Historical fiction requires the ability to effectively place wholly made-up characters in a world in a way that gets all the details right. Nancy melds the details of fact and the intricacies of plot with stakes that are relevant today, carefully laying out her series with one well-researched plot point after another. I remember when Nancy, whom I’ve known for literally decades, was just starting to build this series, with her great fandom of Richard III especially evident in its pages.
What’s the theme behind your story?
I’m never sure how to answer that. I suppose it’s trust. The challenge for both the hero and the heroine is learning to trust their judgment and each other.
What’s the logline?
A wizard’s misplaced trust. A king wrongly blamed for murder. A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name.
The heroine is a magically Gifted seer, Amelia Mainwaring. One of her ancestors, Edmund Mainwaring, unwittingly helped murder two royal children, the boys known as the Princes in the Tower. He flung himself on the mercy of their uncle, King Richard III, who told him to keep silent because of the political situation. King Richard died at Bosworth Field without ever giving Edmund permission to reveal the truth about the boys’ deaths.
The Tudors came to power after Bosworth. They blamed King Richard for the boys’ deaths and anything else they could. If Edmund had tried to speak up, he would’ve been executed for treason, and the truth would’ve died with him. Tormented by guilt, he cursed his direct heirs to not rest in life or death until the family cleared the king’s name. Now the souls of his heirs are trapped in a wraith-ridden shadowland after they die. This includes Amelia’s twin brother, Adam. She’s desperate to free his soul.
What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?
Since this is the second book in a trilogy, I was thinking about the structure of the first book. As you know, the first book in a series sets the parameters for those that follow. The first book, The Herald of Day, had two plotlines. One was the hero and heroine’s quest to clear King Richard and break the curse. The other was about their efforts to restore the true timeline after a power-hungry wizard changed England’s history to create a dictatorship of the mageborn.
So I needed a plotline about the blood curse and one that would involve high stakes such as those in the altered timeline of Herald.
How did the original idea change as you went along?
It stayed pretty much the same after the initial plotting session. I’ve been a Ricardian (one who doesn’t believe Richard III was anywhere near as bad as Shakespeare painted him, for those unfamiliar with the term) most of my adult life. I have a pretty good working knowledge of the controversy surrounding the king, so I’ve had the idea for the arc about the blood curse in The Steel Rose for a long time. I also knew I wanted to use a particular magical artifact at some point.
The larger plot, centering on the Battle of Waterloo, did require some adjustment as I read more about the battle. I knew that I wanted Julian, my hero, and Amelia to be involved in the Allied victory, and Napoleon’s return to a France economically devastated by his earlier wars gave me a way to use that magical artifact for something important. The research pushed a fairly amorphous initial idea into a concrete shape.
How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?
I knew Amelia would be a seer and the hero, Julian Winfield, would be a descendant of one of the characters in The Herald of Day. I also wanted them both to be different from the characters in the prior book. The heroine of Herald is a seer, but she’s untrained and not confident when the story opens. The hero is bitter about the curse hanging over his soul, but he’s comfortable at court or with a blade in his hand.
While Amelia is a seer, she has had years of training in her power and has a fair degree of confidence with it. As she uses it in The Steel Rose, however, it changes, and she must adapt to those changes. She must also figure out how to interpret visions she doesn’t understand.
Julian is a nobleman, but he’s not a Mainwaring and so isn’t cursed. He wants to help Amelia lift the curse, though, because Amelia’s twin brother, Adam, was one of his closest friends. Since they’re researching curses, one of them needed to be bookish, and I chose Julian. He also breeds horses, and leads Britain’s secret network of magically Gifted spies. He’s a book guy but one who packs a punch.
Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story?
I’m happy with it. I had a relaxed deadline, and my editor was patient with my recurring need to “check just one more thing” during the revision process. I had time to make the book just as I wanted it.
Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?
For Julian, Luke Thompson, who plays Benedict Bridgerton on the TV series Bridgerton. He’s handsome but seems able to blend with a crowd, as Julian would have to, and he knows how to project thoughtfulness as well as being physically active.
For Amelia, I would choose Elizabeth Olsen. She’s attractive, has an unassuming but confident demeanor, and can project sympathy, thoughtfulness, and courage.
What else do you want readers to know?
I’ve read quite a few Regency romances and am particularly drawn to those featuring Waterloo or its aftermath. I enjoyed the research, and I learned a great deal. I should add that my version of the fate of the Princes in the Tower tweaks history to suit my story. I actually think there’s a very good chance those boys lived into the reign of Henry VII, who followed their uncle Richard on the throne.
Nancy’s “shameless hucksterism” prompted her to point out that The Herald of Day is free starting April 28 and for a couple more days thereafter (whether or not you’re in Kindle Unlimited) to celebrate the release of The Steel Rose. If you’re not reading this on April 28, 2021, just be sure to check the price before you commit!
Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up to become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance.
She has written freelance articles and taught at the college level. Her most popular course was on science fiction, fantasy, and society. She has also given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s Richard III. Reviewers have described her books as melding fantasy, romance, and suspense. Library Journal gave her debut novel, Renegade, a starred review, calling it “genre fiction at its best.”
In addition to the historical fantasy Boar King’s Honor trilogy, Nancy writes the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances, the Arachnid Files romantic suspense novellas, and the Lethal Webs romantic spy adventures. With Jeanne Adams, she co-writes the Outcast Station science fiction mysteries.
Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.
Nancy’s social media links:
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