Welcome my friend and historical novelist, Jennifer Ash...

Hi, Jennifer! So great to welcome you to my blog to tell us more about the latest instalment in your series, The Folville Chronicles - I'm looking forward to hearing more about EDWARD'S OUTLAW - over to you!

Meet Bettrys
By Jennifer Ash
Many thanks, Rachel, for inviting me over to chat about my brand new novel, Edward’s Outlaw. This is the third novel in The Folville Chronicles (although it can be read as a standalone novel), and follows on from The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw.

January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.
Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers... including the newly married Robert de Folville.
Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?
Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder... including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond...
The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.

One of the challenges of writing a series of books is to keep the plotline fresh; this can be achieved in many ways, one of which being the introduction of new characters to the story arc.
When it came to writing Edward’s Outlaw, I knew I was going to introduce a new female character it help out my main protagonist, Mathilda. I was fairly sure she was going to be a servant in Rockingham Castle, where the majority of the action in the novel takes pace. What I couldn’t decide on, was her name.
After scanning number of medieval name sites on Google, and finding nothing that felt quite right for the character I was building in my head, I decided to throw the question open to my readers. My publisher, Littwitz Press, and I set up a ‘Name the Character’ competition. We were deliberately vague- only saying that the new character would be female – and nothing more. That way, we’d get the widest remit of names possible. And boy did we!
Over 350 suggestions later, we narrowed our choices down until one entry came in that I knew was perfect straight away.
Bettrys. This name fitted the new girl - a castle maid - to a tee. Not only had I been toying with giving her Welsh ancestry (and Bettrys is a Welsh name), but it just sat right on her shoulders and matched her personality.
The winner of the competition, Chris Averiss, now has Edward’s Outlaw dedicated to him- and Bettrys is set to become a feature of book four later next year. How long she’ll last however, is anybody’s guess. After all, this is fourteenth century England and Bettrys is about to become an associate of the Folvilles; one of the most notorious criminal families in England.
Here’s an extract from the novel, where Lady Mathilda de Folville meets Bettrys for the first time.

...Movement behind her made Mathilda spin round.
A maid bobbed an awkward curtsy, her eyes wide as she took in the state of the Lady Folville.
‘I’ve been sent to tell you that my Lord de Vere wishes to speak to you, my Lady.’
‘Thank you, Bettrys. It is Bettrys, isn’t it?’
‘Yes, my Lady.’ The girl sounded worried.
‘Fear not, I don’t know your name because of some misdemeanour. I heard my Lord de Vere address you over breakfast. Are you Lady Helena’s maid?’
‘No, my Lady.’ Bettrys mumbled, her eyes cast low. ‘I was, but...’  The girl’s eyes fell upon Mathilda’s makeshift bandage. ‘You are hurt?’
‘The spit fought back.’ Mathilda pointed to the offending article. ‘I failed to treat it with the respect it deserves.’
‘Forgive me, my Lady, but perhaps I could help you clean up before you go to His Lordship.’
‘That would be most welcome.’
Passing Bettrys the apron, she smiled as the girl immediately used it as a rag, dipping it into the water and presenting it to Mathilda. ‘If you wipe the worst off your face, then it won’t look too bad as we walk through the castle.’
Making sure her smutted face was as clean as possible, with a nod to Cook Mathilda followed Bettrys from the kitchen. ‘This isn’t the way to the constable’s office. Where are we going?’
‘There is warm water and a fire in Lady Isabella’s quarters. She’d not begrudge you the use before I change the pail and clean the grate.’
Bettrys spoke timidly, but with a guarded edge. Mathilda was sure the girl wished to ask about Agnes, but did not dare.
Waiting until there was no one about, Mathilda said. ‘I can tell you kept your word to my Lord de Vere. You have not uttered word of Agnes’ fate to anyone?’
A sob leaked from between the girl’s lips. ‘No, my Lady.’
‘I’m sorry. Was she a friend of yours?’
‘Agnes kept herself to herself, but she was kind and worked hard. I’d have liked her to be a friend.’
Crossing the hall and heading up the same staircase she’d seen the sheriff and his companions take, Mathilda kept her eyes and ears open. ‘Is this the way to the family’s chambers?’
‘Yes, my Lady.’ Bettrys was walking fast. ‘This way.’
As they entered a compact square room housing a huge wooden bath barrel, a bucket of lukewarm water and a chair, Bettrys sat Mathilda down and attended to her wounded hand before undoing her dirty hair linen. ‘I can wash this if you have another, my Lady.’
‘I do, but it is not in a place I can go just now. Perhaps if you could tidy and re-braid my hair, then I’ll be presentable enough for the time being.’
Bettrys busied herself without comment.
After a while Mathilda said, ‘Was Lady Helena mean to you?’
‘I… I would never say such a thing, my Lady.’
‘Of course you wouldn’t. You didn’t, I asked and you wisely did not answer. Your non-answer is sufficient. Thank you. Was she unpleasant to Agnes?’
Bettrys blanched. ‘My Lady, you can’t think that Lady Helena would kill anyone, I mean…’
‘I think nothing of the sort. I’m trying to help Agnes, but I have no knowledge of the people who live here. I have to start somewhere.’
Bettrys said nothing else until she’d finished tidying Mathilda’s hair. ‘There you go. Beautiful, my Lady.’
‘Thank you. And now I must go quickly to my Lord de Vere, before I annoy him with my tardiness.’
‘And I must find some food for Lady Isabella. She must be starving.’
Mathilda spun around on the balls of her feet. ‘Lady Isabella has been found? Whole and unharmed?’
‘Found, my Lady? She hasn’t been anywhere, has she?’

If you’d like to read more about Bettrys, and find out how Mathilda gets on in Rockingham castle, you can buy Edward’s Outlaw from all good retailers, including...
Thanks again for inviting me to visit today.
Happy reading,
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 ChroniclesEdward’s Outlaw- was released in December 2018.
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 www.jennykane.co.uk

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