Friday, 5 September 2014

Taking liberties with history

I got 'talking' (virtually) with Jenny Kane because she's another Accent author. She's best known for her erotic writing under the name of Kay Jaybee. I said that it was a shame that she didn't write historical novels because, if she did, I would love her to write something for this blog. At which she explained that she's a trained archaeologist and her new (definitely not erotic) novel has a historical theme.

So: over to you, Jenny.

I’ve been writing short stories and novels for many years and yet, despite my background as a historian and archaeologist, I’ve never written a historical piece.

The main reason I haven’t taken the plunge is simple. The fear of getting things wrong. There are so many pitfalls to trip over- getting the fashion just right, the wording, the conversational phrases, the legal terminology, making sure the correct King or Queen is on the throne – or not – that the local Baron is a Baron and not a Lord, or a Lord and not a Baron … and so on, and so on …

When I completed my PhD many years ago, I spent some time teaching undergraduate students in tutorials and seminars. Although I loved my subject (thirteenth- fourteenth century English economy and criminal law), with each and every lesson I got more and more unsure of myself. I have never been blessed with confidence, and although I knew my work well, I was persistently plagued with doubts as I entered my little office. What if the students knew more than I did? What if they asked me a question I couldn’t answer?

These are the same basic reasons I’ve never written a historical novel – fear of getting the details wrong.

To tackle these paranoiac shortcomings, I decided to turn this very problem into a novel.

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance centred around the world of history lecturer Dr Grace Harper, who is obsessed about Robin Hood and the historical outlaws that may have inspired him.

As well as telling the story of Grace’s fight to find time for personal romance in her busy work filled life, Romancing Robin Hood also tells of Grace’s fight with her conscience. For she is writing a novel about a fourteenth century criminal gang- but should she toe the historical line and make her novel as factual as a textbook, or should she write a more accessible romance which might teach a little bit of history along the way?

Shamelessly using the work I did for my own PhD, I had the character of Grace researching the Folvilles. A notorious criminal family, based in Ashby-Folville in Leicestershire in the 1320’s-30, the Folvilles were accused of murder, rape, kidnap, and ransom - and then they either got away with their crimes, or were convicted before being quickly pardoned in return for fighting for the King’s forces.

In Grace’s book, her fourteenth century protagonist is 19 year old Mathilda, a young woman who suddenly finds herself in the custody of the Folvilles, and then under another very frightening type of suspicion ...

Romancing Robin Hood – Blurb
Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a girl. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History, with a tenured position at a top university.
But Grace is in a bit of a rut. She’s supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval gang of high-class criminals – the Folvilles – but she keeps being drawn into the world of the novel she’s secretly writing – a novel which entwines the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood – and a feisty young girl named Mathilda, who is the key to a medieval mystery…
Meanwhile, Grace’s best friend Daisy – who’s as keen on animals as Grace is on the Merry Men – is unexpectedly getting married, and a reluctant Grace is press-ganged into being her bridesmaid. As Grace sees Daisy’s new-found happiness, she 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? It doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks – a rival academic who Grace is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to…

If you’d like to buy my latest novel, it is currently available in e-format (paperback coming soon.)

Jenny Kane is the author of Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and the novella length sequel Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013)
Jenny’s next novella, Another Cup of Mulled Wine, will be published in November, and her third full length novel, Abi’s House, will be published by Accent Press in 2015.
You can keep up to date with Jenny’s book news via her blog -
Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor
Facebook -

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