me too. I'd love to live there most of the year! I'm waiting for my million too. :) I'd love to visit every castle in Scotland. Certain places definitely have a haunting feeling.

Nicole North said...

Hi Jody, yes, I went to the water's edge and on a boat cruise down the loch to the canal. Awesome! It was raining but I enjoyed it! The water did seem to me to be peaty brown tinged. Not dark brown but sort of a whisky or light tea color. Some of the small streams I saw elsewhere were also that color and even some of the tap water in a hotel or two was peaty color (but it tasted fine.) Ohh I can't imagine anyone saying "no more castles." LOL I'd have a fit.

Nicole North said...

Lexi, thanks!! I hope you get to explore Urquhart at some point in the near future. I didn't get to spend enough time there myself but would love to spend all day checking out every inch of the place.

Margaret Mallory said...

I love your photos!! I'm traveling to Scotland at the end of this month to research my next series, and I hope to tour Urquhart Castle. I'm visiting Stirling Castle & a few others. :)

Great post!

Nicole North said...

Thanks Margaret! Oooh can I come with you? ;) You will love it, I'm sure. I look forward to seeing your pics. If you post them somewhere let me know.

Sally said...

Love Scotland and that time period. Haven't gotten over there yet but it's on the bucket list.

Pat McDermott said...

Wonderful photos as always, Nicole. If those old ruins don't inspire a story or two, nothing will! I almost expected to see a picture of Nessie swimming out on the lake :-)Thanks for sharing!

Nicole North said...

Sally, great! I hope you get to visit Scotland soon. It's well worth it.

Pat, thanks! Absolutely, ruins are so inspiring. I kept looking for Nessie but didn't see her. :)

Caroline Clemmons said...

When my husband and I were last at Urquhart Castle, some people were having a catapult demonstration. Later we saw it on the history chanel. Beautiful area!

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