Thank you to Open Skye Book Reviews for hosting us on the Song and Key blog tour! We thought we’d chat a bit about the exotic setting, and share some thoughts on places we’ve been fortunate enough to travel to see in person.
Song and Key is mostly set in a small village in Romania, with a crumbling abbey in the nearby forest as the village’s main tourist attraction. As you probably know, “crumbling ruins” are a teensy bit scarce here in the USA – especially in California, where Alix lives. (Around there, any building older than 100 years is considered an incredibly old building. Connie has a few in Florida, but castles and abbeys are still a bit rare. Since you have to travel to see some legit ruins, we are going to share some of the most interesting ones we’ve seen on our adventures!
The first ruins I ever saw were the remains of Aberystwyth Castle, in Wales. I won’t bore you with the history of the place, except to say that it was built in 1277 and razed during that little upset known as the English Civil War in the mid-1600s. What I do want to share is how profoundly moving it was to not just see, but touch the ruins.
I was in my early twenties, still proud of my BA in Medieval European history. This was my very first trip out of the country, and I was travelling with my best friend in the universe, Angela. She’s lived in Aberystwth as an exchange student for a year, and wanted to show me around. We drove all the way out there from Cambridge, and arrived long after the sun had set. But Angela insisted that the very first thing we needed to do was go see the ruins. It was dark, only vaguely lit by park lamps, and buffeted by cold wind, fresh off the ocean. The air smelled like sea water, and no one else was there but us. It was old, so old, and my hands shook as I felt the shapes of the rocks that had been set in place by some laborer’s hands, over 700 years ago. I cried.
Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberystwyth_Castle, if you’re interested in learning more or seeing some pictures!
My father was in the Air Force and took his family with him wherever he was stationed. I’ve lived in Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and Alaska to name the most exotic. I remember going with my parents to the “Heaven and Hell” caves near the Mediterranean in Turkey. According to legend, Zeus battled a hundred-headed fire-breathing dragon in the big cave and imprisoned it there. At the mouth of the cave are the ruins of a temple built to honor Zeus. I vividly remember my father holding me out over the drop-off to look down on the sunset-colored cliffs and tumbled stones of the temple, and the story of how Christians had hid in the caves to escape persecution. I was 9 and it made a huge impression on me.
3) (Alix again)
Sadly, no rock-fondling was allowed at the 871+/-2 Settlement Exhibit, in Reykjavík, Iceland. And I couldn’t take photos since it was indoors, so definitely check out the Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reykjav%C3%ADk_871%C2%B12
There was nothing in Iceland that I wasn’t utterly delighted by (except the hákarl, fermented shark). I was enchanted by everything, since I’m a big history nerd, and I love the Icelandic sagas. We saw Thingvellir, Geysir, the oldest church in Iceland, and some incredibly fluffy sheep. And then I made our host take me to all the history museums in Reykjavík.
The ruins were the hands-down winner, though. They’ve uncovered an old Viking hall, from the 10th century. The exhibit itself is fascinating, showing the actual archeological dig, as well as items found, and historical explanations and context. I was beside myself with excitement. (And don’t tell anyone, but I reached under the “to not touch” rope and touched some of the exposed dirt. I HAD to. And I’m not sorry.)
So there you have it – ruins Alix and Connie have seen. Now you know that the descriptions of the ruins in the book are totally credible, down to the pebbles and crumbling, broken walls.
Have you been to any ruins? We’d love your recommendations, in the comments below!
So-called monsters won’t hold these spies back!
For two secret agents on a mission to a secluded Romanian village, the toughest fight they face may not be against the folktale monsters lurking in the foggy mountains and old ruins, but against their unlikely attraction to each other.
Keller Key is the top operative at the covert Global Law Enforcement Network—and boy, does he know it. Sexy half-Ukrainian, half-Korean Sevastyan Song is a close second. When the agents go undercover to investigate an old friend’s suspicious death, it soon becomes clear something sinister is afoot in the ancient forest and decrepit abbey. If an evil organization doesn’t spell the end of them, the angry locals might. But if they’re going to conquer their enemies, they need to keep their hands off each other and their minds on the case, in a rivals-to-lovers paranormal mash-up that gives new meaning to spy-on-spy action.
Available January 2, 2018 from Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/song-and-key-by-alix-bekins-and-connie-bailey-9155-b
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Key-Dreamspun-Beyond-Book-ebook/dp/B078BXF1T9/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/song-and-key-alix-bekins/1127661059?ean=2940158894169
Alix Bekins lives and writes atop a treacherous hillside in the Santa Cruz mountains. Her days start with a cup of proper British tea and end with knitting while watching TV. In real life, Alix is a no-nonsense, judgmental-eyebrow, whip-cracking admin whose turn-ons include glitter nail polish, hiking, dogs, chocolate, and sensual walks in the rain. Without the rain, because that sounds cold.
Alix is pretty sure she’s the only person in the world who wears a plastic Viking helmet as a thinking cap when she battles writer’s block. She always wins.
Connie Bailey is a Luddite who can’t live without her computer. She’s an acrophobic who loves to fly, a faultfinding pessimist who, nonetheless, is always surprised when something bad happens, and an antisocialite who loves her friends like family. She’s held a number of jobs in many disparate arenas to put food on the table, but writing is the occupation that feeds her soul.