Today at YA Book Nerd we have Jane, one of the five spies we meet in the new YA historical adventure Maid of Secrets. I just started the book and so far, it's fabulous! Jane is usually a woman of few words, but she graciously agreed to speak with us today.
Welcome, Jane! Can you tell us a little about yourself?My name is Jane Morgan, and I work for the Queen. I see you refer to me as “Maid of Stealth”, and that sounds right enough. As a spy for the Queen, I make short work of anyone the Crown prefers to see dead. So you definitely need stealth for what I do. That, and a sharpened blade.
What's your weapon of choice?
If I were smart, I would say a bow and arrow. It’s silent and you can sight your opponent from a far distance, then kill him quickly and cleanly. But I do not often have the luxury of distance for my tasks. As a result, I find that I work best with the dagger. Or, in my case, several daggers hidden at various points on my person. A dagger is a quick, effective and silent weapon, and if managed correctly achieves my goals before my prey knows I am even there.
Because you are a countrywoman, I will share the story of my home with you. But I do not talk often of this place; there are now only memories there for me. Memories and pain.
My family lived in a small village near the town of Newborough, on Anglesey Island. It was not an easy life, but it was simple, and it was ours. We were fisherman in the main, though some of us also wove nets out of the long grasses in the area for the fishing trade, and we kept to ourselves. The trouble with living so close to the sea, however, is what it might wash up on your doorstep. Marauders were a constant threat to us. Now there are a few less of them.
How did you train to become stealthy?
It happened quite by accident. I said we were fishermen. I am terrible at fishing. To make myself useful and avoid getting assigned the chores only fit for women to do, I learned to hunt. I found I had an affinity for sneaking up on animals without them being fully aware. This skill helped a great deal in the pursuit of small game (and larger game), when my only concern was helping my family and neighbors put food on the table. It became much more useful when I turned my focus to hunting men. To keep sharp, however, I must constantly hone my wits and my speed. If I am not quick, in body and mind… I’ll no longer be the hunter, but the prey.
What's your favorite part of court?
In truth, I cannot say that I enjoy the Queen’s court and her endless rounds of entertainment, dancing and feasts. I have no quarrel with the woman—you might say we understand each other. But she is surrounded by so much revelry that it is all I can do not to flee the court outright every day, just for a few hours alone in the forest surrounding the castle. I’ve done it, often enough. I escape more than anyone realizes, and slip back inside just as quietly. And given what Meg and I have found within the walls of Windsor Castle, which you’ll know once you read Maid of Secrets, coming and going is about to get a lot easier.
Can you describe your favorite dress?
If I have to wear a dress at all, my favorite dress involves a split walking skirt.
I would much rather dress like a guard or, better yet, a servant. Someone who has only to wear loose breeches and a tunic, with a belt for carrying a sword and an extra blade, and boots sturdy enough to walk miles in--but soft enough to not leave your fleet a bleeding mess. That’s been the biggest benefit of being at court, I’ll tell you plain: the quality of the footwear. That and you always know where your next meal is coming from. Of course, you also know the price of the food. You just have to be willing to pay it.
Thanks! Excited to be part of the tour.
And good day to you, m’lady.
Author Bio via Goodreads: Jennifer McGowan writes Young Adult romance full of swash and buckle. Her first novel, MAID OF SECRETS, debuts in Spring, 2013 from Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Royal Secret: Came from a small town in northern Ohio
Became a Maid of Honor: After bringing her tale of spygirls to the noble city, and winning the favor of the great house of Simon and Schuster
Special Skill: Matrix-like reflexes, superior strength, fabulous wit… okay, ah – we’ll get back to you on that.
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