Interview with The Love Note’s Willa Duvall by Joanna Davidson Politano

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

I’m honored to speak with you!

We heard you’ve found a love letter in an old desk—what are you going to do with it?

Reunite two lovers, of course. Anyone who writes that way deserves to be united with the person who inspired such words. This is no ordinary love story, and I intend to see it through—as long as it isn’t too late, that is. I cannot bear for the person who wrote that letter to wonder why he or she never responded. It’s been buried in a crack of my old desk for who knows how long, and it’s still sealed. Someone needs to fix it, and the letter’s in my hands, so it falls to me. The world is sorely lacking in authentic love, and I’ve found it in this letter—such love should never go to waste.

You do, however, seem like a rather unlikely candidate. What interest does a medical professional have with family drama and old, broken romances?

There’s no one more perfect to find that letter than me. As a soon-to-be-doctor, I’m in the business of mending. Nothing moves me more than repairing what’s broken, whether its bodies or love stories. Besides—and don’t print this–I’ve turned down four proposals, so I’ve had a bit of experience in love. I may be a scientist, but I’m deeply fascinated by love stories—as long as they’re not my own. 

What started you down the path of medicine?

My father serves as a doctor, and I’ve had the opportunity to learn from him and his progressive thinking on medical care. As I’ve grown, I’ve discovered I have a unique combination to bring to the medical world—the education of a man and the keen perception, the warm heart, of a woman. There’s a huge lack in the medical world, and I can help fill it. People are dying who needn’t perish. Every time I think of the lives written off by an overworked doctor or a contaminated hospital, I can think of doing nothing else with my life. 

We’ve heard your next assignment is a long-term one at Crestwicke Manor, serving one Golda Gresham. How does this fit into your goals for the future?

Crestwicke is exactly where I need to be. You see, I signed a contract with my father that if I can successfully complete one nursing assignment, he’ll lay off pushing me into a match. He’ll let me pursue a medical degree, as long as I can find a school to take me on. I have agreed to marry the man of his choosing, should I fail. But I never fail. 

Then there is my other goal—the love letter. The desk where I found that letter came from Crestwicke, and the manor house is mentioned in the lines. The person who wrote it has to be there, and I will not leave until I find out who it is, and who he or she wrote the letter for.

Lady Gresham has a reputation for being demanding. How can you be so certain of your success?

I have a habit of taking on the impossible, so her reputation does not deter me. I’m a capable practitioner, and I have no reason to believe I cannot resolve her complaints, whatever they may be.

To be honest, I find the letter more of a challenge. There is not a single person at Crestwicke with even a trace of romantic flavoring to them. Who could have written such a letter? How will I ever find the truth? I’ll have to use my medical skills of observation and digging to the heart of a matter to unearth the truth of what went on in that house. Certainly someone there wrote the letter—and someone else earned the writer’s love. If there’s an ounce of authentic love in that house, I’ll find it and fan it into a flame.

What is your biggest fear as you embark on this project?

The same thing I fear in every patient visit—that I’ll fail. I’m afraid of failing those who depend upon me as a doctor, failing to notice or investigate or understand, fail to keep myself out of an obligatory marriage and lose myself in the process. I have so much riding on this assignment, but I’ve had so many cases—what could possibly go wrong?

Thanks for visiting with us today!

Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne DisappearsA Rumored Fortune, and Finding Lady Enderly. When she’s not homeschooling her small children, she spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two children in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at www.jdpstories.com.