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Let’s talk about sex. Or not.

Today I’m delighted to welcome back Tom Williams to my site to talk about…well…sex actually.

Over to you Tom…

With The White Rajah having just been republished by Endeavour, I find myself thinking once again about sex. As you do.

The thing is that there is a bit of sex in The White Rajah. Hardly any. Rather less than the average romance these days and almost certainly less than today’s Daily Telegraph. It’s all very sweet, and very consensual, because although The White Rajah tells the true story of James Brooke – the man who Conrad based Lord Jim on – and it features pirates and battles and Victorian politics, there is at its heart a love story. And [spoiler alert] there are no female characters.

It turns out that there are people who still get quite agitated about this. Who knew?

Sex in books, it seems, is still a pretty contentious issue. Back in the days of obscenity trials, it was clear what you could and couldn’t write about when it came to sex. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is possibly the most famous example, but other books to run foul of the UK censor included UlyssesLolita, The Well of Lonelinessand Tropic of Cancer. Nowadays, though, we (or at least all the nice liberal London folk and the sort of people who read blogs like this) like to mock gently at the poor repressed darlings of yesteryear. Today writers can write, and readers read, pretty much whatever they want to.

Well, as Evelyn Waugh’s Mr Salter might say, ‘Up to a point, Lord Copper.’ For while my literary friends are happy to explore the “thematic explorations of the relationship between surrender and freedom, the nature and demands of love, and the spiritual aspects of sexual desire” in Pauline Reage’s Story of O (thank you Book Rags Study Guides for that gem), there are other readers out there who see the world rather differently. This is from an Amazon review of Leslie Thomas’s The Secret Army:

But we also see a country overflowing with sexual immorality. Yes, s£x [sic] did and does take place, but open oral s£x in streets or respectable married women regularly having multiple partners, even being passed from person to person? Perhaps, but surely very rarely, and not anywhere else as a regular occurrence except in Mr Thomas’ mind, I expect.

The question of how much sex is too much (or too little) is, apparently, a constant concern of publishers. One author I know, whose ‘erotic’ novella seems pretty tame, told me that her publisher had asked her to hold back on the kink, while another, writing a straightforward romance, was apparently told to include more explicit sex.

Adding homosexuality into the picture and some Amazon reviewers are ready to condemn The White Rajah out of hand:

Pity that such an excellent story should be ruined by the sexual obsessions of the author.

I think Tom Williams spoiled a great yarn by introducing a ‘gay’ element into a well known and loved adventure.

At the same time, several reviewers on other sites have complained that I shy away from explicit details. (Apparently I’m not nearly obsessed enough.)

The one disappointment I had, and why I give it three stars rather than four, is that the relationship between the narrator and Brooke is related in very timid detail.  [Goodreads review]

Nowadays the notion that characters don’t have sex and that their bedroom activities don’t affect their broader relationship is simply silly. But how much detail do we need? Even well-known ‘mainstream’ authors often seem to feel the need to describe their heroine’s enthusiastic response to the hero’s thrusting organ, though I would have thought most of us could imagine it for ourselves. At the other extreme, though, we have books that avoid explicit sex but replace it with childish innuendo that I would think many adult readers find much more embarrassing. (I’m naming no names, but I have at least one mega best-seller in mind.)

Obviously, some writers are seeking to shock or excite and, for them, this isn’t a problem. But what about romantic fiction? What about old-fashioned adventure stories? What about literary efforts like Julian Barnes’ dreary Sense of an Ending with its sad little paragraph about masturbation. (Uck!) I was going to say that it was a problem for everyone except children’s writers, but in the age of Heather Has Two Mommies, sensible children’s authors are questioning whether ignoring sex in books for children and young adults is really a good idea.

So: close the bedroom door and leave everything to the imagination? Or bring on the whips and chains and explain exactly what she means when she says that she loves him to death? I’m guessing most of us will go for somewhere in between. But where? I have a friend who was astonished by Fifty Shades because she had never imagined such things. Other friends would regard an evening with the eponymous Christian as a bit on the dull side. How can any author write a book with real characters with real lives that can satisfy all their readers without shocking any of them? And is it even worth trying?

Frankly, I’ve given up worrying about it. If a book with a gay hero is going to horrify you, I recommend my Burke series with a rather aggressively heterosexual bloke having his way with a whole series of women. (I can hear some people tutting, but he was a real person and must have possessed extraordinary charm or stamina or both.) But if you can bear the idea that one of the great heroes of Victorian Britain was almost certainly gay, then read The White Rajah, enjoy the pirates and the politics and share Brooke’s love of Borneo and its people and let the sex look after itself. It generally does.

***

Buy Link-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Rajah-Historical-Brooke-Williamson-ebook/dp/B079VK7V34

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Bio

Have you ever noticed how many authors are described as ‘reclusive’? I have a lot of sympathy for them. My feeling is that authors generally like to hide at home with their laptops or their quill pens and write stuff. If they enjoyed being in the public eye, they’d be stand-up comics or pop stars.

Nowadays, though, writers are told that their audiences want to be able to relate to them as people. I’m not entirely sure about that. If you knew me, you might not want to relate to me at all. But here in hyperspace I apparently have to tell you that I’m young and good looking and live somewhere exciting with a beautiful partner, a son who is a brain surgeon and a daughter who is a swimwear model. Then you’ll buy my book.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite true. I’m older than you can possibly imagine. (Certainly older than I ever imagined until I suddenly woke up and realised that age had snuck up on me.) I live in Richmond, which is nice and on the outskirts of London which is a truly amazing city to live in. My wife is beautiful but, more importantly, she’s a lawyer, which is handy because a household with a writer in it always needs someone who can earn decent money. My son has left home and we never got round to the daughter.

We did have a ferret, which I thought would be an appropriately writer sort of thing to have around but he  eventually got even older than me (in ferret years) and died. I’d try to say something snappy and amusing about that but we loved that ferret and snappy and amusing doesn’t quite cut it.

I street skate and ski and can dance a mean Argentine tango. I’ve spent a lot of my life writing very boring things for money (unless you’re in Customer Care, in which case ‘Dealing With Customer Complaints’ is really, really interesting). Now I’m writing for fun.

If you all buy my books, I’ll be able to finish the next ones and I’ll never have to write for the insurance industry again and that will be a good thing, yes? So you’ll not only get to read a brilliant novel but your karmic balance will move rapidly into credit.

Can I go back to being reclusive now?

***

Many thanks Tom.

An interesting perspective- and I for one, outside of erotica, agree with the sentiment that sex can get on with itself very well. Of course within erotica (and I do not count Fifty Shades as part of that genre), the attention to – shall we say ‘detail’- has to be more thorough!

Happy reading,

Jenny 


OUT NOW IN PAPERBACK: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Only yesterday I had the pleasure of announcing that The Outlaw’s Ransom was out on Kindle- today I can shout loud and proud that it is…

OUT IN PAPERBACK AS WELL

Here’s the blurb…

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 infamous 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… 

***

Here are those all important buy links-

Paperback

Kindle

(Those of you who have read Romancing Robin Hood, will already recognise The Outlaw’s Ransom. It is the same tale of Mathilda of Twyford that appears within my Jenny Kane novel. However- it has been expanded slightly, with more history added in. The story I must stress- IS THE SAME. If you want a new Mathilda story you will not have to wait long- Book Two of The Folville Chronicles- The Winter Outlaw– will be out next month.)

Happy reading,

Jennifer xxx


OUT NOW ON KINDLE: The Outlaws’ Ransom

The Outlaw’s Ransom is OUT NOW on KINDLE!!

Every single book I am lucky enough to have published means a lot to me. Writers talk about ‘putting something of themselves’ into their work – and it’s true. For the months while we are writing a story, we live it- breathe it- sweat over it- and become part of it. This book however- which will become a series of 5 novels called The Folville Chronicles– has a special place in my heart.

For a start, it was inspired by my love of the stories of Robin Hood – but it isn’t about him. It’s about a family who took crime as their way of life in the Fourteenth Century- the Folvilles. The parallels between their real lives and the stories of Robin Hood have not gone unnoticed by historians- including myself. I studied the Folvilles in depth for five years back in the 1990’s- and I knew then that they had a story worth telling.

Writing a novel about the Folville brothers was only a distant dream back then. I had never written anything other than essays and research papers- 24 years later things are rather different… I now have one or two novels under my belt. It wasn’t until I wrote Romancing Robin Hood however, that I felt brave enough to have a go at writing a medieval crime series. Something I was encouraged in by the good folk I met at the last Hooded Man Event in 2016 (A conference/event for Robin of Sherwood fans), where I was selling my earlier novels.

Here’s the blurb…

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 infamous 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… 

Those of you who have read Romancing Robin Hood, will already recognise The Outlaw’s Ransom. It is the same tale of Mathilda of Twyford that appears within my Jenny Kane novel. However- it has been expanded slightly, with more history added in. The story I must stress- IS THE SAME. If you want a new Mathilda story you will not have to wait long- Book Two of The Folville Chronicles- The Winter Outlaw– will be out next month.

***

Here is that all important KINDLE buy link-

The Outlaw’s Ransom will also be out in paperback very soon.

Happy reading,

Jen xx


Reintroducing The Outlaw’s Ransom: Coming Soon!

What better way for me to beat my flu bug blues than to announce the imminent arrival of the first story in…

The Folville Chronicles – The Outlaw’s Ransom.

Those of you who have come across my Jenny Kane novel, Romancing Robin Hood, will know that it contains a medieval murder mystery alongside a contemporary romance.

My first bookish outing as Jennifer Ash has taken the medieval part of Romancing Robin Hood and turned it into a standalone novel entitled The Outlaw’s Ransom…just check out this beautiful cover!!

Blurb

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 infamous 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…

***

Although the story of Mathilda has been updated for The Outlaw’s Ransom, if you’ve already read Romancing Robin Hood, then you will recognise this story already.

So why the new author name? Why not release The Outlaw’s Ransom as Jenny Kane?

The answer is simple- my Jennifer Ash writing is very different from my work as Jenny Kane.

Whereas Jenny Kane writes cosy Sunday afternoon contemporary fiction with a hint of romance, and a feel good factor, Jennifer Ash writes medieval mysteries with an edge of uncertainty- albeit with a hint of romance in the background!

And will there be another Jennifer Ash book?

Yes indeed. A brand new full length medieval mystery called The Winter Outlaw (Book 2 of The Folville Chronicles), will be out this April. Not only that, but a further sequel, Edward’s Outlaw (Book 3 of The Folville Chronicles), will be released at the end of 2018/early 2019. In fact, I’m writing it at this very moment!

So if crime is your thing, if you like medieval mysteries, or even if you have a soft spot for Robin Hood (whose ballads are a favourite of the main protagonists within The Outlaw’s Ransom), then why not give my Jennifer Ash persona a try?

You will be able to buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle and as a paperback in early March.

(Please note that The Outlaw’s Ransom is a re-release. It is now published by Littwitz Press- who will also publish the rest of the (brand new) Folville Chronicles.) 

If you like the sound of my Jennifer Ash work, then maybe you’d like to listen to my Robin of Sherwood audio stories. You can check them out here-

https://spitefulpuppet.com/product/the-waterford-boy/    

Mathilda’s Legacy

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer/Jenny

xx

 

 


Robin of Sherwood Audio: Special Announcement

A couple of months ago, with great excitement, I announced that I had written two audio stories for ITV’s 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood, under my medieval crime pen name of Jennifer Ash

Those of you who follow this blog will know precisely how much that opportunity would mean to me. Not only have I been a lifelong lover of all things Robin Hood, but I have spent many years researching the history behind the legend.

It is with even greater pleasure therefore, that I can let you in on a secret.

ITV and Spiteful Puppet have just confirmed that they want me to write a third episode!!

I can’t say anything else for now- except that this will be one of a new batch of Robin of Sherwood audio dramas written by authors as passionate about the show as I am!

More news soon!

***

In the meantime- here’s a reminder of my earlier episodes (NOW AVAILABLE)

The first- The Waterford Boy– has been brilliantly narrated by Judi Trott- (a.k.a Marion of Leaford). It tells the story of a simple lad, Alwin of Waterford, who has the misfortune of crossing Guy of Gisborne’s path.

Photo copyright- Kim Jones

The second story – Mathilda’s Legacy -is a slight departure from the Robin of Sherwood episodes which have been written before. Mathilda’s Legacy tells the story of how David, Earl of Huntingdon met his wife- Mathilda, third daughter to the Earl of Chester – mother to Robert of Huntingdon.

photo by Kim Jones

Narrated by the fabulous Michael Craig, (a.k.a Earl of Huntingdon), this extra story was a joy to write. Who wouldn’t want to introduce the world to Robin Hood’s mother? Oh- and there’s a pesky ‘would be’ Sheriff of Nottingham knocking about as well.

You can now buy these audio downloads- as well as 2 other amazing stories from Spiteful Puppet for only £5.99 each-

The Waterford Boy– “Robin is angered by the Sheriff’s new people tax… but his rage is nothing compared to that of Will Scarlet when he hears Alwin mutter the name, D’Marelle.  For Will and the recruiter have met before… many years ago…”

Mathilda’s Legacy– “David realised why his offspring behaved in the way he did. After all, Robert of Huntingdon was Mathilda’s son. He was her legacy.  The moment couldn’t be put off any longer. It was time to tell his son the story of how the Earl had met Robert’s mother…”

And don’t forget….

The Templar’s Promise, read by Phil Rose – “On the run and desperate for help, Brother Michael offers Robin and the outlaws the chance to secure a fortune in gold.  If Robin is to get his hands on it, he must face betrayal and an enemy who is every inch his match…”

and

The Blood That Binds, read by Nickolas Grace – “The Hooded Man will face an adversary who is playing a long game, one that will see Herne’s son fulfil a destiny and set blood against blood in more ways than one…”

***

What more could any Robin Hood fan want?

So check out Spiteful Puppet here for all the download links- https://spitefulpuppet.com/product-category/robin-of-sherwood/

Happy downloading…

Jennifer x


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