Sunday 17 May 2020

Guest Spot - Jen Black

I’m an ex-library manager resident in the Tyne valley in Northumberland, a wonderful county for history lovers (and dog walkers!). The Roman Wall and Vindolanda are well known, but the castles, bastles, fortified farms and wonderful landscapes are equally amazing. I take lots of pics and pop them on my blog. (

On a clear winter’s day I can see the snow on the Cheviots that form the border with Scotland, and the beautiful unspoilt coastline is barely thirty minutes away by car. My degree in English Language & Literature didn’t help me get an agent interested in my first attempt at a novel and because I baulked at paying postage on a paper ms across the Atlantic, I tried e-publishers. The first one accepted me. Perhaps this should have told me something, but I was so pleased I just went along for the ride and “met” my first authors there.


That was back in 2008. Since then I have learned a lot about editing, promotion and networking. My book was duly published and the same day, the publisher announced bankruptcy. Except that she didn’t exactly call it that, and she didn’t follow the rules about doing it. I learned a lot about how Americans handle themselves in tight spots over the next few months.

I signed with other independent publishers including Quaestor 2000, who published 2 of my titles in paperback (they still float around as second hand book, which is disconcerting as I have re-edited and re-published them on Amazon Kindle) but they too failed one way or another, and out of sheer frustration decided to go with Amazon Kindle. I now have a dozen published titles there, some also in paperback.

My favourite author will always be Dorothy Dunnett and reading her rather austere conception of Marie de Guise set me researching and thinking about a softer, warmer personality. Another Marie slowly grew in my mind. Several people told me how much they liked Matho, a minor character in Fair Border Bride and why didn’t I write about him? So I did. I brought Matho and Marie together in a trilogy. The everyday facts are as close to history as I can get them but because Matho is entirely fictional, so is the relationship between them. I hope Marie had an Englishman who helped her, but I doubt it!

The SCOTTISH QUEEN trilogy is an action-packed romance set during the turbulent English-Scottish wars of the 1540s. Powerful lords surround the infant queen of Scotland and the valiant Dowager Queen struggles to save her daughter’s crown. Matho Spirston, initially a diffident young guard captain at a small English border castle, becomes entangled in a plot to kidnap the young queen.

Book 1: Abduction of the Scots Queen Encouraged by his well-born friend Harry Wharton though Matho thinks they have as much chance of success as a "duckling chased by a fox,” they set out for Scotland to kidnap the child queen. Meg Douglas, King Henry's headstrong niece, pursues the same quest – and she flatters Matho into helping her and at the same time snares the interest of Lord Lennox, who alternately woos both her and the Dowager Queen. 

Book 2: The Queen’s Courier Love is not easy to find or sustain amongst all the plotting and violence of the times. When the Queen Dowager repudiates Lord Lennox he once more turns his attention to Meg. Matho Spirston, now coming into his own as a bold, gruff product of the borderlands, falls for a Scots lass but ill luck finds them in Edinburgh during the English invasion of the town.

Book 3: The Queen’s Letters
A grief-stricken Matho puts his life in danger when he fulfils his bargain with the Dowager by delivering letters to her relatives in France. Dodging assassins, learning the language as he travels, danger intensifies when he sets out to unmask a powerful enemy and the hangman threatens once more. Meg achieves her dearest wish but finds life is not quite as she imagined.

I have written four Viking stories set in either Dublin, Ullapool or Stornoway. A Viking called Flane features in three of them and Finlay of Alba sets out to rescue the kidnapped maiden in Viking Summer. 

Four stories with a romance and an adventure make up what I call my Romance Quartet. Set in either Regency or Victorian England - northern England, as I know little of London, you will get to know my heroines: Daisy and the thief, Frances and the fortune hunter, Melanie and the smuggler and Leigh and the ghost. Captivating one and all!

And of course, there is my old favourite, my first novel, now re-edited and repackaged as Alba is Mine, a tale of Vikings and Scots in the 11th century and very, very loosely based on the MacBeth story. 

People can also visit my Page at and send messages to at

AMAZON Central, where all the books are listed:

Click HERE (and scroll down to 'B') to find our  reviews of Jen Black's books  on Discovering Diamonds

If your novel/s have been reviewed by Discovering Diamonds
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 Guest Spot
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  1. Brilliant post about your career and experience and some wonderful books to read!

  2. Pleased to make your acquaintance! I've always read everything I could find about Mary Stuart, including the six (I believe) crumbling antique volumes of Agnes Strickland's 19th c study. Mary's formidable mother always intrigued me, so I'm glad to find somebody writing about her.

  3. Thanks, Paula I hope you might enjoy reading a couple even if they're not all 11th century! Susan, I've been a Mary Stuart fan since I was 12, but my interest in her mother came much later. A very determined and intelligent lady. I hope you enjoy the trilogy ~ she figures in each volume.


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