I like to write about strong female characters, no matter the time period. True to say, not all eras in history have been kind to women, but I like to have the women in my novels buck the system by not accepting the role society (and men) dictate.

Assunta Corazza is the main female character in my Italian novella, Where Sunflowers Grow. She is around twenty years of age and lives in a remote mountain village in Italy with her father and younger sister, Rosa. The story takes place between 1943-1946 and Assunta joins the local resistance to fight against Germans and Fascists. Put a gun in Assunta’s hands and she knows how to use it. Ask her to carry explosives to partisans who want to blow up a bridge, no problem, she’ll do it.

Assunta knows where to hide in the mountains to escape Fascist patrols searching for her, and she is not afraid to accompany men on partisan missions even if it means there’s a strong chance she could be killed.

My main male character is Carlo Moretti (read about him here), and he finds Assunta’s inner strength and fearlessness irresistible. He’s a political prisoner sent to the remote mountain village because he opposes Fascism. He and Assunta fall in love (we always need a bit of romance, even during wartime, right?!) and she is every bit Carlo’s equal.

I enjoyed developing Assunta’s character. I tried to imagine what it might be like following a mountain trail on a night when there was no moonlight, carrying a haversack full of explosives, and wondering if you’d bump into German soldiers before you reached the partisans who were waiting. I decided that Assunta would be the sort of woman who would not wilt like the proverbial flower when a German SS officer interrogates her and roughs her up. I decided Assunta would be one sassy gal.

The photo for this post is a female resistance fighter – Sara Ginaite – who fought in the liberation of Vilna (Lithuania) in World War II. Although not Italian like Assunta, her courage and intelligence is how I imagined Assunta to be – so I kept Sara’s photo (public domain) by my laptop as I wrote.

In the next post, I’ll tell you more about the two main characters in my novel, Ashgrove Park. And yes, there’s a sassy female in this book, too.

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