Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with. When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build. Both begin to realise they might have met their match, and the love of their lives, but 15th century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray. When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I work full-time, so I’m limited to evenings and weekend, but my usual pattern is to do plotting, making notes or focusing on the more admin-based side of things on my evenings, then putting aside my weekend time to do the creative side. So far, it’s worked, and I really look forward to my writing time, especially on Sundays, when I can pop some music on, hide from the world, and write.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I recently moved my writing space from the dining table into my ‘study’, and I am really trying to build that into a nice, creative space where I can focus, away from any distractions. In terms of having a ritual to actually write, I’m not too bad, I don’t think. I like having music on, and have recently been experimenting with having a Spotify playlist for a writing project. There’s one for The Raided Heart, which you should be able to access here. I cannot write in silence, but equally, I cannot write when I don’t know what music is playing, so my favourite thing is to listen to music I know inside out, like my old boyband albums, or musical soundtracks, where I know what’s coming next and can’t get distracted.
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
It depends on what I’m writing… I do have to have a cuppa on the go, at a minimum, whilst I’m writing, and I’m a big fan of green tea, either with or without caffeine, depending on the time of day! Equally though, I’ve always enjoyed writing in pubs, so a nice glass of red wine has helped many of my words hit the page. I tend not to eat, as I’m terrified of letting crumbs ruin my laptop.
– What is your favourite book?
The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory. It’s the first historical fiction book I read after leaving uni, after a colleague insisted I would enjoy it, and she was right. I still reread it whenever I’m feeling ill, or generally mopey, and it’s such a great book. It also got me hooked on the Tudors, having never been interested in them before, so I have it to thank for getting me restarted on my historical writing and reading.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
You know how most people associate themselves as being either larks or owls, based on whether they work better in the morning or evening? Well, sticking with the bird metaphor, I’m definitely a magpie. At the moment, I’ve got projects in contemporary and historical romance, and I’m working on a collection of short stories, going back to my Kindred Spirits series, which I’m really excited about. I just love writing stories, and I enjoy experimenting with different styles and genres.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Not necessarily people I know, but when I’m writing, I do tend to ‘see’ the characters, and for that, I generally base them on actors who I think would portray them perfectly. In The Raided Heart, it’s probably fairly obvious when you read it, but Gray is 100%, absolutely, Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I simply cannot picture him any other way when I think about him. I guess this is what happens when you write a first draft in your teens.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I do. If nothing else, it justifies my slightly ridiculous notebook collection… I love thinking and writing on long journeys, so if I’m travelling with work too, I make sure there’s always one of my personal notebooks in my bag. I’ve been doing morning/evening pages as well recently, so there’s always a notebook by the side of my bed too.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
Ironically, as somebody who writes about ghosts a lot, I cannot read or write true horror. I’m just too much of a wimp, and know I’d end up having nightmares. I’m not a huge fan of graphic violence either, so some crime-writers cross my personal line, but I can sometimes still read that, and just skim through the gory bits…
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
That’s so difficult! I’m torn between my three favourite writers: Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, or Anne O’Brien. I love their work, and working on a historical fiction novel with any of them would just be incredible. I say working with them, I’d probably just sit there, being a daft fan-girl!
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Well, I’ve currently got plans for a Kindred Spirits: Paris novel, so heading back there would be an obvious choice. If I was going to pick somewhere new, I adore Italy, but have only done Rome and a couple of small villages, so exploring Italy more would be amazing.
Thank you, Jennifer C. Wilson and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press. She lives in North Tyneside, and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.