The blog tour for a Match Made in Venice is running and it’s been fun hearing about everyone’s trips to Venice!
As an author, I’m always too wrapped up in the characters and their feelings to gauge the market or what readers might think, so it’s always a little nerve-racking at this stage, but, third time around, it is a little easier, because I understand how different every reader is and what sets my books apart from others (and it isn’t always a good thing to be set too far apart from other books!!)
I like to choose unexpected, varied characters and they land well with some readers, but not with others. In fact, I’ve had readers who loved Italy Ever After, who haven’t really liked the main character of Didi in a Match Made in Venice and I’ve also had readers who are exactly the opposite!! I think Didi, because I made her purposefully an unconventional romcom heroine, takes a little more unpacking to really appreciate and understand. She’s sarcastic, too, which doesn’t always land well with everyone. But I did craft her on purpose to be capable, ambitious and sensible, which romcom heroines aren’t always and I certainly did need Piero to balance out the story.
I needed Didi to work through some of my own Venice-related baggage, too, and one reviewer caught so well what I was trying to do, that her review just blew me away. Ultimately, I know a lot of people who didn’t have a good experience of visiting Venice, because of the problem of over-tourism or the whistle-stop tour that sees cruise-ship guests rushing around the main sites in a day. Before I could capture the magic of the city away from the crowds, I had to work through my own cynicism about one of the most visited places in the world. I used sarcastic, level-headed Didi to catch that attitude right at the beginning, but, of course, she is charmed in the end.
I also have a particular dislike for romcom heroines who are unsuccessful in their jobs (see previous post about the Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts). It’s difficult, because the heroine has to have a character arc, some way that they develop throughout the book. I think work trouble is too-often used as the thing that incites the change, because aside from a broken relationship, other character arcs start with the heroine having flaws that some readers are less likely to forgive. But I wanted Didi to be successful and not apologetic about that, so her character arc is about opening up and letting go of her cynicism – but that means she’s quite cynical at the beginning, which isn’t going to work for some readers, but has worked really well for others.
I’ve had a few reactions so far to the fact that Didi has diabetes, which is an important part of her character, although not really the story. I made sure it wasn’t over-dramatised nor exploited for gratuitous sympathy, because my experiences of working with people with various disabilities has definitely made it clear to me that people with disabilities are people first and their disabilities are just an angle on who they are. In this way, Didi’s diabetes is a part of her personality, but definitely doesn’t define her. I didn’t put it in black and white in the book, but I pictured that it was an aspect of the broken relationship between Didi and her mother, Saffron. Saffron was overwhelmed, when Didi was little, by the change in her life to single mum and then the diagnosis. Didi had to take on responsibilities for herself and her sister from a young age. This awareness of how seriously she needed to take her own health definitely left a mark on her personality.
One coincidence I hadn’t realised is that it’s World Diabetes Day today! I shared some posters on my Instagram:
I hope lots of readers will meet Didi and Piero for themselves, and then Norah and her love interest in the next book. As readers have loved getting to know Venice and Murano like their pockets, Norah will take them a little further into the lagoon, as far as Burano, Torcello, San Francesco del Deserto and Pellestrina, as well as numerous palazzi in the city itself.