A very warm welcome today to Nancy Jardine, author of numerous books, a resident of my much beloved highlands and a throughly lovely lady whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year. She’s also a fellow Crooked Cat author and has big plans in the pipeline, including not one but two new book releases. Take it away, Nancy…
Hello Shani, it’s a pleasure to visit you! I’ve lived in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, for twenty six years and love the area. While still teaching, I wrote two local historical non-fiction projects but didn’t really call that writing because it wasn’t fiction. My fiction writing was kick-started because I loved teaching my upper primary classes about Celtic/Roman Scotland and I now write across different genres and sub-genres. My published fiction comprises three historical romantic adventures and three contemporary romantic mysteries – two of those contemporary mysteries are being republished by Crooked Cat in 2015, the initial US contracts having expired. I’m self-publishing a seventh novel in April –The Taexali Game – a time travel historical adventure for the middle grade/early teen market.
Sounds interesting and it’s great to appeal to a brand new audience too. I’ve got your Celtic Fervour series on my Kindle to read (love the covers!) – what are they all about?
My Celtic Fervour Series is set in northern Roman Britain, the three published books spanning the years AD 71 – 84. A fourth book is underway covering AD 84 to approx AD 96. Each novel can be read as a stand alone full-length read but there are clear linking threads between the novels. I purposely chose to write about people who are more ordinary; the famous names of the era only briefly mentioned which removes the books from the tight historical fiction category. Book 1 is about Lorcan of the Brigante tribe and Nara of the Selgovae who are from tribes straddling the area now named as the Southern Upland borders between Scotland and England. Lorcan’s brother Brennus, and a Brigante female named Ineda, are the main protagonists in Books 2 & 3 though characters from Book 1 reappear in later books since I’m writing about a Celtic Clan with strong links. I’ve never considered it a family saga but I’m writing about the lives of my clan members at a time when an invading army (the legions of the Ancient Roman Empire) disrupts and destroys the balance of their existence. I’m also writing about the relationships which are formed by them till, in some cases, battle and death changes the dynamics. The history of the era is more central to the plots than the romance, the battles and military political wrangling creating the adventures. This mixture is the reason for them being marketed as historical romantic adventures. One reviewer wrote that Bk1, The Beltane Choice was ‘a belting good read’ and another wrote that Book 3 was the best of a series of ‘ rollicking good adventures’.
And now your romance novels…
I’ve also written three contemporary romance mysteries. Monogamy Twist will be re-published by Crooked Cat on the 27th March 2015. This romantic mystery was the first contemporary story I wrote. It’s set in Yorkshire and is based around a fairly simple family tree that I designed. I used a Dickensian ‘bequeathed dilapidated mansion’ theme where Luke Salieri has some hefty problems to work through before he can inherit Greywood Hall – the bequest of the house coming as a total surprise to him since he’s never heard of Amelia Greywood, the benefactress. Rhia Ashton- a family history researcher – can help him find the answers to the mystery but she’s no push-over, she has some very fine conditions of her own before she agrees to help him!
Topaz Eyes is a world-wide treasure hunt mystery with deadly dealings, based around a family tree which stretches to fourth generations. The reason for writing this story is simple. I enjoyed creating the ancestral tree for Monogamy Twist so much that I wanted to create a much more complicated one leading to a much more complex mystery. As well as having more ‘family characters’, the more complex tree for Topaz Eyes allowed me to extend the story to world-wide locations, most of which I’ve been to and enjoyed greatly. In Topaz Eyes, the reader needs to pick up clues from the beginning and I challenge them to work out the ‘mystery object within the mystery’ before the last pages! I was totally honoured when Topaz Eyes became a Finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2014.
Take Me Now is what I call my corporate sabotage romantic mystery. This humorous mystery was fun to write as a change from historical work, Nairn Malcolm being my ‘take’ on a handsome highland hero! Crooked Cat will republish a new version of this later in 2015.
The Taexali Game, for middle grade/teens, was a fantastic book to write since it allowed me the freedom of writing a contemporary novel yet also gave me the chance to write about a different historical period- Severan Roman Britain of AD 210. The time-travel aspect meant I didn’t have to be quite so careful about the formal language I adopted as my style in my Celtic Fervour Series. I’ve been waiting so long to complete The Taexali Game and can’t wait to get it published-even if I admit to being terrified of the whole process of uploading it myself to Createspace! I really want paperback versions of this novel since it has a very local setting – my village in Aberdeenshire – and will hopefully appeal to a local market as well as a global one. Though written for the early teen market anyone who enjoys an adventure will find it a great read!
How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline or sit down, type the first sentence and then fly by the seat of your pants all the way?
I’m mostly a ‘pantser’ where at the outset I have a basic plot with target areas and a very general timeline which I set out in my version of a ‘storyboard’- usually with paper and a pencil (it’s the ex teacher in me!) . Once I get going these ‘targets’ get extended. However, getting the timelines of the novels to work properly means I do need to do a certain amount of pre-planning, mid-planning and a lot of checking afterwards. Having now written seven novels, I can see the value of advance plotting since it probably cuts out the final editing checks that I tend to love and labour over – yet which I know are time sucks from new writing! Topaz Eyes involved a much longer period of planning since the family tree, which is central to the plot, took a lot of designing and tweaking till it was perfect. My WIP writing is shaping up to be much more planned than before.
And what about research – I expect you have to do plenty of that.
I do a LOT of research. I’m fairly anal in that I want any facts I use to be accurate and believable which means checking and rechecking since I have an extremely awful memory. I’m currently researching Victorian Scotland, but if anything crops up, in the interim, to do with Celtic Roman Britain during the eras I write about, I make notes about that as well.
What are your future writing plans and any new releases on the horizon?
Great question! My new releases are: Monogamy Twist is being republished on 27th March 2015. In April 2015 The Taexali Game will be self-published. Take Me Now will be republished by Crooked Cat, the date for this still to be decided on but likely during the earlier part of 2015. I’m a sucker for punishment because I know that I’ve got too many WIPs on the go. Promotional aspects of already published books taking up a lot of my precious time (nothing new there!) means little left for new writing. Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series was started in 2014 and is coming on slowly. The Family Saga beginning in Victorian Scotland – outlined over 3 books is also started- but gets only occasional visits just now. Book 2 of my Rubidium Time Travel Series is now outlined but only the very beginning started. Phew! Yes – I know I need to prioritise one or t’other.
What’s the best bit about being an author? (And go on, what’s the worst?)
The worst is the wanting to get on with new writing and not being able to because of time constraints and family commitments. I’m also very annoyed with myself since I’m pretty slow at a lot of promotional things and haven’t yet learned the techniques that work best! The best thing about being an author is that I get a great thrill over many simple milestones like having something about a current piece of writing finally make sense. Not all of my best ideas come at the beginning – in fact that’s a rare occurrence. The thrill of feeling a newly published novel in paperback format in my hands is amazing and the excitement about that hasn’t diminished.
Any tips for writers just starting out?
Be more organised than me! Keep positive over the marketing aspects that are necessary though sometimes feel like a chore. Writers tend to be reclusive but those who have a lot of friends at the outset seem to have a great bank of potential buyers to hand, so I’d say somehow manage to keep up with lots of friends.
Finally, you’ve been stranded on a desert island, what five things would you take to get you by until help arrives? (Assuming help arrives that is!)
I’d take the fattest book I own regardless of the quality since I’d need to see the written word, often, to survive. Nowadays, my glasses are super important to do that reading. A family photograph album might also help to keep me sane. I have a little pocket size book that belonged to my father that was written in 1905 and was basically a survival manual for the ‘outdoors person’ – a bit like a Boy Scout manual. There are heaps of tips for getting on with what you find in it! My last would be the kind of Swiss Army knife set that I used to have on my Girl Guide belt in the late 1960s. It had a very strong blade that could whittle or cut wood easily; a marlin spike for things like digging holes; a sort of corkscrew for all sort of scraping or gouging uses and a thing like a bottle/can opener. Although I wouldn’t be expecting to find a can of anything on a desert island, my knife set would have had a tool for opening a coconut- which can be the most awkward thing to attack!
Thanks for inviting me today!
I extend a warm welcome to your readers to join my Facebook Launch Party for Monogamy Twist on the 27th March 2015. Quirky goodies can be won. There’ll be music; food; lovely locations in Yorkshire… Why not pop in and say hello!
Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She currently shares a home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer of 2015 when the new build home will be completed for the young ‘uns on what was Nancy’s former back garden. The loss of that part of the garden won’t be missed since there should now be more writing time available this spring and summer! Childminding is intermittent over the day and any writing time is precious. (If interested in how a new house is built these days, follow my blog posts named ‘Gonna build a house’ )
All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. Nancy regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for leisure reading and the occasional historical series on TV.
Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:
US http://amzn.to/RJZzZz UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nancy-Jardine/e/B005IDBIYG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places.