I am so excited to welcome Jenny Kane (aka Jennifer Ash) to the blog this week.
With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be working in a dusty university library, translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side order of romance.
Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One in The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018). Book Two of The Folville Chronicles – The Winter Outlaw – will be released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress)
What was your favorite book as a child?
When I was very small I was mad about a book called Run, Run, Chase the Sun. I borrowed it from the library so many times I more or less owned it. It was a picture book about a chicken trying to outrun the setting of the sun.
Do you work full-time, or are you a full-time writer?
After ten years of being a part-time writer, I became a full-time writer three years ago. I split my time between writing novels under my three pen names (Jenny Kane- contemporary women’s fiction), Jennifer Ash (medieval crime), and Kay Jaybee (erotica). I also co-run a creative writing workshop business (Imagine) with fellow author, Alison Knight. Therefore, I spend a lot of time writing new workshop material to share with our students or planning writing retreats and days out. (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk )
When do you write?
I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated desk in a corner of a local café where I write every day. My routine is very strict. I start at about 7.45 am by writing or editing a chapter of my latest book. After that I work on my blogs, workshops that need writing, and teach other writers. I normally finish my writing day between 9 and 10pm each day.
Tell us about your current release. What inspired you to write it?
I have had three novels out recently- all in a row!
The first, Romancing Robin Hood, (by Jenny Kane) is a re-release of a novel I had published some time ago. I have given it a major revamp in light of the series of books it has now spawned- let me explain. Romancing Robin Hood is part modern romance and part medieval crime novel. In the modern part of the book, historian Dr Grace Harper is writing a medieval murder mystery- and that book is included within my novel.
Such was the popularity of this medieval half of Romancing Robin Hood that I decided to release it as a book in its own right. So it became The Outlaw’s Ransom (by Jennifer Ash) The Outlaw’s Ransom has just been released by Littwitz Press. It has become the first in a series of medieval crime novels called The Folville Chronicles.
Blurb- The Outlaw’s Ransom
When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.
Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most villainous men in England.
With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.
Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…
This brings me to the third of my recent releases- The Winter Outlaw- (Book Two of the Folville Chronicles) – which continues the story of Mathilda of Twyford after The Outlaw’s Ransom (or Romancing Robin Hood). So to clarify: You either read Romancing Robin Hood and then The Winter Outlaw OR The Outlaw’s Ransom and then The Winter Outlaw – they have all recently been released by Littwitz Press
If your book takes place in the past, what inspired you to write in this particular era?
The Folville Chronicles all take place in Fourteenth century England. I have been passionate about medieval history ever since I first saw an episode of Robin of Sherwood at the age of 14. I became obsessed about the period and the Robin Hood legends in particular. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the history that inspired the outlaw tale, so much so that I ended up doing a PhD on the subject when I was at university.
That research led me to a criminal family called the Folvilles. Their adventures echo many of the happenings within the Robin Hood ballads, and I’ve always wondered if they were influenced by them or perhaps even influenced the ballads original creation, an idea that I play with within The Folville Chronicles.
Who is the protagonist?
The protagonist of The Folville Chronicles is Mathilda of Twyford, a nineteen year old potter’s daughter. Mathilda first comes into contact with the felonious Folville brothers when her father is forced to give the family his daughter in return for a debt he owes them that he can’t pay back.
How do you develop your characters? Are they drawn from people you know?
When I am writing as Jenny Kane my characters are definitely drawn from real life. Dr Grace Harper in Romancing Robin Hood, Abi Carter in Abi’s House, and both Kit and Amy from Another Cup of Coffee are all based on elements of myself. Can you tell I have something of a split personality!
In fact, all of the characters in Another Cup of Coffee are based on real people. I was at university with all of them. It was great fun taking people I knew and fictionalizing them – naturally I asked their permission first.
What are you reading right now?
I am currently reading Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.
If you could give advice to a new writer starting out, what would that be?
Only write what you enjoy writing. Don’t be led by trends in writing. Never write something because you think you ought to or because you think it will earn you money. Write because you burn to do it.
Extract from The Outlaw’s Ransom-
Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.
As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.
Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.
Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.
Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…
Buy links for The Outlaw’s Ransom
(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)
All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk
Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/
Jenny Kane https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011235488766
Jenny also teaches creative writing at www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk