Today, I’m joined by the lovely Nancy Jardine, who again, was one of my first visitors – thanks for coming back!
So, Nancy, tell me about your latest / current release.
My latest release is Take Me Now in paperback format. In 2015, I had three books published, two of which were new versions of books published by Crooked Cat and one novel which I self-published. Though I simultaneously self-published my Time Travel Historical for Teens The Taexali Game in both ebook and paperback formats, my two Crooked Cat Contemporary Romantic Mysteries were only published as ebooks last year. Contemporary easy-read and fun mysteries – Monogamy Twist and Take Me Now – are now available as paperbacks as well, as of May 2016.
That’s great news! And what about your current project?
My current writing has been taking a back seat to my domestic situation over the last couple of years and though I’m steadily making progress with a couple of projects it’s slower than I’d intended. I look after my two grandchildren of ages 2 and 4 ½ and while it’s fabulous fun to be with them a lot of my week, I find that I can’t concentrate on writing during those days. I don’t find it all that easy to pick up where I last left off so I’m constantly re-reading my last written work before beginning new– which might mean less editing at the final stages, but who knows! Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures is underway with my Celtic warriors tracking the movements of Roman General Agricola into the Moray Firth area and to the south of Aberdeen where the huge legionary fortress of Inchtuthil is being constructed. Some of my characters are also finding themselves in the Eboracum (York) area – though to say more might give away too much of my plot! I’m also working on a second book in my Rubidium Time Travel Series for Teens- a Victorian adventure that begins in Glasgow. That writing needs a bit of research at times – but since I totally love researching it’s a joy!
Do you use real or imagined settings? Or both? If both, which do you prefer?
Those are tricky, but fun, questions to answer because it depends on what genre I’m writing in. I mostly use real settings but love the challenge of using both!
In my Contemporary Romantic Mysteries, I’ve used about 90% real places which I’ve personally visited. In Monogamy Twist, I’ve created a location called the Greywood Estate in Yorkshire, near the Yorkshire Dales. The place is fictitious though I have travelled through north Yorkshire on a number of occasions and love the area. In Take Me Now I created a fictitious restored castle on a fictitious island off the west coast of Scotland near Oban, though it’s based on renovations I’ve seen in Scotland. The other locations in Take Me Now are real places, most of which I have visited. Likewise in Topaz Eyes, I’ve been to most of the fabulous cities included in the book. I challenge the reader to tell me which places I’ve NOT been to!
The Taexali Game, my Teen Time-Travel, is set where I live in the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire, north-east Scotland – though most of the action takes place in AD 210 when 30,000 Roman soldiers of Emperor Severus’ legions descend upon the area, causing havoc to the local tribes. I’ve had to imagine how the topography of the land might have been back then, since it was a more deforested scene than at present, according to research done by the Forestry Commission and local archaeologists.
My Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures gave me a lot of delicate moments. I had to decide early on during the writing process whether to create totally fictitious places or to use an amalgam of historically recorded locations and some of my own. I chose the latter and have found it exciting using some of each. The series is set between AD 71 and the AD 90s so my imagination has had to kick in quite a bit. I’ve had a lot of fun using current Ordinance Survey maps to choose place names in Yorkshire, like the hillfort of Garrigill where my clan originates from, and the battle site of Whorl near the present day hill of Whorlton. I’ve used the names of actual Roman Fortresses in northern Britannia as they appear in historical documents for my Ancient Roman characters to barrack in. For others, I’ve used the names that Roman forts and marching camps go by in present day archaeological terminology. This makes it a bit of a mish-mash because some smaller sites (fortlets and camps) are the names of very local farms and fields in present day Scotland. I’ve used Gaelic place names in Scotland for larger habitations in an attempt to give some authenticity to the locations lived in by the indigenous tribes/ Celts in the books- because there is no recording of what these places were called back in AD 84.
A critical comment made in one of the Amazon reviews for The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series, stated that a map of the areas mentioned would have been good for that particular reader who came from the US. I took her comment as a very useful one and created maps to include in Books 2 & 3 since she had the notion that the action took place in Caithness (far northern Scotland) rather than Yorkshire and Cumbria (northern England)! I’m adding places on a home made map for Book 4 as well.
If you could have written the back catalogue, or even just one novel, of any other writer, who would it be, and why?
I don’t have much of an answer to that, I’m afraid. I’ve a lot of favourite authors who write in different genres but I tend not to remember the actual contents of books after I’ve finished them and I’ve moved on to a new read. If I had to pinpoint anyone it might be Charles Dickens because his work was such a great encapsulation of Victorian Society and its ills, as he viewed it. I’m also in total awe that he could go out for a daily walk of perhaps 12 – 18 miles and create huge chunks of his books in his head as he strode along. It’s noted that on his return home he’d put his words immediately on to paper, often completing the work for his weekly serialisation in this way. It seems he also managed to have a home life and lots of children as well. A prolific man – though he didn’t do any of the domestic stuff.
And how about changing any existing story – is there any fictional ending you’d rather see altered?
When it comes to more classic works I’d definitely want them to be left intact, even those whose endings aren’t happy ones. I recently read a historical novel by Ben Kane about the Teutoburg Massacre between the forces of the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes of northern Germany. I got quite attached to the Roman centurion, Tullus (fictitious), who features in it but the ending of the book is a bit of a cliff hanger which leaves his fate to the reader’s imagination. History (Livius) records that Arminius and his federation of Germanic tribes annihilated three Roman legions in the forests of Teutoburg so chances are that the real centurions like Tullus died. When I closed that last page I wanted to know that he had survived against all odds. I’d maybe rewrite that last page…. Or write more of the book from the viewpoint of Arminius since I tend towards the Celtic rather than the Roman perspective of history.
Has helping to edit somebody else’s work ever helped you spot something to improve in your own work?
I’ve never fully edited anyone else’s work though I was asked to beta read a few years ago. One of the books I beta read had been through an editing process that the author had paid a lot of money for and it was still an awful read. The premise of the story was excellent, and a lot of the writing was excellent, but the so-called full editing was terrible. I voluntarily spent a couple of weeks doing a thorough line edit for her and gave some suggestions for changes which would make the potential reader less confused. She used my help and then got another experienced editor to finalise it before she self- published the story. I’ve not got time to voluntarily do that kind of favour again but in helping my friend I tackled my own self- edits in a different way that I believe is more successful since I don’t tend to have much in the way of changes to my submissions of new work.
Thanks for inviting me today, Jennifer!
Thank you for joining me!
About Nancy: Nancy finds all historical eras totally fascinating: research a delightful procrastination! Her week is taken up with grandchild-minding, gardening, reading, writing and blogging. Catching up with historical programmes or TV series and watching the news is a luxury – as are social events with friends and family but she does a creative job to squeeze them in.
Nancy can be found online in the following places:
Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos: http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere