Nancy Jardine is visiting today to tell us about the third in her Romano-Celtic series and I can’t wait!
Hello Ailsa, once again I’m delighted to come and visit you. I’m now at the stage of having just released the third book in my Celtic Fervour Series, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, on the 25th March 2014, and in many ways, the fun is just beginning again. I’m talking about that marketing pleasure and the challenge of doing something different from before to let all the readers out there know what the series is about. When all three books are set in the same time era, it’s becoming quite difficult to find some new aspect to highlight, or talk about, in blog posts.
Discussing the convolutions of character roles is what I’d like to tackle today. It’s nice and easy when an author creates a simple ‘linear’ story where a new character maintains the same profile throughout the story with only some changes to temperament to show development as the plot unfolds. In Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series, The Beltane Choice, there’s old Tully, the chief of Garrigill, an irascible but likeable character who appears during a chunk of the book. He doesn’t change much as he’s not a main character, and his part is easy to explain – what’s great for me as the author is that readers seem to like him a lot.
However, explaining the main characters in my three books is a different kettle of fish!
In Book 2, Brennus of Garrigill, a son of old Tully, is irrevocably changed after the Battle of Whorl against the Roman Empire’s soldiers. Almost apathetically, he adopts a new persona as Bran of Witton and becomes a spy for the Celtic Brigantes of the north, finding ways to send on information about Roman troop movements to his Brigante King Venutius. He’s helped in his spying role by Ineda of Marske, a feisty young Celtic woman who hates the Roman Empire with a vengeance. Since she’s not built as tall, strong warrior-woman material Ineda has to find cunning ways to mete out her ire against Rome- she’s strong of heart if not of body. Together Bran and Ineda create trade links with the newly built Roman fortresses which are appearing in their part of Brigantia- using the trading as a way of information gathering which they send on to King Venutius. Their personal relationships are not easy, or fulfilled, and it’s only at the end of Book 2, when they’re attacked by a Roman patrol, that Brennus realises that Ineda meant a lot more to him than as a foster sister. Love lost as the theme? Yes, it is like that, and means the book is not a traditional romance with an HEA (Happy Ever After) ending.
Being realistic though, and outwith a fictional story, real life really does go on after love is unrequited, or lost, and new paths through life are taken. I chose to show the compromises Brennus and Ineda have to make in Book 3 after being separated. Brennus has a different love interest in Book 3 but poor Ineda has zero choice over what happens to her during most of the novel. After the attack by the Roman patrol, Ineda is taken prisoner by a Roman tribune and disappears from sight of all Brigantes since she is under heavy guard. The fate of many young Celtic women was to become slaves of Rome and Ineda finds herself the personal slave of Tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius. In Book 3, it’s years before she can escape Rome’s clutches to gain her freedom, by which time she’s been assimilated into Roman life whether she had desired it or not. Being anachronistic, and speaking now as the author, there’s a touch of that ‘Stockholm’ syndrome going on.
I’ve enjoyed developing the character of Tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius in Books 2 & 3 because he, too, is a victim of his circumstances to a certain degree and I’m very interested to find out what my readers think of him. He’s a man driven for various reasons and not all of them happy. I don’t think of him as a complete ‘baddy’ yet essentially, he does play that role as a Roman jailer.
Those convolutions of character I mentioned earlier? Nothing in life is ever simple and so it is with my characters in Book 3. Sometimes we just have to move on to get to a better resolution, and it’s not just my individual characters who are finding life tough. At the heart of all of my Celtic Fervour Series of novels, there’s the larger theme of the struggle of the Celtic Tribes against the dominance of Rome. There’s the inevitable movement to the far northern reaches of Britannia as Roman infiltration on Celtic tribal lands picks up again between AD 79 an AD 84. At the end of Book 3, there’s a large battle against Roman troops led by the Governor of Britannia- Gnaeus Julius Agricola. This is a battle I’ve chosen to site near where I stay in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The site of Bennachie (Beinn Na Ciche in my novel) is one of the major contenders for the Battle of Mons Graupius so it was a ‘no brainer’ for me to use it in my third Celtic Fervour Series novel. Is the ending of the book a happy one?
You’ll have to read After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks to find out…
Ailsa- Thank you for inviting me today, I love coming to visit you.
After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks is available from:
Crooked Cat Bookstore: http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=128
Nancy Jardine’s novels can be found in paperback and ebook formats from:
Pursued by Rome.
AD73 Northern Britannia
After King Venutius’ defeat, Brennus of Garrigill – known as Bran – maintains a spy network monitoring Roman activity in Brigantia. Relative peace reigns till AD 78 when Roman Governor Agricola marches his legions to the far north. Brennus is always one step ahead of the Roman Army as he seeks the Caledon Celt who will lead all tribes in battle against Rome.
Ineda of Marske treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius, who is responsible for supplying Agricola’s northern campaigns. At Inchtuthil Roman Fort Ineda flees seeking fellow Brigantes congregating on the foothills of Beinn na Ciche.
Will the battle against the Romans bring Ineda and Brennus together again?