Letters from ElsewhereIt’s been seven months since I interviewed Tim Taylor. Today I’m delighted to welcome him back to introduce a special guest, who has travelled all the way from Messenia. Not to mention the number of years he has traversed to get here. Hello Tim!

Tim TaylorHello Miriam!

Many thanks for inviting my character Diocles, from the novel Zeus of Ithome, onto your blog today.  Before I let him get on with it, I should give your readers a bit of context.  Diocles is a runaway ‘helot’ slave from Messenia, a country conquered by Sparta centuries before.  He took up with Aristomenes, an old Messenian rebel who still dreams of throwing off the Spartan yoke, and travelled with him towards Delphi to consult the oracle.  Aristomenes was injured on the journey and had to rest at the house of a friend, so Diocles continued to Delphi alone.  Here he met the (historical) Theban general Epaminondas and, after agonising over what to do, became convinced that the cryptic advice he had received from the oracle meant that he should go to Thebes with Epaminondas.  This is a letter he later writes to Aristomenes.

To Aristomenes, in the house of Nicomedes in the town of Naupactus, from Diocles son of Dotades, in the house of Epaminondas in the city of Thebes.

Aristomenes, I hope you can read this letter.  It is the first one I have ever written in my own hand – Epaminondas is teaching me to read and write!  I have had some help from Manes the scribe, who is very rude about my spelling and made me write it several times before I got it right.

I hope you are well and that your wound has healed.  Please give my greetings to Nicomedes and Ianthe – I shall always remember their kindness. Thank you for sending me your sword.  I was very glad to see it, because I thought you would be angry that I had not come back to Naupactus after I left Delphi.  I still feel bad that after you entrusted me with the task of going to consult the oracle, I did not return in person to give you her advice. 

As I said in the letter Manes wrote for me before, I believe the oracle’s advice meant that I was fated to meet Epaminondas in Delphi and to travel with him to Thebes.  And now that I have been here for a while, I am sure that I did the right thing.  Epaminondas is the cleverest man I have ever met, and he is an important person in this city.  The Thebans hate Sparta as much as we do and Epaminondas has plans to break their power over Greece.  And there are soldiers here who are as good as – no, better than – even the Spartiates themselves.  The Sacred Band, they are called, and they have already beaten a Spartan force in battle!  Their leader, Pelopidas, is a friend of Epaminondas and he has agreed that when I have finished my basic hoplite military training, I will be allowed to drill with his men.  So I shall learn the arts of strategy from the wisest man in Greece and those of combat with its best soldiers! 

Zeus of IthomeThat is not all, Aristomenes.  War is coming between Thebes and Sparta.  Everyone knows it.  I shall be needing that sword of yours quite soon.  I believe that these Thebans will win this war, and when they do, that will be the moment for Messenia to rise up.  I have told them all about our struggle and they will help us, when that time comes.  Epaminondas has given me his promise, and he is a man I trust. 

So I shall return to Naupactus and to Messenia.  When I do, I shall no longer be the runaway helot you took under your wing, but a trained warrior.  And you and I shall complete the task to which you have devoted your life.

Until then, my friend, fare well.

 

You can read more about Zeus of Ithome (e-book currently on special offer at 99p/99c for one week only!) here.

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Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.

Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife and daughter and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015.  Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.

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Thank you, Tim and Diocles.

In the meantime, I have been interviewed by Margaret K Johnson about challenges I’ve had to overcome in order to write.

[Scroll down for my A-Z Challenge theme reveal.]

I’m so pleased to be awarded with another visit from Nancy Jardine, whom I interviewed last month.

She’s back to tell us about not one but two novels of hers that are about to be published.

Take it away, Nancy!

Hello Miriam. It’s lovely to come back so soon to update on my next book launches. First of all, I’d love to say that I’m absolutely delighted with both of my cover designs – each is perfect for their intended market.

Final Nancy Jardine x 488I mentioned during my last visit that I was waiting for my cover design from graphic designer, Neil Saddler, for The Taexali Game, my time travel adventure for middle grade/ early teens. That was revealed recently so I’ve rescheduled its launch to April 2015. I’m so pleased to now be virtually ready to self-publish this adventure novel since it’s been waiting on my writing shelf, in various draft guises, for a long time. Soon my readers will be introduced to the intrepid trio you see on the cover – Aran and the twins, Brian and Fianna. In this first book of the Rubidium Time Travel Series, the adventure takes place in their own Aberdeenshire back yard – except that they are time travelled back to the year AD 210. I hope you can see the Ancient Roman legionaries in the cover design because AD 210 was an era when Roman Emperor Severus and his vile son, Caracalla, invaded northern Britain with multiple legions in a show of Roman strength. My teen protagonists have a set of tasks to fulfil, but how do they work out how to help both the ‘baddies’ and the ‘goodies’ when some of the Celtic chiefs they meet are as foul as Severus and Caracalla? Dicing with death becomes the norm in this Roman/Celtic Britain adventure but my trio need to stay alive! The main reason I’m not self publishing The Taexali Game sooner is… because I’ve another launch to attend first!

MonogamyTwistNancyJardine x360My Crooked Cat edition of Monogamy Twist, my contemporary romantic mystery, is launching on March 27th 2015 and I’m absolutely delighted with the quirky cover design for this, too – created by Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat. Monogamy Twist is a mystery with historical aspects but very different from my Celtic Roman Britain historical novels. The plot for it is based on a recognisable Dickensian theme – that of the bequest of a decaying stately home. Luke Salieri finds himself the recipient of this strange inheritance – except the house can only be his if he fulfils certain weird and quirky conditions. To eventually become the owner Luke needs a woman to help him but not just anyone will do. Rhia Ashton seems perfect for the job since she’s a family history researcher but Luke finds she has a few conditions of her own before she’ll take him on and find out why Luke has been chosen by Amelia Greywood to receive the house. Compromise is the name of the game in Monogamy Twist. It’s a read that will appeal to those who like a bit of history with a few twists in their mystery, or those who like a good solid story in their romantic reading. I extend a warm welcome to the Facebook Launch Party on the 27th March. Goodies can be won and lots of information on my protagonists will be divulged.

Thank you for the update, Nancy. I was in awe of you before; I’m even more in awe of you now.

Nancy Jardine

Nancy Jardine

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She currently shares a home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer of 2015 when the new build home will be completed for the young ’uns on what was Nancy’s former back garden. The loss of that part of the garden won’t be missed since there should now be more writing time available this spring and summer! Childminding is intermittent over the day and any writing time is precious. (If interested in how a new house is built these days, follow my blog posts named ‘Gonna build a house’ )

 All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. Nancy regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for leisure reading and the occasional historical series on TV.

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Author links:

Nancy’s blog

Nancy’s website

Twitter: @nansjar

Nancy on Facebook

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Amazon US

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Monogamy Twist can be PRE-ORDERED here.

Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places.