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Rowan Coleman on Falling in Love on the Page

We all love falling in love, and for some of us falling in love with a book is the best kind of romance of all.

More than once I have fallen in love alongside the characters I am reading about, finding myself swept up into their story, feeling their every emotion as if it were happening to me.

That’s why I take so much pleasure in writing love stories, because after all what is more central to the human condition than love?  Whether it is romantic love, love for our friends, family and fellow humans, love is our redeemer; the antidote to the darker parts of humanity.

Over my career as a novelist, I have read some truly stand out love-stories, and hopefully written a few too! Who can ever get over Jamie and Claire in the Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon? That level of characterisation and three-dimensional human building has really stayed with me. And Dexter and Emma in David Nicholl’s One Day truly are a love story for the ages. One we are willing to return to again and again because even if we know how it ends, we still care about the characters enough to relive every second of their romance.

When it comes to writing a good love story, the first requirement is to create two characters that will resonate with you and your readers. Living, breathing, believable people that don’t have to be perfect, but who are meaningful enough for a reader to invest their time and emotions into.

I thought about this a lot when I started to write Vita and Ben, the two beating hearts at the centre of my novel, From Now Until Forever.

It was a challenge to write Vita, who outwardly has a very successful and glamorous life, living in the heart of Soho with a wardrobe of gorgeous clothes. It’s not until you find out the reason why she has everything that you realise that in the midst of the glitz and prestige, Vita is profoundly alone and carrying the weight of enormous grief.

For Vita, to allow herself to fall in love again is a huge risk to her hard-won sense of peace. The stakes are high, there is a lot to lose and yet, so much to gain if she can find the courage.

When Vita chooses love, it’s because she is brave and hopeful. Just like each and every one of us have to be when we make the same choice. She falls in love with Ben, knowing what it might cost her, because in the end, love is such a vital component to life that to turn away from it would betray the woman Vita is.

Creating Ben had its own set of challenges. Ben knows that he is going to die, sooner rather than later and he is dealing with a set of complex regrets and half-dreamt hope that he will now never get to see to come to fruition.

When he meets Vita the very last thing he wants to do is to fall in love, at the very same moment that he longs to live every experience he can while he has time. Ben is both deeply strong and incredibly fragile. He has lived most of his life working towards a future that he won’t be around to see.

When time is so precious, Ben has no choice but to live in the now and believe that anything is possible in the present moment. It’s with that spirit that he lets himself grow closer to Vita, seeing the entire universe in her eyes, and accepting that if he dies tomorrow one day with her will have been a lifetime of love.

I will keep on reading and writing love stories in one form of another for the rest of my life. Love stories are where we find ourselves at our best and our worst. They are when we discover what really matters to us and how far we are willing to go for the people that matter the most. Love stories are so much more than just a fantasy, or escapism. They are the mirror that shows us who we really are.


From Now Until Forever is out now in paperback – buy your copy here!