Emeralds and Family trees? What do they have in common? Why that would be Topaz Eyes!
My latest ancestral mystery novel is entitled, Topaz Eyes. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all about topaz, but actually it’s not. What features a LOT are emeralds.
When I started to write I had four aims in mind. First off I wanted to create a mystery. Although it would be a contemporary novel it would have a basis in history since that is my passion. It would involve a world wide search though mainly based in some of the fantastic European cities that I’ve had the pleasure to visit, and fourthly it would revolve around a complex family tree. I had already created a fairly simple family tree for my first ancestral novel – Monogamy Twist – but I wanted my Topaz Eyes tree to be much more complex, and more demanding in its design and construction.
In Topaz Eyes I decided to have a spectacular, and extremely mysterious, collection of antique jewels as the focus of a treasure hunt – whereabouts of the individual pieces almost all unknown at the beginning of the novel. At first I thought of diamonds and trawled internet jewellery shops to find really nice samples. During those searches diamonds were ditched when I saw beautiful jewellery featuring emeralds. My imagination jump-started.
Emeralds are stunningly beautiful, and green is my favourite color-so the choice was easily made. The items I saw in those internet jewellery stores cannot be shown on blogs, but they gave me fantastic ideas for description. The hue is often superb, earthy, and yet simultaneously ethereally dazzling.
What would my collection entail? There would be rings, and necklaces and bracelets and something even more mystifying and different for the reader to guess at? How many items would be sought?
I posed myself so many questions. Then I set to work. I started off with five items and chose the prototypes from internet jewellers. My next task was describing my items using the visual ideas in front of me. I couldn’t copy the items from the internet stores or they wouldn’t be my unique jewellery, but I had great fun amalgamating aspects. The collection was sketched out. (I’m a lousy artist but my drawings were sufficient for me to work on) The five items didn’t seem nearly enough since I had so many samples to work from. The amount of items grew and grew! Before I knew it my treasure hunt involved twenty items in the collection.
The gold ring which starts the treasure search going is a fantastic Mughal Snake ring with stunning emeralds as the eyes of the snake. Ideas for the novel flowed. My collection of emeralds was originally owned by a Mughal Emperor – Tiru Salana – but had fallen into the hands of Amsterdam jewellers during the nineteenth century before being secretly dispersed amongst family members in 1910. I was writing a mystery so there would be something shady about why the collection had been kept secret for decades and was spread amongst the family rather than it being kept intact.
I’m hoping at least one person reading this will now be saying to themselves – but what has that got to do with family trees?
This was the stage where my ‘planning a family tree’ skills kicked in. I’m interested in ancestry, and have made researches into my own family background, so I had an idea how a family tree needs to ‘work’. The family of Geertje Hoogeveen, a resident of Amsterdam, was conceived. To make the ages seem relevant for the present day family members to be conducting in a search, I started my tree in 1879, the point at which Geertje Hoogeveen marries and starts her family. Her children were added. And their children were added, but keeping them all in the same location sounded too ‘tame’ so I decided at this level the family would begin dispersal around Europe and the world.
Amsterdam is a city I love but I wanted to include Vienna, and Heidelberg, and the US. When I had the gist of the second generation moving from Amsterdam to other places the third generation was sketched in. World War II fitted perfectly into the planning since there were a good number of immigrants to the US at that time, and quite a move of people around Europe.
At the outset of the story my third generation cousins are all unknown to each other. I had a lot of fun, and a great tearing out of hair, as I tweaked and erased and rewrote names and dates of birth to suit. People were added to my large tree sketch and names were adjusted accordingly. Their professions, their characters and involvement in the search developed as I wrote. Dark tones crept in to the writing. Not everyone is a ‘happy camper’ during the search. I wove in a lot of mistrust, distrust, suspicion, anger, stalking, physical harassment and even murder.
Yes! There are black sheep in my Hoogeveen family tree but to find out who you have to follow the clues in the story.
Yet, for all the darker elements, there is also a developing romantic relationship between two of the main protagonists as Teun Zeger and Keira Drummond pair up to unearth the jewels. And it’s not only their love that develops. Over the course of the story different types of love is nurtured, and family loyalty grows.
Topaz Eyes finally evolved into a mystery quest for twenty items of the Tiru Salana collection plus one extra mystery item that has only a little to do with jewellery. To tell you what the piece of spectacular art work would be is an incredible spoiler, so I won’t! You really need to read Topaz Eyes to find out what the ultimate extra artwork is and which turns out to be the most unique and almost priceless item! You’ll also need to read the novel to understand why it’s named Topaz Eyes and not Emerald Eyes or some other title!
Youtube trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgPf5kTAyi4&feature=channel&list=UL
Amazon author page for all of her novels and book trailer videos: http://amzn.to/RJZzZz
An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Her husband is a great cook; just as well or they’d starve. Twice weekly she child minds her toddler granddaughter, not good days for any new writing to be done, but seeing the little one grow is precious time spent. Ancestry research is an intermittent hobby: neglecting her large garden in favour of writing is becoming the norm. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.
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. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and Crooked Cat Publishing
You can find Nancy at: