Nancy Jardine is the next Crooked Cat Books author to appear on this website.
A born and bred Scot, Nancy is the author of historical romantic adventures and contemporary mysteries. She also wrote a historical time travel adventure for middle grade readers and up.
Here are Nancy’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)
Nancy is familiar with the 6 Ws format. She wrote: “I once upon a time used the 6Ws a lot but that was while I was in the other main phase of life. Joan, many thanks for inviting me to your blog today to revisit those 6Ws in a very different fashion.”
Who am I?
I sometimes wish I really knew! I’m Nancy Jardine. I’m a born and bred Scot who loves almost everything about my homeland and I include some Scottish connection in my writing when feasible. I’ve lived in the ‘Castle Country’ of Aberdeenshire for thirty years and it’s an amazing part of N E Scotland — though I was born and brought up in the west coast city of Glasgow.
Literally, in a few steps from my house I can indulge in my love for and absorption in all things historical. Neolithic long barrows (burial cairns); standing stone circles; Ancient Roman marching camps; Pictish symbol stones; crannogs; ruined castles; still lived-in ‘Disneyesque’ fairy tale castles are all within walking distance. Well, the latter would count if you’d call a walk of 8 miles an easy jaunt.
I live with my husband of almost 44 years. My nearest neighbours are my oldest daughter and her family. That means my granddaughter (6) and grandson (~4) live right on my doorstep as well, but they’re the future rather than the past! I officially child mind them for two very long days a week when my D works (no pay for me, of course, just the absolute and honest pleasure of being with them). On those days very little writing is done. Naturally, being next door, they often bounce in at other times to say hello to Grandma and Grandad… though mostly it’s to raid the biscuit barrel (cookie jar).
Why do I write?
Till 2011, I’d been a primary school teacher for more than 25 years and that’s where the 6Ws come in. I taught the senior classes in the primary school (11-12-year-olds) so when teaching the art of story writing it generally included the Who, Where,
When, Why, What and the How.
During most of my life I aspired to be an avid reader, which I most definitely still am, but it was only during my final teaching decade that the concept of becoming a writer crept in. I was asked — okay, in all reality my arm was metaphorically twisted up my back — to write two non-fiction historical books for local education purposes.
The first, in 1999, charted the history of a local steam train locomotives works, dating from 1897 to approximately 1960. The second (2005) was a history of my Aberdeenshire village primary school. I taught there in addition to living in the village. After a huge amount of research, I was able to include information that dated a school in the village as far back as the early 1500s!
I loved researching for those two projects even more than any other research I did for my teaching purposes. Having sold 350 copies of the non-fiction school history book on one special ‘open day’ at school (all profit to school coffers, naturally) the transition to becoming an author seemed possible.
I wrote a couple of first drafts of novels before 2011 but it was only after packing away the chalk that I really got serious about getting published. My first contemporary mystery, Monogamy Twist has an ancestral-based theme and was first published in 2011.
What do I write?
To date I’ve had three books published in my historical Celtic Fervour Series by Crooked Cat Books. These adventures are also a kind of family saga in that they are about different clan members whose lives are totally changed when the Ancient Roman Legions invade their Late Iron Age ‘Celtic’ territories. These span AD 71- 84.
The fourth book is almost ready for publication and is set in the aftermath of a great battle between Celts and Romans in ‘Aberdeenshire’ in AD 84. It’s my version of the Battle of Mons Graupius, if you’ve some knowledge of Romano-British history.
Crooked Cat Books has also published three of my contemporary romantic mysteries.
I delved into self-publishing for my historical time travel adventure The Taexali Game which is for a wider audience of around 10 years and older. Though intended for Middle Grade, loads of adults have given really wonderful feedback on this novel. It has recently achieved a B.R.A.G. Medallion status and came 2nd in the Scottish Association of Writers competition 2017 for Best Self-Published Book (this comp included all categories of fiction and non-fiction). I’m likely to do more self- publishing in the near future.
I write for my own blog; do blog guest posts; and have had long-term commitments posting regularly at a co-operative blog. I’m expecting to do more guest posting in 2018 at a number of places.
Social media (mainly Facebook) can be too much of a draw for me and needs to be much more successfully self-regulated in 2018! 😉
When do I write?
Not often enough during the last couple of years but I expect to devote a lot more hours of the day to my new writing in 2018. As my grandchild-minding duties lessen, and the kids spend more time in school, I expect to be able to write for longer periods. That’s the plan!
Continuity has been an issue since 2014 but that is destined to improve. Otherwise, if I have any daily routine worth noting, it’s that I read the newspaper with my first two cups of coffee and breakfast. After a personal cleanup and domestic duties are over, I’m at my keyboard for the bulk of the day doing ‘writerly’ stuff which, as any author knows, isn’t often new writing.
I’m also the sole gardener of a decent-sized plot but since I love my outdoor space the time spent there in garden maintenance is generally a pleasure.
Where do I write?
My writing desk is situated near my dining room window where I can overlook the action in my garden. It can be a distraction when I see the grass needs cut, or there’s a war going on between the crows and the tiny coal tits because the bird feeders are empty, but it’s mostly a pleasure to look out at nature in all its glory —that is when my flower beds are magnificent and when the weeds are rampantly colourful.
I prefer to write at a keyboard and use a monitor, both of which are connected to my laptop. However, my laptop is regularly unplugged from the wiring when I need to be across the driveway at my daughter’s house, or out and about.
This means my desk tends to be a jumble of printer, external hard drive, desk lamp, tablet, phone, speakers, loose pencils (I did say I used to be a teacher!), notepads, loose sheets of notes and ordinance survey maps (essential for my current work), historical non fiction reference books, my A4 desk diary… and, of course, the other mentioned peripherals. Cold cups of coffee or tea are also obligatory on any available surface.
Did I say I was organised? Actually, I am, but as a mostly a ‘pantser’ author my desk reflects my writing style.
P.S. My storyboard behind the desk generally has my info on current characters and framed posters of my published books above that remind me that I have more to publish!
How do I write?
I began as a natural ‘pantser’ author and tend to want to go with how my characters ‘talk to me’ as I develop the story. But, over the years since 2011, I’ve learned the value of also doing some PLANNING! That’s in capitals because sticking to original planning can be a wonderful idea. Yet, it’s not always what happens.
Since I want to write historical and contemporary stories that are very readable, and also are very credible according to historical accuracy, I do try to stick to an outline plan but that has tended to get a bit problematic. If you are a fan of history then you’ll appreciate the need to continue to research and do some more and… actually my need to research never stops! That has meant changes to my outline plot as I’ve learned new and useful things, and more often changes to my original timeline as I incorporate new ideas.
If I have any 2018 resolutions, they are to ensure better continuity in my writing. And yes, that means more discipline… Oh, dear, did I say I used to be a teacher? (**cringe** and smiley faces )
Hey, but I’m also retired, so I guess I’m a happy bunny part-time author!
More about Nancy Jardine:
Nancy Jardine is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association; the Scottish Association of Writers; the Federation of Writers Scotland; The Historical Novel Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Nancy Jardine on social media:
You’ll find her in many other places across the internet.