Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The History of the Albion Chronicles

So the Romans came, conquered and left. Along the way they developed some close links with the rulers they found here. These client kings and queens saw benefits to allying themselves and their kingdoms with the new Roman forces. Gradually the Romans took over and blended their gods and goddesses with many of those that had existed in Albion before and the Pre – Roman age was slowly forgotten.
…But what if things had happened differently?
…What if the people of Albion had managed to overthrow their traitorous leaders and drive out the invaders?

The true history of Britain
One such client Queen was Cartimandua of the Brigante tribe. The Brigantes were the biggest tribe in Albion, their territory centred on what is now Yorkshire. A number of key figures rose up against the Romans, one of these was Caratacus of the Catuvellauni tribe. Defeated in Wales he fled to Cartimandua for protection but she put him in chains and handed him straight over to the Roman forces. This displeased the druids and her husband Venutius who turned against her. After their divorce Cartimandua married his charioteer Vellocatus and they ruled the kingdom together. In AD69 Venutius made his second attempt to overthrow his ex wife. The Romans, facing revolts in various parts of their enormous kingdom could only spare minimal forces to send to her aid. They lost the battle but managed to get Cartimandua out of the kingdom, her name then disappears from history. Venutius only held the kingdom briefly before the Romans defeated him and took control of the area.

The alternate history of Albion

Venutius was a successful ruler of the Brigante nation. He not only defeated Cartimandua and her Roman allies he also went on to unite the tribes and drive the whole Roman army off Albion’s shores. Cartimandua was never heard of again but she had in fact made it safely to Rome, where her hatred of the Brigante people grew and festered. Through a network of spies in the Votadini lands to the North East they kept an eye on the throne and waited. Now the royal line is about to die out and Cartimandua’s line has a chance to return.

These ‘what ifs?’

It is one of the great joys of writing that we can get to explore these ‘what ifs’ in as many different ways as we want. There are so many alternatives to choose from after all. In the Albion Chronicles I used as much fact as possible to bring the story forward from that one known battle in AD69. In doing so I aimed to keep the development of the nation in line with how it may have been without such a strong Roman influence. Of course some of these influences would still have entered the country, coming over with the trade that would have continued from the continent. I have also allowed some leeway with certain aspects of life and dress, after all what is the point of an alternative history if everything is exactly the same? To me there is far too much negativity placed on the pre Roman people of our land. We are seen as being much greater people for having had such an advanced nation rule us for a time. I love the idea that in this series I can say – ‘hang on a minute, we were doing just fine on our own and we can prove it.’

For more on the Albion Chronicles or to purchase book 1 - The Girl of Two Worlds visit the website

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Why nature makes me more creative

   There is nothing more inspiring to me than sitting amongst nature and feeling part of it. I once liberated a load of trees from an office block that were earmarked for clearance. I had them arranged in a little copse on my terrace with lots of bird feeders. I used to love sitting there with the garden birds ignoring me as they chattered and fed.

   The cold concrete and glaring commercial sights of built up area’s fills me with a deep seated feeling of both revulsion and un-connectedness. I know, I know, nature is still there. Hiding in the crevices and nesting on the inner city ‘cliffs’ but for me it is depressing and ugly. I cannot see the beauty of the bright lights and billboards. Neither can I get excited by the bustle of hundreds of cars racing along an overpass looking out at the huge superstores and car showrooms. My life takes me past far too many of these and it always makes me cringe.

   I can however appreciate the architecture of a great old British city like London, Bath or Edinburgh and enjoy imagining what life must have been like there centuries ago. I love to wander around the ancient streets or stumble across an old gem, hidden amongst more modern buildings. In general though, unless a city has an old feeling to it I really get no enjoyment from being there. It inspires nothing in me other than an urge to leave.
 Life however insists on being modern, no matter how hard I try to fight it. Often this fake world takes over and for a while I lose my connection to the outdoors and the things that make me tick but then something happens to bring that all back and my creative juices start to flow again.

   Mountains inspire feelings of awe and deep joy, they move me in ways I cannot explain. Added the this is the chance of seeing rare birds and wildlife eeking out their living in the remote wilderness. A walk alone in woodland, where I can take the time to listen to everything around me and see wildlife that would be frightened away by chatter has always boosted my spirits.  It is wonderful to sit with your back against a tree and listen to what your heart wants to tell you.Whenever I am lucky enough to get out and visit beautiful places I take lots of photo’s so that I can go back through them when my creativity gets stuck and imagine the secret lives that are going on behind the scenes

   I don’t always look for the life we know is all around us; nature is also my biggest inspiration for fantasy. Beech woods especially to me are chock full of spirits and whenever I see ferns or ivy my mind sees faery homes, especially if there is water nearby. At home I spend lots of time sitting by my pond watching the water boatmen and waiting for a flash sighting of the elusive newts that have taken up residence. Month by month I add more plants and ornaments, gradually growing a place where nature and fantasy live hand in hand.  By my front window I have a wonderful wisteria that has decided this year to grow remarkably well. I can almost see the spirits living in the twisted stems, peering in the room at me and inspiring me to find magic in everything.

   I can see inspiration in the smallest seed, the weakest plant and the greatest tree. Where ever life exists there is the opportunity for magic to co exist too. Like most people, I can see faces in most things. I enjoy making friends with these faces, I see them in the knots in wood and the silhouettes of trees. They are like the guardians we all wish we had. Most people dismiss my imagination as mad fantasy but I do not care. I would far rather live in 'my world' than the one the majority of folks have decided is normal.

   What sparks your creativity? Share yours in the comments below, I look forward to hearing them.

For more about me, why not visit my fantasy world at www.nellyharper.co.uk

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

5 facts that helped me become an Indie author

I thought I would start by telling you a few facts about myself that have helped guide my life towards becoming an independent fantasy fiction author.

FACT 1:            I was completely uninterested when it came to school. I was unfocused and had no ambition whatsoever. It was only at the age of 27 that I decided my education could do with a boost. I enrolled in a course at my local college in business administration.  I completed the course and returned for more. Never one to make goals, I was surprised to find I actually wanted to stay on and get a degree. The college had strong links with Paisley University and I had no trouble switching to their business degree. I graduated with distinction in 2001, specialising in enterprise and entrepreneurship. I also learnt to set myself goals, aim high and never give in when the research gets hard.

FACT 2:            Nature has always been a top priority of mine, I can thank my father for this. Over my childhood years he taught me to appreciate wildlife and the amazing beauty of the outdoors. Along with my Mother and brother we would spend hours up in the Scottish Highlands with our binoculars looking at Osprey nests and spotting divers in the lochs. Majestic red deer and quirky reindeer were firm favourites of mine as was the yellowhammer and the long tailed tit.

FACT 3:            Although I was raised as a Methodist I struggled my faith, it never seemed to ring true to me. I could feel a spirituality all around me, a connectedness to the living world but it was not the fire and brimstone I had been taught as a child. I looked into Wicca and found yet another set of rules and books about what to think and what to believe. It still was not me but it was getting closer. Eventually I realised that the core of my faith remained the same no matter what label I tried to pin on it.  So I had no need to classify what kind of pagan I was.  All I need is my connection to the earth and I am happy.

FACT 4:            I am a lover of all things mythical. My home is filled with wizards, goblins, faeries and witches. Artwork, wood carvings, polymer clay figurines and puppets fill almost every room. Many of which I have lovingly created myself. The spaces not already inhabited by something weird and wonderful are merely waiting for the day I find an outlet for whoever I imagine would wish to live there. I love to fill the house with uplifting scents of incense or essential oils and I rarely write without a candle of some sort or other lit.

FACT 5:         I have spent many years working in full costume at various historic events around the UK, mainly medieval. Historical research was a big part of my life, nights spent round the camp fire would often involve discussing the failings of various medieval television programs and films. I still find it amusing when a rubber sole or a badly disguised zip finds its way into the end cut. Luckily, so far my writing has given me a little more leeway. The era's I have used are either alternative histories or so far back a lot of the detail has been lost. This have given me some room to make certain assumptions, though I do try to keep them as true to possible fact as I can - unless of course the story calls for something different. 

My debut novel, The Albion Chronicles book 1 – The Girl of Two Worlds is available

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Friday, 19 June 2015


Hello and welcome to my blog - the ramblings of a strange woman

Here I intend to ramble on about anything that takes my fancy. It won't always be about my writing and publishing but a mixture of real life, fantasy, interests, hobbies, history and work.

Hopefully I will be able to post something at least once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less.