The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


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Blowing the Dust Off: Alison Rose’s Off the Record

Posted by on Aug 20th, 2017 in Blog, Contemporary fiction, Contemporary Romantic Fiction, Fiction, Imagine, Jenny Kane, Romance | 0 comments

It’s Day 7 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today my friend  and creative writing business partner, Alison Rose, is talking ‘Off the Record.’ Grab a cuppa and enjoy…   Hello everyone, I’m Alison Rose, and I’m delighted to be Jenny’s guest today in her From the Archives blog.  I met Jenny at a meeting of the Bath and North Wiltshire chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association a few years ago and we’ve been firm friends ever since.  My first book deal was with Jenny’s publisher, Accent Press, and in recent months we’ve become business partners, running Imagine Creative Writing workshops and retreats together. The book I want to share with you today is my first published novel, Off the Record.  Here’s the blurb: “This is the chance of a lifetime, so don’t blow it! Journalist Kate Armstrong has always known that music icon Johnson Brand’s platinum-selling first album was written about his break-up with her mother, Alexandra. When Kate’s boss sends her out to interview the star himself, her life is turned upside down when her resemblance to Alexandra prompts Johnson to seek out her mother and renew their relationship. Kate suddenly has a lot on her plate – coming to terms with Alexandra and Johnson’s rekindling relationship, as well as keeping the two of them out of the public eye, all the while trying to resist the advances of Johnson’s playboy son, Paul. She thinks she has everything under control, until a threatening figure from the band’s past rears its ugly head. Will love tear them all apart … again?” I was inspired to write Off the Record after watching the movie Grease on a rainy afternoon.  Off the Record actually has very little to do with the film, but watching Grease had sparked memories of the year that it came out – 1977 – when I was the English exchange student at a high school in Indiana, USA.  As I watched Grease with my teenaged daughter, I remembered the people I’d known in 1977 and wondered what they were doing now.  One of the boys had been a talented singer and that sparked my idea of a rock star. I was working for a Christian charity at the time and knew a lot of lady vicars… and so it began. I started asking ‘What if?’ and the characters and story began to form – the divorced, aging rock star; the widowed lady vicar; his record producer son; her journalist daughter.  Could the older couple have anything in common after so many years apart? Would their children be able to overcome their desire to protect their parents and their suspicion of each other? And who was causing so much trouble for them all? I loved writing Off the Record and I’m proud that it was the first of my books to be published. It was intended to be the story of love rekindled in middle age, but I couldn’t resist the call of the couple’s grown-up children, who shot sparks at each other right from the start.  So in Off the Record you get two love stories for the price of one! I guess I always wanted to be swept off my feet by a sexy rock star and so I had a lot of fun making...

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Blowing the Dust Off: Jane Jackson’s Eye of the Wind

Posted by on Aug 19th, 2017 in Blog, Fiction, Historical fiction, Jennifer Ash, Romance | 1 comment

It’s Day 6 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today the lovely Jane Jackson is reminding us about her excellent novel, Eye of the Wind. Grab a cuppa and enjoy… Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog, Jenny.  Your brief was that guests should choose one of their books published at least two years ago.  I have chosen ‘Eye of the Wind.’ I’m passionate about the characters, story and background in every book I’ve written, but this one is a special favourite.  Why?  Because Melissa and Gabriel have no choice but to keep secrets, from their families and each other.  As the attraction between them grows, this creates enormous tension which is tough for them, but makes a gripping story. As a professional writer for over four decades with thirty-two books published, I’ve learned a lot about my craft. A strong plot is important. But for me character comes first.  The characters drive the story and if they don’t grab and hold your interest, you’re not likely to read on. There are so many new books published every week all begging for your attention. One thing I learned to do (and passed on to my students when I was teaching the craft of novel writing) was give main character/s something to hide, something to protect, and something to overcome.  This gave them greater depth, made them more real, while adding tension and conflict to the story.  Something else I learned as a people-watcher –not nosiness but vital research – is that the reason someone gives for choosing a particular course of action might seem reasonable and logical. But that’s never the full story. Look deeper and you’ll see that there’s more behind it, a pay-off that gives them something they want and feel they don’t have. e.g.  Jo buys a lottery ticket every week and tells her family all the things she would do for them if she won. Taken at face value Jo’s reason for doing the lottery is so she can be generous. But her underlying motive is to control her family by making them grateful to her.  And this is because she feels unappreciated, taken for granted.  I’m not suggesting that every time you meet someone you should second-guess their actions and behaviour, but occasionally looking a bit deeper can give you some terrific ideas for aspects of character. Writers are often asked where they get their ideas from, what inspires them.  Mine come from where I live – a creek-side village close to the third largest natural harbour in the world.  Cornwall is an island within an island and has a long and varied history. When copper mining was at its height, tiny Gwennap parish was the wealthiest area in the world.  The Packet Service based in Falmouth carried mail all over the globe and brought back bullion from British-owned sugar, coffee and tobacco plantations.  News of victory against the French at Trafalgar, and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson, was carried ashore at Fish Strand Quay in Falmouth by Lt Lapenotiere, who hired a post chaise to take him to London.  The first trials of nitro-glycerine, invented by Alfred Nobel, took place at Falmouth docks.  William Bickford, a leather currier living in Truro, invented the first safety fuse for...

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Blowing the Dust Off: Rachel Brimble’s The Temptation of Laura

Posted by on Aug 18th, 2017 in Blog, Fiction, Historical fiction, Jenny Kane, Romance | 0 comments

It’s Day 5 of my Blowing the Dust Off series. Today we are in the company of the fabulous Rachel Brimble. She is taking a peck at her Victorian romance, The Temptation of Laura. Go grab a cuppa, sit down, and enjoy…   The Temptation of Laura… Despite the title of my second Victorian romance, The Temptation of Laura is not so much about the temptation of Laura herself, but the temptations life throws at her, the hero and many of the secondary characters. Temptation is all around us and more often than not, that temptation could be perceived as opportunity. It’s fear that holds us back from surrendering or resisting. The book is set against the backdrop of Bath’s theatre world during the late 19th century. There were many changes happening, socially, economically and sexually during this time. The first whispers of the women’s revolution had begun to circulate…not that many men noticed until around 1903 when The Women’s Social and Political Union was founded. The leaders and supporters of the group began to cause a stir––marching and petitioning for their right to vote. This is marked as a hugely significant and rightly respected time for women at the time. Men had no choice but to sit up and take notice when so many women banded together and refused to be ignored. This leads me to the question of temptation…I love exploring this theme and all the imaginings it conjures. Each of us is faced with temptations (or decisions) every day and I, for one, am hugely guilty of making the easy, expected, even socially acceptable decision. My books tend to be about the women who do the exact opposite. What better way to earn a living than to create a woman you admire and want to see succeed in her chosen vocation, romance or spiritually satisfying path? Laura’s story began in book one of my Victorian series with eKensington when she appeared as a secondary character in The Seduction of Emily. It wasn’t long before I knew she deserved a richer, more in-depth story of her own. As a prostitute struggling for a better life…a dreamer who longs to be onstage, I sensed Laura would be a joy to write and spend some time with over the course of 85,000 words. She didn’t let me down J Hope I’ve ‘tempted’ you to read the book!   Here’s the blurb & buy links: Laura Robinson has always been dazzled by the glamour of the stage. But perhaps acting and selling one’s favors are not so different—for Laura must feign pleasure with the men she beds to survive. Now, with her only friend at death’s door and a ruthless pimp at her heels, escaping her occupation seems impossible. Hoping to attract a gentleman, she attends the theater. Yet the man Laura captivates is no customer, but a rising star and playwright… Adam Lacey has been driven to distraction since the moment he saw Laura. She is his ideal leading lady come to irresistible life—and so much more. Certain they can make the perfect team on and off stage, he is determined to win her heart—and discover her story. But that is precisely what Laura fears. And she has no idea that Adam harbors shameful secrets of his own. Will the...

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Blowing the Dust Off: Kirsten McKenzie’s Fifteen Postcards

Posted by on Aug 17th, 2017 in Blog, Fiction, Jenny Kane | 2 comments

It’s Day 4 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today Kirsten McKenzie is taking time out from preparing for an archaeological adventure to tell us all about the fabulous novel, Fifteen Postcards. Grab a cuppa and enjoy…   Travel Back in Time Today I make the long journey from Auckland to Newcastle upon Tyne. Three different plane changes and one train trip will see me to my hotel in the centre of the city, where I suspect I shall then sleep for several hours. Why the long journey? I’m heading back to volunteer at an archaeological dig at Vindolanda, all in the name of research. When I sat down to write my first novel, I didn’t plot or plan. I had no glorious ending in sight, I had merely made a sweeping statement to my family that I would write a novel when my youngest daughter started school, and so I did. I started with this paragraph: “In a cramped little street, in a dusty corner of London, stands a set of two-storey brick facade shops. An architectural relic from last century, miraculously untouched by the bulldozers of modern developers. A greengrocer, a boutique, a gentlemen’s tailor, the ubiquitous Chinese dumpling shop, and The Old Curiosity Shop, an antique shop named after the Charles Dickens classic of the same name. The sort of shop passers-by would wonder if anyone ever went in or, indeed, whether they actually ever sold anything.” That paragraph turned in ‘Fifteen Postcards’, a historical time slip novel traversing three continents and two centuries. It took me eighteen months to write, and even then it ended on a cliffhanger as the story grew too large for just one book. A couple of months after ‘Fifteen Postcards’ was published by Accent Press, I turned up at Vindolanda for my first experience of volunteering on an archaeological site. And I fell in love. Every shovel full of dirt felt like a treasure hunt, but the sort of hunt where you all celebrate finding shards of pottery or slivers of glass. The most exciting article I found was a chair leg, beautifully preserved in the unique environment at Vindolanda. It was that experience which dictated the direction the sequel to ‘Fifteen Postcards’ would then take. ‘The Last Letter’ was written in twelve months, and may include some references to digging up Roman statues….I’m not going to spoil the plot here! Accent Press published ‘The Last Letter’ which again had an ending which nicely morphs into another sequel. So now my first novel ‘Fifteen Postcards’ has turned into a trilogy. It did that without me even realising, but time slip fiction does that to you. There are so many interesting threads of history you can weave into a storyline that you just don’t want to leave anything out. My next book wasn’t the sequel to ‘The Last Letter’. Those characters needed to have a bit of time out, to sit around and stew in colonial New Zealand, or Victorian England, or underneath the rule of the Raj in India. While those characters were resting, I wrote ‘Painted’ a bloodless horror about an art appraiser and a houseful of malevolent portraits. Again, the antique dealer side of me couldn’t resist pulling in all the antique references. ‘Painted’ took...

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Blowing the Dust Off: Marie Laval’s A Spell in Provence

Posted by on Aug 16th, 2017 in Blog, Contemporary fiction, Contemporary Romantic Fiction, Fiction, Jenny Kane, Romance | 7 comments

It’s Day 3 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today I’m welcoming fellow Accent author, Marie Laval, to my place to talk about her French romance, A Spell in Provence. Grab a cuppa and enjoy…   FINDING INSPIRATION IN PROVENCE  People often wonder how writers find ideas for their novels. Although I can find inspiration from many different places – a song, a painting, a poem, or even a road map! – I can pinpoint the exact moment when I got the idea for my contemporary romantic suspense A SPELL IN PROVENCE. A few years ago I visited the lovely town of Cassis during a family holiday in Provence. We had an impromptu picnic lunch of baguette, ham and cheese on a village square and sat next to an old stone fountain with an inscription in Latin…and that was it!      Fountains have a special place in the novel, but they are, and always were, very important in Provence. According to an old Provençal saying ‘Eici, l’aigo es d’or’, which translates by ‘Here, water is gold’ – and no wonder when you think how hot it can get in the summer and how parched the earth can be. Anyone who read the wonderful ‘Jean de Florette’ and ‘Manon des Sources’ by Marcel Pagnol, or saw the films, can remember the struggles and hardship the characters faced and their anguish of the characters when the water supply ran dry. A SPELL IN PROVENCE is set near Bonnieux in the Lubéron region of Provence, one of the many hill-top villages dotting the countryside. My heroine leaves England and buys Bellefontaine, a ‘bastide’ (an old farmhouse) she renovates and plans to open as a guesthouse….until eerie things happen and jeopardise her dream. The hero of the story, Fabien Coste, is heir to an old aristocratic family and has turned his ancestral manor house into a luxury hotel. Once again, the manor house is based on a real place – the castle in Lourmarin – but I have of course changed a few details. Another important setting in the story is the ancient village of ‘Bories’, which are stone huts dating back from the Iron Age, and which were still used as shelter by shepherds until a few years ago. You can also find isolated bories scattered in the landscape when you travel through Provence. Provence is not only a beautiful place, it also has a fascinating history – in particular ancient history – which is pivotal to my novel’s story line. Before the Greeks, and later the Romans settled there, the Salyens were the largest Gallic tribe. By the 6th century BC, their main centre was Entremont, which is located on a plateau above what is now Aix-en-Provence. There were other important centres, such as nearby Glanum. This settlement was dedicated to the Celtic god Glanis, and built around a spring known for its healing powers. The Salyens had the strange – some might say gruesome – custom of displaying the severed heads of enemies at the city gate. They left no writing but many statues of gods and warriors, some of them holding severed heads.   When researching and writing A SPELL IN PROVENCE, I loved surrounding myself with photos of hill-top villages, of old fountains and of lavender and sunflower...

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Blowing the Dust Off: Nell Peter’s By Any Other Name

Posted by on Aug 15th, 2017 in Blog, Contemporary fiction, crime, Fiction, Jenny Kane | 2 comments

It’s Day 2 of my Blowing the Dust Off series. Today we are in the company of Nell Peters (she of the end of the month blogging epics). She is taking a peak at her first crime novel By Any Other Name. Go grab a cuppa, sit down, and enjoy…   Hi Jenny – is it the end of the month already? Oh no, different gig – I’m here to waffle on about one of my backlist masterpieces! Silly me … It was on (Friday) 25th April 2014, that I received an email from Greg Rees, then an editor at Accent, telling me he’d finished the complete MS of By Any Other Name and wanted to publish it – as he read through, he’d been flabbergasted not once, but twice apparently. Go me! The offer came as a huge surprise, since when he’d liked the original three chapter submission and asked for the rest, I’d rather dismissed the possibility of things going any further – I expected to receive yet another ‘not right for our list at this time’ or ‘I just don’t love it enough’ type rejection. I’ve had enough of those to metaphorically paper a medium-sized room, although funnily enough, none for that particular book, as I’d only just finished writing it. When I say ‘just finished writing’ I mean the final two thirds of a crime novel started so long ago I can’t actually put a date on it – except that it was just after Queen Victoria died. The first third of BAON had to be rewritten too from memory, after #3 son managed to crash my PC spectacularly and send all my files spiralling into cyber space, without hope of retrieval – and I had no back-up, nada! Rookie mistake … I dipped into the rewrite now and again over the years, in between writing other stuff, and eventually got to the bit where everything had disappeared in a puff of ether. Then I had to actually start thinking how the plot would evolve and finish the thing – it actually took on a whole different outline to my original mental blueprint. However, that Friday the excitement and anticipation of publication had to take a back seat very quickly, because the following day was GD Isla-Rose’s first birthday – and she was having a big party, for which I’d promised to make a pink princess fairy castle cake, plus oodles of buffet food. I mentioned the cake making to Greg and he very helpfully sent a link to an M&S creation that would have been perfect, except for the seven day waiting period. Damn! So, into the kitchen toddled the least domesticated female since Lizzie Borden’s stepmother served up that putrefied mutton … Isla is #4 son’s (now) older daughter and he rocked up to, erm, help with the cake. By the time we’d finished many hours later, all book publication thoughts had left the building and the kitchen had suffered a snow blizzard, covered in flour and icing sugar (as were we!) But we were reasonably pleased/relieved at the result. Happy to report that of the too many people packed into their tiny house, nobody died of food poisoning from the party fodder and a good time was had by all. The next...

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Blowing the Dust Off: Laura Wilkinson’s Public Battles, Private Wars.

Posted by on Aug 14th, 2017 in Blog, Contemporary fiction, Contemporary Romantic Fiction, Fiction, Jenny Kane | 2 comments

It’s Day 1 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Over the next ten days, I’ll be hosting 10 different authors; each will tell us a little about one of their novels. Unlike my usual guests posts, they won’t be promoting a new work of fiction, but giving us a timely reminder of some of the treasures they have produced in the past. Today the lovely Laura Wilkinson is kicking off the series for us by reminding us about her excellent novel, Public Battles, Private Wars. Grab a cuppa and enjoy…   Thanks so much for inviting me to be the inaugural guest of your new series: Blowing the Dust Off, Jenny. What an honour and what a great idea for a series. Today, I’m going to talk about Public Battles, Private Wars, my ‘miners’ strike’ novel. I use quotation marks because although there was a lot of focus on the strike around publication back in 2014 (it was the 30 year anniversary of the dispute), in truth the conflict forms the backdrop – it’s primarily a story about love and friendship – of both the toxic variety and the genuine, wonderful kind. It’s worth pointing out here that the novel is just 99p for Kindle at the moment – as is Redemption Song, for a limited time. Like a lot of writers I’m neither a fully-paid-up member of the planner nor pantster clubs; I fall somewhere in between. I begin any story with a clear(ish) vision of the story arc, with a beginning and a sense of where I’d like my characters to end up. Research is done on the hoof, as and when I feel the need. Lazy? Maybe. But it works for me and research can become a distraction, something which gets in the way of writing. A master of displacement activity, I had to remind myself of this constantly while working on Public Battles, Private Wars, for there is stacks of information on the subject. The novel is set against the backdrop of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike and there is a wealth of writing on the subject, though surprisingly little fiction (I found only three novels back in 2012 when I began writing) and genuine poverty when it comes to fictional representations of women’s role in the struggle. The origins of this novel lie in a photograph I came across on the internet while researching another story idea set in the 80s – a story that has since gone on to become my latest novel – Skin Deep. It was an image of a group of women marching down a suburban street; women who looked powerful, in control, purposeful; not hapless victims of a political struggle to smash the unions led by a woman in Westminster. I am old enough to recall this landmark strike in modern history and as a former steel worker’s daughter I have some understanding of strife and hardship as a result of strike and redundancy (Thatcher crushed the steel industry before turning on coal), but I’m not from a mining community, I wasn’t a political animal as a girl, though my mother and sister were. If I was to do the story, and the real women of the conflict, justice, I needed to do some research. Because I find...

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Another Cup of Coffee: Amy’s Adventure Begins

Posted by on Aug 13th, 2017 in Blog, Contemporary fiction, Contemporary Romantic Fiction, Fiction, Jenny Kane, Romance | 4 comments

Starting tomorrow, my blog will be hosting a 10 day series of posts dedicated to promoting books written at least 2 years ago. This ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series will help introduce you to some of the treasures your favourite authors have written in the past. It seemed fitting, prior to ‘Blowing the Dust Off,’ to feature a blog about my own earliest novel. Why not grab a cuppa and have a read…. Another Cup of Coffee is the story of Amy Crane’s quest to get her life back on track…and this is how her adventure begins… …It was only once she’d checked in at Aberdeen airport, her luggage safely stowed, that Amy finally stopped moving. Slumped on a bench, looking around at the people rushing by, she realised that this was the first time she’d been inactive for weeks. Once her impulsive decision to go home to England had been made, she’d barely stopped for a break in the haste to work her notice period, sort out the ending of the lease on her rented flat, and arrange somewhere to stay in London. Now that stillness was about to be forced upon her, Amy had to face the reality of what she’d done by throwing in a good job and a nice flat for no job and a rented room in a shared house in London that she’d never even seen. ‘I need coffee,’ she muttered to herself. Hoisting her tatty fabric handbag higher onto her shoulder in a bracing gesture, she headed for the café located next to the departure checkpoint. Having successfully managed to purvey her order to the Chinese-speaking assistant via a mixture of words and semaphore, Amy sat down on one of the fiendishly uncomfortable steel seats. Ignoring the unsightly build-up of used cups, half-eaten meals and spilt fizzy pop, Amy briefly allowed herself to contemplate her situation. Almost instantly her nerves regrouped in her gut, and Amy decided to put off any serious thoughts about the future until she was on the plane. That way, any possible temptations to chicken out and stay in Scotland after all would no longer be an option. Major life planning could wait. For now she would just indulge in her drink and watch the world go by. Then she’d have a wander around the meagre collection of shops, and perhaps buy a book or magazine for the flight, putting reality off for a bit longer. Unable to put off the moment, Amy picked up her backpack and headed over to the departure gate. As she passed the newsagents’ her eyes landed on a copy of one magazine in particular- it had the appropriate headline, New job, New home, New life. Amy muttered the words over and over in her head like a mantra, as she purchased the magazine fate seemed to have left for her before joining the queue of people who were also turning their back on the Granite City, for to business commitments, holidays, or in her case, for ever. During the seventy-minute flight, Amy had managed to concoct enough excuses to delay any plan of action as to what to do next for a little longer. She’d examined the flight safety card thoroughly, had uncharacteristically engaged her fellow passengers in mindless conversation, and flicked through...

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The Outlaw’s Ransom: Extract

Posted by on Aug 6th, 2017 in Blog, crime, Fiction, Historical fiction, Jennifer Ash, medieval, Romance | 0 comments

This winter sees the release of the follow up novel to The Outlaw’s Ransom,;The Winter Outlaw– in the meantime, here’s a reminder of what happens in The Outlaw’s Ransom… Blurb The first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash. When craftsman’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 disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their 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 paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things… A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy. The Outlaw’s Ransom (which originally saw life as part of my contemporary fiction/medieval mystery timeslip novel, Romancing Robin Hood), is a book that’s very close to my heart.  Anyone who follows this blog will know that it is my love of all things Robin Hood which led to me researching the real life criminal gang, the Folville brothers, and considering how they might have been influenced by the outlaw ballads that would have been circulating at the time. It was interesting to be able to give, what I imagine, the Folville family’s perspective on the Robin Hood stories might be. Extract …Eustace de Folville continued, ‘You know something of us, Mathilda, from living in these parts. And, I have no doubt, my dear brother has explained to you our beliefs on maintaining our lands and beyond, keeping a weather eye on the dealings of all men in this hundred.’ Mathilda bit her tongue in an effort to remain demurely mute, trying to concentrate on what Eustace was saying and not on the unknown fate of her younger brother. ‘He has also, I believe, told you of his fascination with stories,’ Eustace gave Robert a blunt stare; leaving Mathilda to wonder whether it was his brother’s passion for the minstrels’ tales, or the fact he’d shared that belief and interest with a mere chattel, that Eustace disapproved of. ‘The balladeers have become obsessed of late with the injustices of this land. Often rightly so. Naturally the fabled Robyn Hode has become a hero. An ordinary man who breaks the law, and yet somehow remains good and faithful in the eyes of the Church, is bound to be favoured. In years past such a character’s popularity would have been unthinkable, but these days, well …’ Eustace began to pace in front of the fire, reminding Mathilda of how his brother had moved earlier, ‘Now we are empowered by the young King, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Sheriff Ingram, to keep these lands safe and well run, and by God and Our Lady we’ll do it, even if we have to sweep some capricious damned souls to an earlier hell than they were expecting...

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Carol Mcgrath’s Blog Tour: Historical Fact into Fiction and ‘The Woman in the Shadows’.

Posted by on Aug 1st, 2017 in Blog, Fiction, Historical fiction, Jennifer Ash, Jenny Kane, News | 3 comments

I’m delighted to welcome Carol McGrath today as part of her blog tour for her brand new release, The Woman in the Shadows. Over to you Carol… Historical Fact into Fiction and ‘The Woman in the Shadows’. Thank you, Jenny, for hosting the second hop on The Woman in the Shadows Blog Tour. There has always been an expectation for writers of Historical Fiction to provide the reading public with Historical Fact. In fact, the best we generally can do is provide convincing glimpses of the personalities we write, their conflicts and their world. In other words the reader often wants to accept everything written by historical novelists as ‘truth.’ I came to History very young, encouraged by television serials and novels by writers such as Jean Plaidy. I lived it and believed it all, though these writers never claimed to be Historians. We do not write the ‘truth’, nor do Historians much of the time either, but we do attempt, if we are any good, to recreate a believable historical world for the reader. We research, but we incorporate the research into the fabric of the historical lives we recreate. Our aim is to tell a good story and put flesh on the bones of history. We resurrect dead people and give them renewed life. We do not tell the ‘truth’ about these personalities, certainly not consistently, but we try to speculate in an informed way so that we come up with stories and characters that are plausible. Writing about Elizabeth Cromwell was a huge challenge, my greatest to date. Much is known about her infamous husband, Henry VIII’s minister during the 1530s who found a solution to The King’s Great Matter, engineered Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his remarriage to Anne Boleyn. Thomas Cromwell closed monasteries and lined the King’s pockets with rich pickings, and then he brought Anne Boleyn down along with a group of her devoted courtiers, including her brother. What was Elizabeth Cromwell’s marriage really like? What was marriage to such a man? Who was Elizabeth Cromwell? The events of the 1530s occur outside the remit of The Woman in the Shadows. Elizabeth Cromwell sadly died in 1529. All that is known about her is that she had been married before, had no living children from that marriage and came from a family involved in the cloth trade. We know a little about her mother, father, brother and sister. We know that she was well-off and was raised in Putney, as had been Thomas. The Cromwells owned a fulling mill, a brewery, land on which Walter Cromwell grazed sheep, a smithy and a brewery and pub. Walter Cromwell, the father, was not poor though he may well have been a drunk. Both Thomas and Elizabeth hailed from a trading middling class. To bring Elizabeth to the page, I took these scant facts and padded them out. I used my knowledge of Thomas Cromwell’s early life, researching in primary and secondary source material. He had returned to England by 1513 after a period in France, Italy and Flanders. He married Elizabeth circa 1514. They had three children by 1520. Thomas was a cloth-man and a self-taught lawyer who worked for The Merchant Adventurers. By 1518 he was involved in land transactions for Cardinal...

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