Please welcome the brilliant, the funny, the amazing Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash to the StudioBlog. We’re so pleased to have her here, as she’s a BFF of Studioenp, and our sofa is always ready to have her sitting on it. Grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy her interview!

Studioenp: Silence or noise when writing?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: Noise. I work in the corner of a busy café. Too much quiet distracts me.

Studioenp: How interesting. We’d be too busy nosing at all the customers and wouldn’t get any work done. So, what’s your latest release?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: Romancing Robin Hood.

Studioenp: That sounds intriguing. We live just up the road from Sherwood Forest. How did the plot come about for it?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: Romancing Robin Hood is part contemporary romance and part medieval mystery.

It came from my love of all things Robin Hood. I have always been rather obsessed with the legend, and I wondered what it would be like if that obsession had got out of hand to the extent that real life had passed me by.

The story revolves around an academic called Dr Grace Harper, and her love of medieval England. Rather than writing the text book she is supposed to be putting together, she is writing a medieval crime novel—and that story (The Outlaw’s Ransom, the first of The Folville Chronicles) also appears in Romancing Robin Hood.

The plot to the medieval period part of the novel was inspired by research I did over twenty years ago when working o my Medieval History PhD. I was looking into the real-life criminal gang, The Folvilles. They were just too interesting not to turn into fictional anti-heroes.

Studioenp: Super cool! How long did it take you to write it?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: Eight months.

Studioenp: We suspect a lot of hard work went into it, what with the research and getting everything right. High five! What’s next on your writing list?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: The Winter Outlaw, the second in The Folville Chronicles, will be out very soon. It follows on from the medieval side of Romancing Robin Hood.  I am currently working on book three, Edward’s Outlaw.

Studioenp: Oooh, you must come back and tell us all about those books! Are you a plotter or panster?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: Panster mostly, although I do try and plot a little bit.

Studioenp: LOL @ little bit. So when the words won’t come, what is your go-to form of procrastination?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: I honestly don’t procrastinate. Just no time!

Studioenp: Good for you! How many hours per week do you write?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: Between fifty and sixty if you include writing my creative writing workshops, educational blogs, and my fiction.

Studioenp: Goodness, that’s one hell of a lot of hours. What’s one genre you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t—and will you ever write it?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: Modern crime—and yes, I hope so! I’ve had a go, but as yet I’m not good enough. I’ll keep trying.

Studioenp: That’s the ticket! What’s the best book you’ve written?

Jenny Kane/Jennifer Ash: That’s really difficult. My bestselling book is Abi’s House (written as Jenny Kane). I think that Romancing Robin Hood is my best, but it is a story very close to my heart, so my judgement could well be impaired!

Studioenp: Haha, that’s understandable. We wish you well with all your books and look forward to you dropping by again soon.

Now, wonderful readers, sit back and enjoy an excerpt while you finish that cuppa we so nicely made for you.

Blurb for Romancing Robin Hood:

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea...

Excerpt from Romancing Robin Hood:

It was all Jason Connery’s fault, or maybe it was Michael Praed’s? As she crashed onto her worn leather desk chair Grace, after two decades of indecision, still couldn’t decide which of the two actors she preferred in the title role of Robin of Sherwood.

 

That was how ‘The Robin Hood Thing’ as Daisy referred to it, had started; with an instant and unremitting love for a television show. Yet, for Grace, it hadn’t been a crush in the usual way. She had only watched one episode of the hit eighties series and, with the haunting theme tune from Clannad echoing in her ears, had run upstairs to her piggy bank to see how much money she’d saved, and how much more cash she’d need, before she could spend all her pocket money on the complete video collection. But that was just the beginning. Within weeks Grace had become pathologically and forensically interested in anything and everything to do with the outlaw legend as a whole.

 

She’d watched all the Robin Hood films, vintage scenes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Errol Flynn, Richard Greene, Sean Connery, and Barry Ingram. As time passed, she winced and cringed her way through Kevin Costner’s comical but endearing attempt, and privately applauded Patrick Bergin’s darker and infinitely more realistic approach to the tale. Daisy had quickly learnt to never ever mention Russell Crowe’s adaption of the story – it was the only time she’d ever heard Grace swear using words that could have been as labelled as Technicolor as the movie had been.

 

The teenage Grace had hoarded pictures, paintings, badges, and stickers, along with anything and everything else she could find connected with Robin Hood, his band of outlaws, his enemies, Nottingham, Sherwood, Barnsdale, Yorkshire –and so it went on and on. The collection had reached ridiculous proportions and had long since overflowed from her small terraced home to her university office, where posters lined the walls, and books about the legend, both serious and comical, crammed the overstuffed shelves.

 

Her undergraduates who’d chosen to study medieval economy and crime as a history degree option, and her postgraduates whose interest in the intricate weavings of English medieval society was almost as insane as her own, often commented on how much they liked Dr Harper’s office. Apparently it was akin to sitting in a mad museum of medievalism. Sometimes Grace was pleased with this reaction. Other times it filled her with depression, for that office, its contents, and the daily, non-stop flow of work was her life – her whole life – and sometimes she felt that it was sucking her dry. Leaving literally no time for anything else – nor anyone else. Boyfriends had come and gone, but few had any hope of matching up to the figure she’d fallen in love with as a teenager. A man who is quite literally a legend is a hard act to follow...

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