I’m thrilled to welcome Jennifer Ash to my website today to talk about her new novella, The Outlaw’s Ransom.
Here’s a description of the book:
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.
Good to have you here, Jenny. What sort of books do you like reading? Could you share with us some historical novels you really enjoyed?
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, The Bishop Must Die by Michael Jecks, Kitty Peck and the Musical Hall Murders by Kate Griffin, A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss, The Thief Taker by Janet Gleeson
I’ve only read two on that list, so I’ve some catching up to do! Tell me a little about how you first got interested in the medieval period, and the birth of this novella.
I’ve been a lover of all things medieval since 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 which led to do a PhD in Medieval Criminology and Ballad Literature.
Despite five years of hard and intense study, my interest in the medieval legends continued, and when the chance came to indulge my passion in my fictional work, I grabbed it.
The resulting novel was Romancing Robin Hood; a part modern, part medieval romance and crime story.
Not only does the lead character in Romancing Robin Hood, Dr Grace Harper share my love of all things connected with the man in green tights (well, probably red hose actually), she also shares my love of the television show, Robin of Sherwood. In fact, Grace loves medieval outlaws so much that she writes her own medieval mystery based on the life of a young woman called Mathilda of Twyford and her entanglement with an outlaw family called the Folvilles.
Mathilda’s story can be read within Romancing Robin Hood alongside the modern romance.
When Romancing Robin Hood was published so many people got in touch to tell me they wanted to read more of the medieval part of the story, that I decided to re-release it as a story in its own right.
Given the title, The Outlaw’s Ransom, Mathilda’s story was expanded a fraction, and published in its own right in 2015.
I’m delighted to say that Mathilda’s story doesn’t end with The Outlaw’s Ransom. I have recently finished writing the novel, The Winter Outlaw, which continues Mathilda’s adventures with the notorious Folville family. (Out Autumn/Winter 2017)
I can see the appeal of men in tights (!) but what appeals to you about outlaws?
Whether historical or fictional, there has always been something fascinating about these forced into- or who chose to adopt- the outlaw lifestyle. During the thirteenth and fourteenth century in England, there were periods of great political upheaval. As a consequence, many noble families took crime as a profession, and with it ruled their locality. Those outside the law often had more respect from the community than the representatives of the law did.
In fourteenth century Leicestershire, the Folville family had a mafia style grip on the county. But were they the good guys or the bad guys? Obviously it isn’t as simple as all that, the study of the exploits of this family- and those like them- is simply fascinating.
When you were writing the book, did you have a favourite ‘research moment’ ?
I have a small confession – I didn’t do any research when I was actually writing The Outlaw’s Ransom. My research was pre-done many years ago, between 1993 and 1999, when I studied for the aforementioned PhD on the correlation between medieval crime and the ballad literature of the fourteenth century.
It was during that time that I came across the Folvilles. There is a fairly convincing argument that this was family that the balladeers of the age – possibly- based their Robin Hood stories on.
Quite a few of the readers of this blog are writers too, I wonder if you would share a little bit about your method for writing a book?
Left to my own devices I’m a panster. I much prefer handing control of the story over to my characters so I can let them dictate what happens. However publishers prefer (understandably), to have a guide that can give them an outline of the story they’ve just agreed to commission. As a consequence I tend to plot the first half out properly, and then wing the second half our in a much rougher plot form. Luckily my editor knows me well enough to know that the latter half of the plan I’m giving him will very probably change drastically by the time the story is actually written.
My writing career started 12 years ago when I started to write erotica as Kay Jaybee. In 2013 I became a contemporary fiction and romance novelist, Jenny Kane, as well. Then last year I took on the pen name Jennifer Ash- medieval mystery writer.
I try and write one book per ‘me’, per year. Two of these will be novels and one will be a novella, and then each different ‘me’ takes it in turns as to who gets the shorter work.
This year, Kay gets the novella, and Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash get the novels!
The Winter Outlaw which follows on from this book will be published in 2017. You can find details of all Jennifer’s stories at www.jenniferash.co.uk
Jennifer also writes as best-selling contemporary romance author Jenny Kane with books such as Another Glass of Champagne, Christmas at the Castle, and Abi’s House. (Accent Press) Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015) Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.
Follow Jenny on Twitter @JennyKaneAuthor or on Facebook