21 October 2012

Guest Blog: Nancy Jardine

This week, we’re welcoming author Nancy Jardine whose title THE BELTANE CHOICE takes readers to northern Britannia as the Celts face the threat of Roman ambitionNancy is here to talk about the novel and offer an ebook copy to a lucky winner. Here's the blurb:

Can the Celtic Tribes repel the Roman army?

AD 71

Banished from the nemeton, becoming a priestess is no longer the future for Nara, a princess of the Selgovae tribe. Now charged with choosing a suitable mate before Beltane, her plan is thwarted by Lorcan, an enemy Brigante prince, who captures her and takes her to his hill fort. Despite their tribes fighting each other, Nara feels drawn to her captor, but time runs out for her secret quest.

As armies of the Roman Empire march relentlessly northwards, Lorcan intends to use Nara as a marriage bargain, knowing all Celtic tribes must unite to be strong enough to repel imminent Roman attack. Nara’s father, Callan, agrees to a marriage alliance between Selgovae and Brigante, but has impossible stipulations. Lorcan is torn between loyalty to his tribe and growing love for Nara.  

When danger and death arrive in the form of the mighty Roman forces, will Nara be able to choose her Beltane lover?

**Q&A with Nancy Jardine**

Why did you set your first historical novel, The Beltane Choice, in AD 71 when the Romans were invading Britain?

Researching Celtic and Roman history wasn’t originally undertaken for writing my first novel. During my teaching career I taught 11-12 year olds; loved teaching all historical periods but particularly enjoyed telling the kids about the might of the Roman Empire swooping onto the shores of Celtic Britain. Since I live in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, ancient history is on my doorstep. I used local archaeological evidence; collected information from public library sources; bought suitable books to use with the kids, and scaled it down for classroom use. Years later, when I began writing The Beltane Choice, those Roman /Celtic researches were used as general background. And being the squirrel that I am, I still had all the research material which I topped up on when something needed more detail as I wrote The Beltane Choice.

Is The Beltane Choice a stand alone novel, or part of a series?

When I completed The Beltane Choice I had no intention to write a sequel. While seeking a publisher for it I wrote a couple of contemporary novels- Monogamy Twist and Take Me Now. They both ended up being published first. It was only when a reader of Monogamy Twist , a contemporary history/ mystery romance, asked when its sequel was going to be on the shelves that I seriously considered writing a sequel to The Beltane Choice. I’m currently writing that, taking on a character into more adventures with the Roman Army in Britain. I’m enjoying writing about the period so much I also have an idea for a third in the series.

Do you write mainly in the historical genre?

No. During the last few years I’ve been writing in different genres and sub/genres- though all but one of my novels has some kind of historical element. While still teaching (till 2001) I wrote two full-length non- fiction books, both of which were historically based. Monogamy Twist (Aug 2011), is a contemporary history/ mystery romance that is my version of an outrageous Dickensian Bequest of a slightly dilapidated English estate. The Beltane Choice (Aug 2012) is my first historical novel set in Celtic/Roman Britain A.D.71. In mid- Dec 2012 my second contemporary history/mystery, Topaz Eyes, will be published. Topaz Eyes has a complicated ancestral plot and is a quest for a scattered collection of fabulous jewellery. There’s a bit of murder, mayhem and mystery, as well as history, involved in it. I’ve also written a time-travel adventure novel for children, aged 10-12 years, called Dabbling With Time. That’s mainly set in Celtic/ Roman Britain but during a different era- A.D.210 during the Severan Campaigns. (It still seeks a publisher)

Take Me Now (Aug 2012), is the exception. It’s a light-hearted contemporary mystery with plenty of zipping around the world involved-though with no historical elements in it.

What did you like best about writing The Beltane Choice?

Through my researches I’ve encountered historically recorded people, and made notes about them, though there’s not much available for the Celtic/Roman period in Britain of A.D.71. That meant for The Beltane Choice I’ve had to rely on imagination a lot more to create a believable setting and real people. The hardest thing about writing the novel was deciding about the historical ‘writing style’. By that I mean the vocabulary used, and the way it’s used. In a Regency novel there is a reader expectation of vocabulary of the day and the mode of speech, rhythm patterns and cadences. Since there is a dearth of written evidence regarding Celtic/Roman Britain I adopted what I would term a more archaic vocabulary and speech delivery in an attempt to place the novel in a far distant time. This is challenging, but I enjoy it very much.

What are you working on just now?

I’ve three current projects on the go. Mostly I’m concentrating on the sequel to The Beltane Choice. This has involved much more Roman history research of the Flavian and Agricolan periods of A.D. 71-A.D. 84. I’m really enjoying this just now as it is years since I did in-depth research of the period. Unfortunately I’m also easily distracted and have been reading far more detail than I can ever use in my sequel to The Beltane Choice. The book has no title as yet. I’m not really a fast writer so it will be some months before it is at a ‘ready to seek a publisher’ stage. 

I am also part way into a family saga. For the last few years I’ve done a fair bit of  in-depth ancestry research, and as a result of those studies I’ve created a plot for a family saga spanning the years from approx. 1850 through to the 1950s. Though fictionalised, the plot has loosely used some very controversial information I’ve found out about my own extended family (the details of which remain secret for now).
I’ve also plotted out a sequel to my time-travel novel for children which will take the same trio of Aberdeenshire children into a Viking adventure.

Nancy Jardine's The Beltane Choice is available from Crooked Cat BooksAmazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.   

Goodreads-Nancy Jardine