When Jenny Kane was looking to put a blog tour together for ‘Romancing Robin Hood’, which was re-released in paperback and as an eBook by Littzwitz Press on 1st February 2018, I was only too happy to help. The title had me intrigued and I wanted to know more about this book.
Jenny Kane has written a guest post for my blog all about her love for Robin Hood.
For the love of Robin Hood
Many thanks for inviting me to visit today, so I can share a little of my part modern/part medieval novel, Romancing Robin Hood.
Ever since I was a teenager I’ve had a serious outlaw obsession- all thanks to Richard Carpenter’s wonderful 1980’s television series, Robin of Sherwood. The moment I saw the first episode (which for me, happened to be the 9th episode of series three), I was hooked- not just on the show, but on anything and everything to do with the legend. I watched every film and read every book on the subject of Robin Hood I could find. This interest lasted through my GCSE years, took me through an A’ level history project, a degree, and a PhD in Medieval ballad literature and crime.
Ever since I took up a career in writing, thirteen years ago, I’ve been looking for an excuse to go back through my old history books so I can use them as research for novels. With the writing of Romancing Robin Hood I found that excuse.
Although this novel (first released in 2015 and now re-edited, re-covered and re-released), is 60% modern contemporary romance, the remaining 40% is a fourteenth century adventure. It was a real joy to read through all my old Robin Hood notes and relive the obsessions of my formative years.
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…
So, what is it about the Robin Hood story that appeals to me – and to Grace- so much?
At its base, the ballads of Robin Hood are about hope, about right triumphing over wrong – no matter who you are- and about doing the right thing. Of course, that is a very simplistic overview. Anyone who has studied the outlaw legends will quickly tell you that Robin Hood didn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor- he stole from the corrupt and cruel- if they were poor that did not matter. Nor did he give his money away- he had his own company of men to feed after all.
The notion of the Robin Hood ballads is a romantic one- despite the lack of a love story in the original tales (Maid Marion didn’t join the story until much later on). I think it’s the idea of justice prevailing no matter what the odds- no matter who is in charge. There is something so appealing about that.
The Robin Hood stories are more popular than ever. With another new Hollywood film about the outlaw due out any minute, and the original Robin of Sherwood cast from the 1980’s back in the studio recording audio dramas for a whole new generation to enjoy, that popularity is not so surprising if you think of the world we currently live in. If ever there was a time for a hero to come and right the corruptions of the country then it’s now!
Here’s an extract to whet the appetite…
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 it had all started, ‘The Robin Hood Thing’ as Daisy referred to it, 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. After that, the young Grace had done every odd job her parents would pay her for so she could purchase a myriad of Connery and Praed posters with which to bedeck her room. 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 read every story, every ballad, and every academic book, paper, and report on the subject. She’d 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, now over twenty years in the making, 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…
I hope you enjoyed that. If you would like to read more about Grace, then you can buy Romancing Robin Hood from all good retailers, including…
Also- should you wish to revisit the heady days of 1980’s Robin of Sherwood- I (as Jennifer Ash) was lucky enough to be asked to write 2 episodes of the new audio series. You can find the buy links here- https://spitefulpuppet.com/product-category/robin-of-sherwood/
Many thanks again, Sonya.
Happy reading everyone,
About Jenny Kane
With a background in history and archaeology, Jenny Kane should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, before writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jenny Kane writes stories with one hand, while designing creative writing workshops for ‘Imagine’ with the other.
Jenny spends a large part of her time in her local Costa, where she creates her stories, including the novels Romancing Robin Hood (Littwitz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent, 2016), Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), the best selling contemporary romance Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and the novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds, (Accent Press, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle, (Accent Press, 2015).
Jenny also writes medieval crime fiction as Jennifer Ash.
The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw will both be published by Littwitz Press in early 2018
Jenny Kane 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 @JenAshHistory @Imagine_Writing
Facebook for Jennifer Ash – https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/?ref=bookmarks
Facebook for Imagine – https://www.facebook.com/ImagineCreativeWriting/?ref=settings
Jenny Kane also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee. (www.kayjaybee.me.uk)