I’m joined by author A E CHandler today. Although she’s Canadian, she is rather keen on a well known British legend as you will find out. Welcome Amy, first of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I live in Canada, where I’m a visiting expert with my hometown museum’s military collection, so I get to research the stories behind the plate armour, swords, and polearms. I moved to England to get my MA in Medieval Studies from the University of Nottingham. My dissertation was on the social history behind Robin Hood, and I travelled around to most of the Robin Hood spots in England. On May Day I watched the sunrise in Sherwood Forest, like in the Alfred Noyes poem; spent three days in the woods carving a longbow; walked up to the Sayles and so to Watling Street, like Little John; and shot arrows within the walls of Nottingham Castle. I even got to shoot a deer in Sherwood Forest – don’t worry, it was a plastic one.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
The Scarlet Forest: A Tale of Robin Hood is a blend of true history with new stories, popular inaccuracies (like Maid Marian), and medieval legends, some of which most people aren’t even aware of. Robin takes on a persona closer to his medieval one, while Marian is more the modern persona we’re familiar with. The second edition is now out – in print, e-book, and audio – with extras like a historical note, a medieval ballad translation, medieval recipes, book club questions, and more.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The forest is like another character in the story, stained scarlet by the blood Robin shed when he was outlawed. That rash moment has a profound effect on him, and afterwards he tries to live as honest a life as possible, enforcing justice where the sheriff fails to do so.
How did you celebrate publication day?
It had to be a stay-at-home celebration. I love Fanta, but I don’t usually drink it. In the UK it’s made differently – it tastes better – so whenever I’m in Heathrow I buy a few bottles to bring home. When the second edition of The Scarlet Forest: A Tale of Robin Hood came out I drank the last bottle of Fanta I had from my last trip. It was orange – lemon is my other favourite.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes, a series set in the 1840s about a group of young men and women who help an eccentric British colonel search out curiosities for his collection. It starts in India, goes through Africa and Europe, and explores a lot of interesting, remote locations.
What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?
Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad. When I’m doing book signings, people will ask what book they should read besides The Scarlet Forest, and that’s the one I recommend. It has a near-perfect balance of character, plot, and theme that makes it very powerful. Joseph Conrad is at his best when he’s writing about the sea, and Lord Jim is an all-time classic piece of literature.
What are you reading just now?
The Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe. I love Gothic literature.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
The medieval romance Amis and Amiloun. (The medieval definition of the romance genre is fairly different from our modern one.) The story is about two friends who have grown up together, and the adventures they have as their loyalty to one another is tested in adulthood.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
My website is https://aechandler.wixsite.com/author and there you can read the original, unpublished second chapter of The Scarlet Forest: A Tale of Robin Hood if you sign up for the bimonthly author newsletter. The website has other extras as well, like travel tips for Robin Hood country. I’m also on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/aechandler and YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQAveWeAlPa_A3ix9avA2JA where I talk about history and travel – and the armour behind the scenes at the museum. My Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/A.E.-Chandler/e/B075W1L1HJ lists my books, including The Scarlet Forest https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scarlet-Forest-Tale-Robin-Hood/dp/0992053927 .
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Robin Hood. He has amazing adventures, and spends so much energy doing the right thing, even though as an outlaw he’s no longer bound by the law and could do whatever he wants. I think that kind of integrity is something to really aspire to.
From the back of the book
You are invited underneath the great greenwood tree to hear how a young man became a hero, and a hero became a legend. When Robin takes a shortcut through Sherwood Forest, the path he chooses leads not to Nottingham’s archery contest, but to a life on the run from the law. Unable now to become a knight, and joined by his childhood friends, Robin Hood leads the most infamous outlaw band ever to evade the king and his sheriff.
Blending true history with new stories, popular inaccuracies, and some almost forgotten medieval legends, The Scarlet Forest: A Tale of Robin Hood brings a new life to the greenwood, which here feels as fresh as it does traditional. With an academic background in medieval English studies, A. E. Chandler captivates with this unique and nuanced reinterpretation of Robin Hood’s struggles and adventures. The forest is waiting.
This expanded second edition contains additional bonus material, including a translation of one of only five surviving medieval Robin Hood “ballads.”