Excerpt & Interview: LADY OF SHERWOOD by Molly Bilinski
Updated: Feb 3, 2020
"I LOVE this version which has enough of the original lore to satisfy my Robin Hood loving, but with a female cast of characters that literally jump off the page and drag you on the adventure!"
Lady of Sherwood
Robin of Lockesly was neither the son her father wanted, nor the daughter her mother expected. When she refuses an arranged marriage to a harsh and cruel knight, the deadly events that follow change her destiny forever.
After a night of tragedy, Robin and the few remaining survivors flee to Nottingham. With a newfound anonymity, they start to live different lives. There, she and her band make mischief, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. But charity isn’t the only thing she wants–she wants revenge.
As the sheriff draws his net closer, Robin’s choices begin to haunt her. She’ll have to choose between what’s lawful and what her conscience believes is right–all while staying one step ahead of the hangman.
Lady of Sherwood is a unique young adult retelling of the beloved Robin Hood legend. Filled with action and romance, this new series follows a teenage heroine through her fantastic, yet dangerous adventures.
Series: Outlaws of Sherwood, Book 1 | Genre: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing | Publication Date: April 24th 2017
ENJOY AN EXCERPT
from Lady of Sherwood
Robin stood in front of Much, Jemma’s staff in her hands and raised as though she were going to swing for Much’s head. Much, with a look of intense concentration on her round face, gripped a stick and let Jemma reposition her feet and hands as necessary.
“Steady your weight,” Jemma said quietly. “You want to have a strong base, but you need to be able to move quickly.”
“If I bring this down, you almost want to rise to meet it instead of letting it push you back,” Robin added.
“Stay ahead of it, then.” Much braced, and Robin brought the staff down slowly enough for Much to anticipate the movement and react accordingly.
“Balance.” Jemma adjusted her elbow. “The last thing you want is to be knocked on your arse because then you’ve got to dodge the attack and get back on your feet, which is tricky.”
Much smiled wryly. “Is that why Robin shoots them from a distance?”
She giggled. “Probably, but have you seen her when she’s got to use her bow like a staff?”
“It’s a good, solid yew bow.” Robin put a little more pressure against Much’s stick to see what would happen, and grinned brightly when the younger girl stayed strong and balanced. She even pushed back a bit, and Robin’s grin sharpened.
Robin leaned away, slid the staff down her palms to a different grip, and drew back in preparation to jab for somewhere in Much’s midriff.
“Now, if you’re very quick and confident, then you can swing down and knock it aside.” Jemma guided Much’s hands and arms into the movement, and used the stick to deflect Robin’s attack. It happened slowly, so Much could ease into it.
“That’s going to hurt if you get hit with it,” Robin said, snapping her arms back as though she were going to try stabbing forward again. “It’s going to crack or break your ribs if it connects, and there’s no shame in jumping out of the way.”
Jemma put her hands on Much’s waist and helped her swerve her hips to the side and out of the line of fire from the staff in Robin’s hands. “Swerve first, and then try to knock it out of the way. If you can somehow knock it out of her hands, that’s great, but usually you won’t get someone to part with their weapon.”
“Especially men,” Robin added. “That’s who you’ll be against, most likely.”
Robin lowered her staff and rested one end of it on the toe of her boot like she frequently did with her bow. She rubbed the side of her nose and softly said, “It’s…it’s ugly. There’s nothing dignified about it because someone is actively trying to hurt you and your focus is on making sure they can’t.”
She lowered the stick. “And you want to hurt them back.”
“Only to give yourself enough time and space to get away,” Jemma added gently. “If it comes down to it, whether it’s them or you, we’d always rather have you.”
“It’s a difficult choice to make, Much.” Robin reached out and wrapped her fingers around Much’s wrist. “We’d rather none of you lot – you, Kitty, and Maggie – have to make it.”
The implication sunk in a bit, and Much took a deep breath only to blow it out again. “Right.” She readjusted her grip on the stick and raised it once more. “Again?”
"Absolutely,” Jemma said. “Remember what I told you about your elbows.”
Robin smiled sharply and tightened her fingers around the staff.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Sometime in middle school, I think. I’ve always loved books, but it was right around eighth grade when I wanted to give novel writing a serious attempt. That story was the most progress I’d made on one that I’d started, and it topped out at fifty pages. I did much better at the beginning of high school – that had a much better plot, better characters, and it was the first time I really thought I can do this.
Where did you get the idea for LADY OF SHERWOOD?
Robin Hood is one of my all-time favorite legends, and I wanted to do a different retelling. I wanted something fun and adventurous, and I wanted to make Robin Hood a leading lady. I think having Robin and most of the outlaws be woman makes for a very different dynamic, and I’m excited to see what people think of it.
How long did it take you to write the book?
It took almost a year in total, but if you take out the three or four months that are my busy season at work where I get very little writing done, then it’s only like six or eight months. I was working nights when I wrote it, and I was able to get some writing in between running tests and waiting for samples in the wee hours of the morning.
How many hours a day do you write?
It depends on the day. There are days when I don’t get any writing done at all, and there are days when I crank out 5,000+ words. I aim to write a little bit every day, at least, but it sometimes doesn’t always work out that way, unfortunately.
LADY OF SHERWOOD is a retelling – how did you pick names for your characters?
For many of them, I had an idea from the original legends. For example, Robin stayed Robin, and Little John became Jemma. There are a few others that have name twists like that, and some completely new characters that were named based on lists of popular names from the 14th century. And, for me, the name has to fit the character and the character’s personality, and I hope that comes through.
What was the hardest scene to write?
There were a couple that were really difficult to write, and I don’t want to say which ones because I don’t want to spoil anybody who hasn’t read it yet. I hope readers enjoy this new take on an old story.
Molly is a 2013 graduate of William Smith College with a bachelors in chemistry. She puts her science powers to use by day and is a novelist by night (and weekend...and any five minutes she can find). When she's not writing or working, she's scoping out coffee shops, exploring her new city (Buffalo, NY), taking day trips to Canada, and putting together puzzles.
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