I read an observation in The Guardian that seems to describe what has happened:
‘a commitment to truth requires that you let go of your desire to use fiction to enforce justice. ‘
Cat person author Kristen Roupenian on the trouble with writing about sex The Guardian, Saturday August 3, 2019
I've respected the truth of my characters but the downside of this is that my novel shows a bleak world with characters who betray each other. This story is not comforting. Or uplifting.
In my previous novels I tried to do the same i.e. I've tried to respect the integrity of my characters. The characters in my Dani stories, for example, behaved without regard to my plans for them. But at least I felt that I learned something along the way. I watched them and understood them. And cared about them.
Maybe I've learned something this time, but it may be that I don't like what I've learned. This time, too, I like my characters but it seems as though there's a divide between them and me and we can't speak to each other.
Since I created the characters - or did I merely observe them? - then their truths should match mine. But their world and their actions seem alien to me so that I'm left with this bleak feeling.