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The Hero and Heroine: Rummaging Through Character Notes, Guest Post + Giveaway(INT) from Jillian Stone


I’m very excited to be here today at Nocturnal Book Reviews to celebrate the release week of A Private Duel with Agent Gunn. Thanks for inviting me!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard, let me give you a bit of background on the series.

Several years ago, I got to thinking about Scotland Yard detectives. It seemed to me that Yard men were always portrayed as bumbling inspectors, five moves behind Sherlock Holmes. So I thought, what if there was an elite group of detectives?

 I began to do some research and found out that there was a division of Scotland Yard created in the 1882 called Special Branch. I added a dash–as in dashing–of James Bond gadgetry and that was the start of the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard. The heroines in each book are fascinating, progressive Victorian women: an Impressionist painter, an industrialist and a ballerina/jewel thief/spy!

These tales are gritty and set in the late Victorian era, circa 1887–1897. One of the most interesting things I have uncovered in my research was how obsessed the British middle class was with sex.

They may have covered their piano legs out of modesty, but they liked nothing more than to talk about sex, categorize it, condemn it and in the case of prostitution, patronize it.

 In 1887, venereal disease in the military was down from nearly 50% to 29%. The Lancet medical journal in 1887 estimated that there were approximately 80,000 prostitutes working in London. This is out of a total population of 2,360,000 or 3%. Women working the streets were a common sight, particularly around the theater districts, Leicester Square and Covent Garden. I have to say, I love using this kind of research, and a thick, black fog to create atmosphere!

Each novel features a new love story and crime to solve, so a reader can pick up the series anywhere.

 As for this latest release, Cate and Finn's adventure begins with a double cross and crackles with secrets, lies and sexual tension. The crime is clear–breaking and entering each other's hearts–but as the clock ticks down, who will be the first to surrender?

A Hero with Soldier’s Heart

One of the things I get to do as an author is to endow my hero with a strapping hard pistol. And then there are his personality traits LOL! I also enjoy thinking about his quirky mannerisms, as well as his outward appearance. Physical traits are always fun, like his body––how muscular, how tall––longish, unkempt hair or is he well-groomed?
Most importantly, my hero must have flaws––at the very least, weaknesses. Otherwise, he is just not interesting enough to be a Gentlemen of Scotland Yard. I want each hero to have to overcome or at least confront a few personal challenges.

I dug through some of my early character notes on Agent Gunn and thought I would share some of them with blog readers. Enjoy!



Name: Phineas “Finn” Gunn aka Hugh Curzon (Finn uses other names working undercover)

Age: 31

Physical Characteristics: Big Scot–6’2” Thick, waves of dark hair–a bit longish, more of a wild mane. Likes to ride, so is often scene in tall boots and a long, great coat.

Personality Traits: Can be cool, even aloof, but has reasonably good social skills. He does not suffer fools, prefers the company of his brother and few close friends. At one time Finn was a bit of a rake, but has settled in with a mistress. A risk taker in the field, he is always several moves ahead of his enemies. He is also brave to fault––which is how he gets injured.

Education: Trinity College, University of Oxford

Skills: Marksman (with a name like Gunn, he has be) bruising rider, cunning, intelligent––a top notch criminologist.

Avocation: A talented writer of crime fiction as well as scholarly works in the field of forensic science. When he is feeling well enough, he accepts uncover assignments from both Scotland Yard and the Admiralty.

Hobbies: Fencing lessons twice a week. He also has an interest in gemology, which has grown into a lucrative appraisal business––more of a side business.

Odd quirks: Has a strange dependency/closeness with a horse he rescued in Afghanistan. Named after a soldier who saved his life, Sergeant MacGregor goes everywhere with Finn.

Quirky mannerisms: He stops to think during conversations. He sometimes rocks his head back and forth a bit as he evaluates his answer to question.

Faults: His is an acute recluse at times, due to a pitiable condition called Soldier’s Heart. Finn was stationed in the Northern Territories of India––and fought in Afghanistan (1881) during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Captured during a routine scouting mission, he and a few of his men manage to escape after eight days of executions and torture.

More on Soldier’s Heart: Doctors used to call it shell shock, soldier's heart, or nostalgia. Soldiers would shake uncontrollably, experience heart palpitations, or go blind after witnessing trauma on the battlefield. From as far back as ancient Greece, history reveals the psychological toll of war on soldiers. Today we call the condition post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Greek historian Herodotus describes an Athenian warrior who became blind when a soldier standing next to him was killed during the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.

The condition called Soldier’s Heart was first described by an American civil war surgeon and was thought to be an actual heart malady, likely because of the rapid, erratic pulse.

A Ballerina Heroine.

Or is she also a jewel thief, as well as a clever spy?

When I imagined the heroine for this tale of romance, espionage and adventure I knew I had to make her every bit as intelligent and talented as Agent Gunn. Here are a few of my notes on Cate:

Name: Cate Willoughby aka Catriona de Dovia (stage name)

Age: 24-ish

Physical Characteristics: Statuesque, with a dancers body which means she is strong and flexible. Raven hair, striking blue eyes, and a well-defined cupid’s bow that drives Finn wild.

Personality Traits: When she is angry she goes off in Spanish (a la Ricky Ricardo) Fiercely independent, Cate can be impulsive at times, and though she claims she not an adventurer, she is often daring. She has a bohemian, artistic streak, as well.

Faults and quirks: Extremely independent. Major trust issues. Somewhat of a loner. She fears getting close to anyone, especially after recently losing her only brother and her dear departed uncle. She has lost every one she has ever loved. Keeps insisting she’s not an adventurer. HA!

Avocation: Ballet Dancer. Spy? Cat Burglar? Spanish Anarchist Sympathizer?

Education: Paris Opera Ballet School

Back Story: Born to a British father and Spanish mother, Cate Willoughby is both a proper young English lady, and a hot tempered Catalan beauty. She also happens to be the inheritor of a near bankrupt estate. And as for Miss Catriona de Dovia? She is a celebrated prima ballerina as well as an anarchist sympathizer. Or might she be an infiltrator? Or scheming operative?

I am not a spoiler, but this is what I can say about A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN:
I have endeavored to write a love story between two cunning protagonists who have constructed alternate false identities, and employ a number of devious and cunning skills to solve the case. One of them even manages to fool the other right up to the very last pages of the novel!
I can say no more.
QUESTION: 
 Do you have a favorite flawed hero or heroine? Please share! I have a signed copy of A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN for one lucky commenter chosen at random!


Jillian Stone is the author of the Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator series, which includes The Seduction of Phaeton Black, and the just released, The Moonstone and Miss Jones. The third sequel, The Miss Education of Doctor Exeter, is scheduled to release in summer 2013. Jillian is also the author of The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. A Private Duel with Agent Gunn was released in late November! 

Find Jillian:

Thanks again, to Nocturnal Book Reviews for inviting me to guest blog today.

Summary
From the author of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy and A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis comes a sexy new romantic caper in the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series.

Prima ballerina Catriona de Dovia lives the glamorous life of a starlet, filled with glittering jewels, sumptuous dinners, and admiring suitors. She's grown up considerably since losing her heart to Hugh Curzon once upon a time, no longer wasting her emotions on the empty promises of wealthy gentlemen. On her own since the untimely death of her parents, she will do anything for the only family she has left: her brother, a notorious anarchist.

Scotland Yard Agent Phineas Gunn—sometimes known as Hugh Curzon—receives his new assignment reluctantly. He's up for something a little more strenuous than playing nanny to a ballerina, until he sees who his charge is. Then, it's a completely different story, because he'd been unable to forget the trusting, beautiful Cate since he had to leave her behind.

As the two race across the Continent—by land, by sea, even through the air by zephyr—it becomes uncertain who is keeping tabs on whom, and Finn and Cate must battle the sexual tension that snaps and sizzles between them every step of the way.

Buy:
B&N | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | BAM! | TBD US/UK | Indiebound | BooksOnBoard

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Ends December 14th 2012.



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