Nancy, please tell us about yourself and your writing.
A ‘near empty nester’ I live in Aberdeenshire, a fantastically scenic part of Scotland, with my husband of 39 years. All around me are hundreds of castles and even older sites of historical interest. Standing stones; Neolithic and Iron Age sites; Roman marching camps only name a few of those on offer – a ruined 14th century castle and a substantial Roman marching camp almost literally on my doorstep. All of that is great since I’ve always loved history!
The ‘almost empty nester’ part is because I child mind my 18 month old granddaughter at least two full days a week. On ‘granny days’ I don’t manage any writing but have great fun doing lots of exciting things. Grandma is most happy when she’s hanging onto the death slide in the park, or going down the chutes, making more noise than the child. A very active and bright little girl, a lot of stimuli are needed for her as she doesn’t sleep much during the day. I’m very privileged to do the child minding since I gave up my teaching career a bit early because of hearing problems.
On writing days I write in a mixture of genres and my publishing history reflects this. To date I’ve had published two non-fiction historical projects: a pack of teaching materials regarding local railway history; and a history of my local primary school which dates back to the early 1500s. (Both done while teaching at the local primary school) Since giving up teaching in the autumn of 2011 I’ve had 4 full-length novels published.
Take Me Now is an entertaining, light hearted, sensual, corporate sabotage mystery which I had great fun writing. Monogamy Twist is a sensual ancestral mystery – both published by The Wild Rose Press.
Topaz Eyes is my second ancestral mystery but is a ‘sweet’ romance-published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
My multi 5* reviewed, historical, adventure romance (Goodreads and Amazon), The Beltane Choice, is set in Celtic/ Roman Britain AD 71 – also published by Crooked Cat Publishing. (The Beltane Choice stemmed from my love of teaching Celtic/Roman history to my primary classes.)
For early teens I’ve also written a full-length time-travel historical adventure which goes back to Roman times in the Aberdeenshire of AD 210- Dabbling With Time - though it’s, as yet, unpublished.
I’ve two current works at first draft stages. One is a sequel to my historical novel (The Beltane Choice). This is presently sitting at approx. 80,000 words, and I hope to complete this first draft by the end of March 2013. However, since I’m more ‘pantser’ than ‘plotter’ with this work I’m not certain of the end date!
My second work in progress is a family saga starting in the 1850s, going through to the 1950s. My saga is due to my love of ancestry- an intermittent hobby when I make time for it. I’ve done a fair amount of research into my own family background and saw great possibilities for a fictional story, yet, though influenced by my background, it’s a work of fiction. This is sitting at around 14, 000 words but has a very detailed plan to work to!
I run a fairly active blog, which takes up a lot of that ‘marketing time’ we authors tend to spend, though much of my blog posts are author interviews and promotion of other authors. As well as regularly guesting on other blogs, I also write twice a month for a blog called ‘Writing Wranglers and Warriors’ which aims to post every single day.
What inspired your current book?
If by current book, you mean the one most recently published, then that’s Topaz Eyes which was launched in December 2012, published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
To explain the inspiration for it I need to go back to my first published novel-Monogamy Twist- published by The Wild Rose Press. Monogamy Twist is a contemporary version of a weird Dickensian bequest of a dilapidated English estate, the unknown benefactress only uncovered through delving into ancestral trees. The idea for this came from watching a current BBC version of a Charles Dickens novel (Great Expectations) while also doing my first Ancestry researching of my own family background. For the Monogamy Twist mystery I had to create a family tree. That one was fairly simple, but I enjoyed creating it so much I wanted to design another one that was a lot more complex, with some really hidden surprises.
Topaz Eyes evolved. In Topaz Eyes I wanted a deeper mystery, so I created a family tree to third and fourth generation levels. I then had to think of something to bring together lots of third cousins who didn’t know each other. The mystery centers on a treasure hunt for a fantastic collection of original Mughal owned jewels which was scattered amongst family members back in 1910. The next question I had to address was where did these cousins live?
Most of my novels have some sort of Scottish/British connection, or include fabulous locations I’ve been fortunate to visit. In my second Wild Rose Press novel (Take Me Now), based on a Scottish Island castle, I included trips to London, Paris, Barcelona, Tallinn, Oman and the Caribbean (with a hint of New York). Yes- it is a zipping around the world kind of novel!
For Topaz Eyes I wanted to include lots of European places and some in the US. So, Topaz Eyes begins in the wonderful German city of Heidelberg, and then the hunt (fraught with danger and even death) moves on to Duluth and Rochester (Minnesota), New York, Vienna, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. All wonderful cities to read about or visit!
My hero -Teun Zeger - in Topaz Eyes is a Californian (born in Rochester, Minnesota) and the heroine - Keira Drummond - is a lass from Edinburgh, Scotland. They find themselves thrown together to solve the ultimate mystery in Topaz Eyes which is even more valuable that the scattered Mughal jewels.
Again, I totally loved creating reasons for them being connected and had tremendous fun working out the interweaving plot of the whereabouts of the jewels, and working out what the ultimate precious ‘twist’ was.
A reader (a TWRP author) who gave Topaz Eyes a great review says: “If you enjoy treasure hunts, you'll love Topaz Eyes…. The romance between Teun and Keira develops against a backdrop of forgotten wealth, family distrust, and danger. A fun, engaging read that will have you calling your travel agent.”
A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.
Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.
Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota? Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?
As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?
Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.
Nancy can be found at: