I am very excited to host author Nancy Jardine today as part of the Blog Tour for her new book Topaz Eyes – being released tomorrow, December 7th. Read the author’s account of how she created the fictitious family tree for the book (and a few other tasty tidbits as well)!
Family trees can bore the pants off many people, but I find them fascinating. Delving into the past can have many lovely repercussions, and also some startling discoveries. It was definitely quite an eye-opener when I began to squirrel into my family history. Yet, I loved the experience so much it made me want to not only write about my own family black sheep, but also invent some totally new ones- completely unrelated to my own family of course.
Thinking back to my initial planning sessions for my new mystery novel, Topaz Eyes, I started with the idea of creating a far more complicated family tree than I had invented for my debut contemporary history/mystery – Monogamy Twist. In Monogamy Twist, Luke Salieri is surprised to find he’s the sole beneficiary of a slightly dilapidated manor house in Yorkshire. He’d never heard of Amelia Greywood who bequeathed him her house and gardens, so why was he the only person to inherit? In creating that mystery for Rhia Ashton – a historian and family tree expert – to solve for Luke, I really enjoyed designing the family tree that led to him inheriting.
The family tree for Topaz Eyes absolutely begged to be written next, but I wanted the challenge of making a more complicated one. I had to have some reasoning for bringing a long-lost family together, though. It took only a short think-time for me to decide to combine a plot that had a coming-together of hithertofore unknown family members, and venues I also really wanted to feature in my writing.
Those distant third cousins would be involved in a quest to find priceless jewels that had been scattered amongst the family decades ago. I needed a good reason for the third cousins not to know each other, and
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indeed, not even to have heard of each other. Setting my mystery in Europe gave me a great excuse for having some family members leave the country of their birth- some to move a relatively short distance away, but others would emigrate to the US. That fitted the generation around the late 1930s when many fled the approaching horrors of Nazi Germany. I also knew if my original ‘person’ was giving birth to a family during the 1880s that would give me a fantastic start point for my family tree structure.
At this stage I always sharpen the pencils and get an A3 piece of paper to sketch out on. The advice to new writers is generally that deadpan phrase ‘write what you know’. I’d included the European cities of Barcelona, Paris, and Tallinn in my fun contemporary romance novel – Take Me Now – but I next wanted to include venues such as Amsterdam, Vienna and Heidelberg.
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Heidelberg? That was a fabulous location to start at since I adore Heidelberg, and Amsterdam…would be almost the place to end. I’m not giving away the whole plot, but I did have to make many changes to the structure of the family tree as the novel developed. It took quite a bit of mathematics to get the dates correct for each generation but at last it worked!
The founder member of my Topaz Eyes family tree is an Amsterdam woman, called Geertje Hoogeveen. Since the members of the tree are European I had to do a bit of research to get the best names for my protagonists. To make it easier for the reader there is a convenient little copy of Geertje Hoogeveen’s tree included in the book. How to pronounce the names isn’t too bad since I chose fairly easy ones.
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hope you are swept up by the thrills and spills in the story, are suitably stunned by the disasters, love the happy ever after ending, but most of all enjoy a great mystery.
My thanks to you for inviting me on your blog, Linda. It’s a pleasure to share a little of Topaz Eyes with you.
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.
“Would you ditch the mystery, Jensen, and just enlighten me as to what you think I have that interests you? And tell me why you couldn’t have asked for it in the letter you sent to me? I came here of my own free will – granted – but I’m not hanging around any longer if you’re going to drag this out, for I’m damned sure I’ve no idea what you’re referring to.”
Jensen’s reply lacked emotion, his face a blank screen, his gaze focused on Teun as Keira regarded the by-play.
“Teun. It may come as a surprise to you, but you actually know more about this invitation than Keira. At least you knew from my letter I had something of family interest you might be glad to take back to the USA with you. Keira had no such suggestion made to her.”
Tension rose in the room, which didn’t only radiate from Teun.
Keira sat uneasy, also unwilling to be in the dark any longer. “Would you please explain why you think I may have something you want, Herr Amsel?” She found herself reluctant to use his first name, considering the antagonism now mounting.
“All in good time, Keira. And please call me Jensen. I don’t set out to be anyone’s enemy. I believe each of you can provide access to items belonging to the collection. All the pieces are likely to vary in monetary value but, viewed as a complete entity, it will make an impressive display. It’s a historic set… and unique.”
An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Her husband mans the kitchen, her offspring only an hour’s drive away. When time permits, ancestry research is an intermittent hobby. Neglecting her large garden in favour of writing, she now grows spectacularly giant thistles. 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, The Beltane Choice, also published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
Nancy Jardine can be found at:
Topaz Eyes will be available from 7th December in print and e-book formats from amazon.com, and www.crookedcatbooks.com
I’m doing a series of blog guesting posts revealing more about Topaz Eyes. If you’re interested in finding out more about the places involved in the novel, or want to learn more about the characters and the creation of the novel, please follow the tour URLs (places I’ll be visiting) that you’ll find on my blog – http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com
AND…check my blog from 4th December for the chance to win an e-copy of Topaz Eyes.