MEET MY MUSE with Kellie Wallace
I don’t have one muse, I have many. While researching for Her Sweetest Downfall, I took inspiration from World War II and the 1940s. I am utterly obsessed with anything from that decade, particularly old Hollywood. I adore women such as Veronica Lake, Rita Haworth and Ava Gardner. They embody what was amazing and beautiful about the 40s. They were a different breed of women and I wanted to incorporate that strength and beauty into my characters. My character Viola Craft is a mixture between the beauty of Ava Gardner and the tenacity of Betty Davis.
I knew from day one when I started writing this book I wanted to take inspiration from old films. I watched old Hollywood movies to understand how women reacted, how people responded to the war. There is tons of literature about the London blitz but I wanted to write something a little different. I read personal accounts to understand what people felt and saw during that time. Research is my muse. I cannot function or write without it.
I take great care in creating my characters and ensuring they are believable and three-dimensional. While there was some similarity to my previous World War II book Darkness before Dawn, I wanted Her Sweetest Downfall to be something unique. I wanted to create London as if it was its own character.
Writing a book is a very raw and personal experience. Writers would be lying if they didn’t put a little bit of themselves in each book. I was going through a rough patch at the time and it affected me greatly. Back in 2012, I could pump out three books a year but in 2014, it changed to one book a year. While I couldn’t compare to the events that occurred in my book, I could relate to my character’s struggles. I felt lost and unsure what to do with my life until I made the decision to change it. Viola was living in a turbulent time and going a lot emotionally. After risking her marriage and falling in love she decided life had to change. I felt like I was mirroring my character. One day I decided enough was enough.
Writing is not a smooth process or an easy one. It challenges you, belittles you, but makes you a better writer. For the first time in years, I took a break from my writing. At my lowest point I considered giving it up for good. Looking back, it was an incredibly stupid and foolish decision to make because writing is in my blood, it’s my life.
Her Sweetest Downfall birthed from a myriad of ideas gathered over the years. The original book was completely different, about four sisters set during the war. I had already written Darkness before Dawn, so wanted something raw. One of my biggest inspirations was a novel called The Listening Silence by Marie Joseph. I first came across her novels 10 years ago and opened up her book one night when I couldn’t sleep. Marie wrote about the war, her experiences, all in a fictional environment. I was greatly influenced by her characters, the beauty of her writing. It was unlike anything I have ever read. I read that book 20 times and it’s currently falling to pieces in a drawer somewhere at home. She is my greatest muse.
To describe Her Sweetest Downfall, I would call it a forbidden love story set in the turbulent time of war and heartache. While I had no visual rule of what my characters looked like, I wanted people relating to them. Viola Craft is the heroine of the story. Maybe a little bit of her is in me. Built from the foundations of women before her, Viola is a strong character who I hope is represented strongly.