Topaz Eyes: where greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust and love. . .
. . . 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 jewelery?
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?
Now that we've had a teaser, Wild Women Authors welcomes author Nancy Jardine who brings Teun Zeger, from “Topaz Eyes” an ancestral mystery recently released from Crooked Cat Publishing.
Good morning, Teun. Please tell us where you're from. I’m from California –Sonoma- though I was actually born in Rochester, Minnesota.
What is Topaz Eyes about? I can tell you it came as a complete mystery to me when I got a letter out of the blue from this guy named Jensen Amsel who claimed to be a third cousin of mine. In it, he asked me to go visit with him in Heidelberg, Germany, to find out more about my distant relatives. Now, the biggest surprise there was that I knew my grandparents were Dutch: I had no idea I also had German relatives. And, of course, when I arrived there Jensen got me embroiled with some other distant third cousins to search for a fabulous jewelry collection that was scattered amongst my family back in 1910. That proved to be a hell of a dangerous undertaking and not just a simple little ‘go find’ exercise!
What did you think the first time you saw Keira Drummond? Stunning! She was absolutely stunning! When I first met Keira, I had no idea she was going to be involved in the quest for the Tiru Salana emerald collection. She was just a woman I randomly met at a café in the old city area of Heidelberg and wanted to get to know a whole lot better.
What was your second thought? I was horrified that she might be too close a relative to me! All that consanguinity, blood relatives, and all that gave me some moments of real anxiety. I thought I’d just met the best looking woman I had ever clapped eyes on, and that she was going to be taboo!
Did you think it was love at first sight? Absolutely-for me it was. I wasn’t too sure about Keira, though, since after the initial few minutes she ran away from me like a bat out of hell! I was sure she’d been attracted to me right away, like I was drawn to her, but she got spooked and ran off. At that time I didn’t know why. When we met a second time, it was touch and go for a bit to see if things would work out between us… because I thought she was maybe more interested in someone else. Thank God, I was wrong about that!
What do you like most about her? Everything! But if you pin me down it has to be her stunning eyes. She has the most gorgeous, big, brown eyes that have lots of shades in them. They’re so expressive I can immediately tell if she’s annoyed with me, or when she’s delighted with something, or when she’s teasing me…or best of all -when she just plain loves me.
How would you describe her? Other than what I’ve told you already? That could be a long list! Let’s see…she’s smaller than me. That’s good, since I’m quite tall. Though, I guess, she’s about average height for a woman. She likes to keep fit and healthy. She’s in great shape and can out-walk me any day! Keira loves her job as a translator and is very good at it. She’s as tenacious as a terrier when she’s got something to find, or to finish. What I love most of all is that she’s fiercely loyal… and she loves me!
How would she describe you? The best lover she’s ever had? I certainly hope so! She’d also say I can be a bloody nuisance at times; that I’m a tease; I’m too extravagant… But I know she really loves all that about me.
What made you choose industrial chemistry as a profession? How about because I’m a science geek? Always have been! I majored in chemistry at UCSF. Originally I wanted to do pure chemistry research but it was a natural progression when I set up my own laboratories. I still have some pure research projects going on but need the other lab work to keep things ticking over.
What is your biggest fear? Not sure I really have one…but I’d be horrified if Keira ever stopped loving me!
How do you relax? I don’t have a lot of leisure time but I like to take a walk in the countryside or hang out with Keira and watch a movie. I like to read novels-especially when I’m flying across the continent between labs.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? That would have to be Superman! I grew up loving the things he can get up to and still be the nerdy guy at his desk. I’m usually very cautious, but I like the idea of getting some things achieved that other folk can’t manage to do. That might be because I’m bankrolling some project, or other, or because I’m giving my time to it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? If you want something badly enough, go all-out for it, and don’t give up!
Thanks for that, Teun. Let's read an excerpt from “Topaz Eyes”:
“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.”
Both Veronica and I like to have our followers not only learn about a new book but also the author. First, Nancy's bio: An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband of many years. When time permits, ancestry research is an intermittent hobby. Neglecting her large garden in favor 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, and she adores officially child minding her extremely active granddaughter of 15 months, a couple of days each week.
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. Works in progress is a sequel to her historical romance, and a family saga. She also writes time-travel novels for the 10 -14 age bracket.
Nancy, what movies or books have had an impact on your writing? I don’t believe any particular book has had an impact on my writing. In decades gone past I had some favorite authors- like Morgan Llewellyn who writes Celtic historical novels and non-fiction works – though, at that time, I had no intentions of being an author. I can read a book, sometimes love it during the reading, but don’t necessarily remember much about it once I’m part way into the next one.
Tell us a bit about your publisher. “Topaz Eyes” is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and this is my second fiction release with them, though they are of different genres – one is a historical adventure, and the other is a contemporary ancestral mystery.
How did you hear about them? Crooked Cat is a new publisher based in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was inaugurated in Nov 2011. I heard about them starting up through one of my author Yahoo loops, and by Jan 2012 I had joined their Yahoo group and I became active with them as a ‘reader’.
What influenced your decision to submit to them? My Celtic/Roman Britain historical, “The Beltane Choice”, had been rejected by a US based publisher during the summer of 2011, so, after another thorough re-write of it, I sent it to Crooked Cat in early March 2012.
Tell us a bit about the submission process. How long did it take from query to release? Their submission process was by email- synopsis and initial chapters. They immediately requested the full manuscript and I was delighted to find I had a contract signed by early May. “The Beltane Choice” was released on the 31st Aug 2012. So, from query to release, it was approximately 6 months. There was a possibility for it to be released slightly earlier, but since my second Wild Rose Press contemporary romance “Take Me Now” was being released on the 3rd Aug 2012 Crooked Cat were happy to delay “The Beltane Choice” to the end of August.
The submission process to Crooked Cat for Topaz Eyes was similar, though by mutual choice, the process took a little longer. I sent in my query to Crooked Cat in April 2012. The contract for that was signed in July but since I was heavily involved with my Wild Rose Press release, and my first Crooked Cat release, I was happy for the Topaz Eyes release to be set for the beginning of December 2012.
Three releases within just over four months was so exciting, but a tremendous challenge to personally keep up with – given family commitments that began in Aug 2012 and which take up a couple of days each week (No writing tasks are done on those days!) Thank you for inviting me today! It’s a pleasure to visit my Wild Rose Press friends.
This has been great and we thank you, Nancy. It's always exciting to bring information about a 'new' publisher to the blog's followers. We hope you'll come back and visit when your next book comes out.
Kat and Veronica
To learn more about Nancy Jardine and the stories she creates go to: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com http://facebook.com/nancy.jardine.56 Twitter @nansjar
To purchase Topaz Eyes, go to http://amzn.to/RJZzZz - (Nancy’s Amazon author page where details can be found of all her novels; her book trailer videos can be viewed; and recent blog post news displayed.) Topaz Eyes is also available from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/261511 and from www.crookedcatbooks.com