As you can imagine, I very much hope that readers take to the character of Sophie. She’s clearly the driving force of the novels (I can see three novels at the moment, though most readers can only see one). Nonetheless, some readers are bound to ask why she's there in the first place. Don't I find her point of view awkward? Do I really plan to continue with it? Wouldn't I just find things easier from a male perspective?
Well, when I first started writing Sophie, I was ten years older than she was, Now that's thirty years older, and most of that time she spent in suspended animation. However, she's been with me for a third of my life in one sense or another, and I'm very used to her. My first thoughts about the series dwelt on period rather than character. As soon as I'd decided that I really wanted to write about the time of Maria Theresia, however, Sophie leapt into my brain, almost fully formed as a personality. Within seconds she had crowded out any male figure who might have been the main character.
Nor was there ever much doubt about the first person perspective. Her voice was recognisable within the first pages, and so much poured out so quickly (most later tossed away) that I swiftly accepted her narration as a sort of free gift.
Only later did I notice that certain advantages came with her all-too-ready storytelling. In her society she's always behind the eight ball, an outsider who has to struggle to make any impact, but at the same time she became the entrée to a much wider range of female characters than I’d used before. Meanwhile the male characters became much more varied than I’d experienced in previous writing.
And it was later still, as the sadness in her past was slowly revealed, that I realised how she’d suckered me into telling a story that’s still spinning, and into suffering something of what she’s suffered. She’s still capable of leaving me hollow and devastated, or of surprising me with some outrageous behaviour. And, as she uncovers her story piece by piece to me, there’s no real resistance in me. Yes, I really plan to continue.