Category Archives: In Loving Memory

The Eleventh Interesting Fact about Shaun Deeley

A little later this month, after In Loving Memory is released, there will be a web feature called Ten Interesting Facts about Shaun Deeley, presented by Joanne Guidoccio .

I’ll share the feature widely, of course, because Mr. Deeley is one of the two main characters in my historical romance novels, and I’m a little in love with him. I hope that love is infectious. All of my books seem to have men as their heroes, and I’ve always been a little in love with all of them, but Mr. Deeley has turned out to be special. He burst out of me in a flash of inspiration, a character in what began as a screenplay about researching family trees and solving ancestral mysteries and, for some unfathomable reason, he was born into Regency England.

I wasn’t overly obsessed with Jane Austen. I was hopeless at History in school. If you were to have told me at the start of my writing career that my most successful stories would be about a gentleman who was born in 1791 who suddenly finds himself transported two centuries into the future, where he continues his time travelling adventures with a museum worker named Charlie, I’d have fallen over laughing. Time travel! Historical romance! Regency England? And now the Blitz!?

Of all the heroes I’ve written about, Mr. Deeley is definitely my favourite. He’s impetuous, and fearless, and his behaviour and philosophy come from a much more genteel and mannered time, which does lead to some humorous situations in the present – and in the past.

I’m not quite sure where in my imagination Mr. Deeley himself actually came from. Perhaps he was always there, lurking, my secret lover just waiting for the right time to reveal himself. Physically, he’s tall-ish, and he has dark, rather long hair (as was the fashion in 1825, when he first met Charlie). His occupation was groom at Monsieur Duran’s manor. He was afforded a classical education (inflicted upon him by the very aged and imaginatively diminished Reverend Hopwood Smailes) and, in fact, he speaks Latin – which you’ll discover, somewhat humorously, when you read In Loving Memory.

He constantly amuses Charlie, and frightens her at times, too – when he first came to live with her, he tried to boil water using the fireplace in the sitting room – with disastrous results, especially to the plastic tea kettle. Charlie is cautious by nature and a little bit hesitant when it comes to taking risks. Mr. Deeley is the perfect foil for her, because the biggest risk he ever took was leaping into the 21st century with her. He can be frightened – and is, several times, in the new novel. But he’s also practical and quite logical, so common sense usually prevails.

There’s one more thing about Mr. Deeley. He’s a hero who has suffered. I have a philosophy, which I share with Emma Braden, the wise old spywriter who created Jarrod Spencer’s character in The Cilla Rose Affair. “Closet sadists,” is how Emma refers to the female readers of her spy novels. “The essential difference between male readers and female is that men like their heroes to have near-misses. Life-threatening situations from which they narrowly escape, virtually unscathed. The ladies prefer a spot of torture—nothing too dangerous, mind you—just enough to impart a semblance of suffering, from which their hero ought to be delivered in one piece—if perhaps a trifle bruised. Heroes who have suffered require mothering. That’s the secret of writing for women.”

What do Richard Sharpe, Jamie Fraser, that guy from Starship Troopers and Shaun Deeley have in common? They’ve all been subjected to the lash.

Come on ladies, ‘fess up. You love them even more because they’ve been flogged, don’t you?

You won’t read about Mr. Deeley’s ordeal in Persistence of Memory, or In Loving Memory, or even in the little bonus short story that’s included at the end of In Loving Memory, Easy When You Know How.

A couple of years ago I contributed a short piece to an anthology put together by a group of writers who were then under contract to Fable Press. The idea was to give our characters an extra adventure, to help promote our novels. The theme of the anthology was “carnival” and for my story, I created a village fair at Stoneford, and sent Charlie and Mr. Deeley back in time with the help of a gypsy fortune teller and a tarot reading.

a gypsy fortune teller

tarot - the lovers

The Rider Waite tarot card that caused all the trouble!

They ended up in 1848, where they met Charlie’s direct ancestor, a young trouble-maker who was about to be quite deservedly flogged in the village square for bad behaviour.

whipping post

A typical village stock and whipping post in an English village.

Charlie was aghast. She knew this ancestor was a hemophiliac – she carried the gene herself – and this punishment would undoubtedly kill the poor fellow. And if Augustus Duran (the son of Sarah and Louis Augustus Duran the Greater) died in 1848, Charlie herself would never be born.

You’ll have to read the short story yourself to find out just how gallant Mr. Deeley can be. Due to contractual agreements I can’t post it publicly…however if you email me I might be able to help 🙂 (winona at winonakent dot com) (replace the usual words with the usual symbols).

And that will give you just one more reason to love Mr. Deeley and enjoy his next big adventure with Charlie.

In Loving Memory is released on July 26 by Diversion Books. You can buy it online at all the usual outlets, and you can order it from your favourite brick-and-mortar bookstore.

 

Please join me at the online launch party (on Facebook) on July 26, 12 noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK. 1940s music, Ration Book delectables, and free party favours!

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In Loving Memory…Betty’s house

When I started writing In Loving Memory I knew I wanted to center the story around the little terraced house in Balham where Charlie’s grandmother, Betty Singleton (later Lewis), lived, and where Charlie’s mother, Jackie Lewis (later Duran), grew up.

I have very vivid memories of my own grandmother’s house, which isn’t in Balham at all – but it is in south London, nearest tube station Tooting Broadway, two stations south of Balham on the Northern Line. So when you’re reading about Betty’s house, you are in fact, reading about my Nana’s house.

Two things about my Nana’s house: it was likely built before 1930, and it was very small. It had the standard (and very common) layout of many terraced houses from that era: two downstairs reception rooms, a tiny galley kitchen, a front hallway with a steep staircase leading upstairs, two reasonably sized bedrooms on the second floor, a third miniscule “box bedroom” over the stairs, and a loo that had an original cistern up high near the ceiling, with a chain that you yanked on to make it flush (I still remember my mother’s reference to flushing the toilet – it was always “pull the chain.”).

The house still exists – I’ve seen it on Google and on property websites – although it’s been renovated inside and out, and its little overgrown front garden has been paved over to make a parking spot for its owner’s car. I have no idea what the back garden looks like: my memories are of an overgrown jungle with fishponds that ceased to have fish when I was about 3. There was no Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden – at least not when my grandparents lived there. (They moved into the house after the war). The previous owners might well have had one. So I made that part up.

Here’s a picture of the house before the changes, enhanced a little with some quick photoshoppery to make the front door and the outside trim the same colour of green that I remember.

Betty house-11

And here are the floor plans for the inside. You’ll have to imagine the furniture as you read the novel, but you can at least see how the rooms were arranged.

betty downstairs 3.jpg

 

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As for the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden, if you have no idea what an Anderson shelter was, here’s a drawing of what one of them would have looked like.

andersonpicture

The source for this diagram is http://www.bigginhill-history.co.uk/andersonwhatis.htm
If you go to that website you can read more about each section of the shelter by clicking on their picture.

Here are a couple of pictures of people posing outside their shelters, taken during World War Two:

shelter3

anderson exterior 2

The sources for these two photos are http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/world_war2/air_raids/ and http://www.andersonshelters.org.uk/index.html

And finally, here’s a photo of what it was probably like inside – this is a mockup from a museum display here http://forums.airshows.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=67519

interior shelter

The house my mum and her family lived in during the war did, of course, have an air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden. My mum tells me it was far less comfortable than this, and usually quite damp and cold. My grandfather was an ARP warden and worked overnight during the Blitz. My grandmother had three children – she occupied one bed against the wall with her youngest daughter, while my mum and her brother shared the other bed on the opposite side. My mum has added that there was rarely any sleep on those nights when the bombs were dropping.

In Loving Memory will be released on July 26 by Diversion Books (paperback and ebook).

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“In Loving Memory”…new novel!

I haven’t been blogging very much recently, alas – real life has taken a big bite out of my time, and I’ve been trying to get a new novel started – the third in my historical romance / time travel series featuring Charlie and Mr. Deeley. I’m happy to say I’ve got the outline done and I’m working on Chapter Four as we speak.

In the meantime…novel #2 in the series is nearly ready to be released. It’s called In Loving Memory and it’s set in London in 1940, at the height of The Blitz. Publication day is July 26, and you can pre-order it from Amazon (the link is to the US Amazon but you can pre-order from Amazon in any country) or from Diversion Books.

Here’s the wonderful new cover, which I absolutely love:

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There’s a fantastic mention on the cover from Publishers Weekly, which gave it a starred review:

“Kent combines time travel, mystery, and romance in a delightful sequel to Persistence of Memory that’s easily accessible for new readers.”

If you’d like to read the entire review, it’s here on the Publishers Weekly website (when the review was written the book was still sporting its old cover). (“A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality.” – Publishers Weekly)

And an insider’s tip – there’s a bonus short story included at the end – Easy When You Know How – which takes Charlie and Mr. Deeley to 1964 and the premiere of the Beatles’ film  A Hard Day’s Night. This story sets up the new novel I’m writing now, which takes place in Swinging London in the 1960s.

Here’s the official “blurb” for In Loving Memory:
In this mesmerizing romance, a woman out of time falls in love with a man for whom time is running out.

In Winona Kent’s novel Persistence of Memory, Charlie Lowe, a young widow in Stoneford, England, was accidentally transported back to 1825, where she fell in love with Shaun Deeley, a groom employed at Stoneford Manor. They are only back in the present for seemingly a breath before a piece of wartime shrapnel sends them tumbling back through time to 1940, the height of the Blitz. There, they discover pieces of Charlie’s past that counter everything she thought she knew about herself.

Charlie and Shaun have decisions to make—do they interfere in time’s progress to save a man? Do they put their own future at risk by doing nothing? And how much time do these two lovers have left?

 

I’ll have more to say about In Loving Memory next time – and I promise it will be soon! Hint: one of the main storylines involves the bombing of Balham Underground Station on the night of October 14, 1940, which killed more than 60 shelterers and injured many more.

Here are a couple of real photos from the aftermath of that tragedy. Imagine what could happen if Charlie and Mr. Deeley found themselves there…at 8.02pm…on that fateful night….

balham 2

 

balham 1

 

 

 

 

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