A Brush With The Hooded Man - Jennifer Ash/Jenny Kane - This Writing Life #3
Today I'm delighted to welcome Jennifer Ash who has written a fab guest post about how her writing life went in an unexpected direction. Over to you, Jennifer...
Many thanks to Lynne for inviting me to take part in her ‘Writing Life’ blog series.
Already I have to confess a mistake with this blog – I should really have entitled it ‘A Brush with Two Hooded Men’ – somehow though, that doesn’t trip off the tongue so easily – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
My writing life didn’t see any encounters with hooded men of any variety coming. There I was, happily creating stories fuelled with sunshine and coffee under the name, Jenny Kane, when all of a sudden - literally out of the blue- I received an offer I couldn’t refuse.
I was sat in my cafe corner as per usual, writing the novel which was to become Abi’s Neighbour, when I received a Facebook message asking if I would like to sell my novel, Romancing Robin Hood, at a trade stand at the Hooded Man event in Chepstow in 2016.
Well, for a start, I had never heard of the Hooded Man event. Even though I am a lifelong fan of the TV show, Robin of Sherwood, and I’m a historian with a speciality in medieval crime and ballad literature, this event had previously passed me by. When I’d got over the surprise of being asked to attend, I said yes to this kind offer. It was to be a decision that changed my life.
In May 2016 I found myself surrounded by the people I had fallen in love with as a teenager. Jason Connery, Michael Praed, Nickolas Grace, Clive Mantle and more. Robin of Sherwood was the show which gave me my love of the Robin Hood legend and inspired my career path (I was a university tutor, teaching Medieval Studies). Suddenly, I was selling my novels to fans of the show - and with lines in Romancing Robin Hood such as ‘It’s all Jason Connery’s fault...’ it’s perhaps not surprising that my books went down well.
One of the best - and most unexpected - moments of my life has to be signing a book for Jason while he asked me why everything I wrote was his fault! (I am pleased to report that Mr C has a wicked sense of humour).
That however, was only the beginning.
The novel, Romancing Robin Hood, is all about a woman called Grace Harper, who is obsessed with Robin Hood - so much so, that she is writing a medieval crime novel based on her obsession.
Here’s the blurb to give you an idea of the plot...
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 starts writing a medieval mystery which entwines the story of the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood - and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford. But 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?
Within Romancing Robin Hood, you not only get Grace’s story, but the medieval story she is writing as well. It was while I was at Hooded Man 2016 that I was encouraged by the many visitors to develop this medieval side of my writing. If I hadn’t been there, I’d never have considered doing so. As a direct consequence, Jennifer Ash was born - my medieval crime/mystery persona.
As Jennifer Ash I have recently published the medieval story you can find within Romancing Robin Hood as a standalone short novel called The Outlaw’s Ransom and a full length novel sequel to that, The Winter Outlaw. These two books - thanks to the legions of medieval fiction fans out there - have done so well that they now form the beginning of a series of 5 books which go under the heading, ‘The Folville Chronicles.’ Book 3, Edwards’s Outlaw, is currently under construction.
So my writing life - which was moving along nicely in the coffee and cake direction suddenly took a dramatic turn into the world of outlaws and medieval misdemeanours (Although the coffee and cake stuff is still happening as well!).
That isn’t the end of the story however.
A week after the Hooded Man 2016, I found myself at the premiere of the first ever Robin of Sherwood audio story in London (Knights of the Apocalypse). There I was, along a large number of fans and the stars of the show, listening to the voices of Robin, Marion, the Sheriff and all Merry Men – voices who bought the legend to life for me 30 years before. Although the television show could never return, to be able to hear the actors again, the classic Clannad theme tune, and the words of Richard Carpenter - the shows’ original writer - was truly magical.
More magical still was the email I got a few months afterwards asking me if I’d like to try out as a script writer for future audio stories staring the original cast... Suddenly it felt like Christmas- I was writing stories for the people who had influenced my life more than they’ll ever realise.
Audio script writing is a very different discipline to novel writing. I had to learn a lot very quickly. I loved every second of the experience - but even then I didn’t think it would really happen. No way would my story be taken by ITV....but it was.
My very first script, The Waterford Boy – narrated by Judi Trott (Maid Marion from Robin of Sherwood) - was born. To my unending amazement, it didn’t stop there. I was asked to write a script for the brilliant Michael Craig who played the Earl of Huntingdon in the series. Michael narrated Mathilda’s Legacy, a look back to the life of Robin Hood’s mother. In a few weeks time, my latest script, The Baron’s Daughter will be recorded – this time as a full cast recording, with Michael Praed reprising his role as Robin of Loxley, and Nickolas Grace, giving his Sheriff of Nottingham just as hard as he can!
At the beginning of this blog I said it should really be called a brush with two hooded men. This is because last month I was once again at the Hooded Man Event with both Mr Connery and Mr Praed, and many many others. This time the event was rather different for me. I wasn’t there as a book seller (although I did sell lots of books) - I was there to appear on stage to answer questions about audio script writing. Unbelievable!
If you would like to buy any of the books or audio stories mentioned above, you can find them here-
Romancing Robin Hood - mybook.to/RomancingRH
The Outlaw’s Ransom - mybook.to/theoutlawsransom
The Winter Outlaw - mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw
The Waterford Boy - https://spitefulpuppet.com/product/the-waterford-boy/
Mathilda’s Legacy - https://spitefulpuppet.com/product/mathildas-legacy/
All the Robin of Sherwood audio books can be found here:
I love my writing life- I wonder what direction it will take me in next?
Many thanks, Jennifer, for such an interesting and inspiring guest post. I'm also a fan of Robin of Sherwood, and I'm very much look forward to listening to your audio stories.
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 of 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 - was released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress)
Book Three of The Folville Chronicles – Edward’s Outlaw - will be published during late 2018/early 2019
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane.
Her work includes the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018),
Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and the bestsellers, Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).
All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at:
Jennifer Ash: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/
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