Historical Research Series Guest - Nancy Jardine

Today's guest post features our first non-American Historical Research Series Guest. Please help me welcome Nancy Jardine!

Nancy Jardine

A former primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Ancestry research is an intermittent hobby: neglecting her large garden in favour of writing is becoming the norm. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.

A lover of history, it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and Crooked Cat Publishing

What is the time period/setting for your novels?
The Beltane Choice
To date, I’ve completed two historical fiction novels which are set in Celtic/ Roman Britain. The Beltane Choice, AD 71 -an adventure story of love and war- is set in the area we now call the borders between Scotland and England. I’m currently working on a sequel to this which spans between AD 71 and AD 84, the action taking place in Northern England and all the way up to the north east of Scotland.

Dabbling With Time (as yet unpublished) is a time- travel adventure novel set in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which takes three children back to the Roman Severan occupation of the area in the era of AD 210. The Severan campaigns were the last time the Roman Empire occupied the northern areas of Scotland. This novel is designed for the early teen’s age group.

My second work in progress is a family saga. It’s also set mainly in Scotland and northern England, starts in the Victorian era of 1850 and goes through to around the post WW2 era.

My other three published novels are contemporaries, though two of those have a historical element dating back to the Victorian era. 

Do you have any special connection to the period? e.g. a degree in American History, well-known family history, etc.

Monogamy Twist
I have a degree in History and Literature (European), the time periods for that mainly spanning from 15th Century though to Victorian times. My profession, till 2011, was primary teaching which I stopped before retirement age to concentrate on my writing.  During my teaching years I taught historical periods to my classes (mostly grade 7 for 3 decades) as part of the curriculum and loved teaching all historical eras, most especially the Roman occupation of Britannia. We had great fun attempting to recreate the Celtic/ Roman era in class (as much as was conceivable) and this influenced my writing choices. I also loved learning about the Victorian period and one of my hobbies is ancestry. My Family saga will, I hope, be enhanced by my prior knowledge of the Victorian era. It’s also influenced, to a certain degree, by what I’ve unearthed about the black sheep of my own murky family past- although my story is a work of fiction!

What appeals to you about these periods?

My interest in the Celtic/Roman period is heavily influenced by the archaeological evidence that’s being constantly updated as we speak. I’m also totally gobsmacked (to use a pretty modern term) by the fact that archaeological evidence, uncovered in 2004, indicated that my house in Aberdeenshire is about 400 yards from the site of a Roman Marching Camp thought to have been used three times between AD 84 and AD 210. The camp potentially housed 10,000 Roman soldiers for an indeterminate amount of time. Those soldiers had to have marched over MY GARDEN! The idea of all those soldiers of history tramping around my house just blows me away!

That archaeological site is now covered by the current village school built in 2005, the previous Victorian built school having used largely the same site. I taught at the school and my class was invited, on a few occasions, to see the progress of the dig. Our topics during that time definitely included the Roman occupation of the area. My class wrote fantastic Celtic/Roman adventures and from that point on I decided when I had more time I would write, and have published, Celtic/ Roman adventures of my own.

Topaz Eyes
2005 was not the time for that writing since I was asked to write a complete History of Kintore School which dates back to the early 1500s. Researching for that was fantastic. The local library and the Heritage Society had some great sources. Though, the best prime sources I have ever used were the ‘Head Teacher Logs’ which dated back to 1870, and went through to the present time. I got heaps of useful information from them. 350 copies of that book were sold, the profits going into the school coffers- all of my time and effort totally voluntary! I consider myself so lucky to be steeped in history in Aberdeenshire.

How much time do you spend researching each book?

That has depended on the genre. Two of my contemporary novels are what I call my ancestral mysteries. For my recent Topaz Eyes I did a little research on emeralds and precious jewellery collections since the story is a treasure hunt of sorts. I needed no particular research on how to design family trees for these novels since I’d already learned the skills from my personal ancestry research.
A lot of the research for my historical novel, The Beltane Choice, was done years ago for teaching purposes, though I had to ‘top it up’ as I wrote. It was a similar case for the time-travel adventure for early teens.

My current works in progress are a sequel to The Beltane Choice which has needed hours and hours of research, mainly for the Roman perspective of the era of AD 71-84. I’m also doing occasional Victorian and Edwardian research for the family saga that’s also been started.   

 Do you tend to research before you write, or more as you write?

Both of those. I spent last September reading/ re-reading as many texts as I could lay hands on that had references to the Roman occupation of AD 70 through to AD 84. For general information on how the Roman armies operated in newly settled areas I’ve done a lot of internet research. As I write my historicals I tend to go back all the time and check facts to make sure that what I want to use, and think is okay, really is accurate. Even though my work is fiction I want to include any facts as accurately as possible. My research texts are never far from my keyboard. For my Victorian saga it’s much the same. If something comes to mind that I want to use I try to check as I go, or mark the area on my draft (I use a red font for things to check). 

Do you tend to use secondary or primary research sources?

For the Celtic/ Roman research there are almost no primary sources available. I’m using translations of Tacitus, Livy and Suetonius as I don’t speak Latin. An archaeologist colleague of mine at Crooked Cat Publishing, who published The Beltane Choice, gave me a very useful list of publications that deal with the Roman occupation of Britain. I’ve managed to get some of those in kindle versions, others in hardback and I’ve borrowed from The British Library using inter-library loan agreements.

For my Victorian research I’ve used texts I bought years ago for my own degree studies and some more recent ones bought for teaching needs. I’m also using the local and inter-Library systems for accessing newspapers, and other data that’s available on line. The internet can be a huge source of information if used warily!

 Any favorite sources?

Imperial General: The Remarkable Career of Petelius Cerialis by Philip Matyszak; Roman York by Patrick Ottaway ; Britannia A History of Roman Britain by Sheppard Frere 

Have you ever found out after a book was published that you made an error with a historical fact?

Not that I know of! 

Which authors in this time period do you enjoy? Or, who inspires you?

There are fewer authors who write in the Roman/Celtic era, so I can’t say any have inspired me. Years ago I read all the current Roman novels of David Wishart and enjoyed those, and the Roman ‘detective’ novels of Lyndsey Davis were fun to read. For the Celtic period I love the work of Morgan Llewellyn-eg The Bard. I go back to Charles Dickens and Charles Kingsley for ‘real’ Victorian fiction, though I’ve also read heaps of work set in Victorian times- too many great authors to mention. 

What other books have you published?

Topaz Eyes (Dec 2012) – an ancestral mystery treasure hunt (Crooked Cat Publishing)
The Beltane Choice (Aug 2012) – a Celtic/ Roman Britain historical adventure (Crooked Cat Publishing)
Take Me Now (Aug 2012) – a light-hearted corporate mystery romance (The Wild Rose Press)
Monogamy Twist (Aug 2011) – an ancestral mystery romance centred round a weird ‘Dickensian Style’ Bequest. (The Wild Rose Press)
A History of Kintore School (Aug 2005) – non-fiction (Aberdeenshire Council)

Amazon.com author page for all novels and to view book trailer videos http://amzn.to/RJZzZz

If you have questions for Nancy Jardine, add them in the comments below or reach out to her on one of her many social sites:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for inviting me, Mary Jean. It's a great pleasure to be here.