The Druid’s Portal novels by Cindy Tomamichel are intriguing dual timeline novels. One timeline explores the Druids, through their own eyes and those of the Romans. A second sees the story through the eyes of an archaeologist as finds are made, questions posed and then answered.
What attracted you to write about the Druids and Romans with the modern twist?
I studied archaeology at uni for a year, and although I never made it my profession, I continued my interest in it with digs when I could. So my main character, Janet became an archaeologist as some wish fulfilment.
Roman Britain is not an area well covered in fiction, and yet it is a time of two very different cultures clashing and then learning to live together. As an Australian, the lure of British history is also very strong. Time travel needed a device, and I settled on a magical pendant, and so Druids, ancient goddesses and the combination of modern eyes created the rest.
There is a lot of imagery involved in Druidic practices, how do you incorporate that into a fictional novel?
I spend some of the first novel seeing the Druids from the eyes of an outsider – the Roman soldier Trajan, and the modern archaeologist Janet. Daman, another archaeologist from the future, uses the Druid religion and power base to try and defeat the Romans. So the first part involves more hinting at the power of the Druids and their beliefs. The ancient language of Ogham is the language that controls time travel.
For the second novel, Ethan has been blessed by Druids, and has an affinity for trees, like the Druids of old. The knowledge Ethan has of trees, druid practices and pagan herbs is woven into the plot. The tradition of Druids caring for the Earth and it’s creatures is a powerful influence for Ethan.
Rowena is the product of a Celtic nation that defeated the Romans two centuries early, in an alternate time line. For her, the legacy of the druids is her tattoo of citizenship -a three spiral triskelion – a sacred and ancient symbol.
The preservation of Druid knowledge and traditions is a thread that runs through the series.
What type of research was required to plan your novels?
I did a lot of general British history reading in order to select the best time zone. This also covered reading a lot of archaeological reports and papers on a variety of topics- importation of food, what sorts of foods were brought to the UK and which are native, Roman soldier diets, and Vindolanda excavations. For Druid’s Portal 1, I focused on around Hadrian’s Wall. For the next one, I also researched Stonehenge and the prehistoric peoples, and the invasion.
Now I am delving into different aspects of ancient Britain and going into some interesting times and people. I try and keep up with recent excavations or discoveries.
I have a science background, and also studied archaeology for a year, and have participated in archaeological excavations in Australia, so there is a fair amount of practical knowledge that has gone into the books. I did a couple of online courses to refresh and update as well.
How did you get into writing?
Like many writers, my passion for words began with the worlds of others. Writing myself came gradually, and I was in my thirties before the idea for my first novel occurred to me. Since then, I have done NaNoWriMo, and this produces a draft novel a year, so I have quite a backlog of unpublished material.
How do you go about planning your novels?
I plan as little as possible, as I find knowing what happens lessens my excitement about the story. I have been doing NaNoWriMo (National Write a Novel in November) for some time now, and start with perhaps a few bits of dialogue, a sketchy map or a character.
For Druid’s Portal, a multi-generational time travel series, I have had to get into planning a lot more, just so all the timelines work together. So I have a number of flowcharts detailing the time travel, the location of the Arwen pendant, and several family trees. Plus all the research details that go into historical writing, and timelines of history local to the plot.
How do you balance the fact and fiction when writing this type of novel?
I am not an historian, but I do try and get the details right. I have researched so I get the types of food, clothing, way of life, and as much culture and religion as accurate as I can make it. I put in a mix of specific detail and general ‘feel’ for the time. So for me, that means I am accurate about how an incense burner discovered in a temple works (I emailed a museum to find out) but go with more modern speaking and don’t attempt more than a word or two of any dialect. A little Latin creeps in, but not much. I also ask historians or archaeologists if I am troubled by something, or read research papers on specifics.
In terms of fiction, I have a magical pendant that allows time travel (with its own strict rules relating to Druid practices) and have pretty much made up a couple of Celtic Goddesses, Arwen and Bridgette. I used certain aspects of ancient myths (three headed goddess for instance) but changed their aspects to fit the story.
I also have actual historical characters appear, Caesar for one in Druid’s Portal 2. I read his War Commentaries, and looked up some descriptions of his manner and appearance to get it as close as possible. In later books, I have iconic characters such as Boudicca featuring, and I will be trying to stay as close to what is known or conjectured about her as I can. Where nothing is known, I make the best guess that fits my story.
One of the areas that my website is looking at currently is the way that history is interpreted and presented to the general public. How do you go about deciding how to portray your characters and the events in which they become involved?
My characters are aware of the problems inherent in meddling with time – the mistakes of one character – careful as he was – will resonate through the rest of the series. So I don’t take liberties with the truth. My story needs to adapt to the facts, not the other way around.
I also try and present history as brutal as it probably was, I don’t sugarcoat the past into a golden age. My character Janet in Druid’s Portal 1 is an archaeologist, and well aware of details of life span, and takes note of injuries, and lack of things like anaesthetic and hygiene.
I am not a big fan of reading long passages where the author is telling you all they might know about say politics in the Scottish highlands six centuries ago. I do add in further reading in the back of my books, should readers want to do some more research of their own.
With ancient events, I try and present what I imagine to be the ancient viewpoint from a person from the past, and the reaction of a modern day person. I hope this balances out.
Which authors have been most influential to your own writing to date?
Authors that have a lyrical way with description always make me wish to better myself. In this I include Ray Bradbury, RE Howard and James White. I also enjoy reading poetry such as John Donne and TS Elliot for the same reason.
For pace and action, then I can’t go past Matthew Reilly, Andy McDermott, Peter O’Donnell, Michael Crichton and David Morell.
Have you got any plans for future books that are in a historical setting?
Yes – I have three more books in the Druid’s Portal series to complete. I have a series of short stories planned, based around time travel into a variety of time periods. Another with some notes made is one loosely based on my family migrating from England to Australia.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
The best way to be an author is to write – a lot! Read a lot, and not just in your genre, or writing advice books. You need to develop a feel for your own style, writing habits (we are not all plotters!) and that takes a lot of words. The advice to write a million words – first – before you consider yourself writer I think is sound. If you have the fire to write a million words, and still want to write more, then you are a writer, and hopefully have improved in the process.
Druid’s Portal series by Cindy Tomamichel.
The Druid’s Portal series is a genre blend of action, adventure, romance, time travel and magical historical fantasy. Set in Roman Britain in the Hadrian’s Wall region.
On the First Journey, travel back in time with modern day archaeologist Janet and meet Roman soldier Trajan. Described as the book the writers of Indiana Jones wanted to write, and a runner up in the Raven awards for dark fantasy.
The Second Journey is now on Amazon. Join Ethan, son of Janet and Trajan as he follows his heart into danger and an alternate history that will lead him from Hadrian’s Wall to the dark past of Stonehenge.
Available on Amazon
About the author
Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre writer. Escape the everyday with time travel action adventure novels, scifi and fantasy stories or tranquil scenes for relaxation.
Find a world where the heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.
Contact Cindy on
Amazon Author page: https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel
Blurb for Druid’s Portal: The First Journey
A portal closed for 2,000 years.
An ancient religion twisted by modern greed.
A love that crosses the centuries.
An ancient druid pendant shows archaeologist Janet visions of Roman soldier Trajan. The visions are of danger, death, and love – but are they a promise or a curse?
Her fiancé Daman hurts and abandons her before the wedding, her beloved museum is ransacked, and a robed man vanishes before her eyes. Haunted by visions of a time she knows long gone, Janet teeters on the edge of a breakdown.
In the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and 2,000 years back in time, Janet’s past and present collide. Daman has vowed to drive the invaders from the shores of Britain, and march his barbarian hordes to Rome. Trajan swears vengeance against the man who threatens both his loves – Janet and the Empire.
Time is running out – for everyone.
Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey
A love that can never be.
Ethan—latest guardian of the Arwen pendant—finds his heritage of time travel a burden he can scarcely endure. Rowena—last of the line of Daman—is a soldier in the Celtic army, forced to perform deeds that haunt her. Both tormented by visions of the other, separated by barriers of time.
A time that should not exist.
Rowena flees the catastrophic end of her time but is trapped by an ancient family pact with an evil goddess. Desperate to save her, Ethan crosses over into her timeline, where his parents never met, and Daman—their greatest enemy—rules.
The past is ruled by a man who knows the future.
Thirty days to stop a goddess taking over her body. Thirty days to save his timeline. Together they will fight their way through an altered history to the dark past of Stonehenge.
Time is running out – for everyone.
Mozaic 3D Software – The Romans