This month is Author Support month on authorniamh.com. We will be introducing you to the many ways sapphic authors can get involved with our site to gain some exposure and spread the word about their latest releases and back catalogue of fabulous sapphic books! All content this month will be showcasing the amazing WLW Authors that you need to know!
What better way to start the content then do get to know Niamh? Author of gripping adventure and epic fantasy stories with lesbian main characters and owner of this Blog. Niamh’s latest release is Scarlet: Book Two of the Robyn Hood Adventures, which was released in February. Continue reading to get to know Niamh and the secrets behind her brand new release.Author of gripping adventure and epic fantasy stories with lesbian main characters, and owner of authorniamh.com talks about her latest release: Scarlet! Tweet This
GREED. CORRUPTION. GOLD.
Robyn Hood and her loyal friend Littlejohn want nothing more than to stay one step ahead of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men.
But when they offer their help to a Holy Sister in need, they soon discover not all is as it seems.
Now they have both the Sheriff of Nottingham on their tail and the self-serving Bishop of Hereford too.
Will they aid a fellow thief?
Or save their own necks, keep the gold for themselves, and leave the fugitive, sword-wielding rogue for the gallows?
We are used to interviewing other Authors on the Blog, but now it’s your turn! What better reason to do an interview with you then in celebration of your latest release! How would you describe your new book Scarlet in “three words”?
Three words are quite difficult! But I think I would say maybe, fun, silly, and rambunctious.
Without giving too much away to your readers, the book is full of wonderful strong female characters, including of course Robyn herself. Where do you get your inspiration for these characters?
I draw inspiration from everywhere and anywhere! Sometimes from people I meet, and other times I think about what I might do in certain situations. But one thing I wanted to do with this book was to shine a spotlight on women in history who have otherwise been obscured by time."we simply know more about men from history than we do about women, but that doesn't mean that women didn't play a role, that women weren't political, or ambitious, or adventurous, or clever, or brave" Tweet This
Because we simply know more about men from history than we do about women, but that doesn’t mean that women didn’t play a role, that women weren’t political, or ambitious, or adventurous, or clever, or brave; so I just wanted to explore the possibilities of how I could represent what roles women might have played in these adventures.
Of course, this book is a work of fiction, but the story of Robin Hood and Will Scarlet is an old one. How much of this book is fact and how much is fiction?
Only tiny parts of this story are factual.
For example, I know the name of the real Bishop of Hereford from this time (William de Vere) and I know roughly how old he would have been, I also know the name of the man who was the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire (William De Wendenal), Prince John and King Richard are real historical figures, and the Crusades were a real historical event. But the personalities of these characters, as well as the actions they take, are complete fiction.
As for Robin Hood and Will Scarlet, I have based some of the plot in this book on two different ballads; Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly and Robin Hood And The Bishop Of Hereford. If you’ve read the book, you might remember a certain scene where Robyn meets the Bishop in the forest and invites him to dinner, which is largely based on the events of the ballad.
Also, there is a scene in which a cat accidentally causes the capture of one character, who then has to be rescued. This moment is taken, almost exactly, from the ballads, but of course, there is no way to know how much of the ballads were drawn from real life!
Your regular readers will know that you have a strong academic background in history and archaeology. What is your process for researching the historical aspect of the Robin Hood story, and did you reveal any “little gems” along the way?
My degree in Mediaeval History and Archaeology feels like a very long time ago! To be honest, if anything, I feel that my academic background made me realise how impossible it is to represent a different time period in fiction, especially one as far back as a thousand years ago.
As a result, I like to use the time period as a scene-setting and try not to weigh down the book with too much historical detail.
Having said that, I found out a few interesting things along the way!
When I was writing Outlaw, and looking at the type of money that was available in the 1100s, I discovered they only had one type of coin, the silver penny. If you wanted half a penny, you cut the penny in half and if you wanted a farthing (a quarter of a penny) then you sliced the penny into quarters!
I also discovered a fascinating detail about one character, the Bishop of Hereford; one of the few things that are known about the real man is that he wrote a book on the life of st. Osyth. Although my character of the bishop is completely fictional, I wanted to include that tiny bit of the real man’s life.
Personally, I love all the lead female characters in this story, but I identify with Marian the most. What character in this book do you identify most with?
This might sound terrible to anyone who has read either book, but the character I think I identify with most is probably Maud! I think with villains I want to go deeper into understanding their motivations.
Because villains motivations so often seem so abhorrent on the surface, it’s important to understand the deeper reasons that drive someone to do things that appear terrible."Because villains motivations so often seem so abhorrent on the surface, it's important to understand the deeper reasons that drive someone to do things that appear terrible." tweet this
I’ve really tried to get under Maud’s skin and understand her ambition, her frustrations at her position in life, and her desire need to live vicariously through the men in her life because she cannot attain any kind of power or status on her own terms.
But of course, whenever I’m writing a scene from a particular character’s point of view, I always try to get into their head. So I usually identify most with the character whose eyes I’m looking through, and for most of the book, that person is Robyn.
I felt there was lots of “merrymaking”, joy and character humour in this book. With the current pandemic and bad news worldwide, I found this a wonderful release. Where did you get the inspiration for the aspects of humour and fun in this book?
I think I got my motivation for wanting to write a joyous book from not only the current global situation but also from the fact that a lot of the media I’ve read and seen recently seem to be very grim.
I think many people seem to mistake truthfulness for misery and that if something is honest; it needs to have a dark side to it and that if you want to present ‘realistic’ characters, then they need to have some kind of moral failing."I think many people seem to mistake truthfulness for misery and that if something is honest; it needs to have a dark side to it and that if you want to present 'realistic' characters, then they need to have some kind of moral failing." Tweet this
I wanted to rebel against that, so my Robyn Hood is a good-hearted, good-natured soul who is also discovering that she can be a leader, that she can be strong, but she also has a sense of humour fun, which she shares with those around her.
As for the inspiration, I tried to take ideas from the characters themselves by putting them in different situations and experimenting with how they might react.
I had great fun writing a particular scene where Robyn and Littlejohn meet a nun on the road; exploring the conflict and changing status in that scene allowed me to experiment with the humour and have a lot of fun.
How long did it take to write “Scarlet” and do you have a set writing process?
I started in November 2019, and I think I finished the final draft in January of this year. However, because of illness and global events, things got in the way, and the writing stalled for a long time.
My writing process has changed so much since my first book, Mask of the Highwaywoman, with that story I wrote and plotted as I went along, which got me stuck a few times. However, with Scarlet, there was a lot more planning and preparation while still having a bit of fun along the way.
My process is getting stronger and more refined with each book, and my focus, this year, is on improving my daily habits to make the overall process that much easier.
Scarlet is of course book 2 of the Robyn Hood series. When did you get the idea for Scarlet? Did it come before, after, or during the writing of “Outlaw”?
The idea for Scarlet came to me while I was writing Outlaw. It started with the scene where Robyn is visiting Sister Mary in Gaol and (I don’t want to spoil too much of the book) it was the moment where the Sister reveals she has been through a trial-by-ordeal.
I wanted to explore the idea that Robin’s sense of humour and sense of justice might backfire. How would she react to that? So I wrote out the scene, and once I finished Outlaw, I sat down to explore this nun character in much more detail and work out who she was, what her story was, and how she would fit into Robyn’s story.
In a perfect world, what do want readers to feel while reading Scarlet?
Scarlet is a fun book full of adventure, full of japes, schemes, silliness, and plotting. It’s got bad baddies, good goodies, and a few people who are in between.if you want an exciting page-turner that will also make you laugh, then Scarlet and Outlaw are definitely for you. Twet This
So, if you want an exciting page-turner that will also make you laugh, then Scarlet and Outlaw are definitely for you.
What’s next for the Robyn Hood series?
Well, fans of any Robyn Hood story will know that one or two major characters are still missing from the lineup of merry men at the end of Scarlet. So the next book will bring the last big names into the fold.
There will also be a wedding but I will not say whose, the Bishop of Hereford will be back, and we’re also going to meet the scheming younger brother of Richard the Lionheart; Prince John.
There will be madcap schemes plenty of laughs and a robbery or two. So watch this space!
Thank you so much to Niamh for letting me interview her for the Blog! I am so excited to see what is next!
Niamh Murphy is a historian, archaeologist, and bestselling author of adventure books with lesbian main characters.
She tells stories of gripping adventure and epic fantasy, with a dash of romance. She loves to explore historical settings, science fiction landscapes, and fantasy worlds. Her stories most often involve exciting characters such as knights, pirates, vampires, and mermaids. But she has been known to tell more contemporary stories of teenage angst, coming out, and exploring lesbian relationships for the first time.
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