Tourism and Fiction: Can They Go Hand-in-Hand?
by Sandra Ardoin
Last week, hubby and I took a few days of R & R in Charleston, South Carolina. If you’ve never been and have a chance to go, do so! It wasn’t our first visit, so this time, we didn’t go to the Market, Fort Sumter, or Waterfront Park, though we did walk to and through Battery Park. As we explored the area, I found myself seeing sights that reminded me of books I’ve read. (Is that weird of me?) I didn’t always recall specific titles, mainly scenes, genres, and authors.
For instance, we drove to Edisto Island and through Botany Bay where former plantation property was willed to the state. It’s now a wildlife refuge with a path to this uninhabited beach. Can’t you see a pirate ship anchored offshore, its sails flapping in the breeze (it was very breezy during our visit) and members of an unkempt and scary crew dragging a rowboat onto the beach? Who knows what mayhem they might be planning for the unsuspecting? The scene brought to mind MaryLu Tyndall’s pirate books, especially the Charles Town Belles series.
As we walked parts of downtown Charleston, we passed amazing homes like this one with side verandas and iron-railed balconies. Of course, a tourist can’t help but picture elegantly dressed antebellum-era gentlemen and ladies seated outside, but I kept thinking of my first introduction to this style of construction. It was in a contemporary mystery I read years ago. The author described the courtyards and verandas in a way that both intrigued and informed me.
The aircraft carrier USS Yorktown is harbored at Patriot’s Point, just over the amazing Ravenel Bridge. Available for tour with the Yorktown is the destroyer USS Laffey, and the submarine USS Clamagore—all World War II era. The site also includes an interactive Vietnam War exhibit. For history buffs like me and military buffs like my husband, this was a full-day, fascinating tour. As I learned some of the battle history behind the Laffey, I kept picturing a scene from Sarah Sundin’s Through Waters Deep, Book One of the Waves of Freedom series. In reality, the setting and circumstances were different, but that fictional scene intensified and helped me to envision what flesh-and-blood sailors experienced in that awful time of war.
For me, this is what’s thrilling about being a reader. Things and places spark memories of something I’ve enjoyed reading or something I’ve learned from a book, whether fiction or non-fiction.