History and Fantasy for Kids with Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Stories were my gateway drug to travel, history and most of what I became curious about as an adult. Whether it was Classics Illustrated comics (yes, I was that nerdy) or Tom Swift books (yes, I’m that old) I always appreciated real history or science in with my fantastic stories. So when people ask me what their kids should be reading, I quote my mother and say, “I don’t care if it’s the back of the shampoo bottle as long as they read.”

That said, there’s a warm place in my heart for people who write histfic aimed at kids. Mix that with good fantasy and the little buggers will read. Our future depends on readers so… welcome Barbara Gaskell Denvil and her Bannister’s Muster kidlit series. Today we’re talking about the first book in the bunch, “Snap”.

Okay, Barbara, what’s your story?

I was born in England about 250 years ago, but spent most of my life on the move. I’ve adored living all over the place with many years in  England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Australia – and a number of other years on a boat sailing the Mediterranean in all that wonderful sunshine. How is that for inspiration? Actually I started writing when I was about six years old, it just seemed the natural thing to do, but after some years of working for magazines and publishers, I got married and had three daughters. It’s since the girls have grown up that I decided to start writing full length novels and have started with historical mysteries – medieval history fascinates me and I’ve researched it for years. I also adore writing fantasy, and my writing list combines both. Most of those are exclusive to Amazon – and I have loved writing every single one. Editor’s note, I suspect some exaggeration here but never talk about a lady’s age.

What’s Snap about?

This is the first book in a new children’s series I’ve just recently finished. I loved the idea of mixing my own favourite genres, that’s history and fantasy, with the endless appeal of mystery. So BANNISTER’S MUSTER is the name of the series, and Book 1 is called SNAP. Nathan is whisked away from his very normal life and is thrown back into Medieval London. He makes friends there of a small band of beggars and orphans who steal in order to eat and sleep rough.  Just as he is getting used to such a life, the whole gang is tossed into a new world called Lashtang – and this really is fantasy. Nathan and his little sister Poppy plus all his friends have a series of amazing adventures combining modern London, medieval London, and the world of Lashtang. The history is absolutely accurate and I think it’s a great way for kids to learn history from fiction. There are six books in this series, and the last one has just been published. They are available on Audible as well.

Why that story? What intrigued you about it?

I often dream about medieval London, and sometimes wake up thinking that’s where I live. It really fascinates me. I was very young when I first saw the film of Shakespeare’s Richard III, and I was intrigued to know whether this monster from the past was ever really that bad – or not. Now  taking a 12 year old boy and his sister and friends of various ages time traveling through to a completely strange world of imagination has been such a pleasure for me to write. It should appeal to those of about 8 years old to 14 years old – though many adults love the whole series too. Nathan is a typical boy, and that’s how I want him to be. I love wondering what it would be like to move from modern life to medieval life and then on to a dangerous life in a fantasy world, and back to the trials of the past. Pretty scary, I imagine – but terribly exciting. And that’s exactly what the book presents.

Sounds like Nathan and Lucca would get along well. What’s your        favorite scene in the book?

Perhaps right at the beginning when Nathan is all curled up in his comfy modern bed, and out of the mist comes a huge hot air balloon with a strange looking man peering over. He’s a wizard, and he tells Nathan to wake up – we’re off for an adventure. Nathan thinks he’s dreaming, but no, it’s all real as he soon finds out. He climbs from his bed into the balloon’s basket, and then it tips and he falls. It’s a long way to fall but he arrives on his feet – back in the 15th Century. And that’s where it all starts. But he certainly hasn’t seen the last of the wizard. The amazement and confusion is extremely  realistic. I can just imagine how I’d feel in the same situation. I wish !!

Brewster the wizard is not a nice character, but he’s not all bad either. He suddenly wants to help, but then suddenly wants to spoil everything. It takes Nathan a long time to understand Brewster.

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

All my books are available on Amazon, and this series of children’s books are also available on Audible. How’s that for a goodnight story? Just fall asleep listening to the greatest adventure you can imagine.

BANNISTER’S MUSTER – BOOK 1 – SNAP has won many awards, such as B.R.A.G., Award, CHILL WITH A BOOK Award, DISCOVERING DIAMONDS AWARD, READER’S FAVOURITE AWARD., etc.. Also found on Goodreads and other well known sites.

Here are some other links:

Website: – https://bannistersmuster.com/

Facebook for the author – https://www.facebook.com/B.GaskellDenvil

https://www.facebook.com/Bannisters-Muster-1458577257506291/ – Facebook page for this book

Not to barge in on Barbara’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans officially launched January 28th! You can order Paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. The e-book is Kindle only Please help me launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book  like Snap (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

Award-Winning People are Talking About Acre’s Orphans

Acre’s Orphans has been less than a week, so it’s too early to tell if anyone is actually going to buy it. But they ARE reading it. I know, because I’ve received some very kind words about it from people who win awards and stuff. Many of these are from terrific writers who have read, and enjoyed, Lucca’s adventures. These are writers who I am proud will even talk to me, let alone enjoy my work. (I would write an entire blog post about Impostor Syndrome, but I’m probably not up to it.) That’s a joke. Kinda.

My writing friend Jeffrey Walker, author of the Sweet Wine of Youth series about the First World War, recently showcased me on his blog. (Read the interview here). His last book, Truly are the Free, just won an Indie Brag award for historical fiction as well as a short-list for the Goethe Award


Acre’s Orphans is another rollicking and gritty medieval romp for Wayne Turmel’s utterly incorrigible—yet grudgingly adorable—orphan-hero, Lucca Le Pou. A delightful read for any historical fiction devotee, Turmel manages to render up the decaying Kingdom of Jerusalem accessible, violent, and naughty enough to hook any YA reader, too. Who knew Hospitaller knights and leprous nuns could be so cool?

Apparently someone else is a fan of leprous nuns, because Bradley Harper, author of the Edgar-award winning A Knife In the Fog told me his favorite part was the battle with the bandits where (avoiding big spoilers) poor Sister Marie-Pilar saves the day. You never know what people are going to take from your work, but I kinda dug that scene as well. Brad’s first novel has been short-listed for a a freakin’ Edgar award as Best First Novel. Here’s his review:

“Acre’s Orphans is an enjoyable excursion back to the battle for the Holy Land, contested by none other than the fierce but honorable Salah-Din. Ten-year-old Lucca the Louse has his hands full avoiding Saracen soldiers, merciless bandits, and a spy loyal to neither side but hoping to profit from both. The tale is faithful to history and the diverse culture of the region which exists up to the current day. The characters are well-drawn and the stakes are high when the boy is entrusted with an important message from the captured city of Acre, intended for the remnants of the Christian nobility along the northern coast, four days travel away.  Accompanied by a giant Knight Hospitaller, a young Druze girl on the cusp of womanhood, and a leprous nun, Lucca must get his ragged party safely to Tyre, where an uncertain reception awaits them all.”

Another award-winner is Barbara Barnett. She’s an insanely smart person whose novel The Apothecary’s Curse was short-listed for the 2017 Stoker award. She was the first to tell me in documented form what she thought…

“A splendid adventure laced with new perils at every turn for the young hero at the heart of Turmel’s latest excellent foray into the heart of the Crusades.”

We don’t write for awards. We sure don’t write for the money, but we do write to be read. To have my words enjoyed by people all over the world, including those whose talent I respect is more than a little fun. Just thought I’d share.

If you haven’t ordered your copy of Acre’s Orphans, or haven’t read the first of Lucca’s adventures, they are available on Kindle or in Paperback wherever you get your fix.

And please, leave a review. It’s like applause for the author.

It’s Here. Acre’s Orphans is Out in the World

Even in a city as dirty, crowded, and generally stinky as Acre the smell of smoke stands out from the other odors. There are two kinds of smoke smells. The good kind promises a warm charcoal fire on a cold, rainy day—or a hot meal pretty much any time.

Today, it was the bad kind, and far more exciting…

Acre’s Orphans is the continuing tale of Lucca Le Pou, an orphan boy on the streets of Acre-the wickedest city in the world. He may have survived the Battle of Hattin, but now his beloved city is about to fall to Salah-adin and the Saracens.

What’s left of the Kingdom of Jerusalem is fractured and fighting among itself. When he uncovers a plot to divide the remaining Crusaders, he must get news to the Tyre–the last remaining Crusader stronghold. Can he make it before it’s too late for everyone he loves?

If you’re one of the many readers from around the world who enjoyed Acre’s Bastard, this is the next journey. If you haven’t read the first book yet, this one stands alone and only adds to Lucca’s growing legend.


“The characters are intriguing, the plot is tight, and there is fresh adventure around every turn. Well worth the read”

Windy City Reviews

You can order Acre’s Orphans on Kindle or the paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Chapters.ca

New Zealand Pioneers and Smart Sheepdogs- Amanda Giorgis

Every country in the world has stories to tell about its founding or settling. Yet if you read historical fiction, it would appear the Americans and Brits have the market cornered. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but I love stories set in places I’ve never been, and aren’t the same old tropes rehashed (I’m looking at you, Civil War and Regency.) That leads us to Amanda Giorgis and her tale of New Zealand’s pioneering past, The Wideawake Hat.

Okay Amanda, let’s get to it. What’s your deal?

None of my family were surprised when I told them I had written a book, although the surprise was that it has taken me 62 years to do it! I grew up in a small village in Somerset, UK with imaginative parents who passed on their love of books and reading, and the rare ability to see through other people’s eyes and put myself in other’s shoes. I started life in teaching but fell by accident into computing at a time when the industry was dominated by men and ‘computing’ was not even a school subject.For most of my career I stayed around the world of education, making computer systems work for real people in colleges and universities in England. We, that is my husband Terry and I, made the long trip to New Zealand for a wedding in 1997 and fell in love with the country, but it took us another 9 years to form a decent plan to emigrate. We both wish we had done so 20 years earlier, when we were young enough to fully embrace the carefree outdoor lifestyle of this beautiful country.
It suits me fine that there’s little need to wear ‘posh’ clothes here. Nor do you feel like you are competing with your neighbours for the latest new thing. People take you as you are here. I like that. And it is hard not to be inspired by the scenery. One gets quite blasé about the mountains on your doorstep and the wide panoramas which we take for granted as we drive to the shops.
When I am not writing I am usually to be found in the garden battling the elements to force plants to grow in our wild environment, or walking our three rescue huntaway dogs, or in a church tower ringing bells. Bellringing is a passion I share with Terry. We met that way, when I was just a schoolgirl, and, over the years, we have made many friends and woven our lives around ringing church bells.

What’s the story behind The Wideawake Hat?

The Wideawake Hat is the first book in a series about the early settlers to New Zealand’s South Island. It tells the true story of James Mackenzie, a local folk hero after whom the Mackenzie Basin is named, and his clever sheep dog, Friday. Although the facts of James’ arrest for sheep rustling, and subsequent pardon, are irrefutable, what became of him is not certain. The book wraps a fictional scenario around the truth of the story. It begins in 1849 with the arrival in Port Chalmers of newly-weds, George and Sophia McKay. They journey inland to find a new home and, along with settlers from all parts of the Empire, form a new and thriving community.
The saga will continue weaving fact and fiction with the development of the Mackenzie Basin over the second half of the 19th century, and maybe beyond?

Why this story? What was it that was so interesting to you?

The 1850s in the South Island of New Zealand saw the start of European settlement. Before that only Maori had lived there, and they were relative newcomers to the land where strange and unique creatures like the kiwi had evolved undisturbed by human contact. I often wonder how these folk would have felt making a journey from which there was no likely return to a place they knew almost nothing about. Perhaps it would be like us taking on a voyage to the far reaches of the universe. 
Life was tough for the early explorers, many of whom had grown up with strict Victorian sensibilities. Genteel womenfolk who discarded their corsets and full skirts to work on the rough land in harsh weather. Young women who spent much of their adult life pregnant, and became accustomed to the loss of loved ones in the harsh conditions. The men – mainly the second sons of farmers, unlikely to inherit – forced to build shelter for their wives and children and to find food and carve a livelihood, unaware of the extremities of the climate and the vagaries of the indigenous flora and fauna.
I am fascinated by these pioneer souls and wonder if I would ever have had the courage to take the journey myself. I hope I would have done so. I would like to be like Sophia, my heroine.
The idea for the book didn’t come from Sophia though. It came from the tales that surround the mysterious James Mackenzie. He was arrested and imprisoned for sheep rustling and later pardoned because it was ruled that the use of his dog to prove his guilt was unlawful. That much is fact, but there are many stories about him which cannot be substantiated. The one which became the germ of my book is the story that tells of the three sets of footprints found in the wet ground when he was arrested. I asked the question, “Who could have made those other footprints?” And the answer is – my story!

Tough question- what’s your favorite scene?

I could choose so many scenes – maybe the one where James saves Sophia from the unwanted attentions of Thomas Baylis. Or the one where that same rogue, Thomas, meets his demise. Or maybe the trial scene where James begs to be able to hold his beloved dog one last time – that’s a real tear jerker.
In the end I have chosen the pivotal point of the story, where George is caught in a sudden storm. He tries to cross the swollen river on horseback to get home to Sophia. Roy, his dog, hitching a ride across the saddle. It is the part of the book I read aloud to people, but I have to stop at a certain point to avoid spoilers! It shows George’s naivety in building a flimsy bridge which cannot survive the storm and his lack of knowledge of the sudden changes in weather in this part of the world. Despite this, he does his best to get home to his beloved wife. I also like the loyalty of Roy, his dog, and his absolute faith in his master to do the right thing to save them all. It is the passage where most readers tell me they get hooked on the story, and one where a box of tissues may be required!

Where can folks go to learn more?

‘The Wideawake Hat’, published in October 2018, is available on Amazon as an e-book or paperback, and on Kobo as an e-book. The paperback version can also be purchased in New Zealand from my website.
Book 2 of the Applecross Saga, ‘Shepherd’s Delight’, will be available in mid-2019 from the same outlets.
My website is www.amandagiorgis.com
On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Amanda-Giorgis-2139172903077531/
On Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18484155.Amanda_Giorgis


Not to barge in on Amanda’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans officially launches January 28th! You can order Paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. The e-book is Kindle only Please help me launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book  like The Wideawake Hat (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

A Scottish Seafaring Mystery- Bill Kirton

I’ve always loved sea-faring stories, which is odd since I can get “mal-de-mer” in a hot tub. Still, the idea of being on a schooner is romantic and thrilling. Bill Kirton has captured that spirit, plus what historical fiction does best, he focuses on a little-known art: the carving of the elaborate figureheads ships bore. His two-part series The Figurehead, and his latest, The Likeness.

So, Bill. You’re an interesting cat. What’s your story?

I’ve been lucky. My main job was as a university lecturer teaching French, which involved sitting around with intelligent, dedicated young people talking about books. I also presented TV programmes during which I went hang-gliding, drove a racing car, flew a glider and a plane, interviewed people and failed miserably at water-skiing. I was a voice-over artist for radio and TV and wrote and performed songs and sketches at the Edinburgh Festival. I’ve also written, directed and acted in stage plays in Scotland and the USA.

What’s the plot of The Likeness?

The book’s set in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1841. It’s the sequel to my first historical novel, The Figurehead, and it features a figurehead carver, a visiting troupe of actors performing maritime melodramas, and the strong-willed daughter of a ship-owning merchant in the city. There’s a suspicious death (which the carver investigates), a romance, which started in the first book and comes to its maturity in the second, and the first steps of the heroine in the (man’s) world of early Victorian commerce.

It was written to satisfy the demands of some readers who said nice things about The Figurehead, and pressured me to write a sequel.

That’s how Acre’s Orphans came about, readers wouldn’t let me give Lucca any rest. What is it about the story that     had you so fascinated?

The book had a strange genesis. I’d written five modern crime novels and a non-writing friend said to me ‘You should write about a figurehead carver.’ ‘Why?’ I said, and he just shrugged his shoulders. But I love anything connected with the old, square-rigged sailing ships and Aberdeen has such a great ship-building past that I was hooked on the idea. It also gave me an excuse to learn wood carving (so that I could convey how it feels to create figureheads) and fulfil a fantasy by being part of the crew on the beautiful Danish sailing ship, Christian Radich, on a trip from Oslo to Aberdeen.

I know this is an unfair question, but do you have a favorite scene?

Helen Anderson, the female lead, is often a scene-stealer, so any time she appears, things happen, but the activities of the actors during play rehearsals and performances, as well as the workings of stage machinery and effects in Victorian theatre are fascinating. From that, I even learned where the expression ‘You’ve stolen my thunder’ came from.

There’s also Helen’s voyage on board one of her father’s ships. And the final two scenes – the ‘reveal’ of whodunit, then the decision the carver and Helen eventually make about their future. Writing all of them presented different challenges so it’s hard to pick a favourite.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

My website and blog are at www.billkirton.com and both books are on Amazon, where my author page is https://www.amazon.com/Bill-Kirton/e/B001KDNSLY, and Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/1100307.Bill_Kirton

And on Twitter, I’m @carver22

Not to barge in on Bill’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans is now  available for pre-order on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. Please help us launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book  like The Likeness (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

Jack the Ripper Meets Conan Doyle- Bradley Harper

The best part of writing (or reading) historical fiction is the “what if” game. So here’s one for you. What if Arthur Conan Doyle was caught up in the Jack the Ripper investigation and THAT’S what gave birth to Sherlock Holmes? You gotta admit, that’s a good one, and it’s the premise of Bradley Harper’s novel, A Knife in the Fog.

I stumbled across the book while listening to Ilana Masad’s podcast, The Other Stories (check it out.)

So, Brad, what’s your deal?

I’m a retired US Army pathologist with over 200 autopsies to my credit, about twenty of which were forensic in nature. Prior to attending med school I was an Airborne Infantry officer who had a bad encounter with an army physician, and I decided I could do better. I’ve had four commands, served in the Pentagon on the personal staff of the US Army Surgeon General, and while supporting US Special Forces in Colombia had a $1.5 million bounty on my head for anyone who could deliver me alive to the FARC (offer no longer valid, by the way). In Nov-Dec timeframe my wife of forty-five years and I portray a happily married couple from the North Pole at a local theme park. I’m a soft touch however, and only threaten those on the Naughty List with Spiderman Underoos or burnt cookies.

You are a doctor, double as Santa Claus AND write  your butt off. That’s a good life you got going. What’s the premise behind Knife  in the Fog?

My book is a work of historical fiction, in which I put a relatively unknown young Arthur Conan Doyle on the trail of Jack the Ripper, until the Ripper begins stalking him. I did extensive historical research into the Ripper murders, the Whitechapel area, and Victorian society. I relied heavily upon the expertise of Ripper historian Richard Jones, who besides having two books to his credit on the Ripper, runs a walking tour company that goes in Whitechapel at night. I bought out an evening tour so for some three hours the two of us ambled through the Ripper’s old hunting grounds, and stopped for a drink at the Ten Bells, a pub that served two of the Ripper’s victims, and is still in business today. 

That’s a killer premise. How’d it come to you?

My idea for the book came to me one day while reading about Doyle on Wikipedia. I was surprised to learn that there was a four-year gap between the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet (written 1886, released 1887), and the Sign of Four (written and released in 1890). Doyle had a terrible time getting anyone interested in the first story, and in the end settled for twenty-five pounds and loss of copyright just to get it published. Doyle was so embittered that he swore to never write another “crime story.” The Ripper murders happened in late summer and early fall of 1888, and I conceived of a tale involving Doyle that would explain why he eventually agreed to return to Holmes and why the Ripper suddenly stopped without ever knowingly being caught. The idea just grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. 

Tell us about one particular scene in your book

During my walk with Mr Jones he mentioned that the discovery of the body of the Ripper’s fifth victim, Mary Kelly, coincided with the installation of the new Lord Mayor of London, scarcely a mile away, and that thousands of people left the ceremony to witness her body’s removal. The report at the time mentioned that the crowd was utterly silent as her body was carted away in a simple wooden box. I interspersed the sights and sounds of the formal ceremony with this scene of pathos, and had the sounds of celebration just discernible to the silent witnesses to the Ripper’s foul handiwork. 

It was a similar one-on-one with a tour guide that inspired Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans. What else should we know?

My book is available at all major bookstores and most independents that deal with mystery, as well as Amazon, and an audio book (Tantor Media)  and ebook format are also available. I was flattered to be allowed to choose the narrator, and Mathew Lloyd Davies, who won an Audie in 2018, just blew me away. A former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, his narration is really a performance. Hearing my words voiced by a professional actor was a thrill I really can’t describe.

Not to barge in on Brad’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans is now available for pre-order on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. Please help us launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book  like Knife in the Fog (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

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

Advance Love for Acre’s Orphans from Smart People

So one of the things about writing books and trying to get them out into the world is the need for “blurbs.” You’ve seen them: “I laughed, I cried, it was better than Wicked…”

Well, I have two blurbs from very smart people, and thought I’d share them with you before you see them on the cover somewhere…

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Hey, when a Stoker award winner says nice things, you kinda listen…

First, Barbara Barnett, a VERY smart person (like scary, MENSA smart) and the author of two terrific books, the Bram Stoker Award-winning The Apothecary’s Curse, and the soon to be released, The Alchemy of Glass, said this about Lucca’s latest adventure…


“A splendid adventure laced with new perils at every turn for the young hero at the heart of Turmel’s latest excellent foray into the heart of the Crusades.” 

Jeff’s first book in the Sweet Wine of Youth series is a great read.

Then Jeffrey K Walker, my writing buddy, sometimes Twitter foil, and nobody’s fool chimed in. He’s the author of a terrific series of WW1 novels: None of Us the Same, and Truly are the Free.

“Acre’s Orphans is another rollicking and gritty medieval romp for Wayne Turmel’s utterly incorrigible—yet grudgingly adorable—orphan-hero, Lucca Le Pou. A delightful read for any historical fiction devotee, Turmel manages to render up the decaying Kingdom of Jerusalem. It’s accessible, violent, and naughty enough to hook any YA reader, too. Who knew Hospitaller knights and leprous nuns could be so cool?”

Well, I did, but I’m biased. Pre-orders should be available by January 1.

I am a Terrible Person. I Kind of Dig It.

I am a terrible, awful, very bad person.

This is clear to me now. There’s no avoiding it. I mean, I don’t kick kittens or steal Salvation Army kettles or anything like that. But I am an objectively evil person because, as a writer, I kind of enjoy torturing my readers. That’s not nice, right?

Example 1: Acre’s Bastard  

My new novel, Acre’s Bastard will be out in January of 2017 and available in all formats and online stores

So, prepublication for the book, I was sending out copies to some folks who said they’d read an advance copy and maybe give me some quotes or reviews. I didn’t know many of these folks, and they’d all read a synopsis. The next day I got a Facebook message from one of these ladies giving me hell and saying I should have put a content warning on the book and I was an irresponsible author for not telling people that certain content might not be appropriate.

Remember, this is Acre’s Bastard. The one many people say is really a (shiver) YA book in disguise. What had gotten her so upset?

The exact quote was, “the graphic sexual assault in chapter 2 triggered my PTSD and really upset me. If you’d put a warning up front I never would have read this horrible thing.”

I was mortified. I don’t want to belittle her experience, and I truly am sorry I upset her. I  went to several other people for their opinion. They all felt it was fine, and she was overreacting. I sent her a note saying there were no hard feelings for her posting her feelings all over Facebook for complete strangers and potential readers to see (even though I thought it was a bit much, you can’t discount people’s feelings or experience.)

Here’s what makes me a bad person: Once I got over the shock of her reaction, one thought kept recurring to me. I was actually kinda proud of myself. To get that reaction,  I must have written the s@#$t out of that scene. It made me smile. Still does. I’m a bad person.

Example 2: Los Angeles, 1952

This is one of my favorite short stories (you can read it here and judge for yourself.) I’ve never been able to find a home for it, for two reasons. First, it’s over 5000 words, and in this world where most short stories are published online, that pretty much makes it War and Peace. Secondly though, it contains a certain word. A word I’ve never used in real life and makes me cringe. You know, the N word.

Just last week a magazine editor told me how much he enjoyed the story, thought it was very well written, but “some of the language” made him uncomfortable and he couldn’t publish it. Now, I can protest (as I often do) that the language and behavior of the characters are not necessarily those of the management. Truth is, when I thought of Lorna yelling that word during the excitement of a boxing match, I smiled because I knew how readers would respond. When I brought it into my writers group, I could hear gasps when they got to “that scene” and it made me happy to my toes. Again, not very nice of me was it?

The latest example: Acre’s Orphans

A character dies in chapter 12. A character a lot of people are very fond of. And I laughed out loud when it came to me. Not in a text-y LOL kind of way, but really laughed. So loud it scared Byron, my cockatiel. Not because it wasn’t sad, but because if I did my job right it would elicit a South Park “you bastards you killed Kenny” moment. When several of my beta readers told me how they reacted, I didn’t apologize. I didn’t shrink. I soaked up their emotional responses, lit a cigar and thought, “yeah baby. That’s my job.”

The truth is, I like making people laugh. I like making them cheer, but I also like making them have an unexpected emotional reaction. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s horror, or sadness, or disgust. Good. That’s my freaking job.

Someone once said that being a novelist is like telling a joke and waiting 6 months for the laugh. It’s true. If a writer touches you in the feels, let him or her know. Better yet tell them AND Amazon with a review.It’s kinda why we do this.

Even if it means we have to admit we’re terrible, awful, really bad people.

 

15th Century Rom-Com Susan Appleyard

https://www.amazon.com/Crown-Pride-Honour-Wars-Roses-ebook/dp/B07DZMVKFJ/I define historical fiction as any fiction taking place in a different time in history than the one we’re in now. This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how picky some people (also known as histfic snobs) can be. For example, if there’s enough real history involved, I include alternative history and historical fantasy. Many don’t, and are quite cranky about it. The point is, it can cover many genres, and today’s interview is about a light, romantic tale that takes place in the 15th Century: Susan Appleyard’s “For the Crown.”

Susan, tell us about you…

I was born in England, which is where I learned to love English history, and now live in Canada in the summer with my three children and six grandchildren. In winter my husband and I flee the cold for Mexico, sun, sea and margaritas on the beach. I divide my time between writing and my new hobby, oil painting but writing will always be my first love

 

What’s For the Crown about?

A new departure for me from historical fiction, my latest book ‘For the Crown’ is a historical romance with a dash of humour. The hero is Robbie, Bastard of Ovedale, a warden on the border with Scotland. On one of his forays chasing cattle thieves, he captures a Scots girl, Mary Margaret Douglas and hopes to exchange her for a nice ransom. This plan is disrupted when her family refuses to take her back because she has been ‘ruined’ by the English. Robbie doesn’t know what to do with her. He is forced to take her with him when he goes to war. There is a great deal of dislike and distrust between English and Scots at this time. Robbie has to keep her safe and finds himself falling in love with her.

What is it about this time period that has you so fascinated?

The story is set in the fifteenth century, in the period known as the Wars of the Roses, a very turbulent time in English history as two rival claimants fought for the crown. I have written other books about this period and never tire of reading about it, which proves you can enjoy a story even when you know the ending. The wars provide an exciting background to the development of a mismatched love affair.

History isn’t all battles and daring-do. This is a fun idea. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

My favourite scene in the book – always a difficult choice for an author is the one where Mary drops the bombshell on Robbie that he loves her. (Yes, you read that right.) Robbie is pole-axed. The poor fellow had no idea and thinks the very idea is absurd because they are so wrong for each other. He is a little dense when it comes to matters of the heart but eventually sees that she is right.

Where can people learn more about your book and your work?

I’m on Smashwords

My Amazon Author Page

Amazon UK

My blog: www.susanappleyardwrite.wordpress.com

My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/susan.appleyard.9

My Twitter account: https://twitter.com/Mexisue1

The sequel to Acre’s Bastard is Coming January 21, 2019!

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