Bernie Hobbs, journalist and judge on the science programme The New Inventors, launched into the evening by excitedly describing her friend’s book as a “bodice-ripping epic” and later confirmed (to rapturous applause) that the “girl-on-girl” action received a big tick.
She then asked the question which was on everyone’s lips – “Are you related to Rowan Atkinson?”
Apparently Jesse and Rowan are not related, but the connection is not completely tenuous. There was indeed an Edmond Blackadder to whom Jesse found she was related. A road trip instigated by a random opening of the street directory took her and her cousin to the front gate of what was the site of Blackadder Castle.
A trip Jesse described as “A great moment of fate” that unearthed the history of the Blackadder’s misfortunes and of Alison Blackadder, who would become the heroine of The Raven’s Heart.
“The story finds you” said Jesse, who then regaled us with the incredible tale of bravery, savagery and treachery that befell the Blackadders and intertwined their fate with that of the charismatic Mary, Queen of Scots. She had us on tenterhooks.