Diving into one of the more divisive creative decisions I made on my first book. Why I chose to kill off a certain character…
As a rule, reader feedback as to the ending of Lust & Liberty has been good. The words have been featured as Instagram captions. Some have even reported shedding tears. But on the flipside, a couple of readers told me they would have preferred a different, happier ending to the book. One that did not require me to kill off a certain character. Needless to say, this post contains spoilers. So if you haven’t read Lust & Liberty and plan to, you’d probably best not read on.
I am generally quite selective when it comes to the readers from whom I’ll take feedback. And I’m even more selective in how seriously I take that feedback these days. A reader made a point about an earlier draft of Lust & Liberty. Specifically that it didn’t really appear to have an ending. The main reason for the open-ended nature of the book was so that it would indicate more was coming in its sequel, Sin & Secrecy. However, if a more definitive ending was what they wanted, then that’s what they’ll get. How to definitively end a story for a character? Kill off that character, or one that’s significant to them.
Jesse Blameford, in the earlier versions, was never meant to die. Under circumstances I now forget, our favourite butler George Whitlocke compels him to leave Berylford and let the grieving Lady Vyrrington go, which he does. Riding off into the sunset, you might say. His last contact with her is, as it is with the final book, a letter. In it, Blameford reveals how he found marriage, children, happiness et cetera, all the while Lady Vyrrington loses her humanity piece by piece as her loved ones die all around her. It set the Countess up for her frozen emotionless state that we see in Sin & Secrecy. But apparently it wasn’t satisfying enough for Blameford to have a happy ending by comparison. So, I decided to kill him.
It took a lot of skewing to the story, allowing me to get a murder trial in the mix as well. And then, Blameford decides to make a move of true love, in his mind, at any rate. He decides to sacrifice his life to give Lady Vyrrington another chance of happiness. To spare her continued suffering. Which of course doesn’t work. It did, however, give her a better reason for closing herself off emotionally. Both loves of her life dead in the space of a year. So, that’s why I decided to kill off Jesse Blameford. To provide a much more cohesive and emotionally provocative ending to the story and to his and Lady Vyrrington’s arcs, but also to provide a more convincing setup for the Lady V we come to know in Book Two.
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