MEET THE OCELOTS: LORENZO and IAMO

Today marks the halfway point in the Ocelot Blog Hop. 

This interview first appeared in June 2014, under the heading Brothers in Arms.

The Ghostly Father is available to purchase here.  Ailsa’s books should be coming to Ocelot Press at some point in the future.  Believe me, they are well worth waiting for.

Whilst recently chatting over a glass or three of wine, I and fellow-author Ailsa Abraham realised that our male lead characters (Lorenzo in The Ghostly Father and Iamo in Alchemy and its sequel Shaman’s Drum) have a great deal in common.  They come from similar backgrounds, they’re both monks, and they’re both somewhat unorthodox in their outlook on life.  So we decided to get the two of them together and ask them a few questions.

Let’s start at the beginning – what made you enter a monastery in the first place?

LORENZO – I had no choice.  I was told by my father that this was what I must do, and he threatened to disown me if I did not obey him.  To say that this was a shock does not even come close to describing how I felt; he was a kind and just man, and for him to behave thus was completely out of character.  I did not find out the real reason for his actions until almost twenty years later.

IAMO – I had felt a sense of vocation from my early years and studied with the Temple while I was at university. It was a natural progression for me to take my vows as soon as I finished my studies.

Did you have a happy childhood? Had it always been your ambition/vocation?

LORENZO – My childhood was privileged.  My father was a Venetian count and we lived in a palazzo.  All our needs were taken care of by our servants.  I had one brother, three years my senior.  Sadly I never knew my mother, who had died at my birth.

It was never my ambition or vocation to enter Holy Orders.  My one desire was to become a physician.

IAMO – Not particularly. Like Lorenzo I was born into an aristocratic family but I found myself unable to take an interest in the things expected of me and I became interested in the Path very early on. I had almost no contact with my parents but adored my Nanny. It was probably through her that I found my vocation.

Were you not bothered about the vows of chastity etc that you had to take? Did you give those a lot of consideration before making your decision?

LORENZO – Having lost the love of my life before I entered the order, the vows of chastity did not cause me any problems.  I knew that I could never replace her.

IAMO – in my Order we were only required to take celibacy vows after a certain time and by then I was so set on my career as a priest that I gave it very little thought. I had never been in love and felt that the pro outweighed the con inestimably.

Once in the order, were you happy?

LORENZO – To my great surprise, yes.  I am sure this is due in no small part to the influence of Fra’ Roberto, the Father Superior who became my own “ghostly father.”  He displayed a level of kindness, sympathy, compassion and good sense which I had never anticipated of a monastic.

IAMO – Probably less so than Lorenzo. I became the assistant to the High Priestess of our Order and my responsibilities were onerous. I failed in my duties several times. Although Scribe has never said so, I think she has hinted that I was itching for adventure.

Did you ever envisage leaving the order?

LORENZO – Never.  Indeed, I did not imagine that it would even be possible.  I had always understood that the vows were for life.

IAMO – As far as my past life was concerned, I had burned my bridges. All contact with my family had been cut and they were furious that I was not going to return to give them the heir they wanted. Not having considered any other way of life, I never imagined anything else.

Did you have much of a life on the outside “in the world” before taking your vows?

LORENZO –- I was eighteen when I first entered the friary as a postulant, but for the year before that I was apprentice to an apothecary.  This is where I learned the skills which prepared me for my later tasks as herbalist and infirmarian.

IAMO – Yes. Like all privileged little boys of my class I went to prep and public school. My studies were then pursued at university because I wanted to study under Professor Oliver, so I had the life of a student with all the attendant excesses. Also, in an effort to marry me off and dissuade me from the monastic life, my mother had shoved various prospective brides at me. Yes, I think it’s fair to say I had my share of “real life”.

How did you decide on your monastic name?

LORENZO –- My real name is Sebastiano Lorenzo Matteo Giovanni Battista Da Porto.  I was always known as Sebastiano, but when I came to take my vows I was asked to choose another name because there was already a Fra’ Sebastiano in the friary.  I chose Lorenzo because it is my second given name.

IAMO – I would rather not reveal that as I have been Iamo for so long now and will stay that way. Perhaps if I just say that it is composed of my initials.

When you entered the order, what did you miss most of your earlier life?  How did you cope without it?

LORENZO – It was all so different from what I had previously known that for a long time I was not comparing like with like, so the question did not arise.  Once I had accustomed myself to the new way of life, the biggest difference was being a servant rather than a master.  But that was the way of the Franciscans – their task was to serve.

IAMO – Nothing. Oh yes, the occasional cigarette. Mostly I was very happy in the Temple.

Was there anything you were glad to leave behind when you entered the order?

LORENZO – Unhappiness.  I had just had to bid farewell to the love of my life.  And also (I am ashamed to say this), following my father’s inexplicable change of demeanour, I was glad that I should not have to have any further contact with him.

IAMO – Yes, killing. My father belongs to the “hunting, shooting, fishing” brigade and such things leave me cold. I cannot bear the taking of sentient life for no reason. I’m vegetarian and the only things I kill willingly are demons, but that is a moot point. Are they in fact “living” in the first place? I was glad to get out of a world I didn’t fit into.

From what we can gather, neither of you seem to have had much difficulty about bending the rules when it suited you.  Do you feel guilty about that?

LORENZO – I had to (as you describe it) “bend the rules” on one particular occasion – which was to help a desperate person out of a desperate situation.  I have no feelings of guilt about that – but I cannot even begin to imagine how I would feel if the outcome of my actions had been different.

IAMO – I have to agree with my brother monk here. I didn’t just bend the rules, I broke them, threw them on the ground and jumped up and down on them. I had to pay for that but no, I do not regret it for a moment because I did it for the finest of motives – love.

Thank you both, gentlemen – this has been a fasinating discussion!

This post is also available on Ailsa’s blog here.

Get Ready for Ocelot Press Characters to Spill the Beans

We’re gearing up for an exciting 10 days or so at Ocelot Press. Our character interview blog hop starts tomorrow, when each of us will interview a character from another Ocelot Press author’s novel.

Tom, from Jennifer C. Wilson’s The Last Plantagenet?, starts the line-up. Sue Barnard will be interviewing him on her blog tomorrow, 29th October.

See the graphic above for the full list of interviews and where they will be posted.

Our series of Meet the Ocelots posts last week introduced the characters and their backgrounds, but from tomorrow you’ll learn a lot more about them: what makes them tick; their hopes and fears; and the major formative events in their lives.

That’s not all: to celebrate the blog hop some of the ebooks will be at a reduced price for a short time, so snap them up while you have the chance.

Jennifer C. Wilson’s time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, is reduced to 99p.

Cathie Dunn’s historical mystery, Love Lost in Time, to be published on November 28th, is on pre-order on Amazon for 99p or equivalent. Order it now and pay nothing until it’s downloaded to your Kindle on publication day.

Other titles will be reduced during the blog hop, so visit the character interview posts to get further information on those.

You might get some other surprises!

We hope you’ll enjoy our blog hop.

Meet the Ocelots: Overture

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Meet the Ocelots series of posts. I’m completing the line-up this week by telling you a little about my novel, Overture, and about my character Frédéric Grandcourt, who’s the subject of an interview next week in our character interview blog hop. Look out for further news on that.

Continue reading “Meet the Ocelots: Overture”

Meet the Ocelots: After Whorl: Bran Reborn

Who is Bran?

It’s my turn today to introduce you to some more Ocelot Press fiction! To answer the question I need to separate the Fiction…some Historical Facts of A.D. 71…and give you an Outline of the Events that come before Bran is reborn!AWBR 1600x2560

After Whorl: Bran Reborn is Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour Saga Series, tales of my Celtic warrior clan from the Hillfort of Garrigill. Its locations cover rugged Cumbrian hill country; flatter landscapes near Eboracum (York); coastal north-west England (Deva/ Chester); and Shropshire where the fourth largest Roman city in Britain was located (Viroconium Cornoviorum/ Wroxeter).

Fiction: My clan warriors are entirely fictional characters.

Fact: 1) Garrigill, a village in Cumbria, is an ideal location for a Late Iron Age (Celtic) hillfort. 2) An Ancient Roman temporary camp was sited at the nearby town of Alston. 3) Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, as Commander of the Legio XX (a genuine historical figure who plays a large role later in the series), campaigned in the area c. A.D. 71.

AWBR locations
copyright Nancy Jardine

Fiction: In Book 1, my Garrigill warriors fight against the legions of General Cerialis and Commander Agricola at a place called Whorl.

Fact: 1) The village of Whorlton is actually in County Durham and topographically is an ideal site for a Celtic/Roman battle.  2) General Q. Petillius Cerialis, the Governor of Britannia and commander of all of the Roman Legions stationed in Britain (also a genuine historical figure) engaged in battles against the Brigantes Federation in Brigantia in approximately A.D. 71.

Fiction: During the battle at Whorl (Book 1) Garrigill warriors are killed; some are injured and some never return from the battlefield. Brennus, younger brother of main character Lorcan of Garrigill, doesn’t come home and is presumed dead! However, since I really loved creating Brennus, and since he’s such a lovely man, I couldn’t possibly let him die. Brennus becomes the main male character in Books 2 and 3, though lives for some years under the alias of… Bran of Witton.

After Whorl: Bran Reborn (Book 2) begins with Meaghan, an elderly healer, ensuring that Brennus survives the battlegrounds of Whorl but it’s a hard-won task. When thrashing around a raging temperature, Brennus imagines himself being cooled down by the cascading waters of the waterfall near the hillfort of Garrigill.

Fact: This image is a waterfall named Ashgill Force near the village of Garrigill. Ashgill Force waterfall near Garrigill

Fiction: Visibly maimed, Brennus can’t resume duties as tribal champion and instructor of the younger warriors at Garrigill. How could he with part of one hand lopped off, a dragging leg, and having lost the sight of one eye? He lets Meaghan believe his name is Bran, and as Bran he forges out a new life for himself. Brennus’ original sunny personality becomes deeply buried. Bran is dour, bitter and hard to live with! In modern terminology, the man is suffering from something akin to PTSD.

Bran dons the mantle of a spy aided by Ineda, Meaghan’s granddaughter. Their spying careers develop with ease but their romantic entanglement is sluggish! And… in the nature of a family saga, there are many pitfalls and highly dangerous encounters with the Roman invaders before a happy ending is eventually reached for both of them…but that doesn’t happen till Book 3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed creating all of my Celtic Fervour Saga characters but I have a real soft spot for my lovely Brennus of Garrigill aka Bran of Witton. I’m hoping that you’ll also join the list of other readers who enjoy his transformations!

p.s. You’ll find more details of my location choices and the historical background of events leading to A.D. 71 Brigantia on my own blog HERE.

Meet the Ocelots this Week!

We can’t believe it’s already 18 months since Ocelot Press went live. Over the next few weeks we’ll be celebrating with a series of blog posts and character interviews and there’ll be a chance to buy some of our e-books for discounted prices. So definitely watch this space.

For starters, this coming week, each of us will take over the Ocelot blog for a day to bring you information on the background, setting and salient facts of one of our books. You’ll get an insider’s view of the story behind the book – and each of them makes fascinating reading.

Continue reading “Meet the Ocelots this Week!”

Ocelot Press featured in Writing Magazine

Writing Mag piece

Here at Ocelot Press, we were excited to be featured in this month’s Writing Magazine.

And, since we sent in the photo, we have an expanded stable of Ocelot titles – we’re now up to 15 published titles, with another two coming from Cathie Dunn this year – A Highland Captive (3rd March) and Love Lost in Time. Vanessa Couchman will release the first in a historical fiction trilogy, Overture, in the late spring.

The other Ocelot authors are writing feverishly as we speak! So keep coming back to find out the latest on our ever-expanding list of titles.

See our published and forthcoming books on our Books page.

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