Medieval sleuths and romance with Jennifer Ash

I love historical fiction that plays inside other genres, and today’s interview with Jennifer Ash is a good example of that. It’s also encouraging to know that people can write Histfic and stil play with other types of stories, since the novel I”m working on now ain’t historical by any stretch of the imagination.

Alright, lady. What’s the Jennifer Ash story?

With a background in history and archaeology, I should be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, I’m tucked away in the SouthWest of England, writing stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side-order of romance. Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, I’ve written TheOutlaw’s Ransom (Book One of TheFolville Chronicles), The Winter Outlaw (Book Two of The Folville Chronicles) and Edward’sOutlaw (Book Three of The FolvilleChronicles). In addition, I”m also an audio script writer for ITV’s hit television show, Robin of Sherwood. Quiet as it’s kept, I also write contemporary fiction as Jenny Kane.

So what’s this third installment about?

Edward’s Outlaw, is the third of The Folville Chronicles. It continues the story of Mathilda of Twyford- a 19-year-old potter’s daughter whose life changed forever when she was held to ransom by the Folville family while her father pays off his debt to them (The Outlaw’s Ransom). This installment is set in January 1330: King Edward III’s England is awash with the corruption and criminal activity that his mother, Queen Isabella had turned a blind eye to- providing it was to her advantage. Now, having claimed the Crown for his own, Edward is determined to clean up England. Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault and her special advisor- a man who knows the noble felons of the countries Midland region very well- KingEdward orders the arrest of five of the Folville brothers…including Robert deFolville, who has just married Mathilda of Twyford. For her own safety, Robert takes Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle, but no sooner has he left, when a maid is found murdered in the castle’s beautiful guest suite, the Fire Room. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was she the target, or is Mathilda deFolville’s life in danger? Asked to investigate by the sheriff in exchange for him deliberately taking his time in the hunt for her husband, Mathilda uncovers far more than murder.

Sounds like fun! What got you all fired up about this time period?

I’ve been fascinated with the early fourteenth century since I was fourteen, when I fell in love with the legends of Robin Hood. I read everything I could on the subject and the history that surrounds it. It soon became clear to me that if there had been a Robin Hood, he would have been around during the rule of one of the King Edward’s – probably Edward II or III (or both).  While at university, I completed a PhD on the subject of medieval crime and ballad literature. During the course of my research I came across the Folville family and was immediately fascinated by them. They were a noble family of seven brothers who took crime as their way of life. If you compare their crimes to those recorded in the earliest Robin Hood literature, there are many overlaps. I began to wonder if the brothers, from Ashby Folville in Leicestershire, were the inspiration behind the original ballads- or were they inspired by those ballads themselves?

In The Folville Chronicles I adopted this latter theory. That the Folville brothers, in particular Robert de Folville, were inspired by the code of conduct the Robin Hood ballads promoted. During the 1320’s and 1330’s England was in chaos; the law was corrupt – it’s not surprising that even their heroes were criminals.

I know this is completely unfair, but it’s my blog and I can jolly well ask what I want. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

I love the Fire Room scenes. This is the location at the heart of the mystery. A turret room in Rockingham Castle; it is surrounded by phoenix-covered tapestries which intrigue Mathilda- and with good reason.

Where can people learn more about your work… in all genres?

All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk

My Twitter accounts are @JenAshHistory@JennyKaneAuthor

Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/

Jenny Kane https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011235488766Amazon  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennifer-Ash/e/B01MDOGGJ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Watch for Acre’s Orphans, coming January 21, 2019


“… a splendid adventure laced with new perils at every turn…”  Barbara Barnett, Stoker award-winning author

Was Robin Hood Gay? We Ask NB Dixon

One of the most fun things about history is asking: “what if?”  That can cause all kinds of chaos. Additionally, there’s no quicker way to freak people out than to question the sexuality of a historical figure or at least portray them in some way different than the idealized picture of that person. There are fewer iconic characters than Robin Hood. So when you ask, “was Robin Hood gay?” You’re pretty much asking for trouble.

Yet, author NB Dixon has done just that. In a new series of Kindle novels, beginning with The Heir of Locksley, he (or she, cause we don’t know do we?) examines not only what we know about the legendary outlaw, but the relationships with his band of “Merry Men.”

Now, I could make jokes ( What, the emerald green tights weren’t a giveaway? Okay, sorry. I’m done acting like a 12 year old now.) but if Alexander the Great, Richard the Lion Heart and other historical figures haven’t already proven that having unconventional sexuality and being a badass aren’t mutually exclusive, I don’t know what will.

Tell us a little more about yourself. I notice you write incognito, so we don’t have a picture of you.

I’ve always loved history, and English history in particular. Trying to get in

Was Robin Hood Gay? Find out for yourself in this new novel, Heir of Locksley
Was Robin Hood really into Maid Marian? Find out for yourself in this new novel, Heir of Locksley

the minds of characters hundreds of years dead and portray how they would have thought and felt is what I love most about this type of fiction.

My parents gave me books as soon as I was able to hold one and so my love of literature was born. I’ve always had a taste for the dramatic, so Historical Fiction was perfect. It also means I get to indulge my love of Folklore and Medieval History.

My love affair with the Robin Hood legend began one day in a hidden corner of the school library and has extended into my adult life. I only hope I can convince my readers to love him as much as I do.

In a nutshell, what’s your book about?

Heir of Locksley is the first in a series chronicling the life of Robin Hood. While researching the legend, the thing that struck me most was the relationship between Robin Hood and his men. There is evidence to suggest that his sexuality was not as cut and dried as Hollywood would have us believe. Maid Marian does not even feature in the earliest tales. It was this bond between men that I chose to explore by means of a GLBT (or LGBT or however you want to arrange those letters where you live) theme.

A controversial take to be sure. Still, Robin Hood is one of my favorite stories as well. What is it about the legends and that time period you find so intriguing?

What I find most fascinating about this period is the odd mixture of honour and brutality that characterised it. Though I have to say, the sword fights are fun to write as well.

One of the abiding principles of this blog is, “swords are way cooler than guns,” so welcome aboard. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

It would be hard to pick a favourite scene, but I think the one where a young Robin takes part in an archery contest for the first time was particularly enjoyable to write.

Where can people find your book?

They can learn more about me and the books at my website, www.NBDixonauthor.com

You can find the book on Kindle at

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

Wayne Grant- Robin Hood, Viking Lads and Rampaging Welshmen

I am a sucker for any time period with swords, arrows and buckles being swashed. No big surprise, then, that I really enjoyed Wayne Grant’s “Saga of Roland Inness” series. It takes place during the same time period as Robin Hood, the Third Crusade and various unending wars in Wales.  What’s not to like?

So what’s the Wayne Grant story?

Author Wayne Grant
Author Wayne Grant

I grew up in a small cotton-farming community in Louisiana and escaped the cotton patch by going to West Point.  After graduation, I spent five years in the US Army during the post-Vietnam, Cold War period, stationed in West Germany and later, South Korea.  I later went on to a civilian career in government, including a senior position in the Pentagon during the Reagan years.  I’m retired from that world now and have been writing full time for the past two years.  I live in Raleigh, NC with my wife and have two grown sons.

So what’s the series, and in particular your first entry, “Longbow” about?

Longbow is the first book in a four book series (The Ballad of Roland Inness) that follows fourteen year old Roland Inness as he comes of age in 12th century England, where the Normans maintain a tight grip on their subjects. Roland tries to feed his starving family by poaching a deer on the Earl of Derby’s land, which brings down disaster on his family, as his father is killed by the Earl’s son and Roland is forced to become a fugitive.

Roland manages to elude capture with the aid of a strange monk named Tuck and ultimately finds refuge with a gruff Norman knight.  Sir Roger de Laval recognizes the boy’s skill with a longbow and other qualities that make Roland valuable as a squire.  Roland hates the Normans for killing his father, but comes to recognize through his new master that not all Normans are tyrants.  This is a story about vengeance, but also a tale of courage, and loyalty and family—all played out in a world of violence and intrigue.

I was corrupted early by Errol Flynn (that’s what she said…. sorry couldn’t help myself) what’s your excuse? What is it about that period you find so entertaining?

Longbow actually began fifteen years ago as a serial story for my two young sons.  I had just read a great history of the 3rd Crusade, so when they asked me for a story, I decided to tell them a tale about a boy squire who goes on Crusade.  The battles in the Holy Land and the events back in England are filled with larger-than-life characters (Richard, Saladin, evil Prince John, Queen Eleanor) that have inspired myths and legends ever since.

In a slight departure from historical fiction norms, I’ve incorporated both real and some legendary characters from that time in my story. I did not want to do a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, though Tuck and Robin are characters in my books, and so created my own hero, a young boy descended from the Viking invaders of England who has extraordinary skill with the longbow.

I don’t think it’s much of a departure, I did the same with The Count of the Sashara. It’s fun sometimes when history and pure nonsense mix, and you’ve done a good job.  Without giving away the store, what’s one of your favorite scenes in the book?

Longbow, the first book in the 4-part series.
Longbow, the first book in the 4-part series.

Roland witnesses Sir Roger’s daughter being taken prisoner by Welsh raiders.   Millicent de Laval has not been very kind to the new squire, but Roland knows his duty, and sets out on foot after her.  He uses all of his skill as a woodsman to track the girl and her captors into the wilderness of the Clocaenog forest of northern Wales.

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

You can find my books on my website www.waynegrantbooks.com,

or on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00JST7HYQ

or on Amazon UK at http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00JST7HYQ/

or on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8192923.Wayne_Grant