The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Book review: Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow

I was recently delighted to be asked to read and review the third book in Kate Griffin’s ‘The Kitty Peck Mysteries.

Why so excited? Well, having previously loved Book 1 (Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders) and Book 2 (Kitty Peck and The Child of Ill Fortune), I was awaiting part three of the series with plenty of anticipation.

I was not disappointed!

Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow (OUT TODAY) lives up to – and exceeds – the expectations of the first two instalments in the adventures of Kitty Peck, a young woman who has ‘Paradise’ forced upon her. In this case paradise is an inherited empire of music halls, organised crime, smuggling and protection rackets that used to be held together by her grandmother, the terrifying ‘Lady Ginger.’

Blurb-  Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow

Summer 1881: the streets of Limehouse are thick with opium… and menace. At eighteen Kitty Peck has inherited Paradise, a sprawling criminal empire on the banks of the Thames. Determined to do things differently to her fearsome grandmother, she now realises that the past casts a long and treacherous shadow. Haunted by a terrible secret and stalked by a criminal cabal intent on humiliation and destruction, Kitty must fight for the future of everyone she cares for…

***

The biggest problem I have with writing this review is my desire not to ruin either this novel, or the two that come before it, for you.

Books one and two were amongst the best Victorian crime thrillers I’ve ever read.

Kitty Peck is unique amongst its peers. It weaves a world of darkness together with a fierce lightness which shines from the loyalty of her friends- but now even those long term alliances are under threat.

As I read, I could feel Kitty’s total frustration. She can’t do what she wants to do any more- she can’t even do what she knows is the right thing to do. Kitty’s every move is tied into knots by the looming twin spectres of Paradise and her domineering- even while absent- grandmother.

Attempting to escape the guilt that has become part of Kitty’s lie- a consequence of events at the end of book two- Kitty turns to opium- but even in her drug fuelled dreams she is hit by the remaindered of what she has been forced to do to survive- and what she must do- and the price that will be paid to do it.

Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow is tense, fast paced, enthralling, and every single word is worth reading. As with books one and two, not a single sentence is wasted. Every paragraph moves the plot along at such a pace, that you will not want to put the book down once you’ve started to read it.

With the support of Peggy, Lucca, and her grandmothers Chinese bodyguards, Kitty Peck must keep Paradise going. So many people depend on Kitty for their livelihoods- without her they’d be on the streets. After all, Paradise is only one step from hell.

I have no hesitation in awarding Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow 5 stars.

Blurb for Book One-

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders– Limehouse, 1880

Dancing girls are going missing from ‘Paradise’ – the criminal manor with ruthless efficiency by the ferocious Lady Ginger. Seventeen-year-old music hall seamstress Kitty Peck finds herself reluctantly drawn into a web of blackmail, depravity and murder when The Lady devises a singular scheme to discover the truth. But as Kitty’s scandalous and terrifying act becomes the talk of London, she finds herself facing someone even more deadly and horrifying than The Lady.

Blurb for Book Two-

Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill Fortune– March 1880, Limehouse.

Kitty Peck, a spirited but vulnerable seventeen-year-old, is the reluctant heiress to Paradise, the criminal empire previously overseen by the formidable Lady Ginger. Far from the colour and camaraderie of the music hall where Kitty had been working, this newfound power brings with it isolation and uncertainty. Desperate to reconnect with Joey, her estranged brother, Kitty travels to Paris. Reunited at last, she is unable to refuse his request to take a child back to London. Within days of her return it’s clear that someone has followed them… and this someone is determined to kill the child… and anyone who stands in their way.

Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill-Fortune is a fast-paced historical mystery with breath-taking twists and turns that takes us from the decadent, bohemian world of late 19th-Century Paris to a deadly secret at the heart of the British empire.

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


End of the month blog: June bustin’ out all over

It’s that time again! Let’s buckle up for another dip into Nell Peter’s end of the month reminisces… 

Hi Jen – and everyone else!

As the month totters to a close, was it a case of June bustin’ out all over? What does that even mean? When I was weeny, hearing the Rogers and Hammerstein song from Carousel on the radio, my lurid imagination pictured a rather buxom woman wearing a too-small blouse that strained at the seams to cover her modesty. Think Donald McGill postcards, or Beryl Cook-type painted ladies. In reality, of course, the lyrics refer to an exploding renewal of life for flowers and trees, plus all other things summery. Because I’m so easily amused, I’ll stick with my childish version.

June 2017 was not exactly a fun-filled thirty days. There was the General Election, rocking up on the 8th – as someone who typically shies away from making political comment, thereafter for me it came as a huge relief not to be bombarded with so many posts from others, championing their own particular favourite in the most blinkered, patronising and dogmatic fashion. Did they really think no one else capable of cogent reasoning, to weigh up pros and cons and sensibly make up their minds how best to vote? How very dare they? I’ll have them know I’m (thankfully) not as stupid as I look.

And the spats on social media if someone had the nerve to disagree! Some exchanges were simply amusing to those munching popcorn whilst indulging in a spot of spectator sport, others downright nasty. My lovely late brother-in-law used to vote Monster Raving Loony, because he couldn’t be doing with any of the other parties – he may have had a point. And at the end of the day, it’s probably fair to say nobody got the result they wanted, except perhaps the DUP, who must have thought all their birthdays came at once. That Arlene Foster looks a bit scary!

Before all the carnage at the Polls, #3 son made a brief, last minute trip home on June 1st to attend a friend’s wedding. Sadly, the date had to be massively brought forward because the bride’s father was given a short time to live. Son landed at Heathrow from Bangkok around 6 pm, got through customs and picked up a hire car to drive to Norfolk, stopping off at #4’s en route. To repay his brother’s hospitality, he broke the toilet seat in the downstairs loo before heading on here, arriving at gone midnight – the day of the wedding.

Up bright and early (well early, anyway) he sped off for a haircut and to buy a suit, shirt, tie and shoes to wear to the nuptials (he lives rather well on expenses and has grown out of the suits hanging in his wardrobe, playing hide and seek with the moths) – oh and a new toilet seat. As ever falling on his feet, Next had clobber packages on offer so he got himself sorted in record time, then back here, 2nd shower (can tell he’s been living in a hot climate), dressed, paraded for ‘does my bum look big in this?’ scrutiny, scribbled in a card and shoved in some money – all the friends did that to fund a honeymoon. Then he was gone, to pick up mate Charlie (also home for the occasion, but only from London – amateur!), leaving detritus and much dirty washing in his wake. Oh, and the huge open suitcase obstacle in the hall, guaranteed to cripple anyone entering the front door. By ten the next day he had returned from the venue, grabbed his stuff (including clean clothes) and left for Heathrow, to fly to Bangkok-Mumbai-Jaipur – rather him than me.

The first leg was a thirteen hour flight and #3 would have been roughly halfway through when Richard, a colleague of the OH, started walking across London Bridge with his brother-in-law (his wife being abroad on business.) They were minding their own business after dinner and drinks when a white van crashed and Richard ran toward it to help – I imagine when three men wielding very serious weapons leapt out he realised he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and decided to make himself scarce. He can’t remember; possibly not a bad thing.

He does vaguely recall sitting on the pavement, thinking he’d been punched and wondering where all the blood that was pooling underneath him was coming from – and why he couldn’t breathe. When he heard shots, he thought his end had come, but a soldier on leave had other ideas, pushed him down and lay on top of him to stop profuse bleeding from stab wounds that had penetrated spleen, diaphragm and lung; interesting but effective technique that they don’t actually teach at med school. And because of that soldier’s quick thinking, and the fact that he is super-fit, Richard will make a full recovery – physically at least.

Two days after that, I heard that my long-ago American friend James (Jim) Angel had died from Lewy Body dementia, a multisystem disease which, like all forms of dementia, cruelly turns the sufferer into an empty shell, a shadow of their former self. I knew that he had been diagnosed and was receiving treatment in a specialist care facility in Portland, Oregon – last Christmas a mutual friend sent me a photo of a frail, grey-haired old man looking blankly at Santa. He wasn’t much older than me. But let me tell you about the Jim I knew and adored (in a purely platonic way!):

He was a peace-loving draft dodger (Vietnam – can’t argue with him there), living in London with his first wife (also American and a trainee nurse), working at BA Heathrow as an aeronautical scientist.

About my height (5’ 9”), he wasn’t much less around his girth and had a Brian Blessed-type voice and laugh, though cuter because of the accent – especially when he called everyone ‘shit bag’ as a term of affection. Bearded with a mass of dark, curly long hair and always dressed like a scruffy hippy, his larger than life personality belied a pretty grim childhood; his father was an alcoholic and aged eleven, Jim discovered his mum’s body in the garage of their home after she’d shot herself. One can only imagine …

We didn’t share a taste in music – he Captain Beefheart, me far more prosaic stuff, but we did go to a lot of gigs, including Pink Floyd and Elton John, which he cringed all the way through. After his wife left him, he returned to the US and while I was living in Montreal, I flew to California and spent most of one summer there. It was a brilliant time – he bought a rust bucket car for touring and we camped in forests and on beaches (so cold, even in CA!), watching seals in the Pacific Ocean and collecting beautiful driftwood, which he thought he might turn into ‘something real neat’ when he got time. We also went skinny-dipping in creeks – my first and last time, as it’s me that creeks now!

The Chinese Exhibition was on in San Francisco and we queued for hours from dawn to see it – passing the time shivering and watching the mist roll from the hills to engulf the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, listening to eerie foghorns. When the time came for my return flight, I didn’t know I’d never see him in the flesh again, although we did communicate in other ways, but not for some years now. Fly high, Jim Angel – you are free.

After living with it at close-ish quarters for more than a decade, dementia has touched me (actually, more like hit me over the head with an iron bar!) more than usual during June, after my mother was taken to hospital following an early morning fall – although couldn’t remember what happened because she, like my father, suffers from the vascular form. So, off I went to sit on trains for four hours in order to imitate Florrie Nightingale on her less impressive days. Neither of my parents have any short term memory whatsoever and refuse to leave the house – they have a team of visiting carers to ensure they are fed, watered, clean and safe, most of whom are very good, a few not so much. Lately, my father spends all his time in bed and when he’s not sleeping, he’s barking orders through the house – he seems to have regressed to childhood, when the household retained several servants. Fortunately, the OH was able to base himself in Twickenham for the nine, very long, days that I spent chez folks, disappearing to Starbucks or the library to use the internet when required. Don’t tell him, but without his company and the very late dinners we shared in the garden when all was quiet, I would have quickly overtaken certifiably insane. My ears are worn out from conversations with medics and bods from all manner of agencies, many of whom contradict the others. Mum is home and all is quiet on the western front again – for how long, your guess is as good as mine.

In 2012, along with over three thousand other hopefuls, I submitted a radio drama script to the BBC Writers’ Room hoping to have it accepted for production.

My masterpiece made it through three weedings and made the final thirty, before it fell flat on its face at the final hurdle. I’ll leave you with an excerpt – Jack and Joyce are an elderly couple with dementia, and Glenda their long-suffering daughter.

Toodles

NP

***

SCENE ONE:

INT: EARLY MORNING. KITCHEN. A WOMAN (JOYCE) IS HUMMING TUNELESSLY, WAITING FOR A KETTLE TO BOIL.

SFX: KETTLE. DISTANT TAPPING ON GLASS.

MALE (JACK) CALLING JOYCE’S NAME THROUGH GLASS.

JOYCE:                                           (REGISTERING) What on earth…? (LOUDER)

What are you doing out there, Jack? I’m making tea.

JACK:                                                   (OFF, MUFFLED THROUGH GLASS) I seem to have locked myself out, Majesty.

JOYCE:                                                You old fool. (HUFFING) Well where are the keys?

JACK:                                                   (OFF) I don’t know.

JOYCE:                                                Have you tried your dressing gown pocket?

JACK:                                                   (OFF) Erm…I’m not sure, I don’t remember.

JOYCE:                                                Well, have a look!

                                                                SFX: KEYS RATTLING THROUGH GLASS. THEN A KEY TURNING IN THE LOCK AND A DOOR OPENING.

JACK:                                                   I found them (LAUGHS) they were in my pocket all the time.

JOYCE:                                                What were you doing out in the garden anyway – you’ll catch a cold.

JACK:                                                   I went out to do something, but now I can’t remember what. Can I have a naughty, to warm me up? I don’t feel very well.

JOYCE:                                                I think I put the kettle on to make tea.

JACK:                                                   (LITTLE BOY SNIGGER) I’d rather have a naughty.

JOYCE:                                                Or did I make a pot of tea?

JACK:                                                   Is it Thursday today, Joyce?

JOYCE:                                                I don’t know – have a look at the paper.

JACK:                                                   Where is it?

JOYCE:                                                I don’t know. Shall I make tea?

JACK:                                                   Good idea, Majesty.

                                                                SFX: JOYCE OPENS THE FRIDGE. GLASS MILK BOTTLES CHINK.

JOYCE:                                                Oh dear; we do seem to have a lot of milk. Perhaps I should write a note for the milkman.

JACK:                                                   Why?

JOYCE:                                                No, you’re right – we’ll use it up, I expect. Or I’ll end up throwing it away…maybe I’ll put a note out next week.

JACK:                                                   What day is it today, Majesty?

JOYCE:                                                I don’t know – is it Friday? I’m not sure… No, it can’t be Friday because the dustmen haven’t been. Or at least I didn’t hear them.

JACK:                                                   Do the dustmen usually come on Friday?

JOYCE:                                                Yes, except over Christmas and Easter – then you never know when they’ll turn up. (TUTS) Disgraceful, when we pay so much in rates, or whatever they call them now.

JACK:                                                   Did we put the rubbish out?

JOYCE:                                                Oh yes, I expect so. That doesn’t mean to say they’ll collect it though. They don’t always – probably because you didn’t give them a big tip at Christmas.

JACK:                                                   Is it time for a naughty yet? It’s for medicinal purposes; I don’t feel very well at all. I think maybe I should have stayed in bed.

JOYCE:                                                I wonder if the dustmen have been…or if we’ll have to wait until next week…

                                                                PAUSE FOR A MOMENT.

JACK:                                                   Do you remember my friend Ralph Windsor?

JOYCE:                                                Of course I do, Jack – he was your Best Man… and he had that nice wife from Scotland.

JACK:                                                   Scotland? I don’t remember that. Have we had breakfast yet?

JOYCE:                                                I’m not sure. Would you like some toast? I think we’ve got some bread left.

JACK:                                                   I fancy fish and chips…could we have fish and chips? Do you fancy fish and chips, Majesty?

JOYCE:                                                Someone has to go out and buy fish and chips and we’re not dressed. Anyway, I’m not sure if they’re open yet; shall I do some toast?

JACK:                                                   Okay, yes please. With marmalade…no, make it honey. I like honey, don’t you? And if I could have a naughty with it, that would be very nice.

JOYCE:                                                Now, did I make the tea? Or have we drunk it already?

                                                                PAUSE FOR A MOMENT.

JACK:                                                   My friend Ralph Windsor was a jolly nice chap…very clever. Is he dead, Joyce?

JOYCE:                                                I think so. Shall I put the kettle on?

JACK:                                                   Why did he die?

JOYCE:                                                I don’t know.

JACK:                                                   Very clever boy, old Ralphie. I met him when we were seven – he’d dug a hole in the woods and when he went home for lunch I played in it. He came back and we started fighting over whose hole it was. (LAUGHS) Is he dead, now?

JOYCE:                                                Probably – I don’t think we’ve seen him for quite a while. Wasn’t his wife from Scotland?

JACK:                                                   Was she? Is she dead now? Do you know, I must be getting old because I can’t remember.

JOYCE:                                                I think she went back to Scotland…his wife. I forget her name.

                                                                SFX: TELEPHONE RINGS OFF IN THE HALLWAY, CONTINUING.

JACK:                                                   Is that someone at the door, Joyce?

JOYCE:                                                No, of course not – it’s the phone.

JACK:                                                   Who is it?

JOYCE:                                                How do I know?

PAUSE FOR A MOMENT

JACK:                                                   Aren’t you going to answer it, Joyce – I don’t feel at all well. I may have to go back to bed.

JOYCE:                                                (SIGHS) Looks like I’ll have to – I wonder who it is.

JACK:                                                   Poor old Ralphie…such a nice chap – and clever with it too. He had a very important job in the war – I remember he was on several convoys that were attacked by U-boats… (BEAT) Ralph’s father was a Regimental Sergeant Major, then a Yeoman of the Guard at the Tower – he looked magnificent when he was all dressed up in his uniform. A real gentleman…

                                                                THE PHONE STOPS RINGING.

JOYCE:                                                They’ve hung up! They didn’t wait very long…no patience at all some people…Never mind – if it’s important they’ll ring back next week.

JACK:                                                   That’s what my dear old mum used to say. I think it was her, anyway.

JOYCE:                                                There was nothing ‘dear’ about your mother – she didn’t think I was good enough to marry into her precious family…Huh! Would you like a cup of tea? I could put the kettle on.

JACK:                                                   Yes please, Majesty – unless I could have a naughty instead? I feel a bit rough – I think I should go back to bed.

JOYCE:                                                Well go back to bed, if you really think you should. I’ll make tea.

JACK:                                                   I remember meeting Ralph’s dad on the station once – he was all dressed up in his regalia. Magnificent – I felt I should salute him. Pucker gentleman, he was.

JOYCE:                                                What did you have for breakfast?

JACK:                                                   Damned if I can remember. (BEAT) Is it Monday today?

JOYCE:                                                I expect so. (BEAT) What do you fancy for lunch? (BEAT) I really must get my hair cut – I’ll make an appointment next week. (BEAT) I think I’ll get a shower now.

SCENE TWO:

INT: MID-MORNING. JOYCE HAS GONE TO ANSWER THE FRONT DOOR.

JOYCE:                                                (FROSTILY) Oh hello; it’s you, Glenda. I wasn’t expecting you – is it Saturday today?

GLENDA:                                            Yes, it’s Saturday. I tried ringing earlier – but there was no reply.

JOYCE:                                                Oh, I was probably out shopping.

GLENDA:                                            (VO) Pull the other one – you haven’t been out shopping since Elvis was breathing. (TO JOYCE) Never mind, I’m here now – shall I put the kettle on?

JOYCE:                                                What a good idea, I fancy a cup of tea. So, how are the girls? We haven’t seen them for a very long while.

GLENDA:                                            (TO JOYCE) Chloe was here in the week, Mum. She made you a nice chicken casserole. (VO) Stop wasting your breath. (TO JOYCE) They are all fine, thanks, except Claire’s a bit worried about these ‘A’ level exams she’s got coming up. If she doesn’t get the grades, she won’t get into her first choice of university so she’s panicking a bit.

JOYCE:                                                That’s nice dear – just hang your jacket on the banister and we’ll go on through to the kitchen.

SFX: COAT BEING FLUNG OVER WOOD, CARRIER BAGS RUSTLING.

JOYCE:                                                Ooh – is that something for me?

GLENDA:                                            I picked up a few bits and pieces on my way here – we’ll make up a proper shopping list in a minute, while we’re having tea. Where’s Dad?

JOYCE:                                                Oh…um…he’s around somewhere. Or maybe he went shopping.

JACK:                                                   (OFF) Is that you Glennie? I’m just up here getting dressed. I haven’t been feeling too well…

***

Another corking blog. Thanks Nell- especially for taking the time to write this wonderful piece when you’ve had such a testing month!

Great script!! You should resubmit it.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


Writer’s Block and Champagne

One of the main characters in my Another Cup of… series is a writer called Kit Lambert. When we first met Kit in Another Cup of Coffee, she was making a name for herself by writing erotica. As her career progressed Kit moved into contemporary fiction, and now she has a novel publishing contract, with all the pressures of having to produce work to tight deadlines upon her.

Another Glass Of Champagne

In the final novel of the series, Another Glass of Champagne, Kit, mum of twins, and wife to bookshop owner Phil, suddenly finds herself unable to write at all, but he can’t understand why. Surely writer’s block is something that can be easily shaken off- or is just a myth invented by those who can’t be bothered to write today…or is it?

Not even sitting at her usual table in the corner of Pickwicks Coffee House, (run by her friend Peggy) is helping the words become unstuck…

writers block

Extract

When she got back, Kit found Peggy looking thoughtful, ‘Why have you closed your work down, honey? I usually steal a read of your latest work in progress when I think you’re not looking.’ ‘I haven’t got much done today.’

Kit mumbled. ‘It’s been a mulling things over sort of a day.’ Changing the subject, she said, ‘Scott says there are some sandwiches ready for your lunch when Megan comes back through.’

‘Good, I’m starving.’

‘Are you and Megan managing alright with only two of you on the serving team? It’s already busy, but by July it’s going to be packed between eleven and two.’

‘Actually, Scott and I were talking about that over the weekend. Would your Helena fancy giving us a hand and earning some money before she heads off to university? Where is she going again?’ Flinching slightly, and hoping Peggy hadn’t noticed, Kit said, ‘She’s aiming for Bath to do Chemistry, and Thomas’s hoping to be off to Exeter. Assuming they get their grades, that is.’

‘Of course they will. What’s Thomas going to study?’

‘History.’

‘Sounds good. So, do you think Helena will want the job? It would save me a lot of bother with adverts and stuff.’

Kit nodded. She knew exactly how much time it took to go through interviews and training staff in this place, so someone who was already familiar with Pickwicks layout would be a real advantage to Peggy. ‘I’ll ask her. Helena’s bank balance could certainly do with a top-up. Goodness knows it’s time she stood on her own two feet financially.’

Megan came back into the café and Peggy got up to go and have her lunch before another influx of customers forced her to forego her only real break of the day. As an afterthought, she turned back to Kit. ‘If you’d rather your daughter wasn’t here during the day, just say. I mean, this is your office after all!’

‘I don’t mind at all. I’ll ask her this evening, assuming she comes home She seems to live at her mates’ houses these days.’

‘Making the most of seeing her friends before she heads west, I suppose.’

Peggy waved as she disappeared into the kitchen, to what Kit hoped wasn’t a tuna sandwich, before she could see the tell-tale glint of tears fighting to form at the corner of her eyes. Cross with herself for being so emotional, Kit looked at her screen. Peggy had opened a new document and typed the words You can talk to me, you know. Love Peggy xx across the top of the page.

Kit should have known that she couldn’t hide anything from Peggy. The manageress knew her habits better than anyone, having been host to them for the past decade or so. Kit didn’t even want to guess how many cups of coffee, scones, and slices of toast she’d consumed at that table in that time. Just the thought of the amount of butter she’d spread over her early morning snacks was enough to make her feel as though her hips were expanding right there on the seat.

Making her mind up to talk to Peggy soon, she picked up her mobile and sent Helena a text, telling her about the possible employment opportunity at Pickwicks. Kit wasn’t sure if she did actually want Helena around all day while she was writing. But then, she thought, I’m not exactly writing now, am I…

***

You may be thinking that Kit sounds like a real writer you’ve come across- and you’d be right. Kit and I are pretty much the same person- but with huge exaggerations into fiction of course!! For a start, I do not have twins!

The reason behind Kit’s writers block is very personal to me. I’m not going to tell you why she is suffering – it would ruin the story! However, I will say that my motive for giving Kit the problem in question was a pre-emptive strike. Perhaps it was even therapy – because I knew that I was about to go through a similar experience to Kit myself. And now- today – I can feel myself on the edge of it. (Sorry I can’t tell you what ‘it’ is, but it really would ruin things for you as a reader.) I thought that if I tackled the issue on paper via a pretend me first, it wouldn’t be so bad in reality.

Only time will tell whether my plan will work. My writing isn’t blocked at the moment- I am eating a hell of a lot of cake though…

If you want to discover if Kit manages to get to the root of her own word block, and see what else the Pickwick’s crew are up to, then you can buy Another Glass of Champagne from all good bookshops and eBook retailers, including-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/188-7813436-7626710?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane

***

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Interview with Steven. A. McKay: Robin Hood and Beyond

Today I am delighted to welcome Steven A McKay to my site for a natter. A fellow lover of myths, legends, and things historical; Steven is one of the most successful self-published authors in the UK. He also likes Robin of Sherwood…Enough said!!

So why not go and grab a drink and join us for a quick chat?

When did you first become interested in the Robin Hood legends?

Honestly, it was only when I decided to write a book about him. I have always been interested in King Arthur and I wanted to write something with a similar character and similar setting. You know: the green fields and woods of Britain with hard men drinking and fighting and loving! Bernard Cornwell had already done King Arthur so I had to look elsewhere and Robin Hood was the obvious choice. When I started researching the character I realised he, and the whole legend around him, was much richer and more interesting than I’d ever thought. It really made Wolf’s Head, and the following books, a joy to write.

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

First and foremost I had to learn about the legend. The elements that everyone knows, such as the characters and the golden arrow Robin wins in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s archery tournament. Then I had to really find out about my period (14th century in this case) because to write about a certain time you need to know the tiniest details.

Most of my research was done from books or the internet but I bought the entire Robin of Sherwood TV series on DVD and had a blast watching them. The friendship displayed by those characters, and even the actors portraying them, was a big influence on my novels.

I was very lucky to have Phil Rose, who played Friar Tuck in that show, write a foreword for one of my novellas and even read it out for the Audible version in that wonderful voice of his!

  

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

Well, as I mentioned, most people already know many of the elements of the Robin Hood legend so for those books I had certain things that had to happen. But I was able to put my own spin on the whole thing and, in general, although I have an idea for how to start and end a book, I don’t plan very far ahead. Normally I just write a few scenes and see where it takes me.
I think some people might work best by planning everything out in advance but, to me, letting a book develop organically leads to a much more dynamic, interesting read. I mean, if even the writer doesn’t know what’s coming next how can it be predictable?

Of course, that doesn’t stop people leaving reviews on Amazon saying they always knew what was coming next which is really weird since I didn’t even know myself when I was writing the books…!

You are one of the most successful self published writers I’ve come across. What would be your top three tips for a self published writer?

I think, first and foremost, you need a decent product that can stand up against the big guns in the publishing world. That means having a decent text that isn’t littered with errors, an exciting blurb, and a good cover image with – and this is hugely important for me – decent fonts. So many times I see good cover art on self-published books but the fonts are the standard ones that come free with Paint or whatever and it just looks amateurish. Hire a cover designer and an editor if you can afford it.

Second, even before you publish a book, try and find people to read it. Send them advance copies and ask them to post reviews on Amazon so as soon as it hits the virtual shelves potential buyers can find out what others thought of it.

Finally, if you’re going to run promotions such as the KDP Countdown deals, you need to tell people! There’s no point in making your book 99p for a week then complaining no one bought it – you need to tell them it’s on sale and that means using paid ads. Places like Bookbub, Freebooksy, Kindle Nation Daily etc are all worth using. I occasionally post tips about self-publishing on my website so do take a look if you’re interested.

Tell us about your latest book. What excites you the most about it?

Well, I’ve finished my Robin Hood books now – the final novella (The Abbey of Death) has actually found a publisher which is really exciting for me but it means I’ve been able to start work on an entirely new series.

This one is about a warrior-druid in post-Roman Britain and I am loving writing it. It was nice having readymade characters like Friar Tuck and Little John who I simply needed to flesh out and bring to life but this time around I’m coming up with my own creations and its strangely liberating!

The setting is really interesting to research since not much is known about 5th century Britain, especially Scotland, but most exciting for me is my main character. A six foot six, handsome, muscular druid who fights like a hero from legend, on a quest that will take him all around this great island meeting all sorts of weird and wonderful folk along the way…Honestly, it’s just huge fun to write, I’m so lucky to have a job like this.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Obviously my family but for the sake of making this a little more interesting I’ll come up with a different answer. Besides, now I think about it, why would I want to strand my wife and kids on an island just to make my own loin-cloth clad, bearded, pitiful existence more bearable?!

So…we’d need some laughter out there in the middle of nowhere and I reckon Sir Terry Pratchett would have been the ideal companion. I loved his Discworld books and it would have been great to spend time with him talking about writing and just general silliness.

 

Next we’d want some music to keep our spirits up so I’d probably pick fellow Glaswegian Angus Young of AC/DC. I’m assuming he’d have rescued a battered old acoustic guitar from the shipwreck so he’d be able to keep us entertained with folk renditions of “Thunderstruck” and “Hell or High Water”. Maybe I’d get a chance to play the guitar myself although if it came to a fight about it he’d win, even if he is just five inches tall.

 

Finally, I’d choose my own new character, the warrior-druid Bellicus. Not only would he protect the rest of us from wild animals with his martial prowess, but he’s a trained musician and spent many years learning the skills of a druid. He’d heal our wounds, talk for hours about the gods and their foibles, show me and Angus a new chord or two on the shared guitar, and give us the last rites if one of us died in a freak gardening accident.

Actually it sounds like a pretty fun place – where do I sign up?

*** 

Buy Links

viewAuthor.at/SA-McKay

Social Links

Twitter – @SA_McKay

Facebook – www.Facebook.com/RobinHoodNovel

Website with link to my mailing list and a FREE, exclusive Forest Lord story, only available to subscribers! https://stevenamckay.com/mailing-list/

 

Bio

Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. His first book, “Wolf’s Head”, came out in 2013 and was an Amazon UK top 20 bestseller. “Blood of the Wolf” is the fourth and final book in the Forest Lord series which has over 95,000 sales so far. Steven is currently working on a brand new tale set in post-Roman Britain.

***

Many thanks for taking the time out to join us today Steven. I’m very much looking forward to reading your Robin Hood stories (my Kindle is loaded and ready to go), and indeed your post Roman stories in the near future.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny (Well, I’m Jennifer really, as I have my medieval hat on today!) x 


Read in the Sunshine: Abi’s House is ONLY 99p

To make the most of this unexpected summer heat, Accent have popped Abi’s House on SALE, so you enjoy both of my Abi Carter Cornish romance novels for less than £3!!

Blurb- 

A summer read as scrumptious as its Cornish backdrop. Brilliant!’ Nicola May

Cornwall – the perfect place for new friendships, fresh hopes, and a dream house.

Newly widowed and barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives lifestyle that Luke, her late husband, had been so eager for her to live.

Abi decides to fulfill a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in Cornwall she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House.
Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories and maybe even buy a place of her own nearby?

On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, is new to the village. He soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams … but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind…

Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?

***

I love this trailer for my Cornish romance novel, Abi’s House, so I thought I’d share it with you again. YouTube link https://youtu.be/VAumWAqsp58

You can buy Abi’s House in all good bookshops and on line retailers. It is currently only 99p on Amazon Kindle

Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711175&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-2&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711343&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

 

***

And don’t forget, Abi’s Neighbour is available as well!

Photo taken by reader on holiday

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 


From Tiverton to Penzance- via Chippenham…

It’s almost the summer. In writer land that means the literary festival circuit is in full swing.

This year I’m embarking upon a mini-circuit of my own – starting in my home town of Tiverton, Devon this very week – before heading to Chippenham Literary Festival in Wiltshire on 30th June, and then turning towards the very South West of the country, and taking part in Cornwall’s Penzance Literary Festival.

It would be wonderful to meet lots of you lovely folk along the way. If you’d like to drop by and say hello, here is a run down of my schedule over the next few weeks.

On Friday 23rd of June I will be in Tiverton Library, Tiverton selling my latest novels, chatting to readers and writers, and signing any books that you wave in my direction (Make sure they’re mine- I can get a bit carried away with my biro!)

On Sunday 25th June I will be joined by my business partner, the lovely Alison Knight, to teach a writing workshop entitled ‘Who, What, Where , When.’ There are still places left- so feel free to book a seat now if you’d like to take part. (Alison also has a workshop on writing Young Adult fiction – do not miss it!!)  Tickets are available from www.tivertonlitfest.co.uk 

Then it’s off to Chippenham, Wiltshire for the second leg of my tour.

On the evening of Friday 30th June I’m joined by a star line up of romance authors, to chat about our work, writing in general, and share the joy – and peculiarities- of our working lives! There will be wine and cake – enough said!!

The following day, 1st July, Alison and I are teaching our ‘How to Write Romance’ workshop at the nearby Wiltshire History Centre. Details can be found here- www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

Leg three of my exhibition, will find me on a train from Tiverton Parkway to Penzance Literary Festival in Cornwall on 6th July. This is quite a big deal for me as I haven’t been back to Penzance since the death of my beloved grandparents.  My father was born and raised in Penzance, but I have no family in the town at all now, and it is going to be strange experience indeed being there on my own.

On 6th July, between 3-4pm I am taking part in the Local Authors panel, talking about how Cornwall inspires fiction.

On 8th July, between 10am and 1pm, I will be teaching a Life Writing workshop for beginners and new writers to the genre.

Details of both events can be found here- http://www.pzlitfest.co.uk/speaker/jenny-kane/

On the 9th July I intend to sleep – lots!!

Abi’s Neighbour and I – for that is the novel I’m touring with- would be delighted to see you on our travels!

 

Get those tickets booked (at the Chippenham event tickets are on the door), and I’ll see you soon!

Happy travels,

Jenny xx


« Previous Entries Next Entries »


The Romance Reviews
© 2017 Jenny Kane | Site Designed and Maintained by Writer Marketing Services