Saturday, September 8, 2012

Characters with physical disabilities

I attended an online lecture on writing using characters with physical disabilities and thought that the presenter did a very nice job of reminding the audience of salient points.  I hadn't thought much about some of the ramifications of having one's character(s) with a physical disability such as lack of sight, hearing or voice although I do seem to be encountering more stories lately that feature someone who has learned to compensate for a physical handicap. I was fascinated by the concept that some of the normal techniques used to indicate emotion (e.g. lowering one's voice) naturally couldn't be used with a deaf person just as facial expressions or gestures couldn't be used with someone who is blind.

The Iris Johansen character named Dr. Kendra Michaels in the novel Sleep No More was blind until the age of 20, then had an operation which allowed her to see.  She is exceptionally observant and has a personality similar to the great Sherlock Holmes.  This is the latest title in the ongoing series featuring Eve Duncan who is a forensic sculptor (i.e. she takes bones, in particular skulls, and creates an image of the child who has been killed and helps in his or her identification).  I enjoyed this title more than the last (What Doesn't Kill You) because even though I like Agent Catherine Ling, that story just didn't enthrall me.  Fortunately, Eve and her delicious Joe Quinn feature prominently in Sleep No More in a suspenseful tale.  My review for Sleep No More should be available over the next few weeks and my review for What Doesn't Kill You is at this link under ELF2060 (but probably pretty hard to's titled, "Catherine Ling's Story").

Shiloh Walker's main character in If You Hear Her, is a blind chef named Lena Riddle.  I was really puzzled by the concept of being able to cook without being able to see since I tend to have very rudimentary cooking skills and have been known to make my hubby very nervous when I start brandishing a knife...and I have vision (although I can't say I am fond of my bifocals) and can see what I am cutting up.  This book was very intriguing to me because of that novelty but I quickly became ensnared in the mystery and suspense.  We have been watching the television show Master Chef featuring Gordon Ramsay (although I still think his mouth should be washed out with soap) and one of the finalists is an impressive blind chef named Christine Ha.  Watching her rise through the ranks until reaching the finals has been truly awe-inspiring and one of the funniest moments for me was seeing Gordon Ramsay ask her if he had been 'punked' because the dish she prepared was virtually identical to the sample that had been presented to the contestants.  Remarkable woman!

All three titles that form the 'Ash trilogy' are fun reads.  If you missed it before, my Amazon review for If You Hear Her is at this link under ELF2060, for If You See Her is at this link and for If You Know Her at this link.

Maya Banks has a character with a physical disability that causes her family to think that she is brain damaged in Never Seduce a Scot.  The exploration of the interaction between the heroine and her family and the different reception that she gets from the the hero is at the heart of this romantic story.  My Goodreads review is at this link.  The book will be released on September 25, 2012.

I realize that I have posted about most of these titles before but I was fascinated to realize that it has become such a commonplace trend to feature strong characters who compensate for one disability by strengthening themselves in other areas.  All of them remind us to work with what we are given rather than waste effort bemoaning what we lack or have lost (0:


  1. As soon as you started talking about Shiloh's book I thought of Christine on Master Chef.

  2. Isn't she incredible? You go from wondering how in the world she can cut up her ingredients or know whether food is properly cooked to feeling sorry for the other contestants who don't have her discerning palate to aid them!

  3. Yeah she's great. She is really giving the other contestants a run for their money that's for sure.