I'm happy to have you here on your release day, Nancy. I thought we'd have a bit of a party to celebrate your achievement. A little bubbly and some chocolate covered strawberries always lift the spirits, don't you think?
Oh, I do. Never let it be said, I'd refuse some celebratory champagne. I've worked long and hard for today.
The stories all centre on my strapping Celtic warriors from the hillfort of Garrigill- though the series is not only about male warriors. Zoom back with me now to AD 74, Northern Britannia (present day Yorkshire in the north of England), to the hearthside of the chief of Garrigill. I’m about to talk to the main male character of Books 2 & 3 - Brennus of Garrigill - and thought you might like to join us. (I was so rotten to Brennus in Book 1, but he was such a lovely guy I was compelled to write him into his own story in Books 2 & 3)
Before you tell us about this fabulous structure, have some of my German chocolate cake. I made it especially for your visit today.
You're going to be dangerous to my waistline. Just one small slice. The Celtic roundhouse has low walls made of wattled willow daubed with what looks like dried mud; its roof is conical and thatched with mosses and dried grasses. Having gone through a short low tunnel it is smoky and dingy inside since there are no windows, a thick woollen curtain draught-proofing the one and only entrance doorway and blocking the natural light. Nara of the Selgovae, the chief’s hearth-wife, from Book 1, has just bid me sit down. (More details of the roundhouse, and who might visit it, are on my blog today- see URL below) Oh, my! Brennus has just ducked his way through the entryway and has thrust his spear into a rack. I wrote him in as a huge guy but to see him in the flesh is even more impressive-more than six and a half feet of him- wow! He was the tribal champion at single combat in Book 1 and he’s still got impressive rippling muscles. Thank goodness, he’s removed that lethal looking long sword from a sheath at his belt. Poor guy, though! As he approaches me, I can tell you the Battle at Whorl, between the Celtic Brigante tribes and the Roman Empire’s legions, in Book 1, wasn’t kind to him at all. He has some nasty scarring on one side of his face, a legacy of that battle, that makes him fierce-looking, but to me he’s still a fabulous looking guy. I stand up again and reach forward…
Nancy: Hello, Brennus! I’m so pleased to properly meet you. My readers got to know you in Book 2- After Whorl: Bran Reborn, but I need you to remind Vonnie’s blog visitors about some things that have been happening to you lately, if you don’t mind?
(Hmm… he obviously doesn’t like a female trying to shake his hand. He’s looking at mine as though I’ve got some dread disease. I guess I forgot to write that into the manuscript- but then, again, that would probably be too anachronistic!)
Brennus: I do not mind at all. I am always willing to talk to you at Garrigill, although I do not understand what you are doing with that flat shiny object in your hands.
Nancy: Oh, this is my Ipad er…tablet. I’m going to take some notes as you speak to me since I tend to forget things very easily.
(Sugar! I don’t think I’m going to be able to use the camera and get out of here alive!)
Brennus: Things? I do not understand this word ‘things’. Forgetting I try never to do, and I commit words inside me that I can bring forth later. I do not understand what you do on that ‘tablet’ either.
(Oh, heck! He’s gone back to the weapon rack.)
Nancy: It’s okay. Put that spear and sword back and sit down, please! You don’t need to look at me so suspiciously. My tablet isn’t a weapon, honestly. I’m just writing down your words so that I can tell…my friends…later.
(He still looks extremely unhappy with me but sits down on a low stool nearby. Now he’s gesturing at me tapping away on my Ipad)
Brennus: That does not resemble a Roman wax tablet and I do not see a stylus to write with. Is this some Roman device I have not encountered yet? Are you spying on me now?
Nancy: No, you know that I’m just your scribe. Not a spy. You’re the one who is the spy! I’m just introducing you to some friends of mine.
(Oh, oh! I did make him a pretty confident guy in Books 2 & 3, but …I guess I’d best remember the times he lives in)
Nancy: Can you tell Vonnie’s readers what you are doing back in Garrigill? Please?
Brennus: I can do that. If I can have some of that liquid refreshment in those strange cups you two seem to hang on to so tightly. It was time to re-establish my filial duties. You know well enough that I had stayed away from Garrigill for too many moons, and I needed to renew my contact with my brother Lorcan and Nara. They needed to know about my new task in life.
(He startles me when he whips out a really sharp looking knife from a pouch at his waist and grapples around for something in a stack of tools at the fireside. Ah, I guess it’s a whetstone since he’s grinding the blade against it.)
Nancy: Can you share your new occupation with us?
Brennus: Indeed. It will do no harm to tell your readers that after my recovery, I mean from the battles against Rome at Whorl, I needed a new occupation. In Book 2, you have me turn to a new trade as a spy, collecting information to pass on to my King, Venutius of the Brigantes. You even gave me a new name and it is as Bran of Witton that I do my spying.
Nancy: I did indeed write that in Book 2. Are you still leading the life of the spy as you double as a trader of furs and wools, to the Roman forts that have sprung up in Brigantia?
Brennus: Nay! You know I stopped my trading to search for Ineda after we were set upon by that cursed Roman patrol.
Nancy: I do know, and I’m sorry you’re still sad about losing Ineda. Don’t worry though, I’m a lot kinder to you in Book 3 and you’ve got some fine times ahead! But please tell Vonnie’s readers what you are doing now.
(He’s stopped using the whetstone and is staring into the weak firelight, the logs now almost burned down. He doesn’t look convinced about me giving him happier times.)
Brennus: You of all people know-since you are my scribe-that I miss Ineda every single day. Perhaps my god, Taranis, has decreed that I am not worthy of sharing a roundhouse hearth with a woman I give my wholehearted love to.
Nancy: I wouldn’t rule out a love life so quickly, Brennus.
(I’m having to suppress my smiles here since his stare is intended to force me to tell more…but I’m not going to. The readers will just have to find out what’s in store for him.)
Brennus: You are a cruel woman, my scribe! The women of Garrigill still choose me willingly to bed them, and I accept their offers when I need to assure myself I am a man with man’s needs, but enough of my lack of true loving. Since my king was defeated in battle at his Stanwick stronghold, my life revolves around the hillfort of Garrigill once more. I am now the driving pin of the spy network and am the one who receives news of all Roman movements in Brigantia though my brother Lorcan-the chief here at Garrigill-also has me train our young warriors in combat skills.
Nancy: Does that mean you want me to re-write you in as content to stay at Garrigill?
Brennus: Nay! I remain still determined to find the one Celtic leader who will lead all Celts of the north in a huge battle against Rome, even if I have to journey far and wide to the Caledon tribes of the very far, far north. I do not relish such journeying, since I have come to like living at Garrigill again, but life goes on and the threat of Rome does not diminish. It is inevitable the legions will soon descend upon us. The druid Tuathal gave me the task to find one charismatic man who will rally the northernmost Celts and I will NOT fail him.
Nancy: Are you looking forward to that journey and another battle, Brennus?
Brennus: I think you already know that answer!
(His slightly crooked, but oh so endearing smile tells me! What a guy!)
Vonnie - I hope you’ve liked this tiny glimpse of Brennus, also known as Bran of Witton, the spy. You can read a lot more about him in Book 3- After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks.
And now for a little *GIVEAWAY* There’s an ecopy of After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks going to one lucky commenter on Vonnie’s blog today (or if preferred a copy of Book 1, or Book 2, if the winner hasn’t read them yet) All you need to do is say hello in that little comments box and tell me what you like about hunky Celts, or even Romans since there’s quite a nice guy called Gaius in Book 3 as well! Oh, and give me a way of contacting you, please.
There’s a Facebook Launch Party going on today (25th March) and everyone’s very welcome to join the festivities – chances to win an ecopy there too. Stop past if you’ve got a moment and say hi at https://www.facebook.com/events/1386740778259833/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
My blog also has some partying today at http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com It’ll be great to have you visit and enter for another chance to win a FREE ecopy of one of my Celtic Fervour Series books!
After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks is available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/After-Whorl-Donning-Double-Cloaks/dp/1909841579/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394785124&sr=1-1&keywords=after+Whorl+donning+Double+cloaks
Nancy Jardine’s novels can be found in paperback and ebook formats from:
Amazon UK author page Amazon US author page Crooked Cat Bookstore; Waterstones; Barnes & Noble; Smashwords; W. H. Smith; and other book retailers.
Nancy can be found at the following places: Blog Website Facebook Goodreads About Me LinkedIn Twitter @nansjar Google+
Nancy’s writing time is shared with regular grandchild minding duties, tending her large garden, ancestry research and leisure reading. She’s currently writing a family saga based mainly in Scotland, and Book 4 of her Celtic Fervour series. She’s delighted to be able to share that Topaz Eyes (Crooked Cat Publishing) an ancestral-based mystery, is a finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE Fiction 2014. After Whorl: Bran Reborn - Book 2 of her Celtic Fervour Series (Crooked Cat Publishing) has been accepted for THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION 2014- the most prestigious prize for historical fiction in the UK.
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?