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Interview with Sarah Dahl: Monk

 I’m delighted to welcome Sarah Dahl back to my site to enjoy a cuppa and a chat about her latest historical romance (with spice); Monk.

Why not grab a slice of cake and join is?

What inspired you to write your book?

It has never been clearer than in this case: “Monk” was created out of mild frustration and the question “What if?”. There’s this scene in the first series of History Channel’s Vikings where Ragnar brings home an attractive young monk, Athelstan, who makes the couple curious. They enter his room and ask him to join them in bed. The audience doesn’t get to know if that is a test of Ragnar’s, to check if the “new man in the house” will be a threat to his marriage. Or if they just want to have their own version of fun with the man of God who seems so stressed out by their love-making. We know the Vikings had a very relaxed attitude towards phyical aspects, including sex. The scenario is not too far-fetched. But: in the series, the monk shies away. The atmosphere is sizzling and tense, you literally hold your breath before he answers “no, I can’t” – although you see his eyes and body saying the opposite. That didn’t leave my mind. I wondered if the producers were shying away from his “yes” out of realistic thinking or just Hollywood-esk prudery. We couldn’t know then how the monk’s answer would affect the coming plotlines.

But from that day I pondered the question “What if the monk had said yes? He wanted to. The temptation was too much, he was overwhelmed. He was close to a “yes”. But was it realistic? I thought: Heck, I can do this. I’ll write what would have happened, and make it just as sizzling …

So I did my very own version of a monk being seduced by his Viking captors.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know?

In this case: see above. I bluntly admit to stealing the main characters’ basics from the series, then made them my own people in my own story and setting. I go very much deeper into their minds and world views. All three, Yngvarr, his wife Runa, and the monk Alistair, are very vivid and accessible on several levels. So concerning your question:

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I went bold and brave with this one, and made it three points of view. Which is a first, for such a relatively short piece. This way, readers can dive into every character separately and feel with them, make it a tight and direct experience. Eliminate the guessing and questions. You can’t do that with TV-series’ characters, whose feelings and thoughts are guess-work after all. But in “Monk” I play with the three views and how the actions unfolding affect every one of the three – and ultimately change them.

Yes, it’s carnal, but also: very emotional, a revelation, a turmoil, life-changing. All three of them hand themselves over to the situation and come out differently, not having anticipated what this “game” would do to them. So maybe I modelled my characters after what inspired me, but I very much made them my own material and went deep with them. Through their shy monk –  despite him being very much at their mercy – my Vikings are suddenly not so fierce and confident anymore 😉

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

This is especially funny for “Monk”. I’m quite solid concerning Viking research and reality and am very aware of staying realistic and true to the period in every detail. To then be extra-sure I always give the stories to my researcher-friend, John, who then double-checks for any flaws that distort the reality of the era. I was very sure that by now I’m firm enough, and he won’t find anything major, but then came the discussion of “the rope”, haha. He said no sane Viking would just cut the rope that lay around the captives neck. They used iron collars, for one, and then would never cut a valuable rope when freeing the slave. It would be a strange act to destroy the thing. My problem was that the Viking should scare the monk a little with the swift movement of the knife, make him flinch and graze his Adam’s apple; make him aware that he is, from now on, at their mercy. It should break the confident gaze of the captive and display the mortal danger he is in. There’s so much to that brief moment! But could that work with iron collars the Viking would have to fiddle with? Would him forcing these open in slow motion have the same effect for monk and readers as a fast-moved knife? Surely not. My monk would have impatiently rolled his eyes at some point, haha. So: even though my researcher was right, technically, I overruled his verdict and stuck with my fast and threatening knife-movement. I needed to shock the monk, not bore him to death before the real action had even started 😉

Links:

Author homepage and buy links: https://sarah-dahl.com/book/monk

Publisher Pronoun with buy links: https://books.pronoun.com/sarahdahl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16341241.Sarah_Dahl

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sarahdahl13

Twitter: @sarahdahl13

Bio:

Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. Her author page is: sarah-dahl.com 

***

Many thanks Sarah for dropping by today hun. Good luck with your new story.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


13 years and counting: a rethink and a retreat

Over the past few weeks I have been very busy rethinking how I run my writing life.

I have been working as a professional author for 13 years this month- unlucky for some perhaps. I will be honest- it has felt pretty unlucky at times this year. A great many changes have assailed me over recent months, and it has taken some serious thought as to how to keep going – or even if I should keep going.

However, thanks to my family, my incredible friends, a great deal of writerly advice, and an amazing weekend at the Scotswrite17 conference in Glasgow, I can now see a way forward- and normal service will be resumed very soon.

When I say normal service, what I actually mean is normal-ish. I have decided that I will no longer be working 14 hour days , with only 10 days holiday a year, and only weekend mornings off work during the week. No more than 10 hours a day will be worked from now on (yes- I know- that won’t always happen- but my intentions are good), no work on a Saturday, and I will take at least 2 weeks off a yr. Luxury!!!

I need to take more walks- have more adventures- see more people- and as a result- I will have more stories to write about later.

As many of you know, I have recently started a new business with my lovely friend Alison Knight – this being an entrepreneur type is hard work, but very rewarding. Our creative writing workshop business, Imagine, has taken off in ways we never imagined (pun intended!) I never dreamt I’d be teaching dementia sufferers how to write stories- nor that I’d have to turn people away from my classes because the tickets were sold out and there was no more room to sit. I feel honoured to say the least.

This change of focus, away from writing 3 novels a year, down to writing one and a half novels and teaching, has done me a lot of good already. And that is just the start of the changes afoot.

Those of you who have kindly been following my work for some years, will know that my career began at Kay Jaybee (over 18’s erotica). For the time being, Kay Jaybee is having a writing break. All her old work is being re-edited, revamped and- over the next two years- will reappear looking all lovely and shiny, ready for a brand new readership.

My Jennifer Ash side meanwhile, is beginning to gather pace. I am currently awaiting the republication of The Outlaw’s Ransom– and the brand new publication of The Winter Outlaw– watch this space…At the moment neither volume is available- but it won’t be long until they are. I am also doing some other work as Jennifer…but for now my lips are sealed on that..

So that leaves Jenny…All of Jenny’s books are still available- so if you fancy a Cornish romance or a coffee shop adventure, then I’m your girl! I am working on a new novel as Jenny- which is a little different…again I will simply tease you by saying, I’ll keep you informed…

All these teasers…So what can I tell you?

Well..Imagine is proud to present its first writing retreat! Fancy escaping onto Exmoor next March to write, dream, chat writing, maybe take a class or two, and meet guest speaker, Kate Griffin (writer of brilliant Victorian crime mysteries for Faber Faber), and generally enjoy chill out time? Then book your place soon to take advantage of our 10% off Early bird discount!

All details for the Northmoor Manor retreat can be found here- Imagine

I can also tell you that I am travelling the country doing more writer talks- so if you want to book a writer talk or a workshop- just let me know and I’ll see what I can do! I can be contacted via imaginecreativewriting@gmail.com

Fleet street photographer Richard Lappas had no idea what he was getting into – K Y Eden, Tracey Norman, myself (with P J Reed taking this pic)

I have been lucky enough to become a member of the Exeter Author Association- and so far I’ve had many adventures! Today’s author photo shoot was so much fun- I’m still giggling. I was balanced on a very precarious bridge for some time…just prior to hugging a very lichen cover tree…photos soon! The next Exeter Author Event is the Bampton Charter festival on 26th October – Bampton, Devon. Do come along and see us selling our books, reading, running mini workshops, and generally making folk smile.

Having listed all that – and forgive the indulgence- it has helped me get things straight in my own head- I’d better go and get on with it all. I’ve only worked 9 hours today , so not breaking my own rules just yet!

Perhaps my thirteenth year in the business isn’t so bad after all…

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 


New Cover: The Outlaw’s Ransom

To my surprise and delight I have a new cover for The Outlaw’s Ransom!

Check it out. I rather love it.

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom on Kindle via all good online retailers- including-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475660907&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

 https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475660990&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash 

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 from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

A few nice words from my readers…

I first read this story when it appeared in a lesser form as a ‘story within a story’. (Romancing Robin Hood)
I have really enjoyed reading the expanded version – complete with historical references.
Mathilda is kidnapped by local highborn landowners/outlaws as a way of ensuring her family repay a loan. Too clever for her own good she soon realises that they wish to use her to pass messages to another family – who would ever think to question a young lady, but is very quickly embroiled in the murder of a local business man….A very cleverly written medieval who dunnit.” 

“Jennifer’s research is clear and gives the story a well developed sense of time and place, always key for me. Looking forward to her next full length novel”

“Can’t wait to read Mathilda’s next adventure.”

***

Mathilda will carry on her adventure’s in The Winter Outlaw. Sadly – although it was due to be published in November this year- for reasons beyond anyone’s control, it won’t now be published until May 2018. Hang in there though…cos the Winter oUtlaw is coming….

Happy reading,

Jennifer/Jenny


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

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 use in Cornish mines and quarries.  These backgrounds, and more, have featured in my books.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from ‘Eye of the Wind.’

Her gaze was clear and candid, and a tiny frown puckered her forehead. ‘You sound different.’

He smiled briefly. ‘Not used to talking.’

‘No, I don’t mean your voice: I mean your mode of speech.’

He bent his head, clenching his teeth as tension cramped his gut. In France, speaking only Breton, his disguise a matter of life and death, it had been easy to remain in character. But here in his home county and with her… Looking up he shrugged. ‘You’re right, miss. I used to work closely with the master and I wanted to better myself. Picked up his way of talking. No offence intended.’

‘No, no, I didn’t mean – it was not a criticism, Gabriel, merely an observation. But one I should not have made.’  Embarrassment had smothered her suspicion.

Torn between relief at avoiding potential danger and anger at his carelessness, he deliberately steered the conversation away from the past.  ‘May I wish you well for tomorrow?’

She drew a deep breath then blurted, ‘I’ll be glad when it’s over.’

‘No need to be nervous. You know what you’re doing.’

‘I hope so.’ It was heartfelt, anxious. After a moment she admitted, ‘My uncles don’t share your confidence.’

‘You know why, don’t you?’  He saw concern cloud her face. ‘You are attempting something men believe can – should – only be done by another man.’ One corner of his mouth lifted in brief irony. ‘This is a severe threat to their dignity.’

She was silent then tossed her head. ‘If their dignity is so fragile it must rest on very shaky foundations.’

‘It does,’ he confided. ‘And that is a secret all men would prefer to remain hidden.’

‘Her eyes widened. ‘Really?  No, you are not serious.’

‘Indeed I am.’

Seeing his rueful smile, she gasped and blushed, covering her mouth with her fingertips. ‘You should not say such things.’

‘Perhaps. But there will be occasions when you find that knowledge helpful.’

Watching her visible struggle as she recollected herself and withdrew from his unexpected and startling candour he realized that, despite being out in society, she had not acquired the usual veneer of arch sophistication he would have expected in a young woman of her background. And found himself fiercely glad.

She cleared her throat. ‘About – about the wood…’

It was a deliberate if reluctant retreat from an intimacy he should have resisted. Gabriel knew he must let her go. He turned away and set the basket on the ground.  ‘Why don’t you take a day or two to think about it, miss?’

‘But what you said – about the other trees being more valuable. Would they really raise a lot of money quickly?’

Watching her blush deepen and her lashes flutter down as she realized how much her question revealed, Gabriel wondered just how desperate a financial crisis her father had left her to deal with.  Picking up the last stone he began tying it onto a corner of the canvas, careful not to look at her.

‘They would, miss. And with proper management these woods will still be generating income a hundred years from now.’

‘Truly?’ She sounded stunned. ‘Thank you, Gabriel. Thank you very much.’

His hands grew still as he watched her walk quickly away up the path, her long stride peculiarly graceful, self-consciousness forgotten now she had so many more important matters to occupy her.

That evening after washing himself and his filthy shirt, he shaved carefully. With no mirror he had to work by touch alone. It took a long time, and he did not dare go too close to the wound on his throat. But the honey had done its work and healing had begun. Smearing a fresh cloth with the sweet-smelling salve he bound up his throat once more. Passing a hand over his almost-smooth jaw when he had finished, he smiled. No doubt Berryman would shudder at his efforts. But not only did he feel cleaner than he had for months, he also felt ridiculously proud.

When the men assembled at midday, the overnight rain was just a memory. The sun shone from a sky the colour of cornflowers dotted with thistledown clouds. Word that Francis Tregonning was dead and his wife ill had spread like flames in a gale. All were anxious about the yard and their jobs.

Melissa rode into the yard on Samson. Wearing her black habit and a small beaver hat with narrow rolled brim over her upswept hair, she was very pale but appeared calm as she dismounted. Standing near the back, his arms folded, Gabriel watched her fasten the rein to an iron ring, her fingers trembling. Remaining here was sheer madness. If he cared now in just this short time…Was he not in enough peril?

‘Eye of the Wind’   by Jane Jackson. Accent Press 2013. £1.99.

Kindle link:  http://amzn.to/2qiGcOw

Paperback available from third party sellers.

Reviews:  ‘A first-class historical novel … coupled with a gripping story-line.’    Western Morning News.

‘Satisfying on many levels, well-written and pleasurable to read.’   Historical Novels Review.

Author bio:  Jane Jackson’s first book was published in 1976. She wrote fourteen romances for Harlequin, ten romantic historical novels, and will soon complete the eighth of her Polvellan Cornish Mysteries writing as Rachel Ennis. She has been shortlisted for five major awards.

She taught the craft of novel writing for twenty years and was delighted and privileged to see eleven former students become professional novelists.  Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall all her life finding inspiration for her books in the county’s scenery, history and people.  Her hobbies are reading, coastal walks, baking, vintage vehicle rallies – and reading.

www.janejackson.net

www.facebook.com/PolvellanCornishMysteries

Twitter: @JJacksonAuthor

***

Thanks every so much Jane. Great blog!

Come back tomorrow to discover which book Alison Rose is blowing the dust off.

Happy reading,

Jenny xxx

 


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

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 truth free them to love—or destroy all their dreams…?

 Amazon US

 Amazon UK

 Barnes & Noble

 

Bio:

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had seven books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and an eight coming in Feb 2018. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Links:

 Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

 Many thanks Rachel, fabulous stuff.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what Jane Jackson is tempting us with.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 


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