Elizabeth Chats With…Jenny Kane
I’d heard quite a lot about this month’s guest before I met her. Jenny Kane’s well-known both as an author and as a writing tutor here in the south-west of England. We connected online – as so many of us do these days – and then I met her in the flesh at an Authors’ Shenanigans in Exeter. Recently, she has given a well-received workshop to Chudleigh Writers; has spoken at the same event as me in Dartmouth; and this week, she’s coming back to Chudleigh to lead a short story workshop at our Literary Festival. She’s a very busy lady – she and I have been known to commiserate with each other on our bulging diaries and impending deadlines – so I am delighted she found the time to come and chat today.
Hi Jenny and welcome. Let’s start by going right back to your childhood. What is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
My earliest memory comes from when I was three years old. The memory is rather fractured and comes to me as a series of senses and emotions rather than coherent thoughts. This is perhaps not surprising when I tell you that the memory involves being knocked down by a car.
It was all my own fault. I was holding my Mum’s hand one minute – and ran into the road the next. The poor car driver stood no chance. I remember the smell of petrol and brake fluid. I remember flashes of bright orange as the car went over me, and I remember everything as if it was happening to someone else. I don’t recall being afraid until much later when I woke up in Bristol Royal Infirmary and saw a giant poster of Noddy on the wall opposite – it scared the hell out of me!
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
Archaeology! I was extremely fortunate to be part of a test scheme where GCSE Archaeology was taken in Comprehensive Schools. It was the best time of my school life. We did so much on top of the academic necessities of learning about the techniques of archaeology and how it related to periods of prehistoric, Roman, Medieval and Industrial Britain.
I remember flint knapping with Phil of Time Team fame. I helped build and fire a Romano British Turf Kiln, went field walking, took part in excavations and visited countless ancient monuments. It was pure educational heaven.
In contrast – I would have sold my soul to avoid PE. I was bullied by the P.E staff quite badly. I have never forgotten their cruelty. As you can imagine they have suffered at the sharp end of my pen under various guises over the years.
Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…”?
Not a lot of people know that I am 85% deaf. I started to lose my hearing when I was in my mid thirties. I have learnt my own style of lip reading – which is effective to a degree – and I have hearing aids which are more or less invisible. The only problem I really have is on the phone – I hate phones!!
If you could change one thing about yourself or your life so far, what would it be?
I would love to have more confidence in myself. I never believe I’m any good at anything and I doubt every decision I make. It annoys the hell out of me – but every time I try and be assertive things tend to go wrong – and so the cycle continues.
Describe your ideal menu — and where would you like to eat it?
I would go for a rare steak with good chips and a rich stilton sauce. I am not able to eat fruit or much veg – so trips to restaurants are always a little tricky. My choice of venue would be the restaurant on top of the Ashmoleum Museum in Oxford – preferably outside. The views of the city are amazing.
What would be in your ‘Room 101’ ?
So much to chose from – but if I could pick just one thing to lock into oblivion it would be shouting. I hate it. It is so counterproductive and simply creates ill feeling. (Unless you are in a life threatening situation.)
If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?
Robin of Sherwood. My favourite program from the 1980s. Oh…hang on…I am! I have just written three audio scripts for the series to be performed by the original cast. Look at that for a sneaky plug!!
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
“Coffee please. Black- no sugar. Thank you.”
And finally, why do you write in/and set so many of your books in cafes?
I have been the writer in residence at the Costa in Tiverton Devon for the past five years. I’m so fortunate. I get to sit in ‘Jenny Kane’s Corner’ every day, write my words, and people watch to my heart’s content.
Even before I was lucky enough to take up this post, I wrote in cafes. They are an endless source of inspiration, overheard conversations and incidents. Cafes are the daytime equivalent to pubs in the evening – all human life is there! Also – I’m a massive coffee addict- so being in close contact to good coffee is vital to my creative gene.
In my Another Cup of... series, it is the Pickwicks Coffee House in Richmond that takes centre stage. This collection of two full length novels and three Christmas novellas (Another Cup of Coffee, Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds, Christmas at the Castle and Another Glass of Champagne) reached bestseller status; launching my career as Jenny Kane.
Originally, Another Cup of Coffee was to be a standalone novel, but it was popular enough to expand – much to my unending delight.
Here’s the blurb for you…
Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.
Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.
It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself got completely shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…
With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another a bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…
All of my novels’ buy links can be found by clicking here.
Many thanks for inviting me to visit today. I’m very much looking forward to seeing you at the Chudleigh Literary Festival for a touch of Short Story teaching.
Jenny, thanks you for dropping by; it’s been a pleasure as always.
With a background in history and archaeology, Jenny Kane 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, she writes stories of coffee, Cornwall and friendship, with a side order of romance. 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).
Writing as Jennifer Ash, Jenny has been influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature. She 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.
Jenny Kane is the writer in residence for Tiverton Costa in Devon. She also co-runs the creative writing business, Imagine. All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found on her website. She can also be found on Twitter, both as Jennifer and as Jenny. Similarly, she can be found on Facebook, both as Jennifer and as Jenny.