Thank you so much for the space on the blog!
When I first sat down to write The Geek and his Artist, I didn’t initially expect to write a character with a disability. I knew Simon had a lot working against him, but as I went, I discovered his ear problem.
I know writers must sound completely insane to most readers, with the way we talk about our characters. But they can surprise us and Simon did that for me. So as I worked on the story, I discovered Simon had lost a lot of his hearing in his left ear.
Well, this certainly gave me pause. There’s always a worry when writing something like a disability. We have to be careful to portray it accurately without going over overboard and annoying the reader.
It also means a mess more research. How does hearing loss happen? What types of hearing aids are there? How does it impact Simon’s opinion of himself?
And the biggest, at least from Simon’s point-of-view; what would Jimmy think?
I had to make sure to show the accommodations Simon has to make. While loss of hearing in one ear doesn’t create a lot of inconveniences, there are some accommodations Simon has to make, like keeping the batteries fresh and sitting so his good ear is closer to someone speaking. In Geek, Jimmy actually took care of this himself, making sure to sit to Simon’s right.
Jimmy knew to do this because, despite Simon’s attempt to keep his hearing aid hidden by his hair, Jimmy still managed to see it once, much to Simon’s chagrin. Simon really did not want Jimmy to know, terrified of Jimmy not wanting him because of it. We, as a society, have made imperfections like the loss of hearing in one ear – such a big deal, it’s no wonder Simon worried so. This, on top of his father’s poison meant Simon expected the worst.
Like writing about abuse, including disabilities is a scary prospect. No matter how you write it, who you talk to, or who you have beta-read it, someone somewhere will have had a different experience. We try to cover all the possibilities, but undoubtedly, someone will not agree. A close author friend of mine included a character with the very same condition she has and had someone tell her she got it wrong.
It’s a delicate proposition and I hope I was able to portray it well enough.
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Simon Williams spends his lunch periods drawing his geek and trying not to think about the terrors waiting for him at home. He needs to get away from his abusive father before he suffers the same grisly fate as his mother. Because he’s learned the hard way running away doesn’t work, he’s counting the days until his eighteenth birthday.
Jimmy Bennet should be spending his lunch studying so his senior GPA is good enough to get him into college, but he can’t seem to focus thanks to his distracting artist. When he’s given the opportunity to tutor Simon in Trig and discovers Simon’s home-life nightmare, he wants nothing more than to get Simon out of danger. This need becomes more urgent when Simon comes to school the Monday after their first date with bruises, but it takes a broken leg before Jimmy can convince his boyfriend the Bennets really want him.
But the danger Simon thought was past shows up at the most unexpected time, and he must stand up to the fears he’s held so long to protect not only himself, but the man he wants to spend his life with.
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Hope Ryan is an out and proud bisexual, wife of a loving guy and mother to three, including an amazingly brave gender fluid son. She loves to write about the tough stuff, but also wants to see her characters happy in the end. She feels strongly about showing there is hope for everyone, no matter where you come from, how you identify your gender or who you love.
Hope likes to play board and card games and can often be found playing God with her Sims or running around, fighting monsters in a virtual version of Middle Earth. Her TV and movie preferences lean towards anime, sci fi and fantasy, though she’ll never turn down a good happily ever after love story, either. As long as there are explosions or action, she’s happy. She loves to read books of all kinds, though prefers stories about love in its many forms.