Jennifer Ash (aka Jenny Kane) has just had ‘The Outlaw’s Ransom’ republished (it’s all the rage now, as I’m demonstrating with my own books), so instead of a book review my Tuesday book page is being handed over to her so that she can tell you about it.
Take it away, Jennifer.
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Many years ago, long before those mobile phone things came along – when laptops were but a pipe-dream and coffee was either simply black or white – I studied ‘Medieval English Economy and Crime’ at the University of Leicester. Basically, I spent five years in historian heaven researching the correlation between the political songs and ballads of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and the real criminal records of the day. I read a lot of Robin Hood stories, a huge number of early political satire and more crime rolls than I can remember.
My research became a PhD, and since that time I’ve wanted to use my work for something more accessible than dry and dusty academic papers. To begin with I tutored medieval economy at Leicester Uni, but then my husband’s job was moved to Scotland, and as they didn’t teach English Medieval history north of the border, my career was somewhat scuppered.
Now, 20 or so years later, after being a professional writer for 13 of those years, I have finally put my efforts and historical detective work to use by writing The Outlaw’s Ransom – my very first medieval mystery. Not only is this my first foray into standalone medieval crime- it is the initial story in a series of novels called ‘The Folville Chronicles.’ (Book 2- The Winter Outlaw, will be published in April this year.)
The Outlaw’s Ransom revolves around the real-life fourteenth century criminal gang, the Folvilles- the very gang I concentrated much of my doctoral research on. This family, made up of 7 brothers (John, Eustace, Richard, Robert, Thomas, Walter and Laurence), lived in Ashby-Folville, Leicestershire, but they ruled a larger area of the country, which included Rutland, Northamptonshire and part of Derbyshire.
I must confess I rather enjoyed taking historical fact and giving it a fictional spin. Although The Outlaw’s Ransom contains many factual events – I have played fast and loose with history. So, please don’t go using any of the information within its pages in a pub quiz without checking it first!
Here’s the blurb-
When potter’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 using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive 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 betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most villainous men in England.
With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.
Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…
If that has whetted your appetite- then here are those all important buy links!
(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)
Many thanks for inviting me to stop by today Tom,
With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes 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, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One in The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018).
Book Two of The Folville Chronicles – The Winter Outlaw – will be released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress)
All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk