Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

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Guest post from Phyllis Newman: The Vanishing Bride of Northfield House

I have a great blog for you today. Phyllis Newman is here explaining her motivation and how she satisfies her desire to kill…

Why not grab a slice of cake and a cuppa, and have a read?

 

What could be more natural than writing murder mysteries after a long career in finance and human resources? It satisfies in some small way my desire to kill someone!

I spent many decades at a large Midwestern university steeped in the various whims and vagaries of self-centered academics. As an administrator, I witnessed resentment, jealousy, fear, love, compassion, and hate (but no murders, fortunately! Not that promotion and tenure isn’t something to die for.) These emotions form the basis of all motives, the rationale for what we do in any walk of life.

Motivation is a theoretical construct used to explain behavior. It represents the reasons for people’s actions, desires, and needs. Motivation can also be defined as one’s direction to behavior, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior. A motive is what leads to all acts of love and devotion as well as every crime.

At the heart of every story you find motivation. Understanding one’s fellow man is essential if you are to write about people believably, for to reveal the rationale behind their behavior is to make them live and breathe. Real world interactions with people—especially those who are dealing with difficult situations—can yield a plethora of revelations about humanity. Every writer must search within themselves to find truth about their characters, and to reflect what they know, to write what they have experienced themselves. Yes, that old chestnut, write what you know! (It only now occurs to me that given the subject matter of THE VANISHED BRIDE OF NORTHFIELD HOUSE, this makes me look like a pretty creepy person.)

Motivation—whether to keep secrets, fall in love, or murder someone—defines the action in any novel but is most particularly important in a mystery. As a writer I must create events and portray thought processes that jumpstart and maintain the action. Without understanding what motivates them, your characters remain flat and unknowable to the reader. A connection with the characters is essential for a reader to identify with and appreciate the story.

 In this newly published novel, my main character Anne Chatham ends up in the English countryside typing scholarly manuscripts of an agricultural nature. What gets her there and into the ensuing intrigues is determined by the sweep of history following The Great War, the social and political upheaval of the times, and a rich tapestry of family lore, dark secrets, and forbidden love.

In THE VANISHED BRIDE, I believe I have delivered a fun-to-read ghost story. It is a creepy supernatural gothic tale with a spirited heroine, intriguing mystery, engaging romance, and spirits who make the action lively. The story is a mix of mystery and romance with touches of supernatural spookiness and gothic horror.

All the characters in The Vanished Bride are haunted, either by disappointment, the unresolved past, unmet desire, or guilt. They are motivated by the same desires, love, hatred, jealousy, and a whole panoply of human emotion, making them like people everywhere. This is a psychological thriller where the details unfold one by one, death by death.

Extract:

My dance partner bowed with the élan befitting a king’s guardsman and, with a little smile, took his leave.

I turned to Martha. “Mrs. Langtry, how nice to see you.”

She gave me a blank stare. “Have we met?” She balanced a plate in her lap littered with the remnants of an artichoke-olive canapé.

The other women, who nibbled on smoked salmon on toast, watched us closely.

“Yes, but it’s been a while. I’m Anne. I work with Mr. Wellington.”

“How are you, dear?” She looked past me into the crowd. “Have a seat and talk to an old lady.” She made a shooing gesture to the tiny woman in black sitting next to her.

The little woman shot me a look of disdain before vacating her chair.

Martha opened an elaborate fan and fluttered it before her face.

Feeling warm, I wished for a fan of my own. But what I really wanted was a mask to hide behind. The scarlet dress made my desired invisibility impossible. I scanned the guests and spied Thomas again, but not his brother.

“Have you seen the bride?” said Martha.

“What?” I asked, assuming one of the revelers was dressed as a bride.

“Just lovely,” said Martha. “All those flowers.”

I searched among the tumult of guests, both the originals and their doubles reflected in the mirrored doors.

“Eleanor has never looked more beautiful,” Martha said, beaming.

I was engulfed by a wave of pure pity. Martha was at another party in another time.

She eyed me with disapproval. “That dress, dear. I hope you don’t think ill of me if I suggest it is most inappropriate.” She shook her head. “Quite improper.”

I felt a stab of humiliation. My confidence wavered. But I called upon Eleanor’s supporting presence and decided to humor my elderly companion. After all, her suffering trumped any discomfort I might feel.

“I must apologize, Mrs. Langtry.” I bowed my head with mock contrition. “I’m a simple country girl and didn’t know what I should wear.”

She laughed. “There, there, my dear. Don’t be disheartened. No one’s looking at you, anyway. They’ll all be looking at her.”

“Of course!” I agreed. “Do you need anything, Mrs. Langtry? May I get you a glass of water?” I touched her hand.

She jerked away from me and snarled, “Don’t do that. How dare you touch me!”

My face stung as I looked about at our companions. No one seemed to notice that Martha was unstable. I said as softly as possible, “Would you like to go to your room? Lie down for a while?”

“Why should I? I’ll miss all the fun.”

I was wondering how much fun she could possibly be having when she turned to me, leaning close, and whispered like a conspirator.

“You forget,” she said. “I know. I know everything. I saw what really happened.” She drew herself up with smug hauteur. “I’m telling.”

Telling what? She might have been thinking of Eleanor’s wedding—or another event tangled in her jumbled mind.

Martha closed her fan. We sat in silence, peering at the assembled throng as they paused with the music.

A hush fell.

For a moment, anticipation hung in the air.

Then an excited murmur ran through the room.

All heads turned towards the entrance. Charlotte stood at the top of the steps. She was dressed as an ethereal moth. A shimmering white gown rippled across her body, falling from the high collar at her throat to the floor. Her hair was hidden under a close-fitting, beaded skullcap. A pair of gossamer wings with fluttering ribbons completed the effect. The translucent fabric revealed every alluring curve of her body, unaltered by any foundation garments. She looked like a silken goddess, lit from within by moonlight.

The crowd broke into spontaneous applause at her appearance, and Charlotte beamed a glorious smile at her adoring admirers. Cries of appreciation bounced about the ballroom like reflected light.

It was only then I saw Owen. Dressed like Edgar Allen Poe, he wore a close-fitting black suit with a silk bow tied loosely around a high white collar. With his dark, tousled hair and solemn expression, he most assuredly recalled the famous poet.

He stood at the edge of the dancers, his eyes devouring Charlotte.

Something inside me withered and withdrew. With Charlotte’s arrival in her diaphanous costume, I felt sure I looked garish and overdone. Whoever or whatever infused me with confidence had fled.

Perhaps this was just what she’d planned. Her image was that of heavenly angel, otherworldly sylph, ethereal sprite. Mine was smoking demon with my tumble of black hair and crimson gown. I might as well have been holding a pitchfork.

As I watched Owen, who looked mesmerized by Charlotte’s silvery figure, a young man appeared before me, extending his hand. I rose without thinking, without seeing his face, and we spun awkwardly about the floor. A jazz number gripped the crowd, and another man stepped forwards and pulled me into the circle of revelers. I moved to unfamiliar music, rocking and bouncing, ungainly and clumsy, back and forth and around.

Drums pounded and horns blared in propulsive syncopation. I continued to dance and dance, unable to catch the tempo. The beat of the music pulsed throughout the room, the rhythmical throb vibrating the floor, and we swayed and dipped through the whirl of sparkling color and grinning faces. I feared I was making a spectacle of myself, but felt trapped in the crush of dancers.

Charlotte drifted through the mob like a cloud, bestowing kisses, dancing with one admirer, and laughing with another. I heard a babble of praise follow her whenever the music paused.

Everything tilted for a second when a waltz seized the room and rolled over the dancers. Another man took my hand and we eddied and swirled, round and round. Yet another man cut in. I hardly acknowledged my partners, barely felt their hand in mine, the other resting at my waist.

 *** 

Bio:

Phyllis M. Newman is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and on a dairy farm in Ross Country, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, and “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, ghost watchers all.

You may contact/follow/like her at www.readphyllismnewman.com, or Facebook  https://facebook.com/ReadPhyllisMNewman/  ; or Twitter @phyllismnewman2

Readers can find The Vanished Bride of Northfield House at Amazon.com/co.uk, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble

Buy link:    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1939403456

British buy link:  https://goo.gl/uU5QBC

***

Thanks for such a great blog Phyllis,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Competition: Name a character in Edward’s Outlaw!

Book Three of The Folville Chronicles is almost fully drafted.

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Edward’s Outlaw, takes her away from Ashby-Folville manor and into the dark shadows of Rockingham Castle…a well known haunt of felons on the run from the law…

Before I can finish my story however, I need your help.

Help me find a female name for one of my characters.

This is your chance to have your name, a favourite name or a loved one’s name, featured in a novel.

Should the name you suggest be chosen, then, not only will it be used in the book, but Edwards’ Outlaw will also be dedicated to you.

I’d love you to pick a name for me!

Remember that the book is set in the fourteenth century- so no Kylie’s or Chardonnay’s please. Otherwise, all you need to do is leave your chosen female name on this thread (via my publisher’s Facebook event page)

https://www.facebook.com/events/387647131739270/

In the meantime, why not have a peep at Books’ One and Two…

Good luck!!

The competition closes on 30th June.

Jennifer xx

 

Opening Lines Blog: Rachel Ennis’s Second Chances

It’s Thursday! So, go and pop your feet up for five minutes. It’s time to enjoy some more ‘Opening Lines,’

This week Rachel Ennis (otherwise known as Jane Pollard), is sharing the beginning of her Cornish Mystery, Second Chances.

For this series I have drawn on my experiences of village life though never using real people as characters. For the mysteries Jess Trevanion is asked to solve I had a wonderful time researching historical events such as ‘coffin ship’ runs to Murmansk during the first World War (‘Fallen Hero’); the aftermath of an underwater collision by a nuclear sub (‘The Loner’); intrigue and tragedy at the Congress of Vienna just before the Battle of Waterloo (‘Moving On’)  and the dangerous secret work undertaken by Cornish fishermen during WW2 (‘Silver Linings’)  None of the villagers who asked Jess to compile a family tree knew of the secrets buried in their pasts. But shocking revelations also brought new understanding.

The first 500 words of ‘Second Chances’

Jess hurried from the kitchen to answer the door. She didn’t recognise the knock. It wasn’t Elsie or Viv. They would have leaned in and called to her: Elsie to ask if she had a minute, and Viv wanting to know if she was decent.

Smiling at the thought, Jess wiped damp hands on her apron and opened the door.

‘Fiona!’

‘I hope this isn’t – You’re not in the middle of something?’

‘Washing up. I’ve been baking. That always means a pile of dishes.’ Fiona had insisted Rob buy her a dishwasher, saying she had more than enough to do without spending hours at the sink. Pushing the thought away, Jess stepped back, opening the door wider. ‘Come in.’

As Fiona stepped inside, wiping her feet on the mat, Jess returned to the kitchen and reached for the kettle. ‘Cup of tea?’

Fiona hesitated.

‘Or how about hot chocolate? There’s coffee, only instant though.’

Jess saw Fiona suppress a shudder. Rob had shared his amusement at Fiona’s attachment to the coffee machine they had been given as a wedding present, with a tray of pods for every occasion and time of day. Used to snatching a mouthful of cold, scummy hospital coffee between patients, he was grateful for anything he was able to finish while it was still hot.

‘Tea would be fine, thank you.’

‘Why don’t you sit down?’ Jess indicated the sofa. She noticed that beneath expertly applied makeup her daughter-in-law’s face was drawn. ‘The kettle’s just boiled so it won’t take a moment.’

Fiona took off her belted camel coat and unwound the pale pink pashmina looped loosely round her throat. Beneath it she wore a rose cashmere roll-neck over a black A-line skirt and black mid-heeled boots. Jess could not fault her taste or style. Even the way she sat was elegant. And yet she looked pinched and cold, and had definitely lost weight.

Jess took down cups and saucers, poured milk into a matching jug and put four date, cherry and almond cookies on a plate, then carried the laden tray to the low table. She opened the woodburner and added two more apple logs to the glowing embers, then sat down opposite Fiona.

She remained silent while pouring the tea and adding milk. Handing one cup and saucer to Fiona, she picked up the other, took a cookie from the plate and made herself comfortable.

Knees together, feet to one side, Fiona sipped. The cup rattled as she replaced it on the saucer. ‘This isn’t easy…’

Jess bit into her cookie and waited.

Fiona sat up straighter and took a breath but her gaze remained fixed on her cup. ‘My… situation has changed. I was misled and made a bad decision. I deeply regret it, but it’s in the past.’

Jess took a mouthful of tea, picturing Fiona rehearsing those words, or others like them, during her drive here. Guilt pricked. Was she being too harsh? She recalled Rob’s features, haggard with stress and …

Blurb for ‘Second Chances’

Having rekindled their relationship, historical investigator Jess Trevanion is looking forward to spending more time with partner Tom Peters. She’s also got a new historical puzzle to solve: the mysterious family background of the local Reskilly clan.

Tom and Jess bond over their love of the sea but it isn’t all smooth sailing. They are forced to abandon a boat trip when they come across an old friend in dire straits ‑ an event which has serious repercussions. Meanwhile, a shock encounter with her daughter-in-law makes Jess worry for her son’s future ‑ and she isn’t the only one with unexpected goings-on in her personal life. Her friends Mor, Viv, and Annie have momentous news of their own, and Polvellan will never be the same again.

A combination of Jess’s historical discoveries and the ups and downs in the lives of her and her friends lead her to make a decision she’s been putting off ‑ but will she make the right choice this time? 

Buy Link:     http://amzn.to/2oWLJ9L

https://www.facebook.com/PolvellanCornishMysteries/

https://twitter.com/JJacksonAuthor

 

Bio:    Writing as Dana James, Jane Jackson, and Rachel Ennis, Jane has been a professional author for over thirty-five years and shortlisted for four major awards. Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall all her life finding inspiration for her books in the county’s scenery, history and people.  ‘Second Chances’ is her 38th published book.

***

Wow- 38 books! That is amazing. Well done Rachel/Jane/Dana!!

I hope you enjoyed that. Next week Fiona Morgan will be here with 500 words.

See you then.

Jenny x

 

 

Opening Lines: A Spell in the Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

We’re off into the world of comedy fantasy and cosy crime for this week’s Opening Lines.

With thanks to Heide Goody and Iain Grant for sharing the first 500 words from A Spell in the Country.

Blurb

Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch. 
She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.
She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.
On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.”

First 500 words…

Chapter 1 – The Three Witches

The Good Witch of Northfield

Dee Finch didn’t consider herself to be just a good witch. Of course she was a good witch. That kind of thing was in the blood. No, Dee wasn’t just a good witch; she was a good witch, and that meant being good and doing good; whenever and wherever, whatever people might think. So Dee felt compelled to tell the young man in the shopping precinct that his hat was on fire.

“Your hat is on fire, poppet,” she said.

Surprisingly, the young man responded with a delighted smile. “Well, that’s the final question answered.”

Not the reaction Dee expected. It wasn’t as if it was the kind of hat one could set on fire without being instantly aware of it. If, say, he had been wearing a bowler hat, one might imagine a small fire on the crown might go unnoticed for a minute or two. But this was a woolly hat with a minor conflagration where a bobble might be.

Dee imagined that the young man had absent-mindedly put a roll-up behind his ear, and forgotten that it was already lit. It was the only immediately obvious explanation.

“Your hat is on fire,” she said again.

“Indeed,” he said. “Let me just—” He flipped through the papers on the clipboard in his hand.

“On fire,” she repeated.

“Yep.” He clicked his pen and put a tick in a box. “Now, would you have a few minutes to complete the rest of the survey?”

“Survey?”

Dee felt she had lost her grip on the situation. The man’s hat was on fire and, on a fundamental level, she wanted it dealt with. But now he was talking about a survey and had a look in his eye which suggested his day had been a long struggle to get people to participate.

“What kind of survey?” asked Dee. “I can’t be too long, sweetness. I was only popping out for some safety pins and a bottle of linctus for Mrs Binder.”

“It’s all about trying to become a better you,” said the young man.

“And you do understand what I mean when I say your hat is on fire?” she said.

“I do. Now, can I take your name?”

“Yes. It’s Dee Finch. Miss.”

 

Dee returned to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop with a brochure from the young survey-taker and a great deal to think about.

“Thank God you’re here,” said Mr Tilbury. “It’s been bedlam since you left.”

Dee looked up from the brochure. The shop was empty, apart from Mr Tilbury who was manning the till. Clothes hung unregarded on their racks. Books gathered dust on the shelves. The poster of the charity mascot, Terry the Boss-Eyed Tortoise, with the slogan of ‘Ugly Animals Need Love Too’ still hung slightly askew on the wall. It was so quiet that one could almost hear the creak of time passing.

“Bedlam?” repeated Dee.

“A man came in and wanted to know if we had a book,” said Mr…

***

Buy Links

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93 

***

I hope you enjoyed that. Another fabulous book introduction.

Come back next week for the first 500 words from a book by Jane pollard.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Interview with Terry Lynn Thomas

I’m delighted to be joined by the lovely Terry Lynn Thomas, today.

So, go and grab a cuppa- maybe some cake- and come and put your feet up for a few minutes and join us for a chat.

What inspired you to write your book?

My dad fought in the Navy during the World War II. (I know, dating myself.) And he regaled me with stories of his time in the Pacific theater, stories of bravery and courage in the collected effort of the military and civilians to overcome the axis powers. His stories inspired me to memorialize this period of history lest we never forget this global war. As I dug into the research of the Sierra I quickly became captivated by the events which led up to the war, and the state of the world at that time. In light of the divisive times we live in now, it struck me how United help the people were in their efforts to support the war. People made sacrifices in their everyday life, selflessly committed to those who experienced battle firsthand. The bravery encourage of the people who fought in the war and lived through its difficulties inspired me to write mystery set in this time. As a writer of historical fiction, my goal is to transport my readers into my story and stay out of their way, so they can experience what it felt like to live in the world at this particular point in time.

I have always loved mysteries, especially those written during early- to mid-twentieth century. (Think Agatha Christie and Patricia Wentworth.) So writing a mystery series set in the United Kingdom during the time leading up to World War II was a natural fit. The Silent Woman is set in June 1937. King Edward has abdicated the throne to Mary Wallis Simpson, and the country is in coronation fever as King George takes the crown. While in Germany, Adolf Hitler is conscripting an army and building planes in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. England is headed to war, but her citizens do not know it. I couldn’t ask for a more dramatic backdrop for story. (True confession: I also really like hanging out in an era where people aren’t so connected via its cell phones and computers. I am hoping that young readers will visualize what the world was like without this technology when they read my books.)

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

My favourite topic! When I set out to write a new book, the first thing I do is pick a specific time set for the arc of the story. Once I have a specific date, I read the newspapers during that period of time, paying attention to the small details of day-to-day living. (Sidebar: the personal columns were the equivalent of social media. I’ve come across ads such as this, “Will the woman with the Green Beret please meet me under the old maple tree.” I can’t help but wonder if she met this person, and what they said.)

I also research the socio-political climate at the time read proper novels, and watch movies that were playing at the cinema. The National Archives provides a cornucopia of diaries and papers, so I spent some time researching there as well, and usually budget four weeks for this type of effort. By the time I’m finished with this research, I’m well versed on the world my characters inhabit. Then I step away. It’s important to remember that only a fraction of this information will make it into the book. A light touch is needed, as I don’t want to bore my readers with an info dump.

 

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

I wrote the Sarah Bennett Mysteries in first person, and loved the immediacy in the way I could crawl inside Sarah’s head and show her thoughts and motivations to my readers. I changed point of view with the Cat Carlisle series and now write in third person. The switch has set me free! Third person allows me to let my story unfold from the viewpoint of different characters and-in my opinion-allows me to flex my “deep” point of view writing muscle – I hope my readers are able to bond and empathize with my characters and become emotionally invested in what happens to them in my third person writing. My job as a writer is to write in such a fashion that I get out of the reader’s way and let them sink into the story. I am a third person point of view writer now and I love it!

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

I am a confirmed plotter and have been known to spend as much time working on my treatment as I spend writing a novel. The treatment includes detailed character sketches, scene development, and the most time consuming a detailed plot outline I use the outline as a map, and often compare writing a book to a sea voyage. When I push away from the dock and lose sight of the shore, it’s nice to know where I’m going. Having said that, my outline is never set in stone. More often than not, my story takes an entirely different direction. If that happens — and it often does — all stop and re-outline. I use my outline is a way to track arcs and tie up all the loose ends.

What is your writing regime?

Mornings are best! I like to get up around 4:30 AM, drink a giant (think soup bowl) cup of very strong coffee, and plug away until 7 AM or so. I set a word count (usually 1500 to 2000 words) and try to hit that five days a week. I think it’s important to step away from story a little bit and let things gel. Sundays are my day to spend with my husband and animals. It seems at times that the biggest challenge is to get my you-know-what in the chair. But I do love this job, and I’m grateful that I’m able to entertain readers with my stories.

Links

http://Terrylynnthomas.com

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780008271596/the-silent-woman

https://twitter.com/TLThomasBooks

Bio

Terry Lynn Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches, windy dunes, and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.

Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. Neptune’ Daughter is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, is slated to release in April 2018.  When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

 ***

Fantastic interview. Thank you so much for coming along today Terry. 

Your mysteries sound wonderful.

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

 

 

The Winter Outlaw is coming…

You may be thinking it’s one book after another from me at the moment- and you’d be right!

Romancing Robin Hood and The Outlaw’s Ransom have recently flown forth from Littwitz Press. These novels were both re-releases. They have been reedited, recovered and given a whole new lease of life.

Today, however, I can proudly reveal the cover of a BRAND NEW NOVEL.

Isn’t it beautiful!

Not seen before, The Winter Outlaw, is the second book in ‘The Folville Chronicles.’  It follows on from The Outlaw’s Ransom (or Romancing Robin Hood– which includes a slightly briefer version of The Outlaw’s Ransom within its pages).

Continuing the story of Mathilda of Twyford, potters daughter and hostage to the infamous criminal gang, the Folville brothers, The Winter Outlaw, is a non-stop medieval adventure.

So buckle up…because the winter outlaw is coming…

Happy reading,

Jen xx

PS- pre-order links VERY soon x

 

 

Interview with Mark Colenutt (a.k.a M.J.Colewood)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Mark Colenutt  co-author of The Last Treasure of Ancient England. You may be surprised to learn that M.J. Colewood is not one, but two authors: Mark Colenutt and Jacqueline Wood who joined forces to write this wonderful book. Today I am joined by Mark.

Why not make a cuppa and join us for a quick chat?

What inspired you to write your book?

At the age of eleven I went to a remote Devon boarding school which was steeped in history and legend so that got the imagination flowing. Over the years it grew into the story that you can read in the novel.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

There is only one character that was a real person at the school. Sadly, he has since passed on but his nephew has read the book and said that I did his uncle justice by depicting him in the humane way that we all admired about him.

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

I had to swot up on my medieval history and iron out finer points over the Battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion to ensure it was accurate according to the historic record. It was also fortunate to benefit from the very latest discovery of the site of the Anglo-Saxons’ last stand following Hastings in north Devon.

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

It is imperative to plot the story before sitting down to write in the case of this novel as it is a treasure hunt and mystery, several mysteries in fact, all wrapped up into one. It is therefore essential to pace the revealing of the mysteries and discovery of the various clues. If not, the storyline cannot function and the reader would not only get lost but not be given a fair chance of working out the solutions and guessing the mysteries. That said, once the writing commences the story comes to life and unexpected twists and turns present themselves, which are enthusiastically embraced and pressed into service for the greater good of the plot and characters.

What is your writing regime?

As I hold down a full-time teaching job and an even fuller-time job looking after and a three-and-a-half-year old, basically my writing regime is whenever I can but predominantly in the early hours while all are asleep. So, I tend to rise around five or five thirty and get an hour and a half’s writing done and at the weekend that extends to a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s not ideal but it’s that or nothing and I don’t want the writing to inhibit family life during the waking hours.

What excites you the most about your book?

The fact that it is a real treasure hunt filled with clues, riddles, symbols and adventure that really does end in a revelation worth discovering. Few treasure hunts bring that to life and so that was the missive with this novel. If you have read a book or watched a film about a treasure hunt and were disappointed that the hunt was lackluster and the treasure not worth waiting for, then that is not the case in the Last Treasure of Ancient England. It is not only what excites me the most but also the novel’s greatest achievement.

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

For debate Christopher Hitchens, for companionship my daughter and for survival Bear Grylls. In the case of my last choice, there’s no point Einstein or Billy Connolly coming along to keep me company if I can’t even make a fire or shelter.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

The novel does in fact transcend generations. The older reader will be returned to their youth and enjoy not only the quick-paced storyline but also writing that immerses them in the past, in several pasts, teaching them what they were never told at school about the Norman invasion of England. For the younger reader it will capture their imagination as they are thrown onto the front lines at the Battle of Hastings and then later find themselves in the wilds of Devon hunting down the last treasure of ancient England, shadowed by dark forces. One reader has called it ‘the Da Vinci code in Devon’ and I can settle for that briefest of epithets, although the writing is of a higher standard, believe me.

Links

Read more at www.chesterbentleymysteries.com

Twitter @MJColewood

Facebook @chesterbentleymysteries

Bio

Born in Plymouth, Devon, I was educated at Blundell’s School and then at St. Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill, London. Upon completing my degree, I took off to Malaysia and New Zealand before returning one last time to the UK capital before I boarded the plane that would eventually carry me to my adopted homeland of Spain.

After a year and a half in the Spanish capital, I decided it was time to leave and seek colour and adventure in the Andalusian south. I settled in Seville, which had been a place that had fascinated me from a very young age and I was not disappointed. Eleven years later and it was time to move on again, this time the north of Spain.

By this time, I had completed two books and was engaged in a third, imagining a fourth and wishfully thinking of a fifth.

At present I live and work in Girona, a pleasant, laidback green part of the country which is ideally sandwiched between the Pyrenees, France, Barcelona and the Mediterranean.

Not surprisingly, I have produced a collection of books on Spain over the years in ‘The Hispanophile Series’, from literary criticism in the form of my Handbook to the ‘Legacy & Odyssey of Don Quixote’, to a city guide in Old Seville and even a book of photography and the first in the novel form of a paperback, hence the format: ‘photoback’, and entitled ‘A Vision of Seville’.

I have also written two history titles about the British Raj.

***

Many thanks Mark, great interview.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Guest post from Marie Gameson: The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased)

I’m delighted to welcome Marie Gameson to my blog today to talk a little about her fascinating new book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased).

Over to you Marie…

 

“Winifred is exasperated by her Catholic mother’s inability to accept her conversion to Buddhism, and by her family’s determination to drag her back to her former life. But when an elderly stranger – haunted by his dead father – turns up on Winnie’s doorstep, insisting that stories she wrote as a teenager hold the key to his supernatural problems, Winnie is forced to renew acquaintance with her younger self.

Why did she write about a Mr Gadd, who died years before she was born?”

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) does have lots of humour, but the main theme is grief – not so much grief for the dead as for the living. The main character, Winnie Rigby, is exasperated that her conversion to Buddhism and attachment to the Orient are strongly resisted by her Catholic family, who make persistent attempts to remind her of the person she used to be.

I wrote this book to explore an issue which has long bothered me, and more so recently:  how do you cope when someone close to you has substantially changed? The reason could be because they have had some physical or mental trauma, joined a cult, become an addict, or simply because they have adopted a new political or spiritual belief system. Of course, in the case of the latter, the grieved-for person can be annoyingly positive about the change; most of us have come across a new zealot, and have good reason to avoid ‘born-again Christians’, or ‘born-again anythings’. But whatever the reason for someone changing, that person is still alive, still looks pretty much the same, and yet is no longer the person you remember.

In the case of Winnie Rigby, after practising Zen Buddhism for some years, she had an enlightening experience whilst on a mountain in Taiwan, which increased her resolve to further her practice. Since being forced back to the UK by her family, she feels alienated and out of touch with her old life; in fact neither her old neighbourhood nor her old acquaintances seem familiar, which is inconvenient, as people who insist they know her turn up with irritating frequency.

Consequently, her only objective is to get back to Taiwan just as soon as she can figure out how to replace the funds that have mysteriously disappeared from her account – (on her instructions according to the Bank) – but which seem to have gone to a cause that sounds suspiciously close to her mother’s heart.

Winnie’s refusal to return to her former persona or to traipse through pointless memories is challenged when an elderly man turns up on her doorstep, haunted by his dead father’s restless spirit, and insisting that the younger Winnie knew something about this late Mr Gadd. Although Winnie has no time for ghosts or superstition, when she is given proof that she did indeed write about Mr Gadd, she reluctantly agrees to try and find out why she wrote about a man who not only died years before she was born, but whose afterlife she seems to have recorded.

But the more she remembers, the more the answers seem to lie in the East. In her search for the elusive Mr Gadd, Winnie may fulfil her wish to return to the Orient – but unravelling the mystery of Gadd is bringing another unexpected revelation.

 

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan (where Winnie ‘saw the light’)

 

Although the book took a year to write, the preparation included a few months in Taiwan, two trips to China, an MA in Translation, a dissertation about Chinese ancestor worship, and frankly – countless fags and glasses of wine. It’s really nice that some people have said that they loved the book, but it is possible that I have reacted a little negatively when they have gone on to ask when the next one is coming out…

But with that little whinge out the way, the book has been a wonderful journey for me in terms of trying to reconcile East and West. Whether they are truly reconcilable or not, I will finish with a photograph I took some years back in Taipei of a Buddhist nun begging for alms. I rather like it.

Bio-

Marie Gameson is half of the mother and daughter writing team who published The Turtle Run as ‘Marie Evelyn’. Her latest book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) was published by Salt this summer and is available on Amazon. You can find out more about her and her books at her website, www.marie-gameson.com 

You can buy The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) from-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Giddy-Career-Mr-Gadd-deceased/dp/1784631183/

***

Many thanks for visiting today Marie. This sounds like a fantastic read.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

The Outlaw’s Ransom: Extract

outlaws-ransom-5-star

This winter sees the release of the follow up novel to The Outlaw’s Ransom,;The Winter Outlaw– in the meantime, here’s a reminder of what happens in The Outlaw’s Ransom…

Blurb

The first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.

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

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…

A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.

The Outlaw's RansomThe Outlaw’s Ransom (which originally saw life as part of my contemporary fiction/medieval mystery timeslip novel, Romancing Robin Hood), is a book that’s very close to my heart.  Anyone who follows this blog will know that it is my love of all things Robin Hood which led to me researching the real life criminal gang, the Folville brothers, and considering how they might have been influenced by the outlaw ballads that would have been circulating at the time.

It was interesting to be able to give, what I imagine, the Folville family’s perspective on the Robin Hood stories might be.

rh-and-the-monk

Extract

…Eustace de Folville continued, ‘You know something of us, Mathilda, from living in these parts. And, I have no doubt, my dear brother has explained to you our beliefs on maintaining our lands and beyond, keeping a weather eye on the dealings of all men in this hundred.’

Mathilda bit her tongue in an effort to remain demurely mute, trying to concentrate on what Eustace was saying and not on the unknown fate of her younger brother.

‘He has also, I believe, told you of his fascination with stories,’ Eustace gave Robert a blunt stare; leaving Mathilda to wonder whether it was his brother’s passion for the minstrels’ tales, or the fact he’d shared that belief and interest with a mere chattel, that Eustace disapproved of.

‘The balladeers have become obsessed of late with the injustices of this land. Often rightly so. Naturally the fabled Robyn Hode has become a hero. An ordinary man who breaks the law, and yet somehow remains good and faithful in the eyes of the Church, is bound to be favoured. In years past such a character’s popularity would have been unthinkable, but these days, well …’

Eustace began to pace in front of the fire, reminding Mathilda of how his brother had moved earlier, ‘Now we are empowered by the young King, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Sheriff Ingram, to keep these lands safe and well run, and by God and Our Lady we’ll do it, even if we have to sweep some capricious damned souls to an earlier hell than they were expecting along the way.’

Eustace was shouting now, but not at her. His voice had adopted a hectoring passion, and Mathilda resolved that she would never willingly disappoint this man; it would be too dangerous.

‘Many of the complaints of crimes and infringements that reach my family’s ears are not accurate. Far more felonies are alleged out of spite or personal grievance than are ever actually committed. We require more eyes and ears, girl. Accurate, unbiased eyes and ears.

‘The sheriff of this county is not a bad man. No worse than the rest anyway; but Ingram is sorely stretched. He has not only this shire, but Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire within his writ. The man cannot be everywhere at once. No man can.

‘We are believed to have a band of criminals under our control, Mathilda. This is not true. I’m no Hode, although I am lucky to have the respect of the immediate population, and although I know that respect is because they go in fear of me, I’d rather have that than no respect at all. Hode’s principles I embrace, as I do other outlaw heroes’ who have flouted a law more corrupt than they are. Those such as Gamelyn can give a man a good example to follow. What was it he declared, Robert, to the Justice at his false trial?’

Moving into the light of the table, Robert thought for a second before reeling off a verse he’d probably known by heart since childhood, ‘Come from the seat of justice: all too oft Hast thou polluted law’s clear stream with wrong; Too oft hast taken reward against the poor; Too oft hast lent thine aid to villainy, And given judgment ’gainst the innocent. Come down and meet thine own meed at the bar, While I, in thy place, give more rightful doom And see that justice dwells in law for once.’

Eustace nodded to his brother, who’d already shrunk back into the shadows of the nearest wall, ‘I do not have such a band at my beck and call, Mathilda. When I need help I have to pay for it.’

***

The values that – in my mind at least- the Folville brothers see in the stories of Robin Hood form an important undying theme to this tale- and to Mathilda of Twyford they will make the difference between life and death…

lytell-geste

If you’d like to read my first medieval mystery, then The Outlaw’s Ransom is available for your Kindle here –

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

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

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer (aka Jenny!!) xx

 

How did the Folville family view Robin Hood?

outlaws-ransom-5-star

The Outlaw’s Ransom is my very first title under the name of Jennifer Ash.

Blurb

The first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.

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

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…

A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.

The Outlaw's RansomThe Outlaw’s Ransom (which originally saw life as part of my contemporary fiction/medieval mystery timeslip novel, Romancing Robin Hood), is a book that’s very close to my heart.  Anyone who follows this blog will know that it is my love of all things Robin Hood which led to me researching the real life criminal gang, the Folville brothers, and considering how they might have been influenced by the outlaw ballads that would have been circulating at the time.

It was interesting to be able to give, what I imagine, the Folville family’s perspective on the Robin Hood stories might be.

rh-and-the-monk

Extract

…Eustace de Folville continued, ‘You know something of us, Mathilda, from living in these parts. And, I have no doubt, my dear brother has explained to you our beliefs on maintaining our lands and beyond, keeping a weather eye on the dealings of all men in this hundred.’

Mathilda bit her tongue in an effort to remain demurely mute, trying to concentrate on what Eustace was saying and not on the unknown fate of her younger brother.

‘He has also, I believe, told you of his fascination with stories,’ Eustace gave Robert a blunt stare; leaving Mathilda to wonder whether it was his brother’s passion for the minstrels’ tales, or the fact he’d shared that belief and interest with a mere chattel, that Eustace disapproved of.

‘The balladeers have become obsessed of late with the injustices of this land. Often rightly so. Naturally the fabled Robyn Hode has become a hero. An ordinary man who breaks the law, and yet somehow remains good and faithful in the eyes of the Church, is bound to be favoured. In years past such a character’s popularity would have been unthinkable, but these days, well …’

Eustace began to pace in front of the fire, reminding Mathilda of how his brother had moved earlier, ‘Now we are empowered by the young King, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Sheriff Ingram, to keep these lands safe and well run, and by God and Our Lady we’ll do it, even if we have to sweep some capricious damned souls to an earlier hell than they were expecting along the way.’

Eustace was shouting now, but not at her. His voice had adopted a hectoring passion, and Mathilda resolved that she would never willingly disappoint this man; it would be too dangerous.

‘Many of the complaints of crimes and infringements that reach my family’s ears are not accurate. Far more felonies are alleged out of spite or personal grievance than are ever actually committed. We require more eyes and ears, girl. Accurate, unbiased eyes and ears.

‘The sheriff of this county is not a bad man. No worse than the rest anyway; but Ingram is sorely stretched. He has not only this shire, but Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire within his writ. The man cannot be everywhere at once. No man can.

‘We are believed to have a band of criminals under our control, Mathilda. This is not true. I’m no Hode, although I am lucky to have the respect of the immediate population, and although I know that respect is because they go in fear of me, I’d rather have that than no respect at all. Hode’s principles I embrace, as I do other outlaw heroes’ who have flouted a law more corrupt than they are. Those such as Gamelyn can give a man a good example to follow. What was it he declared, Robert, to the Justice at his false trial?’

Moving into the light of the table, Robert thought for a second before reeling off a verse he’d probably known by heart since childhood, ‘Come from the seat of justice: all too oft Hast thou polluted law’s clear stream with wrong; Too oft hast taken reward against the poor; Too oft hast lent thine aid to villainy, And given judgment ’gainst the innocent. Come down and meet thine own meed at the bar, While I, in thy place, give more rightful doom And see that justice dwells in law for once.’

Eustace nodded to his brother, who’d already shrunk back into the shadows of the nearest wall, ‘I do not have such a band at my beck and call, Mathilda. When I need help I have to pay for it.’

***

The values that – in my mind at least- the Folville brothers see in the stories of Robin Hood form an important undying theme to this tale- and to Mathilda of Twyford they will make the difference between life and death…

lytell-geste

If you’d like to read my first medieval mystery, then The Outlaw’s Ransom is available for your Kindle here –

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

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

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer (aka Jenny!!) xx

 

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