Nancy Jardine – Romans north of the border.

Hello Nancy, welcome to my blog. I know you from our Crooked Cat Publishing family, and I’m a fan of your Celtic Fervour books. Thanks for joining me to answer some of my questions.

ccnancyjardineJanuary February  posterTE Jan 2015

Tell us about your Celtic Fervour series. What genre does it belong to? What inspired you to write it? How closely is it based on history – or is a wild flight of fancy?

The Celtic Fervour Series stems from me planning topics on Celtic/Roman Scotland for my upper primary classes in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. ‘Celts v Romans’ was a particular favourite.
The Celtic Fervour Series is marketed as historical romantic adventures. They’re about members of a Celtic clan from the (fictitious) hillfort of Garrigill, so they aren’t traditional historical novels which tend to be about real monarchs, or recognisable, notable individuals. The series has varying degrees of romance across the 3 published books but romance is not central to the plots, and they don’t all have HEA endings. There are adventurous battles between Romans against Celts, some of these details too bloody for a historical romance. All have been written from a very thorough and sound research base with much more detail than would be found in a historical romance.
There are links between all of the novels yet each is intended to also be a complete full-length read. Book 1 is set in AD 71 and is about Brigante Lorcan of Garrigill, and Nara of the Selgovae tribe. Books 2 & 3 are about Brennus of Garrigill (Lorcan’s brother) and Ineda of Marske. Roman expansion causes them to be separated in Book 2 after which they live out their own adventures in Book 3 till AD 84, when they are reunited in the far north of Britannia. Books 2 & 3 roughly mirror the gradual infiltration of Roman troops from approximately Chester all the way to Aberdeenshire.
Written evidence of the era is scant, written by Roman or Greek historians. The accuracy of Tacitus, Cassius Dio and even Suetonius have to be used with caution – except when there’s verification of some fact via recent archaeological studies. The time lines involved, re Roman expansion in Britain, have presented considerable but exciting challenges to me since interpretations by historians and archaeologists prior to 2000 have been lately disputed by dendrochronological interpretations. As an amateur, I’ve tried really hard to base realistic events in my novels according to the most recent theories and where they seem reasonable to me, as well. Reviewers have praised the fact that I’ve created a believable landscape for my characters. My favourite comment might be this one: “Most of all, I would say that The Beltane Choice is one of the most convincing evocations of Celtic Britain that I have ever come across, and the central romance stands out against that background with great passion and immediacy.”

Who is your favourite character? What particularly inspired you to write his or her story? Is your character warm and winning, or prickly and difficult? How does their personality affect the way you choose to write about them?

In Book 1, I loved creating the irascible old Tully, Chief of Garrigill and Lorcan’s father. Though a strong secondary figure in the story, he’s quite a character. I’m extremely drawn, though, to Brennus whose story takes centre stage in Books 2 & 3. I’d given Brennus a raw deal in Book 1, so I decided he needed his own tale told. Brennus is thought to have died at the battle of Whorl, which occurs at the end of book 1, since he doesn’t return to Garrigill. Book 2 reveals Brennus’ story. As a severely wounded survivor of the battle, for varying reasons, he’s unable to return to his clan. He assumes a new identity as Bran and spies for the Brigantian King Venutius. Creating the Brennus of Books 2 & 3 was different from his portrayal as the happy-go-lucky, handsome warrior of Book 1. I had to don more of a ‘male mindset’ to work though how such a wounded man could find honour and self worth again in his life. I feel this would have been an incredible feat for a wounded Celt at a time when the whole territory is in turmoil and upheaval, the Roman army presence a daily and dominating threat. In Book 2, Brennus is a man who at first denies love and then finds the possibility of it snatched from him. In Book 3, he throws off many of his feelings of failure and emerges as a man of incredible integrity.
Though a man with a lot of baggage in Books 2 & 3, Brennus is a lovely guy and very dear to me!

How do you choose your characters names? Are names important?

Most of the character names in my Celtic Fervour books have been chosen with great care. My Celtic and Latin names nearly all mean something that links to their character traits. In Book 3, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, there’s a hapless, clumsy and gullible Roman recruit who is called Zosimus. Zosimus means one who is likely to survive. I’ll leave it to the readers of Book 3 to find out if I allow him to do that!
In my contemporary mysteries, many of the names have also been particularly chosen- especially the European names used in Topaz Eyes, my mystery thriller which was a Finalist in The People’s Book Prize, 2014. Some of the names, like Inike and Teun, were chosen because I once knew people of those names when I stayed in Holland for 3 years. I had to do a fair bit of internet digging to find suitable European names for the extended family tree structure that I created for Topaz Eyes, but it was great fun and a wonderful challenge to make sure they didn’t sound too alike for my readers. Topaz Eyes is essentially a treasure hunt mystery thriller where the third generation cousins who are brought together aren’t all nice to each other.

What’s coming up next? Are you working on a new novel? What else have you written?

The Taexali Game, Book 1 of my Rubidium Time Travel Series for a YA audience, is launching soon. I’m intending to self-publish in early March (awaiting a cover design as I write this). Book 2 is conceived but needs to be nurtured during the spring and summer.
Monogamy Twist and Take Me Now, contemporary mysteries, are about to be re-launched by Crooked Cat, hopefully also in spring 2015. The re-worked, re-launched novels are more like my original romantic mystery manuscripts- quite different from the previously published very sensual versions for a US romance only publisher.
Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series is slowly progressing. Most of the characters from Books 1, 2 and 3 continue on in some capacity in Book 4 as the Garrigill clan has migrated to the Caledon ‘Aberdeenshire’ area to remain free of Roman domination. The displacement of people during wars is an ever recurring situation!
I’ve also started a Family Saga which might cover 3 books. This is set mainly in Scotland and begins in 1850. I’m desperate to write these novels since I also loved teaching the Victorian period.

Tell us something about yourself.

Your favourite colour? Green
Favourite animal? Horses, especially Gypsy Vanner breeds, though I’d be too much of a feartie to ride them.
Favourite food? Haggis, neeps n’ tatties. No, that’s a lie it would be a rare steak!
Favourite tipple? Malbec red wine, though I also love Aurum, a wonderful Italian orange liqueur.
Favourite part of writing a novel? Editing! I actually love editing my work.
Favourite country? Heaps of them, but I’m an ardent Scot and think Scotland is the best place in the world – which is why I sneak a Scottish aspect into nearly all of my writing.

Short bio

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her published work to date has been two non-fiction history related projects and six novels. By spring 2015, she’ll have published The Taexali Game, the first of her Rubidium Time Travel series for a YA market. She’s a novice at short story writing having only produced 3 to date- one published in an anthology Crooked Cats’ Tales, the others written for blog publication.
All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. She regularly blogs; loves to have guests visit her blog; and Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for reading, writing and occasional fair weather gardening. Family obligations are high at this present time since her 2 very young grandchildren are around her house 24/7 till they have a new house built next door.

Author links: Twitter @nansjar Facebook:
Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:
Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith;; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places