It’s author interview time! Yay! Come and join me today to welcome historical fiction writer Nancy Jardine!
Hi Nancy, can you tell me a bit about you and your latest work.
I’m an ex-primary teacher, now a regular grandchild minder 2 or 3 days a week, and an author – when time permits – with eight published novels to date. I write historical fiction set in late 1st Century Roman Britain; time travel historical set in 3rd Century Roman Scotland and contemporary mystery thrillers – some with ancestral based plots. My latest published work is Agricola’s Bane (Nov 2018), Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series, a historical clan saga.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Semi-organised; adaptable; accommodating
How would you Twitter pitch your novel?
“Conflict, tension, angst, and action…”
What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
Check out all publishing possibilities, there will be a ‘right’ one for you that might not be the traditional route. Don’t throw away any writing – ever! Think positively about being published.
Are you a panster or plotter?
I’m a natural pantser, but I know that some plotting is needed when it comes to tying up loose ends and quirky moments in a complicated plot. I make brief timelines as I begin a novel, and have an outline of what’s going to happen to the main character, but I often deviate and adapt my outline as the story and the characters develop. In my historical work, it’s essential to ensure the dates match and that facts are supported from official sources so that takes a lot of initial planning and research. Two of my contemporary mysteries have fictitious family trees and those details needed quite thorough planning to ensure credibility and consistency throughout the novel – especially in Topaz Eyes, since I created a European family who are based in different cities. While planning that novel, I had some real LOL moments which were a joy!
What does success look like to you?
Gaining a larger, dedicated readership is a distant goal. I write for a niche historical market, so gaining the interest of the general reading public for that is difficult- though I try hard to write very readable novels which could appeal to a wider audience and not just those with a historical interest.
How do you choose your character names?
Great question. In Topaz Eyes, I used genuine names from the country my characters live in e.g. Dutch names for those from Amsterdam. In my Celtic /Roman novels, I choose from a ‘dictionary’ of Celtic/ Roman names and try to select a name that matches a character trait. In The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series, a main character is aptly named Lorcan which means ‘fierce one’. My Ancient Roman characters have something similar though I sometimes sneak in a bit of irony. Zosimus, a hapless Roman guard, means ‘one likely to survive’ but my Zosimus probably wouldn’t if the enemy descended on him!
Do you ever Google yourself?
Not generally, but it sometimes happens inadvertently if I’m checking on some aspect of my researches and I find an article I’ve written about it e.g. something to do with Roman Scotland.
What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
Mope? Get annoyed with myself… but I generally try to make myself believe that writing blog articles, or doing a Q and A session for another author (like now), or writing up some research notes, are still useful uses of time.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Incredibly variable! My novels are all full-length and are around 85- 100,000+ words. Take Me Now, a romantic comedy mystery, took about 5 months. Topaz Eyes, a mystery thriller took about 7 months, but my latest historical took more than two years since I wasn’t in a position to only focus on that writing. I was also hooked on the research and, truth be told, I still am!
What’s your main weakness as a writer eg. SPaG, continuity etc?
My SPaG is generally very good so that’s not a big issue. When I first started to write novels, I was a bit dodgy with some POV but my very first editor sorted that out pretty quickly –she was ruthless, but rightly so! The fact that I’m mostly a pantser is a weakness since I’m a stickler for authenticity. If I’m not sure of a fact then I’m not the kind of writer who can flag it up for later research. I have to stop and make sure before I continue so that, in a sense, means less continuity with the creation processes.
What do you find hardest/easiest about writing?
Putting aside daily domestic demands and settling down to write is hardest. Easiest is self- editing, I actually love doing that and now that I’m self-published I quite enjoy formatting since I’ve taught myself how to do it.
Describe your writing process in 3 words.
exciting; surprising; procrastinating
If your book/one of your books got made into a film, who would play the main roles?
I’d have Aiden Turner for General Agricola in Agricola’s Bane. I know what I’d want my 14 year old Enya to look like but haven’t seen any really young actresses who’d fit the bill. That’s probably because I don’t get around to watching many films these days.
What’s been your biggest learning curve?
At the time they all seem big! Moving from being published by a small independent publisher to self- publishing in 2018 was daunting. Having to pay the editing costs for new versions, and find the cash for new covers for my 7 titles was a shock. I’m extremely glad I’ve decided to self-publish but there are huge differences to acclimatise to.
Do you prefer pen and paper, or is everything on the computer?
Who’s your favourite author and why?
I’ve been an avid reader for 60+ years, so have had many favourites.
What’s your favourite book?
No particular book either. I’ve got loads of favourites- Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Morgan Llywelyn…
How do you relax?
I’m a fair-weather gardener and I escape into fiction, written by other authors!
And now for some silly questions just for fun…
Tea or coffee?
Beer or wine?
Chips or curly fries?
Puppies or kittens?
Summer or winter?
Blurb for Agricola’s Bane
Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman Legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans?
The Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.
The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…
Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries; historical fiction and time-travel historical adventure. Her current historical focus is Roman Scotland, an engrossing pre-history era because her research depends highly on keeping abreast of recent archaeological findings.
A member of the Historical Novel Society, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland, the Romantic Novelists Association, the Alliance of Independent Authors, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.
She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland but life is never quiet or boring since her young grandchildren are her next-door neighbours.
You can find her at these places:
Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere
Thanks so much for joining us, Nancy! I hope you lovely readers enjoyed another this author interview!