Chill with a Book Award honouree, Deborah Carr talks about the story behind Broken Faces
Like any other author the hardest part of writing a book is finding ways to introduce it to readers and one of those ways is by your book being given an award. I was therefore delighted and very proud to discover that Broken Faces, my WW1 romance, had been given a Chill with a Book Award and to have a beautiful badge to add to my cover as a bonus!
I first thought of writing a book set in the Edwardian period after having lunch at a Romantic Novelist’s Association conference. I was sitting between two authors I admired and asked them how they came up with the ideas for their brilliant books. One told me she thinks of something she’s interested in and knows little about and then researches it as the background of a book. That sounded like a good plan to me and I’ve used that idea for every book since – I also write contemporary romances for Accent Press as Georgina Troy.
So, what to research for the plotline of Broken Faces? I’d already written a book – not yet published - after researching the WW2 Guinea Club – pilots who’d been badly burnt and had been treated by New Zealand plastic surgeon, Sir Archie McIndoe. But I wanted to write a book set in the Edwardian era and when I discovered that Sir Archie McIndoe’s cousin, Sir Harold Gillies, an otolaryngologist specialising in plastic surgery, who performed pioneering surgery on soldiers with horrific facial injuries fighting in WW1, I was transfixed and knew that my story had to be about one of these men.
My paternal great-grandfather was in the Lancers and I rode/owned horses for many years, so with my love of horses it was easy to make him a cavalryman. I also like using Jersey in my books and so Freddie Chevalier, a handsome farmer’s son from Jersey, was born. My first husband’s family have a beautiful estate in Shropshire, so Freddie’s best friend, Charles Baldwyn, was heir to an estate… you’ve guessed it, in Shropshire. I then decided I wanted to have Freddie falling secretly in love with Charles’s American fiancée, but also have Charles’s younger sister, Lexi in love with Freddie. He adores her but only sees her as ‘little Lexi’ and so, determined not to be left behind, Lexi persuades her parents to let her join the VADs.
The book has betrayal, fairly graphic battle scenes, unrequited love, and four characters who at the beginning of the book think that their privilege lives will always be golden. It is the story of two young men in love with the same woman and of thousands of broken men who returned from the Front in WW1 with masks over their faces to hide the irreparable damage. These men were expected to live a “normal” life. Broken Faces spans the 1914-18 war and is ultimately a story of how love can triumph over adversity in the most unexpected of ways.
I have other stories to tell behind this book but I’ll keep those for another day. I based Lexi on my paternal grandmother, Mary, who was very beautiful and am working on a novella, Beautiful Faces, which is the prequel to Freddie and Lexi’s story and hope it will be published in January/February 2017.