As a writer, nothing beats the immersion your work and characters instills in a reader. Upon the release of my WW2 romance Her Sweetest Downfall, I had a lot conflicting feedback about my heroine Viola Craft.
Viola lives in war torn London during one of the worst events in World War Two: The London Blitz. She’s trapped in a loveless and violent marriage. She wants only one thing: happiness. Yet does she ultimately achieve it?
I stripped Viola of everything that was family, love, safety and warmth. A reader once said to me that Viola never gets what she truly, deeply wants, she never fully grasps what peace and love really feels like. It’s always taken away from her and that’s what I wanted from the very beginning. I wanted her to represent and be a metaphor for war. She’s fragile, scared, vulnerable yet has a strength she does not know about.
A lot of readers have said to me that my book stayed with them long after reading. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. The choices the characters make and ultimately where Viola finds herself at the end of the book makes people question the whole story.
I love creating her but at the same time I wanted her to be a character women and people could relate to. She is the epitome of wartime women: strong, hardy, yet fragile. All she wanted was to have a loyal husband who loved and respected her and to be with him until they their last breath. But she never achieved it, not even when she met Kristoff, and he was lost to her. It was hard to write moments like that because as a writer I want my creations to be happy. Originally I didn’t want Kristoff’s arc to end the way it did. I loved his relationship with Viola and what he represented. It was hard to end that connection but it was necessary to Viola’s story.
I knew as soon as I wrote the climax, I knew my readers would be conflicted. Why should I continue when Viola never gets what she wants?
After a long, hard think, I decided to give Viola the much needed peace she needed: a chance to move on. I created a life for her over the channel, away from the painful memories and heartbreak. Did it work out in the end? You’ll have to read and find out….