Guest post from Jennifer Ash, author of The Outlaw’s Ransom

The Outlaw’s Ransom: Mathilda of Twyford

First of all, I must thank my lovely friend Laura for allowing me to visit her site as part of my first blog tour as Jennifer Ash (I have loitered here once or twice before under the guise of Jenny Kane.)

It’s always a treat to have you over, whether you’re Jenny or ‘newbie’ Jennifer!

outlaws-ransom-finalWithin The Outlaw’s Ransom, my fourteenth century protagonist is a nineteen year old woman called, Mathilda of Twyford. In the medieval period, nineteen was the age of a full grown woman. Most would be married and have children by that age. Mathilda however, is single, as she’s been looking after her father and brothers, running the home and the family pottery business since the death of her mother. That situation however, changes abruptly when she is forced to get to know the notorious Folville family rather better than she would have liked.

Suddenly, Mathilda finds herself surrounded by criminals and under a very frightening type of suspicion…

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.

***

Put aside any images of women being weak in the middle ages to one side- they may well have been put upon, forgotten, and taken for granted maybe, but weak? Never. Or at least, not for long.

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

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

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

Here’s a little taster from the very start of the story, where you meet Mathilda at her most disadvantaged. A position from which she grows determined to kick some serious medieval butt….

Extract

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her.

Wrapping her thin arms around her chest, Mathilda pulled up her hood, hugged her grey woollen surcoat tighter about her shoulders, and sent an unspoken prayer of thanks to Our Lady for the fact that her legs were covered.

She’d been helping her two brothers, Matthew and Oswin, to catch fish in the deeper water beyond the second of Twyford’s fords when the men had come. Mathilda had been wearing an old pair of Matthew’s hose, rolled up past her knees, but no stockings or shoes. She thought longingly of her warm footwear, discarded earlier with such merry abandon. She’d thrown haphazardly beneath a tree in her eagerness to join the boys in their work. It was one of the only jobs their father gave them that could have been considered fun.

Mathilda closed her eyes, angry as the tears she’d forbidden herself to shed defied her and fell anyway. With them came weariness. It consumed her, forcing her to sink lower onto the rotten floor. Water dripped into her lank red hair. The tussle of her capture had loosened Mathilda’s neatly woven plait and now it hung awkwardly, half in and half out of its bindings, like a badly strapped sheaf of straw.

She tried not to start blaming her father, but it was difficult not to. Why hadn’t he told her he’d borrowed money from the Folvilles? It was an insane thing to do. Only the most desperate …

Mathilda stopped her thoughts in their tracks. They were disloyal and pointless.

They’d been relatively well-off when Mathilda was younger. They’d owned four horses, chickens, a cow and a goat, and three furlongs for planting vegetables and a small amount of wheat. There was also the pottery shed and kiln where her father made his tableware and cooking pots, and a small orchard which backed onto the two-roomed house. Slowly, over the past few years, it had almost all been sold off. Only the workhouse, orchard, one horse and cart, and a single furlong remained.

Now she had nothing to do but think, Mathilda realised that her father had been that desperate. . He’d been a tall man once, but since his forty-fifth year he’d dwindled, his beard dappled with more grey by the day. It was as if he’d become disillusioned; fed up with the routine of daily existence without her mother. Until now, Mathilda had been so busy making the best of things, she hadn’t had time to see their situation for what it was.

Since her mother had died four years ago, the cooler weather, and the disastrous crop failure a few harvests back, combined with the decline in the demand for locally made pottery had taken their tool. Ceramic tableware from the south, Wales, and even France flooded the market, and her father hadn’t been able to compete. Each time he travelled the ten miles to the weekly market at Leicester to sell his pots, he came home more dejected than the trip before, and with more and more unsold stock.

Last time her father had travelled into Leicester he’d returned home early, a desolate figure, with a cartload of broken pottery shards. A thief had struck in the market place, and in their unthinking eagerness to apprehend the villain the bailiff’s men had run roughshod through the stalls, toppling her father’s table as they went, leaving him with broken stock and an increasingly broken faith.

‘Our Lady,’ Mathilda muttered in the gloom, her voiced hushed in fear, ‘please deliver me from this place.’ Then, guilty at having asked for something so boldly from someone she’d begun to neglect of late, Mathilda added, ‘I’m sorry, Our Lady, forgive me. I’m frightened, that’s all. Perhaps, though, you could take care of my brothers and my father.’

Mathilda didn’t even know if any of her kin were still alive. The Folvilles’ reputation made it more than possible that they’d all been killed.

The men had taken her so easily; lifting her bodily from the water as if she was as light as air. Bundled into a covered wagon, Mathilda had been transported to the manor at Ashby Folville in the company of a large man who stank of fish. He’d tied her hands behind her back and sat over her, shoving a filthy rag between her lips to fend off the protests that failed to escape from her mouth.

The journey, although bumpy and bruising, couldn’t have been further than two miles. On arrival Mathilda had been untied and un-gagged and, having been thoroughly stared at from top to bottom by her impertinent guardian, who seemed to have the ability to see through her clothes to the flesh beneath, then wordlessly bundled below stairs to her current lonely location. Her stomach growled, complaining pointlessly at its emptiness. Mathilda was cross with herself. How could she even consider food when her family was in danger?

‘Just as well I don’t want to eat,’ she told herself sternly, ‘as I probably won’t ever see food again.’ Then she collapsed to the cold damp ground, the terror and shock of the morning abruptly washing over her in a wave of misery.

 

Mathilda had no idea how long she’d been in the cell when a large hand gripped her shoulder and shook her awake. Fear crept back over her like a heavy blanket as the light from the adjoining room illuminated the mocking face of her gaoler.

‘You’re wanted, girl.’ Dragging her by the arm, he took no notice of the fact he was bumping her legs against the stone steps as he removed her from her prison.

‘Where are you talking me?’ Mathilda’s voice wavered as she tried not to trip over her own feet.

‘You’ll see.’ Increasing the squeeze of her upper arm, he propelled Mathilda along a corridor, before pushing her before him into a large open hall, shouting ahead, ‘You want me to tie her up?’

Mathilda didn’t hear anyone answer. The hall was foggy from a poorly set fire, and it took her a few moments to take in her surroundings as she was pushed towards a long table. The smoke stung her eyes, and she blinked against the light.

Her arms and feet hadn’t been tied, but as a precaution against Mathilda’s potential escape, the surly man stood uncomfortably close to her. Now her senses were slowly coming back under her control, Mathilda recognised him as the person who’d stolen here from her home. The unpleasant odour of ale, sweat and fish made his identity as her original kidnapper unmistakable.

As the fishy aroma assaulted Mathilda’s nostrils once more, her thoughts flew to her brothers. Desperate for news of her family, she opened her mouth to speak, but another man raised his hand, warning for her to remain silent, before the words had chance to form.

Mathilda stared at the shape of this new figure came properly into focus through the smoke. He was finely dressed in a peacock blue cloak, with a green and brown tunic and matching hose. Despite the fine braiding around his collar, she could tell this was not a man of high birth, nor was he the sheriff or bailiff. This probably made him one of the lesser nobility or a public servant.

Swallowing nervously, Mathilda lowered her gaze to the floor in a natural response to before her betters – even if ‘betters’ was entirely the wrong description in this case. This man had to be a Folville. Mathilda began to shake with increased fear as a million possibilities of what might happen to her next flew around her brain. None of them were pleasant.

***

I hope that perked your interest!

Thanks again for letting me pop by Laura!

***

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom 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

Bio-

20160630_135550-1Jennifer Ash is the author of the medieval murder mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom (Dec, 2016). Her second novel, The Winter Outlaw, with be published in 2017.

You can find detail’s of Jennifer’s stories at www.jenniferash.co.uk

Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane

Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016),  Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017.

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

 

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Revenge: A dish best eaten cold? Guest Post by JA Corrigan

Final cover high resPlease welcome debut author JA Corrigan to the blog. JA’s novel, Falling Suns, is published on 14th July by award-winning press, Accent, and it is a cracking read. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Here, she talks about revenge and its links to tragedy tradition. Thank you, JA.

The Revenge Plot is one of the oldest in history and sits easily alongside The Tragedy Plot. In fact, as the most famous of revenge plots shows us – Shakespeare’s Hamlet of course – revenge and tragedy are inextricably linked.

I pondered on this for some time.

Are they linked because essentially revenge is an unethical act and so therefore the result of retribution will always be tragic or, is the desire for revenge a natural human instinct that through religious and spiritual teachings has been demonised? The ultimate act of revenge is murder; a sin within all the major religions of the world, and in all civilised societies, a crime.

The thirst for revenge is one of the oldest human compulsions, and so using it as a theme in a novel, play or poem, stands up there as a premise that will always be interesting, throw up questions and cause angst – for both the writer and the reader. Revenge is often the precursor to a tragedy, just as much as the love story. The outcome of the act of retribution, I decided, could never be a good one.

And yet, the need and desire to ‘put right’ a wrongdoing, a brutal act, is so strong, and so much built into the human psyche that it is a storyline that for me, was hard to resist.

There can be no revenge without its ramification – that of tragedy.

Alongside the theme of revenge sat the idea of the strongest of human emotions – that of maternal love – and this too emerged as part of the premise for my story. Rachel adores her son and yet … in the opening of the novel we sense that this is not enough for her, that she wants and needs to return to her job, and with this realisation the seed is sown that Joe’s disappearance is somehow her fault.

In the early stages of planning my story, and with the theme of uncompromising maternal love imprinted inside my mind, I began to have the thought of how I could turn the trope of maternal love upside down and push it inside out. How an emotion that is considered good and nurturing can become bad and parasitic.

I knew I had to explore both.

When I first began to outline the plot for Falling Suns I did wrestle with myself. Could I possibly have a protagonist, and maintain my readers’ sympathy for her, when she is planning revenge and cold-blooded murder?

In the comfort of our own home, sitting on the sofa, many of us have said: ‘If he/she did that to one of mine I’d kill them.’ Fortunately this scenario is rare; i.e. that the person saying the sentence will actually be placed within the tragic circumstances to carry out such a threat. But what if you are placed in that position? What if your child was brutally murdered by a person that in time you were able to confront … and take revenge by taking the murderer’s life? What if you possessed all the tools, the emotional and mental strength to do what others could only imagine? What if?

This is the premise for Falling Suns: that Rachel Dune, the distraught and grieving mother, plans her revenge on the man who has been placed in a psychiatric unit for the brutal murder of her son. But as the story unfolds and as Rachel begins to unearth from the depths of her consciousness her own past, she begins to question that perhaps revenge is not what will appease her grief. As with many revenge plots there are other variables at play for Rachel, and it is not until she is able to explore these other factors that she slowly recognises the flaws in her plan, and the defects within her own family.

Revenge for Rachel is a need; a need that could destroy her, a need that can only end in tragedy – but not the tragedy that she herself foresees.

It is the tragedy of her past and all that lives there.

Blurb:

faalling suns preA psychological thriller for fans of Belinda Bauer, Mark Edwards, Clare Mackintosh – a dark and brooding tale about the horrors that can lurk within a family.

Ex-DI Rachel Dune’s small son is missing. Then his body is discovered. Her cousin Michael is found guilty of his murder and incarcerated in a secure psychiatric unit.

Four years later, now divorced and back in the police force, Rachel discovers that Michael is being released to a less secure step-down unit, with his freedom a likely eventuality. Unable to cope with this, she decides upon revenge, assuming a new identity to hunt him down. However, as she closes in on her target, her friend Jonathan, a journalist, uncovers unnerving information about her mother and others in her family. Jonathan begins to suspect that Rachel’s perception of the truth might not be as accurate as she thinks.

About JA Corrigan

DSC_1184JA Corrigan is originally from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, but now lives in Berkshire and shares her life with a husband, a teenage daughter and a cute cockapoo.

When not writing she is either walking the dog, reading, or cooking. She also likes to run, and drink white wine infused with hints of vanilla or gooseberries.

Falling Suns is a great, tense read. You can check out my review here.

To buy Falling Suns:

https://www.waterstones.com/book/falling-suns/julie-ann-corrigan/j-a-corrigan/9781786152497

https://bookshop.theguardian.com/catalog/product/view/id/414323/

http://amzn.to/1YbkLHg (PB)

http://amzn.to/1OekOQZ (Kindle)

http://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/falling-suns/9781786152497

Guest post – Writing Jeanne Eagels: Unlocking the Enigma by Tara Hanks

Today, it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce readers to novelist, biographer, reviewer, blogger and all round good egg, Tara Hanks. As well as reviewing for respected mags like For Books’ Sake, running her own blog, penning articles and writing books, Tara raises two lovely boys. We met many years ago now – through the hagsharlotsheroines project – and so it’s fitting that Tara writes about one of her heroines in her latest book Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed. Take it away, Tara.

Jeanne Eagels A Life RevealedI first heard of Jeanne Eagels through another tragic star, and heroine of my second novel. Marilyn Monroe wanted to play Sadie Thompson in Rain, the role that Eagels made immortal. I referenced her twice in The Mmm Girl, but she remained a mystery. What did Lee Strasberg, godfather of Method acting, see in Marilyn that reminded him of Jeanne?
My previous books were fiction, but closely based on fact. Since I discovered blogging, however, I’ve come to enjoy writing articles and reviews – initially to promote my novels – but as I grew more confident, I began covering a wider range of subjects, including literature, art, music and film.
One of the benefits of writing about a subject as famous as Monroe is that there are plenty of experts out there. Thanks to the internet, I was able to connect with them despite geographical barriers. One of the Monroe authors I’ve got to know is Eric M. Woodard, whom I first contacted around ten years ago when I ordered a signed copy of his first book, Hometown Girl. We stayed in touch through various fansites and on social media.
Eric is a native of Florida, although he recently moved to Palm Springs, California. An accomplished graphic designer, he has worked as a spokesman for the estate of the late William Travilla, costumier to everyone from Marilyn to the stars of TV’s Dallas. In 2013, Eric wrote an article for Examiner.com, ‘Marilyn Monroe and Rain: The Project That Never Came to Be’, based on archive material from the ill-fated production. While researching Monroe’s lost role, Eric became interested in Jeanne Eagels, the hallowed actress who started it all.
That summer, Eric asked me to read a draft first chapter for a proposed biography on Eagels. I was fascinated, and made some suggestions which led to a contract with Bearmanor Media, an independent publisher dedicated to uncovering Hollywood’s forgotten history. It was then that Eric invited me to co-write Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed.
BackCoverCropWhereas Monroe has inspired hundreds of books, there was only one biography of Jeanne: Eddie Doherty’s The Rain Girl, published in 1930, a year after her death. It was initially serialized in Liberty magazine (the Heat of its day), with this tagline: “Genius and Drunkard—Artist and Hellion—Poet and Devil—She Battled to the Stars!”
Although quite well-researched, Doherty’s account was critically panned, drawing accusations of sensationalism from Jeanne’s friends and family. Almost thirty years would pass before her life was given the Hollywood treatment. Novelist John Fante – whose tales of Los Angeles lowlife would make him a posthumous cult figure – was among a team of writers assigned to bring Jeanne’s story to the big screen.
Unfortunately, the resulting biopic bore scant resemblance to the truth. Jeanne, as played by Kim Novak, was depicted as a former carnival dancer who clawed her way to the top, when in fact she had enjoyed a long, distinguished theatrical career. Worst of all, it was falsely alleged that she had ‘stolen’ the role of Sadie Thompson from another actress, who then committed suicide. The cruel, unfair perception of Eagels as a delusional, drug-crazed diva was thus cemented in the public imagination.
The lion’s share of research was conducted by my writing partner, Eric. With most of Jeanne’s peers long dead, he delved into the vaults. ‘Newspaper archives and genealogical websites are the key,’ he told me in a recent email. ‘Lots of printouts, three-hole-punched, and chronologically placed into notebooks. Gone through with a highlight marker, and then either written out on pads of paper (my preference), or inputted directly into the computer.’ We also read widely in order to better understand the times in which Jeanne lived.
Some of the misunderstandings about Jeanne were propagated by the actress herself. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the mass media was still in its formative stage, and fact-checking was a haphazard process. Eagels would often embellish her humble background – she was born in 1890, to a large, working-class family in Kansas City – and her flair for drama wasn’t confined to the stage. She was a remarkably eloquent interviewee, whose stubborn independence was often mistaken for egotism. Nonetheless, her highly personal approach to acting anticipated Lee Strasberg’s ‘Method’, and he would acknowledge her performance in Rain as a seminal influence.
While writing her story, I learned about Broadway in its golden age, as well as the early days of silent film and the rise of talking pictures. While many movies from this era are now lost, two of her early performances can be viewed online at Thanhouser.org, while her transition to sound in The Letter – has been digitally restored, and is now available on DVD.
The theatre was Jeanne’s first love, and she would never play Sadie Thompson on the screen. Gloria Swanson beat her to it – and after Jeanne’s death, Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth would star in remakes of Rain. It remained a staple of American theatre for half a century, but it now seems rather dated. Every actress who took on the role of Sadie would be compared to Eagels, and was inevitably found wanting.
As with so many stars who die young, the fiercest debate about Jeanne is focused on the circumstances of her untimely death. She was first believed to have died of alcoholic psychosis, but unconfirmed reports suggested she was also using heroin. It was later revealed that she had been under the care of a controversial doctor for many years – in fact, she died in the waiting room of his exclusive Manhattan practice. It is with that doctor, we believe, the answer lies.
Our book also includes an index, and a full bibliography which details all references used. Eric also acquired over a hundred photographs, some not seen since first publication. Over the next six months, he would send me draft chapters, which I then polished and expanded – adding my own research and commentary. We then spent another six months revising the manuscript before submitting to the publisher. At every stage, it has been a partnership of equals.
As we worked with editors, new information came our way – firstly as the archives of the Kansas City Star, Jeanne’s hometown newspaper, were opened; and secondly, when Eric acquired an archive of around fifty original photographs at auction. Finally, fellow biographer Michelle Morgan – author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed – wrote a preface to our book.
Two years in the making, Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed was published in June 2015, on the eve of what would have been her 125th birthday. Unveiling the mysteries of Jeanne’s life (and dispelling the myths) has been a mammoth task, and we have hopefully served a measure of belated justice to a brilliant, complex woman.

About Tara

authorpicTara Hanks is the author of two novels: Wicked Baby (2004), based on the events of the Profumo Affair; and The Mmm Girl (2007), about the life of Marilyn Monroe, as she might have told it herself; and a biography, Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed (2015, with Eric M. Woodard.) Tara also writes about literature, art, music and film at For Books’ Sake, ES Updates, and Art Decades magazine. Find out more here.

To buy Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed please click HERE.

Thanks, Tara, and Good Luck with the book. Can’t wait to read my copy.

 

 

Sweet Talking in Cornwall: Guest post from Jenny Kane

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome fellow Accent Press author Jenny Kane to my blog. Jenny is the best-selling author of Another Cup of Coffee and is here to talk about her next novel, Abi’s House. Set in Cornwall it has all the elements of a delightful, romantic read. Anyway, you’re here to listen to Jenny, not me, so I’ll shut up. Here’s the literary baton, Jenny.

Abi’s House – A Cornish Escape

Abi's House_edited-1What would you do if your life was tilted on its axis and, suddenly, you found yourself free of an existence that had long since stopped being happy? Where would you go? What would you do?

Abi Carter is about to ask those very questions – and the answer is to escape to the seaside…

Blurb

Newly widowed at barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives-style life that Luke, her late husband, had been so keen for her to live.

Abi decides to fulfil a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in a Cornwall as a child she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House. Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories … maybe even buy a place of her own nearby?

On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, is new to the village. He soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams … but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind … Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?

***

When I first began thinking about writing Abi’s House, Cornwall seemed the obvious choice of places to send Abi to start her new life. Not only is the pace of life in the south-west of England a million miles from that of London and its suburbs, and therefore would provide the peace that Abi needs, but Cornwall- particularly the foot of the county – is a place I (like Abi) knew well as a child.

My father was born and raised in Penzance. My Grandad was a butcher in a shop along Market Jew Street, and my Nan ran a bed and breakfast down Alma Place. I have clear memories of walking through Penzance, eating fudge from the home made sweet shop, visiting Marazion, St Michael’s Mount, St Just, Lamorna, Sennen Cove, and all the other places mentioned on Abi’s escape to the south of England.

Not only was creating Abi’s House was a real trip down memory lane for me, it was also a change of direction. After writing two quite dark stories recently (as Kay Jaybee), I felt the need to write the sort of novel that could be enjoyed when sat curled up on the beach, or in the garden on a sunny day- a real piece of feel good fiction.

Abi’s House will be published by Accent House on June 13th 2015 (Kindle) and June 19th 2015 (Paperback) – http://www.accentpress.co.uk/Book/12915/Abis-House

Pre-order links:

Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711175&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-2&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane
Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711343&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

***

Many thanks for letting me pop by to chat about my latest novel Laura!

Happy reading,

Jenny.

It’s been a pleasure and good luck with the book. What a gorgeous cover.

Bio

Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance/medieval crime time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance  Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s third full length romance novel, Abi’s House, will be released in June 2015, and Another Glass of Champagne will be published in 2016.

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Coming soon from Hushpuppy)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee.

Guest interview: Shirley Golden

Award-winning short story writer Shirley Golden has a collection out, Exposing the False Moon, and, despite being shy and private, she agreed to pop over and take part in my occasional, slightly frivolous, interview series. I adore Shirley’s work and Exposing the False Moon is an absolute treat. I’m including my review after our chat. So, thank you for being here, Shirley.

Describe yourself in seven words:

False MoonFanatical about fiction, nature, history and science.

Why short stories?

I like the intensity of reading and writing a short story.  Like a passionate fling, I want to emerge the other side, moved, and perhaps a little wiser.

Novellas or novels – to read and/or write?

I enjoy reading both but sometimes find my concentration falters, which is why I tend to read more short stories.  And as an add-on to the simile above, writing a novel or novella feels more like a long-term relationship.  I have to fall deeply in love with my characters to stay committed to it.

What should readers expect from your stories?

Expectations are difficult to predict as people tend to see different, and sometimes, unforeseen things in a story.  As a generalisation, I think my short stories fall into a no-man’s land between mainstream and literary fiction – perhaps a bit too odd for mainstream, but a bit too obvious/accessible for ‘literary’.  My novels are an even lighter read.  To me, they are adventure stories, which I hope contain interesting characters and plots that entertain.

In ‘Exposing the False Moon’, stories are populated with quirky characters and, in many, a sense of loss.  Where do you think this comes from?

Well, quirky seems to be an inherent part of my nature.  I’m attracted to difference, so I guess it’s inevitable that my characters aren’t going to do the expected.  Yes, loss is a recurrent theme.  I’m very resistant to base my fiction on anything remotely autobiographical.  But it’s impossible to separate imagination from experiences entirely.  My mum died when I was in my early twenties.  I carry that with me.  It leaks into my stories.

What inspires you?

All sorts: images, snippets of conversations, historical characters and events, reading about technological developments, other stories, and sometimes news items and documentaries.

ShirleyYour favourite place to hang out online?

Really, it’s my only place: Twitter.  It’s fast and furious and appeals to me because it is perhaps better suited to introverts.  It’s easy to get lost, and feels less personal than Facebook.

Best thing that’s ever happened to you?

The realisation that it’s okay to be quiet (one of the best things, other than a more conventional answer).

Top Tip for aspiring short story writers?

Keep the language focused, and remember that if you’re writing short stories, your aspirations have already been met!

Thanks, Shirley. Exposing the False Moon is out now to buy from Amazon. Here’s my review, and remember to support  #ReviewWomen2015:

If you enjoy stylish, provocative and downright quirky short stories then you’ll love this anthology from award-winning short story writer, Shirley Golden.

Thematically, the stories in Exposing the False Moon are about exploring new ways of being, whether it’s the disgruntled wife in Kite Flying, who literally and metaphorically, takes off on her own, the grieving mother in Tense learning to live with guilt and finding redemption from an unexpected quarter or the brother and sister learning to love in Outside the Atmosphere (possibly my favourite tale, though I might well change my mind tomorrow; there are so many good ones).

Stories are peopled with battered wives, mute teenagers, girls with tails and shadows too big for their bodies, old men who want to live like a rodent or in tree house. Although many of the characters are troubled – Golden excels at capturing the rage, confusion and ennui of youth – the narratives are delivered with such wit, such lightness of touch that you’ll be knocked sideways by the emotional punches delivered thereafter. There are laugh out loud moments too – in Resting Place a grieving old man lets loose a ‘trickle of relief’ and in the end ‘pissed everyone off’, and in Fabricate a Future ‘we’re a happily-ever-after tale that finished the night before’ and  a lie is an ‘invention … creative sounds better than deceptive’. Golden has a talent for the perfect word or phrase; her prose is lean and muscular and her observations spot-on.

It’s not often that I devour short stories. I had thought I would read a story a night, perhaps two, but in the end I read this fantastic collection in two sittings. Stories moved me, made me think, made me laugh. What more could a reader ask for? Go buy and enjoy.

8 Heroines for 8 March – International Women’s Day

To mark IWD here’s a list of eight fabulous women throughout history who evoke fascination and admiration in me. I could go on, but we’re all busy. Happy International Women’s Day – whatever your gender.

come fly with me

come fly with me

Boudica – Iceni  warrior queen, she gave the Romans a run for their money and stuck two fingers up at Nero.

Elizabeth I – ‘Though I have the body of a weak and female woman… ’ Hahaha. Say no more.

Emmeline Pankhurst – the vote, ladies?

Marie Stopes – birth control pioneer and revolutionary she liberated women from the tyranny of unplanned pregnancies.

Violette Szarbo - courage under fire

Violette Szarbo – courage under fire

Amelia Earhart – first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic solo. Bold and stylish her mysterious disappearance only adds to her allure.

Violette Szarbo – SOE agent during WWII, she went into occupied France not once, but twice. Eventually captured by the Gestapo, she was tortured and shot, without divulging any information.

Barbara Castle – forget Mrs Thatcher, Babs, the Blackburn Baroness, was the original Iron Lady.

Helena Kennedy QC – has spent her professional life giving voice to those with least power, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights.

Barbara Castle - solid as

Barbara Castle – solid as