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Guest posts Historical Fiction

Spotlight on Nancy Jardine and the latest in the Celtic Fervour series

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Ocelot Press author, Nancy Jardine, to the blog today. She published a new book this week in her gripping and thoroughly researched Celtic Fervour series, set in Roman Britain. I’ll let Nancy tell you about it.

Thank you for inviting me today, Vanessa, to share a little about Beathan The Brigante, the 5th book in my highly acclaimed Celtic Fervour Saga Series. The novel launched two days ago with Ocelot Press and I’m still not down from the ceiling! It’s available in e-book and paperback from Amazon, and in paperback format via Ingram Spark (bookstores and libraries).

An offer from Nancy

Something your readers might find of interest is that the ebook versions of Books 1-4  in the Celtic Fervour Saga Series are reduced to only 99p/99c/0.99euros each, for some days around Book 5’s launch day and, depending on when your readers see this post, the offer may still be available. You can find the ebooks via my Amazon author page.

Writing the Celtic Fervour saga

I’ve loved writing all five books of the series, though honesty makes me confess that sometimes it’s been difficult at times knowing what to keep and what to remove from my final copies. I love to research and, like most historical authors I know, always want desperately to keep every little detail in the final copy. That is, naturally, entirely unrealistic but authors live to dream! I hope in Beathan The Brigante that the balance is just right for making the settings credible.

Although I’ve endeavoured to create each book as a ‘stand-alone’ read, the links between all of the books – and the development of the Garrigill Clan as the saga unfolds – make that difficult. Recurring themes also permeate the books, some being more relevant to my Roman Iron Age ‘Celts’ and others to the Ancient Roman characters.   

Beathan The Brigante

Beathan The Brigante brings one particular theme of the series to a full circle. The birth of a baby is prophesied in The Beltane Choice (Book 1), a son who is destined to become a famous tribal leader. Nara and Lorcan of the Garrigill Brigantes name their child Beathan – which means ‘life’.

Beathan’s upbringing is tinged with the constant threat of domination by the legions of Ancient Rome. When Beathan is seven, his Brigante clan from Garrigill Hillfort become refugees and trek northwards to Nara’s birthplace (Book 3). However, living there is very temporary since  the Roman invasion continues northwards, led by the new Governor of Britannia, General Agricola. At the age of almost thirteen, Beathan goes to battle at Beinn na Ciche against the Ancient Roman legions of General Agricola. That battle is lost by the Caledonians and we subsequently find Beathan is captured by Roman auxiliaries (Book 4).

Book 5 is Beathan’s story and tells the tale of what happens to him from his imprisonment at the age of almost thirteen to revenge against his Roman captors when he is a very mature seventeen-year-old. However, Book 5 is also partly the story of Beathan’s unique relationship with the Ancient Roman general, Gnaeus Iulius Agricola. Dragged in chains to Rome doesn’t mean that Beathan has lost all sense of honour. Equally, Agricola has enemies of his own and finds impartiality an impossible burden. And it isn’t only the main characters in Book 5 who make surprising choices!

Beathan endures so much during his early teenage years. He deserves some happiness but finds that Torrin is a determined young Brigante lass with her own plans mapped out. Love rarely comes easily for my Garrigill warriors and readers will find that young Beathan is no different!

There are repeated themes throughout the five books – threads which are sometimes fragile but also have a tensile strength that’s needed to face up to the Roman invaders. What keeps Beathan going during his years of captivity is the desire to be back in the bosom of his Garrigill family, but there is also an all-encompassing hunger to wreak havoc and disaster on his Roman tormentors.

Beathan is my current hero – might be for some time to come – and I do hope readers like him, too!

About the book

AD 85 Roman Empire

How can young Beathan of Garrigill – held hostage by General Agricola and dragged in chains to Rome – escape and wreak vengeance on his enemies?

Torrin is a strong-minded Brigante warrior-woman who forges her own future. She willingly takes care of him in a time of need, but her own plans are paramount.

Agricola’s career is in tatters. Attempts on his life are plentiful, having lost favour with Emperor Domitian. His gods have abandoned him, though assistance comes from a surprising source.

Will Beathan gain his freedom to return to his kin in Caledonia? Will Torrin be by his side? And how will Agricola survive without the emperor’s benevolence?

Beathan the Brigante is the fifth in the bestselling Celtic Fervour series.

Beathan The Brigante ebook edition

Beathan the Brigante paperback edition

About Nancy

Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction, time travel historical adventure and contemporary mysteries. When not writing or researching (a compulsion she can’t give up), she’ll be with her grandchildren, gardening, or reading novels. She loves to interact with her readers when regularly signing/ selling paperback versions of her novels at local Craft Fairs, and at larger event venues. She enjoys presenting author talks and gives formal presentations on her novels, and on Ancient Roman Scotland, to groups large and small.

She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland, the Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with Ocelot Press.

Find Nancy at these places:

Copyright © Nancy Jardine, Vanessa Couchman 2020, all rights reserved.

Categories
Historical Fiction

The Treaty of Versailles, 28th June 1919

On 11th November 1918, the armistice that ended the fighting on the Western Front came into force, although the conflict continued elsewhere. The human and economic costs of the Great War were colossal. An estimated 9.5 million soldiers and 12 million civilians died, while a further 21 million military were wounded. The total financial cost is difficult to assess meaningfully, but it ran into many billions.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on this day (28th June) in 1919. It is famous – or perhaps infamous – for establishing peace terms between Germany and the Allied powers and has often been held directly responsible for the events leading to World War II 20 years later.

Categories
Alouette Trilogy Historical Fiction

Chapter 1 of Augustine

Augustine is a bitter-sweet romance set against the rolling landscape and hilltop villages of southern France in the late 19th century. This novella is a prequel to the Alouette Trilogy and is available on Amazon Kindle. Read Chapter 1 below.

Belcastel, one of the beautiful villages of Southwest France
Categories
Historical Fiction

Art in Fiction: Overture is Novel of the Week

A few months ago, I came across a website that I thought (and still do) was a brilliant idea. I can’t think why it hasn’t been done before – or maybe it has, but I haven’t found it yet. Art in Fiction: listings of novels that are inspired by the arts, whether it be music, painting, theatre, architecture, dance or any category of artistic endeavour.

Categories
Historical Fiction Short stories

The Unofficial Truce of Christmas 1914

World War I soldiers - National Archives
World War I soldiers – National Archives

As Christmas approaches, we’re moving to the end of the Historical Writers Forum December Blog Hop. This has included a lot of fascinating posts by fellow historical fiction writers on the theme of Christmas in past times.

Today, it’s my turn, and I’m focusing on one of the strangest happenings during World War I.

“There, the night before we had been having a terrific battle and the morning after, there we were smoking their cigarettes and they smoking ours.” This was the slightly bemused verdict of a British Tommy on one of the most extraordinary and poignant events of World War I: the Christmas truce of 1914. Up and down the lines on the Western Front, men from both sides clambered from their trenches and laid aside their countries’ differences for a short time.

Categories
Author interviews Historical Fiction

Meet the Ocelots: Lorenzo from ‘The Ghostly Father’

Today it’s my turn to interview another Ocelot Press author’s character. And I’m so pleased that it’s Fra’ Lorenzo, the gentle friar from Sue Barnard’s The Ghostly Father. Here he is above in a lovely drawing by Sue’s friend, Kay Sluterbeck.

Sue’s novel is an alternative version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Like many people, she wasn’t happy with the ending, so she decided to write her own. Fra’ Lorenzo, otherwise known as Friar Laurence in the Bard’s play, becomes a Franciscan friar, which allows him to pursue his interest in medicine. But he harbours a secret and some lifelong regrets. Let’s hear what he has to say about them.

Also, The Ghostly Father is on offer at a reduced price this week. AND Sue is offering a prize of another of her books. Read on to find out more.

Categories
Author interviews Historical Fiction

Meet Frédéric from ‘Overture’

Charming, witty, handsome. All of those adjectives fit Frédéric. But he also harbours a secret that he wants to keep from his family at all costs. He’s not the protagonist in Overture: that’s Marie-Thérèse, who has a burning ambition to become a singer. For the daughter of a modest farming family in rural France in the 1890s/1900s, that’s a dream which isn’t at all easy to fulfil. But Frédéric plays a crucial role in her life.

Today, he’s being interviewed by fellow Ocelot Press author, Cathie Dunn, on her website. Find out what makes Frédéric tick, what his childhood was like, his likes and dislikes and maybe a clue or two about his secret.

Here’s the start of the interview. Click the link to read the rest.

Bonjour, Frédéric. How lovely to meet you! I have heard many great things about you from Marie-Thérèse. Please make yourself comfortable. May I offer you a refreshment?

Frédéric: Thank you, Madame, or may I call you Cathie? You wouldn’t by any chance have a glass of champagne? I do find it lightens one’s mood, don’t you?

You are so right, and yes, please call me Cathie. There we are. You are a man of the world, and you’ve travelled far and wide. What do you make of my salon?

Frédéric: Delightful. A very restful but refined ambience.

Oh, thank you. You’re very kind. Now, to yourself. What triggered your love of music?

Frédéric: My parents engaged a piano teacher for my sisters so that they could learn an accomplishment suitable for young ladies. I was very taken with the sound of the piano, although the keyboard didn’t always sing under my sisters’ fingers! I pestered my parents to let me take lessons, too. I also took singing lessons, but I will never be more than competent in that line.

Do you play any instruments?

Frédéric: The piano, as I mentioned before. I was fortunate enough to inherit a rather wonderful Erard baby grand from my grandfather. It now has pride of place in my Paris apartment.

I can imagine. What a beautiful piece to inherit. But tell me, what took you to Berthe’s restaurant that first evening you heard Marie-Thérèse sing? You are not from Aveyron, so wasn’t your visit somewhat unusual?

Read the rest of Cathie’s interview.

And, to mark this event, Overture is on sale on Amazon Kindle for 99p/99c. That’s a whopping reduction from the full price. Get your copy here.

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman, Cathie Dunn 2019. All rights reserved.

Categories
Events Historical Fiction Ocelot Press

Meet the Ocelots this Week!

As a prelude to our character interview blog hop, starting next week, 5 of the Ocelot Press authors – including me! – are each taking over the Ocelot blog for a day. We’ll each talk about the background to the book in which the character features. Details in this post.

Ocelot Press

We can’t believe it’s already 18 months since Ocelot Press went live. Over the next few weeks we’ll be celebrating with a series of blog posts and character interviews and there’ll be a chance to buy some of our e-books for discounted prices. So definitely watch this space.

For starters, this coming week, each of us will take over the Ocelot blog for a day to bring you information on the background, setting and salient facts of one of our books. You’ll get an insider’s view of the story behind the book – and each of them makes fascinating reading.


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Categories
France Historical Fiction

Going to War in 1914: French People’s Reactions to Mobilisation

This weekend marks the outbreak of World War I, 105 years ago in 1914. On 2nd August the French government issued the general mobilisation order. The following day, Germany declared war on France. On 4th August, Britain in turn declared war on Germany. The stage was set for one of the bloodiest – and most futile – conflicts in history. To mark the occasion, I’m publishing below an excerpt from near the end of my latest novel, Overture, when the main characters hear the tocsin alerting the villagers to the general mobilisation.

Categories
Historical Fiction

Marie-Thérèse’s Playlist from ‘Overture’

The Opéra Comique in Paris, where Marie-Thérèse hears her idol Emma Calvé (a real-life opera singer) for the first time

Overture, my latest novel, is all about music: a young woman’s struggle against her humble origins and lack of formal training to become a professional singer. I am very fond of listening to, playing and singing music, and so it was a treat for me to write a book in which music is a key theme.