Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with Deb Stratas, Author of The Kingston Twins, Bravery in the Blitz

14 July 2022

Special Guest Interview with Deb Stratas, Author of The Kingston Twins, Bravery in the Blitz

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

London 1939. Identical twins Tillie and Maggie Kingston thrive as Lyons Corner House Nippies, blithely ignoring the war preparations surrounding them. But as WWII breaks out, the young women can't avoid the inevitable. Tillie bravely starts driving an ambulance, while Maggie joins the Women's Voluntary Service, throwing herself into danger on a mobile canteen van.

I'm pleased to welcome author Deb Stratas to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book, The Kingston Twins, Bravery in the Blitz was published in March 2022. We are introduced to twins Tillie and Maggie Kingston, Lyons Corner House Nippies in 1938 London. War preparations are all around them, but the sisters refuse to believe it’s actually coming until it is officially declared. 

Tillie volunteers to drive an ambulance while Maggie serves much-needed refreshments to emergency workers from a Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) canteen truck. Both carry on bravely despite daily danger and harrowing experiences. All the while, both seek love in the Blitz. Tragedy strikes the Kingston family, and they gather to give each other the strength to face the ongoing atrocities of war. 

What is your preferred writing routine?

I don’t have a set daily writing routine. I love the research phase, and spend months exploring websites, reading books, talking to eyewitnesses, watching documentaries, and validating key details for all my books. In fact, I find it difficult to stop researching and start writing! I continue to fact check throughout the writing process. 

When I’ve settled on enough research (do I ever?), I set myself a schedule to complete a certain number of chapters per week. This is spaced out over a four-five-month period. I’ve written six books and I’ve always beaten my own deadlines. Then, editing by is done in a prescribed manner, including specific edits by topic (timelines, British spelling, geography, etc.) as well as using read-aloud in MS word - tedious but critical. ARC readers and professional editing follow before publication.

What advice do you have for new writers?

My advice for new writers is to write about something you love. You’ll be researching, writing, editing, thinking, and talking about it for years to come, so you must have a passion for it. When I decided to write my first book, Diana, A Spencer in Love, I chose the subject of Princess Diana because she was endlessly fascinating to me. And after five years, she still is! 

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Like many writers, I dread the necessary marketing and promotion required to raise awareness for my books. I’ve tried various approaches, and now use a combination for broad coverage. I publish a monthly newsletter, and try to keep up a steady drumbeat of social media posts to connect with my readers (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). 

I’ve developed relationships with royal correspondents and superfans who will promote for me. I like to speak at local Author Talks to raise awareness and sell books. I’ve recently started interviewing other authors for my newsletter and look forward to doing more of this.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

During the research for my latest book, The Kingston Twins, Bravery in the Blitz, I was able to locate the original 1872 Earl’s Court floor plans for the London house where I placed the Kingston family. Being able to navigate the rooms in their earliest layout was incredibly helpful. I always want even the smallest details to be as historically accurate as possible, so this was a great find. 

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

In the final instalment of my Diana Spencer series Diana, A Spencer Forever, I wrote about Princess Diana’s tragic death and the aftermath. Wanting to handle this with sensitivity and respect, I presented it realistically and with impact, without gratuitous material. As I got further and further into the story, I dreaded coming to this point.  I cried writing it, and when I read it now, I still get teared up. 

What are you planning to write next?

The Kingston Twins, Bravery in the Blitz is the first in my new series. Watch for The Kingston Twins, Wartime Heart in 2023.

Deb Stratas

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About the Author

Deb Stratas is a writer based in Toronto, Canada. She’s a proud royalist with a lifelong passion for the British monarchy. Deb is best known for her Diana Spencer historical fiction trilogy with its accompanying non-fiction At Home with Diana. Go back to Edwardian England in The Royal Key. Her latest book The Kingston Twins, Bravery in the Blitz explores WWII London through the eyes of brave sisters, Tillie and Maggie. Deb cherishes spending time with her two amazing adult children, their spouses, and two grandchildren.  Find out more at Deb's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @deb_stratas

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