Monday 3 August 2020

Jenny Kane, "The Accidental Author"

From the comfort of her cafe corner in Mid Devon, award-winning author, Jenny Kane, wrote the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange (Aria, 2020), A Cornish Escape (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020),  A Cornish Wedding (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018),  Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).

She has also written three novella-length sequels to her Another Cup of ... books: Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2016). These three seasonal specials are now available in one boxed set entitled Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection (Accent, 2016).

Jenny 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)

Under the pen name, Jennifer Ash, Jenny has also written The Folville Chronicles (The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw - published by Littwitz Press), The Power of Three (Spiteful Puppet, 2020) and The Meeting Place (Spiteful Puppet, 2019). She also created four audio scripts for ITV’s popular 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood

The Waterford Boy, Mathilda’s Legacy, The Baron’s Daughter, The Meeting Place and Fitzwarren’s Well were released by Spiteful Puppet in 2017/2018/2019/2020. 

Jenny Kane is the writer in residence for Tiverton Costa in Devon. She also co-runs the creative writing business, Imagine. Jenny teaches a wide range of creative writing workshops including her popular ‘Novel in a Year’ course. 

All of Jennifer Ash’s and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at She tweets @JenAshHistory and @JennyKaneAuthor and @Imagine_Writing

The Accidental Author
By Jenny Kane

I am not supposed to be a writer. I ought to be sat in a dusty library somewhere researching medieval manuscripts, or be bent over an excavation, sifting sand to find traces of the Anglo-Saxon diet or Roman coins. Instead, I’m sat in the corner of a café making stuff up.

In 1990 I was lucky enough to take a degree in Archaeology at the University of Leicester – and I loved every minute. (Apart from when I had to write an essay on Marxist symbolism in Archaeology – that is several precious hours of life I will never get back!). Then, on graduation in 1993, I was offered the chance to do some research into my first love - medieval history. I took a part time PhD, comparing the reality of fourteenth-century crime with how crime was perceived in the ballad literature of the period. I focused my study on a family called the Folvilles. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, this was the moment I began to accumulate the information and inspiration that was to drive much of my later writing life.

While I researched my PhD, I worked part time in the university library and as an admin assistant in the Attenborough Tower, making the History lecturers cups of tea and doing their photocopying. I had no idea that those two small jobs were helping me to build the skills I needed to be a writer. Not just the ability to write itself – which I learnt from the PhD writing -  but skills of patience and self-discipline required to make you sit down at a desk and write.

I left Leicester, PhD certificate in hand, in 1999. It was to be another six years before I began to write. Although, when I woke up on that life-changing day in 2005, I still had no idea that was what I was going to do. 

After dropping my youngest child at school, I was sat alone in a cafe, eating a large Mars Bar scone and drinking coffee, when an idea for a story arrived in my head. To this day I have no idea where it came from. I knew I had to write the idea down - and I did, on a paper napkin. That story - which was basically pornography – sat in my handbag for weeks before I looked at it again. When I did finally have the courage to type it up, I sent it to a short-story publisher in the States and promptly forgot all about it. Whatever literary itch I’d had, had been scratched. Or so I thought.

Three months later, I had a letter telling me that the story had been accepted for publication and asked if I had any more. 

In that moment I knew I had to write. As I clutched the acceptance letter in my hand, I could feel the certainty of it arrive in my head. I didn’t think I’d be any good at it, and I had no hopes of major success – just a realisation that “being a writer” was something I had to at least try out.

Fifteen years later and, by some miracle, I’m still writing. My writing journey has taken me from a career as erotica author, Kay Jaybee, to romcom author, Jenny Kane, and on to historical crime novelist and audio scriptwriter Jennifer Ash. It is as Jennifer, that all my PhD research finally came into its own. My work on the Folville family now forms a three-part (soon to be four-part) series, called The Folville Chronicles.

Recently, the first in a series of romcoms for Aria, called Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange (Jenny Kane), was published, as was a Robin of Sherwood audio story for Spiteful Puppet, called Fitzwarren’s Well (Jennifer Ash). 

With two more novels and more scripts commissioned, I’m busier than ever.

I often reflect on my experiences as a student at Leicester in my work - whether it be the research I did in my PhD or my time working in the Attenborough Tower (where I set my romcom, Romancing Robin Hood), the university has had a profound effect on my writing life, for which I will always be grateful.