Back when I first started writing I knew two things: I wanted to write romantic stories and I wanted to have characters with a hearing loss. At the time I felt supporting characters were best, but have since changed my mind and put those characters front and center.
I’ve written a total of three stories where one or two main characters have a hearing loss. I love it. The action puts a huge part of myself onto the page. And I know I add authenticity to the characters when writing about something I experience firsthand.
And then the characters began to grow, and I ended up with dual disabilities. I researched the second, wanting to give it the same realism as the hearing loss.
And in a moment of clarity I realized something: I want to write differently abled characters. Not just hearing loss, though I still have plans to have at least one in each novel. People with disabilities are strong, powerful, intriguing people. We come from all walks of life. We are misunderstood, picked on, teased, under appreciated. And I want these characters to be my main characters.
My mother-in-law will probably tell me: I told you. Back when I was still in college, earning my degree in Deaf Studies, she told me I should work on being an advocate for all disabilities. At the time I couldn’t wrap my head around this, as I saw the unique differences between each disability and didn’t know how I could champion all of them.
I know now. This means each character will take extra research, and nail biting, to get right. It will be worth it. I’m already researching something brand new to me, excited to look into a different world and let it breathe on a page.
I’ll have an added challenge here, as I write romance. I’ll need to make each disability attractive. Fortunately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I experience this first hand. I’ve struggled with my hard of hearing characters. Even though I have a husband who tells me how beautiful and desirable I am, I still feel like that awkward teenager who couldn’t get a date due to her ears. As I write a character who wears hearing aids, a subconscious undesirability bleeds through onto the page. I have to force myself to overlook this personal character weakness. It’s been an experience, trust me.
This is my niche. I’m excited. I feel as though I’ve found my calling, my purpose. I can’t wait to see where my research leads me. The only question left: will there be an audience?
Well, what do you think?