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

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Coming Soon: Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

There is a month to go until the third novel in the #MillGrange #series comes out!

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange will be published by Aria on 4th March

Following hot on the heels of Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange and Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange continues the adventures of Thea, Tina, Shaun, Sam, Tom, Helen, Bert and Mabel.

BLURB

Helen Rogers has been lying to herself over her feelings for Tom since the moment they met. And for good reason; not only are they colleagues, working together with the archaeology groups at Mill Grange, but her sabbatical is almost over and she’ll soon have to return to Bath.

Tom Harris knows he’s falling in love with Helen. How could he not? She’s smart, kind and great with his son Dylan. But with his ex-wife suddenly offering him a chance to spend more time with Dylan, and the staff of Mill Grange about to host a wedding, everything else has to be put to one side. Even his feelings for a certain archaeologist.

As Helen’s time at Mill Grange runs short, the two are forced to consider what matters most…

I’m still in a shock that the Mill Grange books have been popular enough for me to be able to write this third book – not to mention the fourth novel in the series – which I’m working on at the moment. With each book, I’m loving my characters more and more. They really are like friends – they certainly chat to me and make it very clear what they want to happen in their stories. To be honest, I have very little say in the plot lines these days.

Those of you who have read book one and two won’t be surprised to know that Mabel has very firm ideas about where I should take her story wise!

Oh – and don’t worry – Gertrude and Tony Stark are still with us!

If you haven’t read Midsummer Dreams and Autumn Leaves– fear not! Spring Blossoms can be read as a standalone novel. (However, if you fancy reading them first, you’ve got a month to squeeze them in!!)

***

So if you fancy a trip onto beautiful Exmoor, and taking a peep into a Victorian manor house, then you can pre-order Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange from all good book and ebook retailers, including- amzn.to/3i98thX

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

Cornish friendship

If lockdown has taught us anything, it is just how important our friends are. Of all the things I miss while working alone in my shed or the deserted office over an empty café in town, the twenty minutes a day I spend every day at 8.30am with friends – during my daily writing break – is one of the biggest.

I’m lucky to spend most of my time tucked away in the land of fiction- and within that fiction, friendships are a very important feature – whether within the Another Cup of Coffee or Mill Grange series.

In my Cornish novels, Abi Carter, the heroine of A Cornish Escape and A Cornish Wedding, had slowly been alienated from all her friends by her husband, Luke. But Luke is gone now…

Blurb

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

Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Phillipa Ashley and Cathy Bramley, this summer romance is sure to warm your heart.

Abi’s life is turned upside down when she is widowed before her thirtieth birthday. Determined to find something positive in the upheaval, Abi decides to make a fresh start somewhere new. With fond childhood memories of holidays in a Cornish cottage, could Cornwall be the place to start over?

With all her belongings in the boot of her car but no real plan, a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Max soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams but things aren’t as simple as Abi hoped.

Can Abi leave her past behind and finally get her happy ending?

The friendships Abi makes within the novel are the pivots around which her new life in Cornwall really begins to take shape.

Chance meetings with painter and decorator, Max, and his best friend, Beth, are life changing moments for her. Suddenly, against the backdrop of beautiful Cornish scenery, she has a chance to visit new places, have new experiences, take control of her life and, most important of all, follow her childhood dream to search out Abbey’s House. And just for once, she doesn’t have to chase her dreams alone.

Here’s an extract to whet your appetite…

The arrival of lunchtime menus on their tables made both girls simultaneously check their watches.

‘Good heavens!’ Abi couldn’t believe it. ‘It’s twelve already. We’ve been chatting for two hours!’

It had been years since she’d had a proper conversation like that. A broad grin crossed Abi’s face as she allowed herself to accept that she was already making new friends here. It was more than she’d dared to hope for.

Over their empty coffee cups, Abi had heard all about Beth’s grandfather and the consequential lack of relationship opportunities beyond the occasional brief physical liaison since she’d moved in with him seven years ago. Beth had explained about how she’d not been able to face emptying the old cobbler’s shop he’d left to her, but now she knew she couldn’t put off making a decision about the property’s future any more, she was torn between running it herself, or leasing the premises to someone else.

In return Abi had told Beth about how suffocated the business wives Luke had so approved of made her feel, and how their disapproval of her working and not just being the perfect wife had worn her down. Then, when Luke had died, the wives’ inability to accept that Abi could look after herself, along with the attitude of Luke’s family, had started to drive her mad.

‘And that’s why you came to Cornwall? To escape the Carter family and the wives of the county set?’

‘That, and because I’ve always wanted to live here, ever since I was little.’

‘Since you fell in love with Abbey’s House?’

‘Yes.’ Not wanting to add that she also wanted to move far enough away from her old life as possible so she could escape, not only the ghost of being Luke’s wife, but also to make some friends that had never met him, and hadn’t known what she was like when she was with him. ‘I guess it sounds a bit strange. Of all the places I could have decided to live, and I could literally go anywhere, that I have come here. But it just felt so much like the right thing to do.’

‘Do you really have no idea where the house is?’

‘To be honest, if my brother hadn’t found an old photograph of it for me I’d have thought I’d been imagining Abbey’s House. I haven’t seen it since I was eight years old.’

‘What happened after you were eight?’

‘My father was promoted and we could afford to take holidays abroad. I was very lucky, I saw a great deal of the world, but nowhere’s stayed in my heart like Cornwall has.’

Beth drained the dregs of her cold coffee. ‘I don’t suppose you have the photograph on you?’

‘Stupidly I’ve left it in the hotel. I meant to bring it, but, well, to be honest I was a bit nervous about meeting you today. It might have looked a bit pushy if I’d brought it with me.’

Beth grinned. ‘To tell you the truth, I was nervous as well. It’s been a long time since I had a female friend.’

‘Really?’

‘I’ve always preferred male company. Women can be so darn catty. I don’t have the time or the patience for it.’

Abi laughed. ‘I can’t argue with that!’

‘So, it’s called Abbey’s House?’ Beth looked thoughtful. ‘I can’t say it’s a name I recognise off the top of my head, but I might when I see it.’

‘Maybe if it hadn’t been called Abbey’s House I wouldn’t have had a connection with it. A silly childhood ideal, perhaps. I always wondered if there was an old abbey or monastery around here that it was named after.

‘More likely to be a family name. Maybe the Abbeys were a tin mining family or something? It could be worth having a dig into the local archives at the library.’

‘That’s a great idea, thanks, Beth.’ Abi’s confidence rose a notch as she watched a group of holidaymakers passed the window, ‘I remember the house being at the end of a short row of houses. Terraced, stone built, and painted a creamy white colour. Although you can’t see it in the photograph I’ve got, I’m fairly sure that when I was sat on my father’s shoulders I could see the sea, but when I was stood on the pavement I couldn’t see it, although I could hear it and smell the salty air.’

‘Which probably means that it has sea views from upstairs, but not from the ground floor. That would place Abbey’s House somewhere up the side of slope that forms the village, not at the bottom, nor the top. So I guess that narrows the hunt a little,’ Beth smiled.

‘I really should have brought the photo.’

‘Never mind. Why don’t I come back to the hotel with you later and take a peep? You never know, I might recognise it on sight.’

‘Are you sure? That would be great. Thanks, Beth.’

‘So if you find it, are you hoping to see a For Sale sign in the garden?’

Abi blushed. ‘If I’m honest, I’d love it, but that might be a miracle too far…’

I hope you enjoyed that extract.  If you’d like to read on, then you can buy A Cornish Escape in either paperback or as an eBook, from all good retailers, including-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cornish-Escape-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B0851927R4/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=A+Cornish+Escape+Jenny+Kane&qid=1586875747&s=books&sr=1-3

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08739LQ25/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=A+Cornish+Escape+Jenny+Kane&qid=1586875948&s=books&sr=1-1

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUT TODAY: Outlaw Justice #TheFolvilleChronicles Book Four

The fourth novel in #TheFolvilleChronicles,

Outlaw Justice,

is OUT NOW!!

Outlaw Justice

Following on from The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw and Edward’s Outlaw, the latest adventure for Mathilda of Twyford and the Folville brothers – Outlaw Justice – focuses on another ‘historical happening’ from the Folville brother’s rather chequered lives.

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.

You can order either an ebook or a paperback from – Amazon UK and Amazon.com

***

As with the other Folville novels, Robert de Folville and Mathilda draw on the influence of the popular Robin Hood ballads to guide them on their way.

This time – within Outlaw Justice– I have dropped in two nods to my writing hero – Richard Carpenter – and his fabulous television series Robin of Sherwood. If you are a fellow fan, and spot them- do let me know!!

If you missed last week’s Opening Line’s blog– check it out and read the first 500 words from Outlaw Justice.

Happy reading everyone.

Jennifer

Opening Lines: Outlaw Justice

With the launch of the fourth- and final- novel in The Folville Chronicles fast approaching. I thought I’d shamelessly steel this week’s Opening Lines blog for my own promotional purposes, and share the first 500 words from

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.

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

First 500 words

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.

Chapter One

2nd December 1331

Eustace de Folville shook the parchment in his fist. ‘The king has made him Justice to the Court of the King’s Bench! As if his arrogant head wasn’t swollen enough with power. We need to act. Now!’

Not one of his brothers argued.

Glaring at the crumpled missive, Eustace slammed a palm against the oak table which took centre stage in Ashby Folville manor’s hall. ‘We can delay no longer. Our removal of that leech, Roger Belers, was a bold step towards curbing the corruption that plagues this land. But that particular Baron of the Exchequer was nothing compared to this scourge on society. This… Justice!

‘He steals lands and chattels, using the law to cover his tracks; doing anything to improve his estate’s assets. An estate everyone knows only exists because both he and his father married well; although I pity any woman who has to share his marriage bed and ‑’

‘Justice!’ Walter de Folville spat into the fire, sending angry orange sparks dancing. ‘The fact Willoughby has the right ‑ not to mention the cheek ‑ to call himself a justice…’

Robert de Folville cut across his kin’s escalating outrage, pushing two flagons of ale in their direction. ‘Perhaps you could tell us what the missive actually says, brother?’

Grunting, Eustace glared at the parchment as if it was responsible for the coming storm. ‘It’s from Nicholas Coterel. Word has reached his family in Bakewell that, as of yesterday, the first of December…

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice will be released as both an ebook and paperback on Monday 14th December. 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

Outlaw Justice: Out on 14th December

I’m delighted to announce that the fourth novel in #TheFolvilleChronicles,

Outlaw Justice

will be out on 14th December.

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford and the Folville family – Outlaw Justice takes you into crime fuelled world of Fourteenth Century England.

Outlaw Justice

Book Four of The Folville Chronicles

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.

Mathilda has come a long way since she first met the notorious Folville Chronicles in The Outlaw’s Ransom.  She was just 19 years old in Book one of The Folville Chronicles – and life- which was hard anyway- was about to get very complicated indeed.

Women in the fourteenth century had to be strong-willed, as well as physically strong, or they’d never have survived. Even putting aside the obvious pressures and problems of childbirth, they ran family businesses alongside their men folk, kept the house, dealt with all the food, and raised the children. In fact, it all sounds fairly familiar!

I’ve never been keen on the idea of writing weak characters; be they male or female. Such characters frequently fail to hold the interest of a reader, often frustrating you into wishing they’d just grasp the metaphorical nettle and get on with it- whatever, ‘it’ is!

In the case of The Outlaw’s Ransom, it was particularly important for me to have a determined, capable and intelligent female in the driving seat. I wanted Mathilda to not just survive within her enforced hostile environment, but to hold her own, and show the Folville brothers that they were dealing with a feisty, clever, woman who could give as good as she got!

Now – as we reach the end of the series – Mathilda has been through so much – and life is about to get even more complicated.

OUT ON 14th DECEMBER – You can pre-order the ebook now via – Amazon UK and Amazon.com

You can read Outlaw Justice as a standalone novel, but if you’d like to follow Mathilda’s adventure from the beginning, you can find The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw and Edward’s Outlaw on Amazon and all good paperback and ebook retailer.

Happy reading,

Jennifer xx

Medieval Christmas Thinking

I’ve been a lover of all things medieval from the first time I clapped eyes on an episode of Robin of Sherwood back in the 1980’s. Since then, I’ve had a fascination with the era- especially the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries- that has never waned. It was this interest that led me to write The Folville ChroniclesThe Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw and – most recently – Outlaw Justice (which will be out soon.)

***

The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw and Outlaw Justice are all set at Christmas time – so I got to thinking about how many of the festive traditions we have today hail from those medieval days.

Did you know…?

… that the practice of carol singers going from door to door was the result of carollers being banned from the churches.

During the medieval period the word “carol” didn’t refer to just a song, but to singing and dancing in a circle. This was frowned upon by the churchmen of the age as it detracted from the seriousness of the occasion. Carol singers were ordered out onto the streets, and often sang in market places, or in front of rows of houses.

Another church related tradition that had its origins in medieval times is the Christmas crib or Nativity scene. In medieval Italy, in1223, Saint Francis of Assisi used a crib as a teaching tool to explain the Christmas story to the local population. Historians believe that this was the first time animals, such as the sheep and the donkey, were added to the Christmas story, even though the Bible does not mention them.

What about Christmas food? Christmas puddings date from medieval England, although they were rather different than those we eat today. Made from a spicy porridge known as frumenty, with currants and dried fruit stirred into it, along with egg yolks, cinnamon and nutmeg, it was a considerably runnier pudding than the one we’re used to.

The majority of Christmas dinners in the UK this year will feature a roast turkey. However, turkeys didn’t reach Britain until the late fifteenth century. In medieval times the rich ate goose, while the poorer families would roast a woodcock if they could get one. Those lord’s who had royal permission to eat venison, would have deer for their Christmas meal. Traditionally, the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains of the deer (a concoction known as the umbles), would be mixed together and made into a pie to give to the poor. This treat became known as humble pie.

And how about some entertainment? Whereas today we might go to see our children in a nativity play at Christmas, in the Middle Ages people could look forward to seeing the Mummers. These travelling actors performed plays and dances in villages, manors, and castles. During the winter, mystery plays were traditionally based on the story of Christ’s birth. The part of King Herod within these plays was the first role that can be seen as being the equivalent of a ‘baddie’ in a modern day pantomime, with the crowd often booing when he came on stage.

I hope these few Christmas blasts from the past have made you smile!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

The Barren Author: staring Richard O’Brien and Sophie Aldred

As many of you will know, I have been lucky enough, over the last few years, to work for the brilliant Spiteful Puppet on several Robin of Sherwood projects.  However, there are far more strings to their bow than that. (See what I did there?!!)

Spiteful Puppet’s latest project is something truly special – and how could it not be, with the incredible Richard O’Brien and Sophie Aldred at the helm!

It is my pleasure, to be able to bring you all the info…. why not take a peep?

(Artwork- by Robert Hammond)

‘Rocky Horror’ legend Richard O’Brien
stars in ‘The Barren Author’
a new six-part audio comedy-drama
inspired by the fantastical stories of Baron Munchausen
His co-star is Sophie Aldred – Dr Who companion ‘Ace’

Forty-seven years after he created the sci-fi stage and film cult favourite ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, Richard O’Brien has taken a rare acting role to star in ‘The Barren Author’, a new 6-part audio comedy-drama inspired by the stories of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe.

Richard O’Brien recording ‘The Barren Author’ in his native New Zealand

O’Brien plays The Brigadier, who is telling the tale in sessions via video calls to the mysterious Smith (Sophie Aldred). But is she all she says she is, and what – in fact – is she? A publisher, a psychiatrist, or in league with
forces of evil?
The original Munchausen stories about a fictional German nobleman first appeared in 1785 in the book ‘Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia’.and told of his impossible
achievements as a sportsman, soldier, and traveller including riding on a cannonball, fighting a 40-foot crocodile, and travelling to the Moon.

Sophie Aldred in London

‘The Barren Author’, written by Paul Birch, produced and directed by Barnaby Eaton-Jones, is not a literal
adaptation of the Munchausen stories but takes instead the satirical, provocative and absurd spirit of the original tales and reimagines them for 2020.

Richard O’Brien said: “I find it enjoyable being allowed to play someone who views the truth as a moveable feast. Should I improve on doing so, I shall, most likely, turn my future ambition towards running some great nation; or other.”
Sophie Aldred said:“This was the best fun I could have hoped for in the airing cupboard all lockdown! I loved being the straight woman to Richard O’Brien’s ridiculous character’s funny. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing spliced together.”
Producer/Director Barnaby Eaton-Jones said: “I’ve always loved the madness and satirical bite of the Baron Munchausen tales, and was bowled over by Terry Gilliam’s film version in 1988 as a youngster, but I’d had an idea kicking around for a while of taking the core concept, keeping some of the well-known elements, and updating the tales in a contemporary setting. I wanted to keep the surreal nature and that blurring of fantasy and reality (is it real or is it not?). I am very lucky to share a sense of humour and a close friendship with the writer I asked to adapt my treatment, Paul Birch, and his six episodes really have flown off into a direction that’s extraordinary. The great thing about audio is all of this scope can be achieved, whereas would have been astronomical for television or film! Right from the very start, I could hear Richard O’Brien’s voice in my head as our main character and I was so bowled over that the scripts excited him enough to take on the role (and suggesting his own creative enhancements to them – which is always the sign of an actor properly engaging with the material). Pairing him with Sophie Aldred, who’s a delight as his confidante and possible future nemesis, just created the perfect chemistry for a must-listen-to-tale in six half hour episodes. My fingers are crossed for people loving it enough to ask for another series of escapades!”

You can listen to a trailer for this fabulous adventure – as well as enjoy an article about The Barron Author in the Radio Times!! (yes- the Radio Times!!!)  – Radio Times article: https://www.radiotimes.com/news/radio/2020-10-30/barren-author-trailer-richard-o-brien-exclusive/

Richard O’Brien
Richard, who was born in 1942, began his life in the world of entertainment in 1965 when, at the age of 23, he rode horses in British-made movies. He had no desire to become a full-time stuntman and, wisely, took himself off to an evening
drama school, which claimed to adhere to the teaching principles of Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and anyone else that had decided to embrace the more ‘naturalistic’ approach to acting, commonly known as the Method.
In 1967, Richard became an ASM and understudy in a musical touring version of ‘The Barretts of Wimpole Street’, retitled as ‘Robert and Elizabeth’. He worked backstage in many West End theatres, most notably the Cambridge Theatre at Seven Dials, where, among other duties, he shone a limelight upon John Hanson who, at the age of 46, may well have been the oldest Student Prince that the world had ever laid eyes upon. In 1969, Richard joined an ensemble group in a joyous
production of Gulliver’s Travels at the Mermaid Theatre. This show was designed and directed by Sean Kenny.
The choreographer was a young Japanese Canadian called David Toguri and, the following year, Richard auditioned for him once again and joined the cast of the British touring production of the American ‘hippie’ musical ‘Hair’. After Hair came ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, which was directed by Jim Sharman. The following year, 1973, Jim cast Richard in a Sam Shepard
play at the Royal Court Theatre’s Theatre Upstairs. It was here that he met Richard Hartley, his music partner of 40 years. ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ opened in July of the same year and, slowly but surely, became the biggest cult musical of all time.
Other highlights of Richard’s career are, of course, ‘The Crystal Maze’, a game show that warmed the autumn nights for Channel 4; the Child Catcher in the first stage production of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’; performing for the Queen in the
gardens of Buckingham Palace upon Her Majesty’s 80th birthday, and playing Fagin in a New Zealand production of ‘Oliver!’.
In a career that has spanned nearly 50 years, Richard has acted with some of the biggest and best-known names in the industry and, lately, he has won over a new and younger crowd of fans as the voice of Lawrence Fletcher, the father of
‘Phineas and Ferb’, in the Disney cartoon series of the same name.
He is 78 years of age and refuses to make eye contact with the Grim Reaper.

Sophie Aldred

Sophie Aldred is an English actress and television presenter, best known for her portrayal of Ace alongside Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.
Aldred was born in Greenwich, London, but grew up in nearby Blackheath. She attended Blackheath High School from 1973 until 1980, before enrolling as a drama student at University of Manchester. She graduated in 1983 and decided to embark on a career in children’s theatre.
In 1987, she was cast as Ace in ‘Doctor Who’. Her tenure on the show spanned the last nine stories of the programme’s original run, which ended in 1989.
Both before and since ‘Doctor Who’, Aldred has had a varied and busy television career, particularly in children’s
programming, where she has presented educational programmes such as ‘Corners’, ‘Melvin and Maureen’s Music-a-grams’, long-running BBC series ‘Words and Pictures’ and also CITV paranormal show ‘It’s a Mystery ‘in 1996. She also played the character Minnie The Mini Magician from Series 8 onwards on CITV’s ‘ZZZap!’ between 1999 and 2001.
Aldred has presented and sung in several BBC Schools Radio series, including ‘Singing Together’, ‘Music Workshop’, ‘Time and Tune’ and ‘Music Box’.
She has also performed on radio and in the theatre. She has also reprised her role as Ace in the charity special ‘Dimensions in Time’ and the Doctor Who audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. Throughout the 2000s she has worked
extensively as a voice-over artist for television advertisements, and has also provided voices for animated series such as ‘Bob the Builder’ and ‘Dennis & Gnasher’.
Sophie Aldred married Vince Henderson on 12 July 1997. They have two sons, Adam and William.

Paul Birch (Writer)

Based in York, Paul is an award-winning writer, actor, and practitioner. He has made work for and with the BBC, Birmingham Rep, Cheltenham Everyman Theatre, ITV, and York Theatre Royal; to name but a few. His work has twice won him the play-writing residence at Leeds Playhouse and his adaptation of Spiteful Puppet’s ‘Passport To Oblivion’ won the ‘Best Drama Special’ at the 2020 New York Festival Awards. He is the Artistic Director of Out of Character Theatre Company, devising, writing and directing theatre pieces dealing specifically with mental illness.

Barnaby Eaton-Jones (Producer/Director)
Based in Gloucestershire, Barnaby is an award-winning audio writer, director and producer. He revived ‘The
Goodies’ for Audible in 2019 (with Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, with guest stars Joanna Lumley and Jon Culshaw) and resurrected and toured the classic radio comedy ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’ for stage; as well as a new series for BBC Radio 4 Extra. He co-adapted, directed and produced the spy
thriller ‘Passport To Oblivion’ (starring George Lazenby, Terence Stamp and Glynis Barber) which recently won Best Drama Special at the New York Festivals Awards in April 2020. He produces, directs and writes the new
‘Robin of Sherwood’ audios (with ITV Global), which features all the original cast of this classic 1980’s television series – Ray Winstone, Jason Connery, Clive Mantle and Nickolas Grace, to name but a few. He is the Creative Director of Spiteful Puppet Entertainment Ltd, who – in 2019 and 2020 – produced the highly successful musical cabaret ‘Musik’, performed by Frances Barber, written by Jonathan Harvey, and with music by the Pet Shop Boys.

Spiteful Puppet

Spiteful Puppet Entertainment Limited has provided audio content for BBC Radio, ITV Global and Audible; as well as
originating theatre work for the Edinburgh Festival, the West End and touring provincial theatres. They have partnered with publisher Chinbeard Books for a range of critically acclaimed books which have encompassed cult television shows and original content. They are primarily known for audio drama and comedy; winning a host of awards for their expertise in this particular field. We always count ourselves very lucky that we get to work with great voice actors, composers, studio engineers and sound designers who enable us to bring our stories to life.

Creative Team
Sound Design Joseph Fox
Music Abigail Fox
Songs Darrel Maclaine
Design and Illustration Robert Hammond
Sound Engineer Nigel Masters at The Boat Shed Studios, New Zealand
Produced by Spiteful Puppet in association with AUK

‘The Barren Author’
is OUT NOW
Price: £3.99 each episode or £19.95 for all 6
if bought together
www.spitefulpuppet.com 

Happy listening,

Jenny xx

My First Time: Nell Peters

This week it’s the turn of the always lovely Nell Peters, aka Anne Polhill Walton, to share her first time publishing experiences- and a picture of a chicken…Ummm…

Over to you Nell…

First Time

Can you remember writing the first story you actually wanted to write, rather than those you were forced to write at school? What was it about?

At a loose end over a summer in Montreal (early 20s, pre-children), living in a house with the St Lawrence at the bottom of the garden, I settled down at a picnic table and started writing stories for young children – in between swatting mosquitoes. They were the sort of traditional tales I’d been raised on – gentle escapism, make-believe storylines and not a boy (or girl) wizard in sight, as far as I remember. They were rubbish.

What was your first official publication?

That was a poem published in an anthology for Mother’s Day – I forget what year, but I had four children by then. It was entitled ‘Bonjour Maman’ and some of it was in French, so I had to translate for my mother as she doesn’t speak the lingo.

What affect did that have on your life?

I became rich and famous overnight. Oh no – that wasn’t me. Am eejit.

By Any Name final

Does your first published story reflect your current writing style?

As you specify ‘story’, that would be my psychological crime novel By Any Other Name, which was published in November 2014 by Accent Press. Obviously, my style hasn’t changed too much since then, but with Hostile Witness – launched February 2016, my editor took out a lot (actually most) of the humour I find impossible to resist, to make it quite dark.

Hostile Witness ver 2

What are you working on at the moment?

This questionnaire, silly!

Buy links

By Any Other Name – http://viewbook.at/By_Any_Other_Name_by_Nell_Peters

Hostile Witness – http://mybook.to/hostilewitness

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Author Bio and links

Nell Peters is a pen name, as Anne Polhill Walton is something of a mouthful. After I abandoned my quest to become the next Enid Blyton, I started to write poetry and that remained my first love for many years, before I moved on to writing crime – a genre that very much suits my warped mind. Poetry as a therapy continues to be an interest.

I live in Norfolk UK and most of the family are close-ish, so we have some very chaotic weekend get-togethers, Christmases etc. We are collecting a frightening number of Grands – three of each at the last count. Oh, and Pavlova the chicken who turned up almost two years ago and just stayed. She is named not after a meringue dessert, but Ivan Pavlov (he of dog fame) because she responds to classical conditioning. Did I mention my warped mind?

chicken

On Facebook I have an author page: https://www.facebook.com/NellPetersAuthor/

And on Twitter I am myself as @paegon

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Many thanks Nell (Anne!)- fabulous! Love Pavlova!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

A Musical Effect

When I was a teenager I would listen, hour after hour (via the wonder of my Sony Walkman- remember those?), to the music of Clannad. It will be of no surprise to anyone who regularly reads this blog, to learn that I was first introduced to their music when they composed the theme tune and musical soundtrack to the eighties television series Robin of Sherwood.

RH- Michael and Judi

Each tune was haunting, moving, uplifting, and occasionally beautifully sombre. Looking back now, I can see how their dreamy lyrics and tunes impacted on my imagination- you only have to look at my forthcoming novel, Romancing Robin Hood to see that!

Whenever I got stuck during the writing of my part contemporary and part historical romance, I did what Grace, the lead character in Romancing Robin Hood would have done- I listened to Legend– the aforementioned Clannad soundtrack.

By this time- if you hadn’t already realised- you’ll see that I really am as obsessed with that particular TV series as I claim! (Should it worry me that I can still recite the words from several of the episodes word for word?)

Dr Grace Harper is a figure that grew out of that obsession. It was great fun to take my own historical and literary interest and make it, not only Grace’s life’s work, but takeover her whole life. Before Grace realises it, she’s in her early thirties, has built a dream career on her all consuming hobby, and is poised to write two books all about it- but at what cost? No one is waiting for her when she gets home. After all, what man could ever match up to a legendary hero?

romancing robin hood

I am blessed with two children; both enjoy writing stories, and both spend just as much time listening to music as I did as a teenager. Their musical tastes however, are vastly different to my childhood lyrical preferences. As they immerse themselves in gothic rock I wonder how it will shape their imaginations…I predict many a dark fantasy story leaking from their pens in their future.

Happy Reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

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