Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Friday Five: Characters Aren’t Perfect

     The first story I ever tried to have published (the title is lost to the ages!) was about a little girl who for some reason couldn’t walk but wanted to dance. She ended up “dancing on the golden streets of Heaven”. My mother sent the story to Highlights for Children which rejected it due to the mention of Heaven. Yes, it seems political correctness existed even back in the early 1950s.
     However, I’ve always felt characters with handicaps/disabilities/imperfections (whatever the politically correct term du jour) are necessary to tell completely realistic stories. Here are the ones I’ve used so far:

Available on Amazon
Alan Ashley (Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?) left blind and scarred due to an injury in World War I. He returns to fight greedy cousins for control of the lucrative family business empire and to a fiancee who tells him she can’t marry “half a man”.  He sends the cousins packing, guides Ashley Enterprises to new heights, and guards his personal life behind a wall of bitterness until. . .

 Danny Jefferson (The Dreamland Series) who doesn’t let his Down Syndrome get in his way. Often overlooked, he emerges as perhaps the only character who knows what’s really going on in the town of Dreamland. 

To be re-released  Fall 2016

Marian “Peaches” Kroll (Blest Be the Tie) crippled by polio at the age of 7. Her defense against the real and imagined slights of the nonhandicapped world is a barrage of foul language, pills, and alcohol. But she has people who love her for herself and refuse to give up on helping her become the person they know she really is deep inside. (This book is the targeted project for the November Writers’ Colony stay.)
Tom Seward (Blest Be the Tie) born with a cleft lip/palate and other facial anomalies. His parents refuse the doctor’s advice to “put him away and forget him”. On his way to earning his M.D., he touches the lives of all he meets. . .and dares to fall in love with the beautiful, tormented Marian Kroll.
Carter “Cart” Morgan  (Four Summer Days) trapped and at the mercy of a cruel stepfather on an Arkansas mountain.  Intellectually “slow”, he loves unconditionally and delights the community with his woodcarvings. In good times and bad, he’s always available for the family which treasures him.
     So why do I include these characters who are “different” in my books? For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that we’re all different. Together we make a “whole” society. If we turn away from those who make us uncomfortable because of their obvious differences, perhaps we should take a closer look inside ourselves.
     I’d highly recommend this recent article with pictures: “The Girl without a Face” (Treacher-Collins Syndrome) 

Four Summer Days anticipated publication Fall 2016

 Blest Be the Tie anticipated publication Spring 2016