Happy 4th July to those who mark this as a very special day- a day for a declaration of independence. If you’re doing something special with family or friends, my best wishes for a great get-together.
I won’t be having a celebration today, though I will be having a get-together with friends since I’m out selling my books with my FOCUS Craft group (FOCUS- Festival of Crafts Unique to Scotland). However, a special celebration for me will come next Tuesday.
I’ve recently been commenting a few times on this blog (in answer to other posts) that I’ve never yet managed to go to a huge author get-together or conference, though I am heading off next week on a round trip of approximately 700 miles to go to a Crooked Cat Publishing Seminar. I’ve been to fantastic Crooked Cat author get-togethers twice before but they were for purely social reasons. They were designed so that author friends and colleagues at Crooked Cat Publishing, who normally interacted via the internet and especially on Facebook, became ‘real’ colleagues. Those party events were great fun but this time it’s down to more ‘serious’ business. Crooked Cat authors who are attending will be enjoying a day long conference/ seminar. I’m hoping to learn a lot about marketing and how to make my books sell a whole lot better than at present.
Of course, we’re also going to be doing a bit of the ‘party’ thing after the seminar is over!
We’ll see how that all pans out after next week!
The venue for this seminar is also huge draw for me. The Edinburgh meeting in 2013 was followed by London in 2014, but this 2015 venue is York, England. I absolutely love to visit York. I have many favourite places and York is definitely one of them. It’s a city that’s very dear to my heart since its origins go back to Roman times and those readers of this blog who know me, know that I’m a bit obsessed with Roman Britain.
I first visited the wonderful city of York around 1975 and came back loaded down with Brass Rubbings from the many fabulous ancient stones and tombstones. (I’m not sure if that kind of activity is still on offer since it can be incredibly damaging) Subsequent visits over the decades have seen me make return visits to the many tourist visitor centres but I also love to go to new attractions as well.
York is famous for its Roman Wall, which can still be walked along but it’s equally famous for its Viking and Medieval history. The Yorvik Centre (Viking York) has changed a little over the decades since its opening but the experience remains much the same. It’s one of those experiences where the tourist senses the sights, smells and yes almost a taste in the mouth sensation of Viking York. But York isn’t only about those time periods. A walk around York will give you an architectural experience that is indicative of all historical eras from Viking onwards to the twenty first century.
York Minster is a fantastic church to visit, even for the non-religious like me. The majestic building is equally as impressive as many churches I’ve visited in mainland Europe – the history of its construction being a fantastic read. The present building was begun around 1230 but wasn’t completed till 1472. That’s a long time but standing beneath the facade you can see just how much it was worth it.
Every time I return, I try to take in whatever is new on Roman York. I wholeheartedly agree that many tourist attractions can trivialise real historical data but I like to separate my historical research from the theatrical attractions that are designed to encourage people to enjoy history more than they otherwise would. The best of the attractions have a neat blend of good sound historical facts presented in an entertaining way.
Some visitors may not like the Roman ghost tour/walk but I found it an enjoyable experience. I don’t get bored easily if a guide is telling me useful information- though some might if they really expect ‘spooks’ to appear.
On my Roman ghost tour what was most memorable was being down in some cellars, a few levels below street level, and being told that some visitors could sense ghost horses walking alongside them. Of course what they were purportedly seeing was only the upper halves of the beasts because down to the hoof level meant it was below the cobblestone floor of the cellar we were walking on. York is a city that has been successively built upon, layer after historical layer over the two thousand years of its occupation. I’m not a ‘seer’, nor do I feel I have any such sensitivity to ghosts, but I found I my imagination was sparked sufficiently for me to feel a definite frisson when we passed through that small stone cellar. (Of course, the October chill and slight fall of snow outside might have had something to do with that!)
When I wrote Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour Series—After Whorl: Bran Reborn—I researched York back in Roman times of AD 71. Of course, there isn’t much data available since the Romans were only just invading the area around AD 71 or perhaps a little earlier, but at that time (AD 71)they built no permanent structures and left only traces of temporary encampments. My own walk along the Roman Wall was memorable but I couldn’t write about that because it wasn’t built till much later than AD 71.
What I had to do was imagine what the land around York was like back in AD 71 and describe my ‘view’ of what my characters—Brennus and Ineda—were seeing as they spied on the building of the first wooden Roman Fortress down by the River Ouse.
This link is to a post on my blog about Eboracum/ Roman York giving much more detail. http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/y-it-has-to-be-roman-york.html
I’m hoping to come back from this visit with a barrow load of useful photos – but I only have the one full day of sightseeing on Wednesday, the seminar being on Thursday. I’m also looking foward to the train trip on Tuesday and the return on Friday, because once I’m on that train carriage I’ll be doing only reading – catching up with my always full kindle pile!
What are you doing to celebrate this weekend?
Nancy Jardine writes
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