Saturday 30 January 2016

Historical Heroes

Sir Harold Gillies copyright Dr Andrew Bamjii
One of my favourite parts of writing a book is the research and this was especially fascinating for Broken Faces. I was intrigued by pioneering work of the brilliant plastic surgeon, New Zealander, Sir Harold Gillies. This month is the centenary of the plastic surgery he carried out after relocating to Aldershot back in January 1916 to work on the facial injuries suffered in the battles of the Great War. Here's an article telling you more about him and his incredible work.

I was shocked on discovering the photographs of his patients, some taken over several years and showing the painstaking surgeries they endured. These young soldiers who in a split-second lost part of their face to hot scrapnel, or a bullet, had so much to thank him and his expertise for as he slowly gave them back some semblance of normality that they must have yearned for. Looking at photos of some of these men when they were much older, it was difficult to imagine that they'd lost a nose, or chin years before as the reconstructive surgery had been done so well.

Sir Harold Gillies was the cousin of Sir Archibald McIndoe the pioneering surgeon in World War 2 who is probably best known for his achievements with his patients who he referred to as his 'guinea pigs. They went on to set up a social club called, The Guinea Pig Club in 1941. I researched his work for the sequel to Broken Faces, Splintered Lives, which I'm hoping to be published next year. 

It's hard to imagine how much these two cousins achieved in these two wars and how many lives they helped to rebuild. Both true historical heroes.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Writing Books & Book Reviews

I cherish the time I spend alone writing - it helps when all three dogs sleep at the same time - and I can lose myself in my latest book. At the moment I'm between books, Broken Faces has been published in ebook format and will be coming out in paperback in the Spring, and I should be receiving edits from my new editor at Accent Press for the fourth book in the series, A Jersey Bombshell. In the meantime, however, I'm staring at a blank page and planning my next book.

I've learnt many things about writing and one thing that I didn't know until a published author friend pointed it out to me a couple of years ago, was that when you post a review to, it doesn't show up on and visa versa. 

So, if you want to help an author whose book you've enjoyed, apart from telling your friends about the book, the most visual way for the author to see you've enjoyed his/her book is by posting a review, ie to Then copy and paste your review and post it on the opposite Amazon website. It's a huge way to encourage writers, most of whom have severe bouts of self-doubt... like I'm having today.

Happy reading.

Sunday 17 January 2016

My Inspiration Behind the Broken Face

Yesterday was the Facebook launch party for my debut historical novel, Broken Faces - a
massive thank you to all those that joined in. It was four hours of fun - for me - sharing my inspiration behind my four main protagonists: 

- Freddie Chevalier (beautiful man who becomes the broken face),
- Meredith (Meri) Sutton (his best friend's fiancee with whom he's secretly in love),
- Charles Baldwyn (his best friend and heir to a Shropshire estate and many problems), and;
- Lexi Baldwyn (Charles's younger sister, who desperately wishes she was more like Meri and that Freddie would see her as the woman she has become). 

I was able to share some of the discoveries I made while researching about the masks made in the studio in Paris by Anna Coleman Ladd and Francis Derwent Wood for the severely disfigured men for whom doctors were unable to satisfactorily restore their looks. This left most of them with no option - or so they believed - other than to either hide themselves away or cover the more damaged parts under copper masks.

One of these brave men I was drawn to use as inspiration for Freddie was William Kearsey (see pic above), a beautiful Australian soldier who, at the age of 25, was severely disfigured in Belgium  on 3 October 1917. He had 29 operations to repair the severe damage and ended up looking very different, but also went on to build a life for himself eventually marrying in his fifties. If you'd like to find out more about him and his life story, here's a link to the Inverell Times. 

I discovered many harrowing stories during my research and because my paternal great-grandfather, was a Lancer in the cavalry and because I've always loved horses, I placed my male protagonists in the cavalry. I've been lucky enough to own five horses while growing up and so enjoyed the special bond that horse and rider experience. I can only imagine the intensity of that relationship when you're confronted with death and destruction and consequences when the worst happens. Hopefully I've conveyed those emotions in Broken Faces. 

My maternal great-grandfather was a stretcher-bearer, an intensly dangerous job where men risked their lives constantly to rescue those soldiers lying badly wounded at the Front. What they experienced must have been both harrowing and devastating. My great-grandfather was shot in his ankle but survived the war, so was one of the luckier ones. I've tried to convey the dedication of these men through Meredith (Meri) Sutton's work as a nurse in Amiens.

Broken Faces is out now in e-book only, but will be out in paperback in the summer.

Sunday 10 January 2016

Game of Thrones Journal & New Book

Being an avid Game of Thrones fan, I was thrilled when my son bought me this Stark journal for Christmas. Unfortunately we're going to have to wait until late April to start enjoying Season 6, but in the meantime there's a lot to be getting on with. Being a writer and lover of stationery I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled I was with this gift. I'm still deciding what to write in my GoT journal, but maybe it'll be ideas for future books, or something similar.

Now that Broken Faces has been published in e-book - with the paperback coming out later this year - and the Christmas/New Year festivities are over, I'm working on edits for my next historical romance. It's a standalone novel set in WW2, called Splintered Lives. The story is set during the occupation of the island of Jersey, but it also follows on from the main characters that you meet in Broken Faces. Once again, I'm loving the research and this time I have people I can ask about the Occupation who lived through that dark time rather than having to simply rely on books and the internet for my research.

Sunday 3 January 2016

New Website/Good Books

Firstly, Happy New Year! I hope that 2016 is full of bookish loveliness, long sunny days and much time spent reading and writing, or maybe that comes under the bookish loveliness?

I began the New Year by setting up Happy New Year posts on my Debs Carr and Georgina Troy Facebook pages using a 2015 picture! No one mentioned it and I thought that maybe no one had noticed, then as time moved and I spoke to people it turns out that the only person who hadn't noticed my 'deliberate mistake' was me! Quelle surprise, not. Great start to the year and so typical of me.

Having spent days fretting about not being able to access this blog - although it turns out that I needed to access it via a defunct email address... long, very dull story - I set up a new website: Now for a non-techy person this takes time and not a little confusion, but it's getting there, slowly.

As for resolutions, I usually aim to lose weight, write more books and read as many books as I can, do more/any exercise, etc.

This year, I'm going to aim to do something I know I'll enjoy doing and that will be writing at least one more book and reading as many of my talented friends' books that are waiting for me on my Kindle as possible. I began reading Girl Number One by Jane Holland last night and only stopped because the battery on my Kindle died! It's a brilliant book and I'm going to say bye now and carry on reading it. If you haven't read it yet, you're missing a treat.

Happy New Year, once again! x