Message From The Author
INSPIRED BY CELTIC LORE,
THIS AUTHOR CRAFTS
DRUID LOVE TALES
By Amanda Woytus
Like most authors, before Joy Nash was a writer, she was a reader. Unlike most, however, before she was an author, she was an architect. Nash admits that she didn't do a
lot of writing when she was completing her degree in architecture at Notre Dame or studying abroad in Rome, but that didn't stop her from acquiring some of the tools necessary to construct a novel -- namely, a thick skin and the ability to handle criticism, the patience to work on detailed projects for long periods of time and the creativity to come up with new ideas.
What pushed her toward writing, Nash says, was a few
"crazy, wonderful and exhausting" years she spent as a stay-
at-home mom after having three children in four years. Still,
it wasn't until her youngest headed for preschool that Nash got into writing. "I wanted a world where I had complete control, because with three small children I didn't have control of anything," she says. "To my shock, I found out that fictional characters can be quite as troublesome as small children when they don't want to do what their author tells them to do."
Nash returned to work at a construction company part time after she began writing, but by then she'd "completely fallen to the writing bug and didn't want to give it up."
Her first novel, Crystal Shadows (2005, Ellora's Cave), was a fantasy romance about a crystal scientist transported to a world where crystals are magic. The heroine then gets caught in the middle of a rivalry between two wizards. Nash likes to call that book her first, second and third book, because, as she says, "I completely rewrote it at least that many times."
Nash really found her calling with her Druids of Avalon, a series of historical paranormals with Celtic themes. She envisions her characters to be the ancestors of King Arthur, and each book brings a different Arthurian legend to life in a fictitious second-century Britain.
The series, published by Love Spell, began with a prequel story, Celtic Fire (2005), followed the next year by The Grail King, which features the legend of Avalon and the Holy Grail. Deep Magic (2008) illustrated the forging of Excalibur. And Nash's November release, Silver Silence, mixes the legend of King Arthur's conception and parentage with a bit of time travel. She says readers can expect a couple of twists to the story, one that even surprised her editor.
In Silver Silence, Rhys, a wandering minstrel, has been given the job of finding people with magical talent to bring
back to Avalon. He's the only one who can find Breena after Myrddin whisks her 350 years into the future, where they witness the breakdown of their war-torn society. Breena has loved Rhys since she was a child, but Rhys refuses to be with her because he is a wanderer who lives in poor conditions, and Breena is used to a pampered life.
But the main theme of the book, according to Nash, focuses on differences of opinion between young and old. "If doing [the right thing] causes evil to take over the world, is that the right thing to do? That's the moral dilemma they're caught in," Nash says.
Young and idealistic Rhys disapproves of some of the
choices Myrddin has made to help the greater good. "The druid Myrddin's time traveling through the Lost Lands involves deep magic, a dangerous magic of the gods that humans cannot control," Nash says. "Deep magic, even when cast for good purposes, often goes wrong. Rhys's grandfather, now deceased, founder of the druid settlement on Avalon, had decreed that deep magic is forbidden."
While Rhys possesses deep magic, he uses it only in dire
circumstances, explains Nash. "Myrddin, on the other hand, seems to use deep magic frequently ... . It's only the beginning of the clash between the two druids."
Much of what happens in the Druids of Avalon comes straight from Nash's imagination, but she does a good bit of research for each book. The author first developed an interest in Celtic culture and Arthurian legend during some visits to England, starting with her honeymoon in 1985; her husband, Jim, is a big King Arthur fan. Another trip shed light on the clash between Roman and Celtic cultures.
"My inspiration for the setting/time period for my first mass-market book, Celtic Fire, came from the Roman Britain rooms at the British Museum in London," Nash says. "I was fascinated by the clash of cultures in Roman Britain between the Romans and the Celts, and how during the 500 years of Roman presence in Britain a new people with a new cultural identity was forged."
Nash also lent her Celtic expertise to the Immortals series she wrote with authors Jennifer Ashley and Robin T. Popp. The series encompassed eight paranormal romances, including an anthology, and was released from 2007 to '09.
Interestingly, the authors who worked on the Immortals lived and wrote from opposite ends of the country, with Nash in suburban Philadelphia, Ashley in Arizona and Popp in Texas. They met in person for the first time at the 2007 RT convention in Houston -- after having written book one in the series. The three formed a Yahoo group to keep in contact but only showed each other bits and pieces of what they were writing. They traded full drafts about a month before deadline.
Nash says the first round of Immortal books was tricky to write because the authors didn't want to contradict each other, but by the second round, the trio had the wrinkles ironed out. "Writing that second book wasn't so difficult because we were all comfortable with the characters and the rules of the Immortals world, and the second round of books and the novellas weren't as interdependent as the first four books," Nash says.
As with the Druids series, a trip abroad inspired parts
of her Immortals books. "In 2006, I visited Edinburgh and Inverness in Scotland, two places that appear in Immortals: The Awakening. I also toured two Scottish castles that together formed the inspiration for Kalen's castle" in that book.
Currently, Nash has no plans to go overseas. Her three children, now teenagers, will be going to college soon, so Nash says she'll just have to visit places using the Internet.
While much of her focus recently has been on her series
projects, last month Nash took part in another team project, contributing a story to Santa, Honey (Love Spell), a Christmas anthology written with Kate Angell and Sandra Hill. Her story, "Christmas Unplugged," is about a tech-savvy woman who
has to spend Christmas weekend in a remote Adirondack lodge, cut off from electricity and, most importantly, her laptop. "I think I was having a love-hate relationship with my laptop at
the time," Nash jokes.
On the horizon, readers can look forward to another new series from Nash, scheduled for release in the fall of 2010. Nash describes The Watchers as in the same vein as her Immortals books, noting that it will have Celtic elements as well.
"My characters are Nephilim, the half-human descendants of a race of cursed biblical angels known as The Watchers," she says. "Through no fault of their own, the sons carry the curse of their fathers. That promises to be a very interesting premise for a series."
It's a promise we're sure Nash will keep.
Excerpt From Silver Silence
"I am not your sister! Rhys, I lov-"
"Gods in Annwyn, Breena! Do not say it. Please."
She stared up at him. "Why not? It is the truth."
"What you want from me can never be the truth between us."
She pushed to her feet, regarding him with sober eyes. "You are shaking."
He was. He turned and paced a few steps away. His hand went to the back of his neck. He needed some space.
But her voice followed. "I understand now why you rejected me that day at my father's house. I was too young for what I asked of you. But, Rhys, that was four years ago. I'm no longer that girl. I'm a woman now."
Gods. Aye, she was a woman. A lush, tempting ...
"There's no need to push me away. I love you. I always have, and I always will. And I think you lo-"
Something snapped inside him. He spun around, stalked toward her. "Breena, stop. Before you say something you'll regret."
"No! I'll say what's in my heart.
I lov- mmph!"
He'd covered her mouth with his palm.
His other hand gripped her shoulder.
"Don't," he pleaded. "Don't."
Her eyes were huge. In the moonlight they looked gray rather than the clear blue he knew them to be. And in them ... a spark of dangerous, feminine knowledge.
Her lips parted. Her breath bathed his palm. Before he could react, before he could even think, she tasted his skin with the tip of her hot, wet tongue.
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