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Marie-Louise Jensen was born in Henley-on-Thames to an English father and Danish mother. She studied Scandinavian and German with literature at the UEA and has lived in Denmark and Germany. After teaching English at a German university for four years, Marie-Louise returned to England. She completed an MA in Writing for Young People at the Bath Spa University in 2005. Marie-Louise now lives in Bath, reads, reviews and writes books for young people and home educates her two sons.
Marie-Louise’s first novel, Between Two Seas, received brilliant reviews and found many fans, as well as being shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award. The Lady in the Tower was shortlisted for the 2009 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize.
She is a contributor to The History Girls blog - click on the link to visit.
In her own words:
"At age 11, I possibly suffered severe psychological damage having to wait for a week to discover whether Aragorn survived the battle at Helm’s Deep. My family moved around a lot and in 1979 we moved down to the Bath area, where I’ve been based (on and off) ever since. By late secondary school, I’d discovered there is a way of reading all day and calling it work. It’s called literature. I did A-levels in English, German and French followed by a degree in German and Scandinavian (with literature) at the University of East Anglia. I noticed all the books I’d read at school and uni were written by men. So I did a PhD at Bristol on German women writers to balance things up. The reading was great but the thesis got me down and I never quite finished.
"Between 1990 and 1995, I moved to Münster, Germany, to teach English at the Westfälische Wilhelms Universität. My first son was born in Germany. Returning to England in 1995, I resolved that my two boys weren’t going to go to school unless they wanted to. At ages 12 and 9, they haven’t decided to yet. I’ve had endless fun reading them all my favourite children’s books and discovering new ones. I do waste some of their time with maths but I never confiscate their books. Our hobbies are lots of different sports - and going to book signings to meet children’s authors. I finally decided it was time to start writing books as well as reading them. I did an MA in creative writing at the Bath Spa University in 2004-5, and was fortunate enough to have my first novel accepted by an agent and a publisher soon after."
Q & A with Marie-Louise Jensen
1. What inspired you to write your current book?
I live near Farleigh Hungerford Castle (which is in Wiltshire) and when I heard the story of how Lady Elizabeth Hungerford was locked in a tower for four years and that nobody knows how she escaped, it set my imagination going. I researched the family and what I couldn’t discover about them I invented.
2. Describe it in two lines?
An adventure with jousting, betrayal, midnight escapes, friendship, family and romance.
3. How long did it take you to write?
4. What do you think people will say about this book?
I hope they will find it exciting, find that it brings Tudor times to life and that they will care about what happens to Eleanor.
5. Are you working on something else at the moment?
I’ve just finished a Viking book set in Iceland and am working on a second. I’m also working on a project with another children’s author, David Calcutt, which is very exciting.
6. What is your favourite food?
I love most fruits.
7. What makes you laugh out loud?
My brother’s jokes.
8. What is your one luxury item you would take with you on to a Desert Island?
My laptop with power and an internet link!
9. What is your most treasured memory?
My trip round Iceland to research my Viking books in 2007 was pretty spectacular.
10. What is your weakness?
11. What is the worst/most unusual job you have ever done?
I worked part time in a cocktail bar for a couple of years.
12. Who is the person you most admire?
All the women who have fought for a fair world in the face of overwhelming odds.
13. What is your most embarrassing moment?
It’s less embarrassing if I keep that to myself.
14. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Never say anything behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t like them to hear. Do I stick to it? Well, not quite…
15. What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone?
That would have to depend on the person.
16. Last album bought? First album ever bought?
Last: James Blunt - Back to Bedlam.
First: Marillion – Script for a Jester’s Tear.
17. What are you reading at the moment?
Leila Rasheed: Socks, Shocks and Secrets
18. Favourite holiday destination?
19. Which authors have most inspired you?
JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis were the writers who made me want to become a writer as a child. More recently, JK Rowling and Jennifer Donnelly.
20. What is your favourite children’s book?
There are so many wonderful children’s books: how could I choose just one??
To name a few: I, Coriander, A Gathering Light, No Shame No Fear, Saffy’s Angel,
Pippi Longstocking, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, Little House on the Prairie series, Matilda.
21. Most treasured possession?
My collection of signed children’s books.
22. Where are you happiest?
I love spending the summers in Northern Jutland in Denmark. The air is so clear and fresh and we can hear the sea from the house.
23. Favourite biscuit?
Those Bahlsen ones with the mega-thick milk-chocolate layer.
24. Pet hates?
Apostrophes where they don’t belong and people saying, “He was sat in his car.”
25. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I’d love to be one of those naturally thin, elegant women with good dress sense!
Dark secrets and forbidden love are a treacherous combination, in this page-turning adventure. Charlotte must escape from her old life. Disguising herself as a stable boy, she seeks refuge at a grand country estate. There, she meets Belle, a horse so beautiful and kind Charlotte almost forgets the disturbing events that forced her into hiding. But no sooner than she stops running from her past, she finds the stranger who has sworn to find her, wherever she tries to hide... is rapidly catching up with her.
A pacy adventure with a gutsy heroine at its heart brings danger – and romance- to life in a vividly imagined past. Isabelle plans to end her life. Stepping into the sea seems like an easy way out but when the waves wash over her, Isabelle is less sure! Luckily, she is rescued and soon finds herself swept up in a world she had always thought of a morally repugnant. Isabelle’s smuggling saviours change her view and one captivates her heart.
March 2012 Book of the Month. How can feisty Sophia take her revenge on her father for forcing her into a life of high society in Bath? Outwardly, Sophie conforms by attending balls and masques. But, at night, she leads quite another life risking all by changing her appearance and turning to crime. It is a dangerous and difficult path to tread and following Sophie’s clever handing of the situations makes a thrilling costume drama. Marie-Louise Jensen's first novel, Between Two Seas, was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and the Waterstones Children's Book Award. Click here for more by this fantastic author.
A richly evoked Viking world sets the scene for this powerful and romantic coming of age story. Snatched from her happy life with her parents on the farm where she tames horses and helps her mother who is a healer, Sigrun must pay the price of the secret that has been kept from her. Adapting to a quite different life in exile, Sigrun develops her own powers as a healer and seer and uses them to end the family feud and to bring herself happiness.
Highly Commended for the Teenage Book Prize 2010. 15 year old Thora is a slave to Bjorn, a brutish Viking chieftain, but she’s also a healer and has visions of the future - a future that involves death, lies, hardship and danger. When she correctly predicts the death of Bjorn she must escape before she’s implicated and she does so with another slave who is destined to be part of her future. Their destination is the uncharted land of fire and ice – Iceland. The author’s previous two novels, Between Two Seas and The Lady in the Tower were both met with great critical acclaim and many fans.
Intrigue, treachery and political ambition drive this story of how courageous Eleanor keeps herself and her mother safe by defying her father and even the great King Henry V111 himself. Eleanor is a feisty heroine whose bravery brings the results she seeks – and finally love too. If you enjoyed this then make sure you read her first novel, Between Two Seas.
Shortlisted for the 2009 Branford Boase Best Debut Novel Award Marianne promises her dying mother that she’ll seek a better life and especially that she’ll try to find her father. Leaving Grimsby, Marianne sets off on a long and dangerous voyage to Denmark. What will she find there? A moving love story set against an interesting historical background. If you enjoyed this then make sure you read her second novel The Lady in the Tower.
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