Murtairean. An Assassin’s Tale is set in a war torn medieval world where the convictions of two unlikely allies are tested. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
In this particular story in the Dál Cruinne Series, I wanted to write a character with this world’s version of a superpower, asking the questions of what would someone give to obtain the advantage, what has it really cost them, and how do they reconcile within themselves the life they lead because of that power? And of course, I threw in the unpredictability of the human heart when the chemistry called attraction is involved.
My goal as a writer was to finally commence a story that has been in my head since the mid-1990s. Long before I even contemplated being a writer. I love fantasy and wanted to try my hand at it—as so far, I have written dystopian/romance/time travel. And yes, I do tend to mix my genres. I’ll do the same with this series as the next books are an inter-world fantasy.
I enjoyed the relationship between Vygeas and Leyna and thought it was well developed. What character did you enjoy writing for?
I enjoyed writing Vygeas. I always seem to identify the most with my male protagonists. Maybe because I was a tomboy.
I loved writing the fight scenes. I used to do martial art but not much with weapons and never a sword, but I always love watching a good sword fight. Also, I’d love to ride a warhorse. And who doesn’t want a special gift that gives you the advantage over almost everyone?
Writing Vygeas’ tortured, convicted soul on the verge of great change was a journey through the darkness, looking for the light. Something I feel we all experience, and so I could identify with him, and I hope the readers do too.
And I enjoyed the way Vygeas’ taciturn personality bounced off Aiden’s talkative, open, oops-I’ve-said-too-much, honesty.
The depth of the backstory and world-building is something that was well executed. How did the idea for the world start and change as you wrote?
The fantasy world of Dál Cruinne is more like an ancient Gaelic/Celtic world than a medieval European one. Hence the Gaelic words in the title and the place names, and landscape very much like Scotland. As the series progresses the reader will find many more differences, such as how kings, their righ, and high kings, ard righ, are chosen in this world.
I didn’t purposely set out to make a non-European fantasy world, but I do feel it’s been done enough in this genre. I have a love for Scotland, its history and geography. I’m fascinated by the Celts in Britain and the history of the Gaels in Ireland. My ancestry is from both. And I love the sound of the Gaelic when it’s spoken. So, to me, an ideal fantasy world has shades of all of these—and castles of course! I took my inspiration from these cultures but haven’t based it exactly upon them.
I’m not too sure if anything changed as I wrote, as I had worked on the type of world I wanted before I began. The main thing that surprised me in the writing was the amount of magic that came out in this particular story. It probably isn’t anything like Druidic magic, but as I said, this world has shades of those cultures and isn’t a carbon copy.
Murtairean. An Assassin’s Tale is a novel in the Dal Cruinne series. Do you plan on writing more books in this series?
Murtairean. An Assassin’s Tale is sub-titled as A novel in the Dál Cruinne Series and isn’t book one as such. It is an introduction to this world and there will be other stories, which run serially (to themselves and not necessarily to Murtairean), but Murtairean is a first glimpse and, hopefully, an enticement for the reader to stick around for more. I’m sure Vygeas, Leyna and Aiden will turn up in the other stories. Lord Ciaran certainly does.
I have a duology/trilogy in the planning with the first draft of book one almost completed. The series will be Arlan’s Pledge (Arlan means pledge in the Gaelic) and the first book is Trastaidh. The Crossing. The main character, Arlan, is the son of current Ard Righ of Dál Gaedhle (the large western kingdom of Dál Cruinne), who finds himself transported to our world, to Scotland, and meets the attractive Rhiannon. Will he find his way back to Dál Cruinne, or, after spending time in Rhiannon’s comfortable western culture, does he really want to?
Leyna, a warrior woman and high-end thief, turned her back on her title of Lady Leynarve of Monsae after her parents’ murder. Bent on revenge, Leyna travels to a hit where assassins gather, intending to find and kill the one who ruined her life.
Vygeas, a mercenary and assassin, has the gift of heightened perception, enabling him to sense his opponents’ emotions and anticipate their every move. Sickened by the warmongering, Vygeas awaits execution for desertion. But he’s given one final task to win his freedom…kill a mark and avoid the gallows.
Unaware of Vygeas’ trade, Leyna hitches a ride with this handsome sell-sword with exceptional abilities. Vygeas realises he has encountered the beautiful and capable Leyna’s family before…on a previous hit.
While pursued by a powerful sorcerer-mage, they combine their skills to thwart his attempts to capture Leyna and destroy Vygeas.
Fighting their joint foes without, and battling their torments within, Vygeas and Leyna discover the truth that could destroy their newly forged relationship.
Will their past define them, or will they discover all they could be?
Murtairean: An Assassin’s Tale (Dal Cruinne Series Book One) by Jenn Lees is a fantasy story set in a medieval society with lords at war for power. Vygeas, a former assassin with the gift of heightened senses and perception, is locked in a cell in Lord Ciaran’s dungeon. Charged with desertion when he refused to kill innocents, Vygeas now faces hanging. But he is offered a stay of execution and a chance to win his freedom if he completes one final task–to kill a corrupt merchant on the Isle of Eilean. On the road to Eilean, Vygeas meets Leyna, a woman searching for the assassin who killed her parents. She is intent on exacting revenge. But when their convictions are tested, will either Vygeas or Leyna succeed in their aims?
Murtairean: An Assassin’s Tale is filled with intrigue and treachery, drawing me in from the very first page. The author’s descriptions of the setting and people painted a vivid picture of the story in my mind. I suspected early on in the story that Vygeas was the assassin who had killed Leyna’s parents, and I was interested to find out how she would react when she finally learned the truth. I don’t want to give away too much, but things are not what you expect. Leyna’s feelings are understandably confused, especially since she has come to like Vygeas and he has shown himself to be a good man deceived by lies.
Both Leyna and Vygeas are likable and sympathetic characters even though they have done bad things in their pasts and continue to walk a dark path. I enjoyed reading the interactions between Vygeas and Aiden, and the touches of humor that it added to the story.
But there were a few places where I would have liked more detail in order to fully understand the characters’ motivations. When Vygeas killed Elyse he did so because of Drostan’s threat to make her suffer a life worse than death. But I didn’t think there was enough details given to make it feel as though such a drastic action by Vygeas was truly justified. Why was he convinced that Drostan would follow through? I felt that it should have been elaborated on so that it was clear why Vygeas felt that he had no other choice. And it was never really explained why Drostan seemed to bear a personal grudge against Vygeas. Also, why would Lord Cairan bother with such as elaborate ruse to eliminate Vygeas when he could have just killed Vygeas outright? Needless to say, I was invested in the story.
The story ends on a happy-ish note, but Lord Ciaran is still a threat who must be stopped. The mention of dragons in the epilogue intrigued me. The series is definitely one I’m interested on continuing because of the intriguing characters and enthralling world.
Pages: 139 | ASIN: B07ZWQMZ4W
Saving Time follows two unlikely companions who must band together to save Scotland from a nuclear threat. What were some driving ideals behind this story’s development?
Rory is the son of Scott and Caitlin (Stolen Time: Community Chronicles Book 2) and is an emerging leader in a community of survivors founded by his parents. He is the head of his Militia team. Siobhan has grown up in the Scottish Government underground Bunker. She is a child of a scientist member of the Brains Trust, the group of specialists seconded to the Bunker when the world’s situation spiralled downwards after the Stock Market Crash forty-odd years previously. Plus, her team of scientists, technicians and Scottish Defence Force personnel.
These characters, and their respective communities, come from different worlds and have lived under the impression that their ideologies, types of governance, and lifestyles will be at odds. But they find out that they can and, indeed they must, co-operate for the safety of Scotland.
In so doing, they discover they are more aligned and alike than they had been led to believe. Those members of the teams involved, who had previous apprehensions regarding their need to co-operate, find that, with a little effort, they can. But not all are open to this, which causes more problems and threatens the success of the endeavors of the combined team.
I hoped to show that when people put their prejudices, preconceptions, and personal agendas aside they can cooperate and combine their efforts for the common good. And maybe even find something precious along the way, such as acceptance, a unity in common purpose, and even love.
Your characters are methodically and deeply developed. What is your writing process like to bring these characters to life?
I follow loosely the method of character creation outlined by Jeff Gerke in his book Plot Versus Character (2010. Writer’s Digest Books). Donkey was right, we are onions, and I develop my characters a layer at a time beginning with personality type as defined by the Myers-Briggs model. Then I work through the layers including physical appearance, back story etc. and, of course, their internal knot—their inner issue they will be forced to deal with during the course of the story.
For example, Rory is closest to an ISTJ, a sentinel type with defender/protective tendencies. He has a strong sense of responsibility and great loyalty to his family and Community. He struggles with his father’s death and is driven by the need to emulate the hero-figure status of his father. Well, I’ll let readers find out for themselves how that pans out.
What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from the first two books in the Community Chronicles?
I wanted to explore the beginnings of restoration. It is over forty years since the world descended into a dystopian chaos after The Stock Market Crash, and now a hitherto silent government is preparing to go up top and govern the country once more. The situation of a leaking nuclear war head on an abandoned submarine from a rogue state is the catalyst, but is Scotland, and indeed its underground government, ready for it?
What about those who have managed by themselves in this changed world without its leadership or intervention? How will the government diplomatically endeavour to connect with a people who have felt abandoned by them for the past forty years?
I wanted to explore the effects time travel may have on a human. Rory has made the journey to the past previously and does so again in this story. How has it changed him? Does he now have a special relationship with linear time?
Rory has a very different view of time travel than his father, Scott. Rory strongly believes the Time Machine should not be used for personal gain or manipulation and is determined it never will. His greatest fear is that the government will discover its existence.
I cannot wait to read book four in the Community Chronicles series. Where will book four pickup and when will it be available?
I’m so pleased you can’t wait to read Restoring Time. It picks up immediately from Saving Time with Rory desperate to bring Siobhan home. There is plenty of action, more time travel, and we meet once more Derrick Lloyd, from The Crash: Community Chronicles Book 1. All I will say is age has not softened him any.
I’m endeavoring to have this book published by the end of the year.
2061, forty-three years after the stock market disaster which changed the world.
Rory, Militia man and son of Caitlin and Scott Campbell, lives in a self-governed Community that exists independently from the Scottish Government.
Nuclear physicist, Siobhan Kensington-Wallace, has lived underground in the Scottish Government Bunker since the Crash. Along with the other children of the Brains Trust, she has been brought up to believe they are the elite who will bring restoration to Scotland.
Their opposing worlds collide when Rory discovers a submarine leaking radiation into a sea loch in the North Western Highlands. Forced to work together to save Scotland from annihilation, Rory and Siobhan discover more is at stake than neutralizing the current nuclear threat.
Will their attraction cause fallout of another kind…or will their allegiances divide them forever?
In her third book in the Community Chronicles series, Jenn Lees continues the adventures and perils of a world that is spinning into chaos after a major stock market crash. Set in the year 2061, Saving Time is the story of brave Scotsman and his companions who risk their lives to save Scotland from nuclear destruction. In a world where the government has deserted its people and bandits are always a threat, the story’s hero must take matters into his own hands even if that means risking a trip back in time to get the information he needs. Through her story of loyalty and betrayal, Lees shows readers the meaning of self-sacrifice for the betterment of all.
Although the book starts off a bit slow, I found the story line increasingly compelling as the book progressed. The topics of love, time travel, and impending worldly destruction that run throughout the book are ones that are likely to appeal to the reader and keep their interest. In terms of grammar, flow, and ease of reading, the book was well written and enjoyable.
I felt like the time travel part of the book was not as compelling as it could have been. It didn’t seem integral to the plot. The reasoning for traveling to the past seemed vague, especially when the information that the characters acquired from this journey was ultimately unnecessary in dealing with the nuclear threat. I thought that the surprise assistance that showed up for the ultimate resolution of the threat seemed coincidental and made the original plan seem unnecessary.
The characters were interesting and well developed. When they make their way through 21st century England, I enjoyed the outsiders perspective, but would have enjoyed a deeper contrast. Rory and Siobhan’s relationship reflects that kind of contrast and I savored the experience of watching the slow development of their characters.
Overall I thought the book was enjoyable, particularly after reaching the second half where the story really picks up speed. This would be well suited for anyone looking for post apocalyptic fiction with a time travel twist.
Pages: 255 | ASIN: B07PWYVYJC
Stolen Time is a thrilling time travel romance story following Caitlin and Scott who must survive the collapse of the world they knew. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
Inspiration for this story’s setting came from the questions ‘What if the stock market crashes but doesn’t recover? What kind of world would we have then?’ I imagined a stock market fall similar to 2008, only worse, because in this one, the world economies never recover. Jobs, wealth, businesses, homes etc are lost. Weak governments mishandle situations and the general populace revolt. Opportunists loot and terrorize. Goods are in short supply, services, such as medical care, become hard-pressed, infrastructure collapses, law and order are harder to maintain, power sources and supplies are fractured, and the world spirals down into further violence and anarchy, poverty, and disease. That is a very brief summary of world events as I imagine they may unfold. To survive, people either go underground, as some governments eventually do, or start self-sufficient communities, or roam in packs.
What if someone who had lived through this chaos came back to live it again, but this time, to mentor someone while navigating them through it?
I loved following Caitlin and Scott’s relationship and watching it develop. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in their characters?
I wanted to share the journey of a young woman who had no idea of her potential and the important influence she would eventually have on society.
We all are capable of great things but are often oblivious to the possibilities.
Caitlin was used to a life of ease, only suffering the usual ‘first-world problems’. Suddenly her comforts and securities are taken from her. How does she adapt and what inner strengths are drawn out and developed as Scott mentors her?
With the time travel element and Scott coming from a Caitlin of the future, I enjoyed (and I hope the readers do too) trying to answer the question of ‘who mentored whom?’.
I wanted to explore what true love is; to show how much one person can love another. What they would risk to be with them, even if the risk was that they didn’t fall in love with them this time. Is it possible to love someone in a different phase of their lives and, indeed, are they the same person? And how much do we really love the people we say we do? What would we do to keep them safe, even if that meant we were not?
Stolen Time is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction and romance. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I didn’t start with a particular genre in mind. I knew the questions I asked regarding a sudden, worldwide economic decline would place the story in a dystopian world, but not one of post nuclear annihilation. I was sure it would have romantic elements as the story itself started with a dream where someone was coming to take my character to safety because of the impending disaster. That sparked the question of a love interest.
But then, as happens in some stories, the characters took over and I found it hard to keep up. So yes, it was organic in its genre-crossing but most of my stories are. At present I’m working on an interworld fantasy series where the characters go back and forth from our world (present day) to a world of warriors, high kings and mages (not our world nor our history). So, it isn’t just contemporary or only fantasy. I find it difficult to write stories confined to just one genre.
This is book two in the Community Chronicles. What can readers expect in book three in the series, Saving Time?
Saving Time is mostly set in this possible-future Scotland, eight months after the future section of the Stolen Time story. Caitlin and Scott Campbell’s son, Rory (who we met in Stolen Time), is now a leader of the Invercharing Community’s Militia. We see more of the community system lifestyle. Siobhan, who has grown up in the Scottish Government’s under-ground Bunker since the crash, is a nuclear physicist who heads a team to find a solution to the problem of a radiation leak coming from a submarine in a sea loch in the far north of Scotland, near to Rory’s community. These two survivor-groups have to co-operate to save Scotland. There’s a lot more action, time travel is involved and, of course, a romance between two gutsy heroes.
Restoring Time Community Chronicles Book 4 is on the way.
When the stock market crashes, banks close, homes are repossessed, and jobs are lost as the world descends into a dystopian chaos, young Scottish nurse, Caitlin Murray cannot escape the madness. Her future had been bright, but now survival is her number-one priority.
During the ensuing violence a military-type stranger, Scott Campbell, rescues her. Caitlin is perturbed because he knows so much about her… and her apparent destiny.
Can Caitlin trust Scott who seems to be the only safe option in the violent turmoil? Should she stay with him and believe his outlandish claims of time travel and her fate as a leader in a very different world?
But is Scott telling Caitlin the whole truth?
If only she knew the future.
Stolen Time (Community Chronicles Book Two) by Jenn Lees is a time travel fiction story about a dystopian future. The book begins in the Scottish Highlands in the year 2056, then jumps back to Present Day. After the U.S. Stock Market crash, plunging the world into chaos, Scott Campbell saves Caitlin Murray from a mob, but there’s something strange about him. He acts like he knows her, and he seems to know future events. He claims that he must protect her because she’s needed for her coming role as a great leader. Caitlin thinks he’s crazy, until he proves that everything he’s said is true. Will Scott be able to keep himself and Caitlin alive amid violence and the fall of human society? Or will his act of traveling to the past change everything about the future?
This book has an interesting premise and I enjoyed reading the story. Although it is Book Two in the Community Chronicles, this story can be read without reading the first book. The Glossary of Scottish Words at the end of the book is helpful for readers unfamiliar with some of the terms used by the characters.
The author’s descriptions of the chaos and struggles for immediate survival were vivid and I could picture what Caitlin and Scott were seeing and experiencing as they escaped from Edinburgh. But then the book got bogged down a bit by a slow pace when they hid out in a cabin in the Highlands, while Scott taught Caitlin survival and fighting skills. This section did not hold my interest as well as the rest of the story, when they were in constant danger.
The portions of the story that take place in Present Day were told primarily from Caitlin’s point of view. At the beginning, I felt just as confused as Caitlin since I didn’t have a clear idea of what was going on and I didn’t know why Scott acted like he knew her when she first meets him. It is only later that he tells her the details of their relationship. Once Scott revealed their connection in the future, I would have liked to see more glimpses into his “past” with scenes from his point of view. In either case, this slow build up and reveal was intriguing and, I thought, the best part of the novel.
I liked the interactions between Caitlin and Scott, and I enjoyed the romantic element in the story, which showed a love that spanned across different timelines. As soon as I finished the story, I immediately wanted to start reading Book Three in the series, Rory’s (Caitlin and Scott’s son) story.
Pages: 280 | ISBN: 0987644807
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