Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

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FREE WEEKEND: The Outlaw’s Ransom

FREE WEEKEND!!

17th – 19th June

From today until midday on Sunday, you can pick up the e-version of the first novel in The Folville Chronicles – The Outlaw’s Ransom – for FREE on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com!

(My thanks to Hello Books for their assistance with this promotion)

BLURB

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she must prove her worth in order to win her freedom. With her life in the hands of the most infamous men in England, 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…

Based on the real crimes of the Folville brothers – who operated in the Midlands of England in the 1320’s and 1330’s – The Folville Chronicles are murder mystery and crime novels – which get steadily longer and darker as each book goes on. Seen through the eyes of Mathilda of Twyford – these stories have been blessed with some fabulous reviews,  including:

I was utterly enthralled by this fabulous book. Meticulous historical detail given to the reader with a beautifully light touch. The romance is heart stopping, the action compelling. Fabulous!”  Victoria Dowd (Bestselling crime writer)

What a lovely way to spend Easter Sunday, curled up under my blanket and being whisked back in time. Mathilda is a woman who isn’t afraid to say what she thinks and reveals a truth about a mystery, knowing it may cost her dearly. I truly felt as though I was at the market with her and also felt the soreness from being on a horse. A really good tale with a happy ending. Historic books are ones I love to read and I was so glad I picked this up!” Elly Ellis (Bestselling crime writer)

If you enjoy The Outlaw’s Ransom, you can find the other 3 books in the series here –

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

I hope you enjoy this medieval crime/mystery!

Happy FREE reading,

Jennifer. x

PS – You can fine more free crime/mystery novels here – https://hellobooks.com/mystery

Opening Lines: The Outlaw’s Ransom

As I’m fresh (okay, not fresh – more like totally knackered with no voice), from the latest Hooded Man event – celebrating all things Robin of Sherwood – it seems fitting to share the opening lines from The Outlaw’s Ransom. This – the first in #TheFolvilleChronicles – was inspired by my love of the show.

 

Here’s the blurb to The Outlaw’s Ransom-

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most 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…

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle or as a paperback from-

Kindle-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519759895&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519760741&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

Paperback-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007697&sr=1-2&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)

Happy reading,

Jen xx

Let’s Focus On: Romancing Robin Hood

Let’s focus on…

Romancing Robin Hood.

Blurb

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea..

Available as a paperback or ebook from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Here are some of the lovely things my readers have had to say about Romancing Robin Hood…

“As a scholar of the Robin Hood legend, this novel is right up my street. (Watling St. – where 14th century highwaymen lurk.) The main part of the novel follows medieval historian Dr. Grace Harper . As Grace’s best friend is getting married, Grace discovers a romance of her own. But outside of academic, Grace is writing historical fiction based on the real-life 14th century crime family – The Folvilles. (Jenny Kane in her Jennifer Ash persona has spun this off element into a superb series.) Amazon.com

“I normally don’t really read romance novels but the historical part around the legends of Robin Hood made me curious. I wasn’t disappointed: loveable characters that I could identify with, funny and a very personal feeling to it. Thoroughly enjoyed it.” Amazon UK

“I had always wanted to read a Jenny Kane book. so I was thrilled to bits when I won a signed copy of Romancing Robin Hood. It was a brilliant book and I would recommend it if you are thinking of trying Jenny Kane for the first time.” Amazon UK

“I love Jenny Kane’s books and this one is no exception. Grace is such an engaging character, so in love with her hero, Robin Hood, that she almost misses the hero right under her nose. The pacey plot and sparkling dialogue held me right to the end. A recommended read for all romance lovers out there.” Amazon UK 

“As a massive fan of all things Robin Hood I was intrigued by this book. I am not a big romance fan but this story was absorbing and witty. A lovely twist on historical and fiction. I look forward to reading more by this lovely lady who I happen to of met at a Robin Hood convention.” Amazon UK

“This book had my heart from the start – how I loved Robin of Sherwood back in the 80’s!  Grace is stuck in the middle ages – well not really – but she might as well be – living, breathing, teaching and ever so slightly obsessed by one of the great British stories – Robin Hood.  I loved the idea of having the book Grace is writing in the story – I was just as keen to see this story wrapped up as I was the modern day romance…” Amazon UK

“This was one of the most original romances I’ve read. I just loved the addition of the mini medieval crime story within Grace’s quest to find a love in the modern world – a love to rival her affection for her outlaw heroes of literature and TV!” Amazon UK

“I really, really, really liked this story! In the beginning I wasn’t so sure about all the hoping back and forth from Dr Grace Harpers story to on of her own she is writing. I ended up wanting more of each. Jenny would tease us a little with one then tease us a little more with the other. Grace is a REALLY BIG Robin Hood fan and her life is revolved around him. She is supposed to be writing a textbook for her college but she is coming up with her own novel instead and of course you know what it is going to be about. One sad thing about Grace is that she compares everyman she meets to Robin. Is she ever going to find a man like him? Well she just might in this story but things do get a little hairy. How will it end you ask? Sorry I can’t tell you but I DEFINITLY recommend you read this story. Go on a little medieval journey with Grace to see what kind of Robin Hood story she comes up with. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. I received this book as a gift from the author.” Amazon UK

“…Jenny Kane must have spent so much time on her research. I loved Grace’s story. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen between her and Robert. Robert understands her love for Robin Hood and her academic passion and it was great to see her with a potential soulmate. Mathilda’s story is really good as well. There’s a bit of mystery combined with a lot of politics and some romance. It’s a great mix. I quite liked this book, it’s a fast paced story that has a few unexpected twists.” ajbookreviewclub

“Lovely engaging take on an old, old story. Terrific heroine and very intelligently written dual narrative. I loved it.” Carol McGrath

***

Don’t forget that Romancing Robin Hood contains the first of The Folville Chronicles within its pages. For it is this story – The Outlaw’s Ransom – that lead character, Grace Harper, writes within the novel.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

The Reluctant Investigator: Edward’s Outlaw

In the first two novels of the series, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw, Mathilda of Twyford, found herself thrust into situations where she had to get to the bottom of a crime simply to stay alive. However, in book three, Edward’s Outlaw, Mathilda’s reputation for solving mysteries sees her being asked to solve a murder by the sheriff…and she is in no position to say no…

Blurb

January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.

Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.

***

Mathilda has only been married to Robert de Folville for three days, and already trouble has coming knocking at door of their home; Ashby Folville manor, Leicestershire. A warrant for the brother’s arrest sends Mathilda alone into Rockingham Castle for her own safety. Under the protection of its constable, Robert de Vere, she shelters within the castle while her husband and his brothers are on the run.

Mathilda doesn’t have time to worry about Robert for long, for within only a few days a young girl is dead and the sheriff thrusts the role of detective upon her.

Why would anyone here believe her, even if she did find the killer? The word of a woman, even one who has married into one of the most notorious households in England, is not worth much without substantial evidence. And what if she gets it wrong and accuses the wrong person? Mathilda’s terrified that she might send the wrong person to the gallows.

The pressure on Mathilda to succeed becomes even greater when she begins to wonder if Agnes, the murdered maid, was the intended victim after all. The more Mathilda thinks about it, the more she sees how easy it would have been for the killer to mistake the dead girl for her…Was Mathilda the intended target after all?

Extract

Blood hammered in Mathilda’s ears. She had tracked down killers in the past, but never by appointment. The first time had been unintentional, a task she’d stumbled upon to save her father’s honour and her freedom. The second had come with an even higher price tag. The cost of failure would have been her life.

Now, these previous successes had earned her a third attempt, and Mathilda doubted she was up to the task. In Ashby Folville she had Sarah and Adam to back her up, not to mention Robert and his brothers. Here, she was alone but for Daniel, who’d already had a myriad of household duties heaped upon him.

Would her desire to find justice for Agnes, and her equally strong curiosity to uncover what was going on in the castle, be enough to solve the crime. Or crimes?

Whatever her misgivings, Mathilda’s starting point was clear. The sheriff and his associates had not yet left the castle. She wanted to talk to each of them privately. The constable had promised her the freedom of the castle while he’d had little choice but to agree, but would he continue to extend that offer once Wennesley and his comrades had gone to recommence the search for her husband.

Not sure if she was heartened or worried by Sheriff Ingram’s claim that she was unstoppable in her pursuit of felons, Mathilda wiped away the perspiration from her palms.

As she walked towards de Vere’s rooms, Mathilda forced herself to focus. Even if the arresting party remained with the constable, that didn’t mean they would be willing to answer her questions. After all, they hadn’t been there when Agnes had died, yet Mathilda couldn’t shift the uneasy feeling that it was all connected somehow. She had no logical reason for that suspicion beyond the coincidence of Isabella’s abrupt reappearance and the night-time movements of a tall, short-haired man who could have been either of the younger men on the warrant party… or someone else entirely….

***

Edwards’ Outlaw can be read as a standalone book, or as part of The Folville Chronicles.

If you’d like to read Edward’s Outlaw, – or any of The Folville Chronicles, they are available in eBook format and paperback from all good reatilers, including…

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading,

Jennifer xx

Focus on: The Winter Outlaw

Let’s focus on…

The Winter Outlaw,

Book Two of The Folville Chronicles

Blurb

1329: It is the dead of winter. The notorious Folville brothers are on edge. There are rumours of an unknown outlaw terrorising the Leicestershire countryside—a man who has designs on the Folville family’s criminal connections.

Determined to stop this usurper in his tracks, Robert Folville unearths a man hiding in one of Ashby-Folville’s sheep shelters. A steward from far-off West Markham in Nottinghamshire, the cold, hungry Adam Calvin claims he knows nothing of any threat to the Folville family. He has troubles of his own, for he is being pursued by vengeful sheriff, Edmund de Cressy, for a crime he did not commit.

Mathilda of Twyford, newly betrothed to Robert de Folville, believes Adam’s story, but with rumours about a vendetta against the family growing, the Folville brothers are suspicious of every stranger.

After an attack on the household’s trusted housekeeper, it falls to Mathilda to work out who can be trusted and who can’t… With the Folvilles’ past about to trip them up, it’s going to take a level head and extreme bravery if Mathilda and Robert are ever going to make it to their Winter Solstice wedding.

The Winter Outlaw can be read as a standalone novel or as the sequel to The Outlaw’s Ransom.

Available from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Here’s a few of the lovely things my readers have aid about The Winter Outlaw,

“Drew me right in and I couldn’t put it down. I was surprised how much bigger this book was compared to the previous one, big bonus. A captivating story that kept me on my toes until the very end.” Amazon

“So good. I await the third book.” Amazon 

‘Great read, looking forward to reading the sequel :-)’ Amazon

“Best work of historical fiction I’ve ever read” Goodreads

Focus on: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Let’s focus on: The Outlaw’s Ransom.

The first in an exciting historical crime series, set in fourteenth century England.

Book One of The Folville Chronicles

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…

Available as an ebook or paperback from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Here are just a few of the lovely reviews for Mathilda’s first story…

“Bought it last night and finished at 2am in the morning! I had already read “Romancing Robin Hood” and liked Mathilda, so I was curious what this book would be like. Many aspects of the story were already in the other book but this is a beautiful standalone and I didn’t mind rereading parts of the story. I’m glad this is a series by the looks of it and hope the next one will be out soon. I particularly like that the women are confident but still believable characters within the medieval background. No “Kardashians in costumes” but convincing dialogues and scene descriptions. Well done!” Amazon

“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.” Goodreads

“An enjoyable read with credible characters and a pacey plot. Good scene setting, I felt like I was back in medieval times. Looking forward to the next book in the series.” Amazon

“What a lovely way to spend Easter Sunday, curled up under my blanket and being whisked back in time. Mathilda is a woman who isn’t afraid to say what she thinks and reveals a truth about a mystery, knowing it may cost her dearly. I truly felt as though I was at the market with her and also felt the soreness from being on a horse. A really good tale with a happy ending. Historic books are ones I love to read and I was so glad I picked this up!” Amazon 

“I raced through The Outlaws Ransom in just a couple of sittings, it was so satisfyingly fast-paced that I found with each chapter it was a case of ‘just one more’. Mathilda is a fabulous protagonist and seemed to me to be a fitting heroine for the times. The historical accuracy and details peppered throughout the book helped the story come alive in a most enjoyable way. The Folville family is fascinating, both dastardly and multi-layered, the interaction between the brothers engaging and very human. I am greatly looking forward to the next instalment in this series.” Amazon

“An enjoyable read with credible characters and a pacey plot. Good scene setting, I felt like I was back in medieval times. Looking forward to the next book in the series.” Amazon

Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England: Aphrodisiacs

I don’t often often feature nonfiction on my blog, but today I make a worthy exception.

This book –  Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England – by fellow novelist and historian, Carol McGrath, promises to be something special. So, if you have a fascination with the Tudor period, this is a must read.

This blog is the first on a blog tour.

Over to you Carol..

There has long been an appetite by readers and film viewers for the Tudor period as portrayed in novels, sumptuous costume dramas and documentary film. Have you ever been curious about the Tudors’ view of sex and sexuality? My recently published book Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England reveals myths and truths about how our Tudor antecedents conducted their sexual relationships romantic affairs, and marriages. Amongst many interesting titbits I discovered whilst researching this book aphrodisiacs as used or thought about in Tudor times intrigued me.

An aphrodisiac is a food, drink or drug that increases libido and enhances sexual pleasure and performance. These aids to sexual performance have been recorded throughout history. One of the earliest treatments for impotence appears in an ancient Hindu text known as Sushruta Samhita c.600 BC. It suggests powders of sesame and sali rice should be mixed with saindhara salt and a quantity of the juice of sugar cane mixed with hog’s lard and cooked with clarified butter. Medieval and Tudor people believed the food they consumed could influence their sex lives; it was all part of the humoral notion. They thought, according to medical theory, that food and drink was one of the things on which health should depend. A poor diet could cause illness but a patient could be restored to health by changes in diet. This sounds rather familiar.

However, they also believed that food and drink could solve sexual problems including impotence and infertility. Medieval medical texts contained references to foods and sexual advice for the late medieval man. Constantine the African was a translator of Arabic medieval texts into Latin. He lived in Salerno, Italy’s medical centre during the medieval era. His text on human fertility, De Coitu, has a section on foods and herbs which provoke desire. These were foods that were likely to generate semen and incite a man to intercourse. He also suggested foods to dry up and diminish semen so that men could eat according to whichever condition they suffered- whether too much desire or too little of it. Medieval doctors believed semen was a processed form of blood and therefore derived from food.

Three types of food were conducive to the production of semen and were grouped as nourishing foods, foods especially windy and foods that are warm and moist. Chickpeas contain all three and were considered an aphrodisiac. Other foods they thought drew out and produced semen were fresh meat, pepper, wine, brains, and egg yolks. However, cold foods such as fish, cucumber and lettuce might repress, impede or thicken semen and therefore destroy lust.

Aphrodisiac recipes were included in handbooks and regimes to help Tudor men with their sexual problems. Cloves in milk and blueberry juice, the brains of small sparrows, grease surrounding the kidneys of a freshly killed billy goat, all these might treat impotence. On the other hand, rue, powdered and added to a potion, could be drunk to dry out sperm, and the juice of water lilies taken for forty days might take care of the over-sexed problem.

The oyster is the most well-known and enduring of aphrodisiacs. During the sixteenth century oysters came into their own as a libidoenhancing culinary food. In 1566 Alain Chartier suggested oysters ‘doe provoke lecherie.’ Pickled oysters were sold in brothels in 1646. It is likely they were also sold in brothels during the previous century as a sex-inducing food. This no doubt stems from the fact that an oyster has a resemblance to the vulva with soft folds of pink, salty flesh with nestling pearls. It was slang for vulva during the sixteenth century and later the figure of an oyster girl selling them on the streets became associated with sex workers. There has been no scientific evidence that oysters are an aphrodisiac although they are a healthy food. Shellfish, though, are associated with Aphrodite-Venus who was allegedly born from the sea and appears in Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.

DID YOU KNOW ?

An anophrodisiac, the opposite of an aphrodisiac, was intended to supress libido and impair sexual function. Anophrodisiacs fell into three categories: starving the body, cooling the body and sedating the body. Sedating might be achieved through fasting and rigorous exercise. Early Christian saints regularly fasted to purify the body and monks would starve for long periods to control their sexual hunger and desire for food.

Regimen Studies by Maino de Maineri suggests the man who wished to avoid the production of semen and repress lust should make use of cold foods such as lentil water cooled with cauliflower seeds, water lily and lettuce seeds, lettuce water made slightly vinegary, or seeds of purslane. Camphor was considered useful to dry out lustful parts and if rubbed on the penis might keep the member flaccid. Spicy hot food could inflame the senses but cucumbers were cool and bland and even though phallic in shape were considered an effective anophrodisiac.

In the sixteenth century Francis Rabelais suggested, in addition to the benefits of water lily seeds, willow twigs, hemp stalks, woodbine, honeysuckle, tamarisk, mandrake, and the dried out skin of a hippo. In a way, Rabelais was sending up medieval quackery.

I am not sure I would want to put much store in any of the remedies above. This information carries a health warning. Don’t try it at home!

You can buy Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England here https://tinyurl.com/2p9ayfca

Bio

Following a first degree in English and History, Carol McGrath completed an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in English from University of London. The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this highly acclaimed trilogy. Mistress Cromwell, a best-selling historical novel about Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Henry VIII’s statesman, Thomas Cromwell, published by Headline in 2020. The Silken Rose, first in a Medieval She-Wolf Queens Trilogy, featuring Ailenor of Provence, was published on 2nd April 2020. This was followed by The Damask Rose. The Stone Rose will be published April 2022 completing the Trilogy. Carol is writing Historical non-fiction as well as fiction. Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England was published in January 2022.

***

Many thanks for visiting today Carol, good luck with your new book and your blog tour.

Jenny x

The Sælvatici: The Influence of Robin Hood with Steven C. Davis

Today, I am delighted to welcome fellow writer and Robin Hood enthusiast, Steven Davis, to talk about his outlaw inspired work, The Sælvatici.

Over to you Steven…

Thanks to Jenny for giving me this opportunity to talk about ‘The Sælvatici’, and Jon Hartless for connecting us.

I’ve always been a Robin Hood fan, even before the seminal series ‘Robin of Sherwood’ (RoS) was broadcast in the 80s. I’ve watched all the Robin Hood films I could find, including a rare and slightly bizarre Russian take on the character (which may be ‘The Arrows of Robin Hood’).

Although I like tales of King Arthur, even from an early age I was more interested in RH as they were a hero of the people, as opposed to the tales of knights and lords that held nowhere near the same interest for me.

I only got to see the third series of RoS as we’d not had a television prior to that – and I was hooked. When I was old enough, I picked up first the videos and then the DVDs. I’ve still only watched the final episode with Michael Praed three times – it’s incredibly well written and still heart-breaking. But what an ending it is – the hero giving his life so that their comrades escape to continue the fight. And then the hook – but I hope you’re already aware of that.

Fast forward to the years 2000 – 2001. I wrote a retelling of the myth cycle, called ‘The Hooded’, heavily influenced by RoS. It was darker and bloodier than RoS, with the heroes more often than not failing or getting tricked. It was intended as a stand-alone, a one-off, but at the end I sent the characters off in different directions so I could bring them back (albeit with the obligatory death of one of the “gang” members). But I wasn’t happy with it – I felt it too episodic and I couldn’t get my head into the central character.

And so nothing happened for a while, and I carried on writing other things.

Fast forwards to 2016. I’d recently joined the Folk Horror Revival group in fb and there were some very interesting ideas in there (and still are – seriously, if you’re not a member, consider joining it if you’re interested in myths and legends, bizarre occurrences, The Wicker Man, that sort of thing). Also of inspiration at the time (and still, now) were bands like The Hare and the Moon and The Stone Tapes, both of whom have echoes of 70s psychedelic and slightly terrifying TV shows in their music.

So I started writing the cycle again, but this time I started digging in to the meat of the characters as well. The character of Little John had always seemed like a poor joke, one that they’d get annoyed with very quickly – “he’s called Little because he’s tall”. So I thought, why not, instead, John of Hathersage. Except, Hathersage wasn’t called Hathersage in that era – a closer approximation is Hereseige. So “Little John” became “Hereseige John”, or, more often, simply Hereseige. I applied the same kind of re-imagining with some research to all of the characters and they were all set – and, indeed, the first of fifteen chapters of that retelling, which includes quite a bit of scene/mood/flavour setting, was written and amounted to 24k words. But, as before, I couldn’t get my head around the Robin character, nor could I find a way to re-interpret him that I was happy with.

A slight diversion now. One of my childhood favourite books was the retelling of the Robin Hood myth cycle that was illustrated by Victor Ambrus (I’m sure he later went on to Time Team as their resident artist). It contains various stories and characters that weren’t picked up on in RoS or subsequent interpretations (more later). [Robin Hood: His Life and Legend by Bernard Miles.]

Historical side note – Nottingham wasn’t previously called Nottingham, I believe. It began with an S, which was simply knocked off to become Nottingham. I’ve left it as Nottingham.

As part of the folk-horror era retelling of Robin Hood, I’d written a self-contained piece called ‘Rise of the Sælvatici’ which was the grand final showdown between the Robin character and the Sheriff of Nottingham and the forces of authority that he’d assembled. Whilst the story stalled again, I gave a couple of live performances of it at the Montol festival down in Cornwall (with thanks to Gurdybird for arranging/getting me performance space for that).

Whilst the novel had stalled, I’d started a secret fb group and was doing musical podcast-things for that whilst dreaming of turning into a multi-media thing. Also, around that time, I got Feline & Strange to record some clips and some stills (which I’m still using – Feline does great manic laughter).

Fast forwards once again to the start of the plague years and I started collecting some of the scraps to put together something as a collection of “found tales” – there was far too much ‘good stuff’ written and abandoned to not do something with it. From an old book of poetry that I’d loved, I remembered reading some Anglo-Saxon verse and how it was alliterative as opposed to rhyming, and found that a useful tool to add in for the first part.

‘Lore of the Sælvatici’ was beginning to take shape, intended to set the scene, set in Sherwood or Sherewode as characters called it, depending on their background/race. I wanted it to echo our times as much as possible, shifting in focus slightly to become a battle ground between Norse and Norman, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic and each group vying for power or independence. I brought in religious conflict, with the followers of “The Christ of the East” waging war on the Pagans; and the followers of Cernunnos fighting off the encroaching supporters of Ullr and Wōden.

Except. One thing I’d never quite understood from RoS was why they used Herne as a figure when he was based in Windsor Great Park. So I decided to use Cernunnos instead – but I didn’t. Deliberately. I felt the character/ figure too well known, and so the beloved Forest Lord is slain. However. Eventually, the genius loci arises, but the slaying of a stag is what brings them into being, and thus is the mad god/Stag daughter Caerne brought into existence – a woman, part god, part stag, whose father has been slaughtered though she was born of stag; a child without parents but with powers and capabilities, driven mad by her self-assumed responsibilities and with no one to turn to for explanations or help.

Rather than use the existing tales as an arc, I decided to have the emphasis of the three main novels (being written at the moment) as the attempt of a religious zealot to build, not just a cathedral, but a city, dedicated to ‘The Christ of the East’ in the heart of Sherwood, thereby stamping out Paganism and killing any Anglo-Saxons and Celts who didn’t simply fall down and worship their god.

Of course, it doesn’t quite work that way.

And then one day, a few months ago, I was randomly trawling fb (it’s called research) and I saw a post from a musician friend offering her services as a voice-over artist (Joanna Swan, The Familiars). I remembered the ‘Rise of the Sælvatici’ short piece and that translated into a one-woman radio play incredibly well. And voila, suddenly it was no longer just a text-based world, but there also existed now an audio drama as part of the world. In a satisfying connection, Joanna is also a RoS fan.

‘Lore of the Sælvatici’ was published and has earned some excellent reviews and then another idea came to me, not for a novel, but for a short story; in truth, there will be a number of short stories, each concentrating on only a character or two, so they can be explored in different ways to the novels. That idea was ‘Barrow witch’ – a representative of Wōden, one of his ravens made human, encounters a man who is a trained killer; all would be over for her, but the encounter takes place in front of a barrow where a wise-woman was buried alive. A storm ensues, and things get – interesting. It’s available on Audible as well and is an incredible journey – Joanna has already received a five-star review for it on Audible, and rightly so.

Artwork for both ‘Lore of the Sælvatici’ and ‘Barrow witch’ is by the fantastic John Chadwick.

In terms of inspiration, I should also mention ‘The Black Meadow’ (created by Chris Lambert) and ‘Hopeless, Maine’, (created by Tom and Nimue Brown and others). And the ‘Avebury’ album by The Stone Tapes. All three are worth exploring further.

What exists/ the arc of the Sælvatici:

‘Lore of the Sælvatici’ is the place to start, then ‘Barrow witch’ and finally ‘Rise of the Sælvatici’. When the three ‘Hurnungaz’ novels are written, they’ll take place after ‘Lore’, with ‘Rise’ closing the tale.

What’s next:

‘Hurnungaz’, the first of three novels specifically dealing with the Robin Hood character and their crew is currently being written.

‘The Rolling of the Stones’ a self-contained short story, featuring two minor characters and influenced by Peter Lagan’s interpretations of the song of the same name, is currently being written.

‘Lore of the Sælvatici’ is currently being turned into a one-woman radio play, again voiced by Joanna Swan. Intro/theme music has already been created by William Westwater (Dark Sinfonia) and background luting will be provided by Peter Lagan (Songs of Blood and Bone).

At some point, given how many musical artists have already contributed, inspired or offered their songs as inspirations for short stories (Songs of Blood and Bone, Gurdybird and Bleeding Raven have all inspired ideas for short stories) there will be an album (Joanna has also recorded a very impressive chant, loosely based around one of the “found tales” from ‘Lore of the Sælvatici’). This will be for charity.

‘Legends of the Sælvatici’, an anthology of tales either set in ‘Hurnungaz’ or alternative times, or in the current day, is intended to be announced in 2023 with the aim of publishing in 2024, although two pieces by outside contributors have already been accepted for it.

Where to find them:

You can search Amazon for the books and Kindles under my name (Steven C. Davis) and Audible for the two radio plays that are available so far. Signed editions of ‘Lore’ are also available via my Etsy shop – search Etsy for ‘Tenebrous Texts’.

There is also a secret but not-really secret group on fb – just search for ‘The Sælvatici’ and request admission – there’s advance notice on when things are going on, links to audio-podcasts with music that inspires me to write, art, images, and more stuff going on. At some point, there will also be a better website than currently exists to collect everything together properly.

Bio

Steven C. Davis is the author of ‘The Bookshop between the Worlds’ pair of alternate-Earth novels, ‘The Lore of the Sælvatici’, part of a folk-horror retelling of the Robin Hood mythos, ‘Less than Human’, the first of a non-paranormal paranormal romance series, and co-author, with S. J. Stewart, of ‘The Heart’s Cog’ series of NSFW action-adventure novels.

They are the creative director of ‘Tenebrous Texts’ through whom they have also published works from Stu Tovell and Jon Hartless, and have recently signed on Cat Randle.

They are the organiser of the ‘Raising Steam’ festivals and the ‘Raising Steam’ downloads – all in aid of their chosen charity, New Futures Nepal, of whom they are a trustee. The ‘Raising Steam’ downloads are a global phenomenon, gathering Steampunk and alternative independent and unsigned musical artists from the UK and around the globe.

They are the host of the Gothic Alternative Steampunk and Progressive (GASP) radio show which goes out every Thursday at 8pm (UK time). GASP plays music without borders and is deliberately eclectic, playing the best in unsigned and independent regardless of genre.

Links, etc.

Website: https://tenebrousarchives.weebly.com/

Sælvatici radio plays on Audible:

https://www.audible.co.uk/search?keywords=steven+c+davis&ref=a_hp_t1_header_search

Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TenebrousTexts/

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s?k=the+S%C3%A6lvatici&i=stripbooks&crid=2JYOMKW9OG53P&sprefix=the+s%C3%A6lvatici%2Cstripbooks%2C96&ref=nb_sb_noss

Many thanks to Steven today for sharing a little about his writing world.

Happy reading, Jenny x

 

Happy Birthday Outlaw Justice

Somehow, it is a whole year since the fourth novel in #TheFolvilleChronicles was published!

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331 – and a storm is coming in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Outlaw Justice

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim in The Outlaw’s Ransom- Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. Often, it is those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him.

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

Will there ever be outlaw justice?

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331 – and a storm is coming in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Outlaw Justice

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim – Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. Often, it is those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him.

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

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