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Using Disabilities in Fiction

Using Disabilities in Fiction

People with disabilities and the differently abled have become more and more common in modern fantasy and sci-fi. And not just as the "burden" for the protagonist to take care of or the weakness the villain uses against him or her. The differently-abled have become true heroes and villains in their own right. One classic example of this is in Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea series. His main character, Prince Yarvi, has a club hand, but it doesn't stop the prince from going on to do great things. Or Gregg Zimmerman's Queen of Bones. I loved this book, because the author found a way to turn a handicap (severely disabling rheumatoid arthritis) into an ability that saved the main character's life. I've used disabilities in my own writing. Those of you on my newsletter list will have read the short story "Paint a Black Picture" where the main character has both Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder. (Note: If you haven't read the story, drop a comment below with your email address so I can send it to you.) I sat down with a few of my fellow author friends to discuss how to creatively use disabilities to write better, more realistic, and more inclusive fiction:

Resources on Understanding the Differently Abled:

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner The Bipolar Handbook for Children, Teens, and Families Asperger's Answer Book: Professional Answers to 300 of the Top Questions Parents Ask Autism in Your Classroom: A General Educator's Guide to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

The Panelists

EM Whittaker E.M. began writing when she turned 13, starting with fanfiction stories on RPGamer, Forfeit Island, and After growing her fanbase through these mediums, E.M. considered fictional writing after creating original characters and backstories within fandom universes. After extensive encouragement, E.M. plunged into original writing in 2012, specializing in paranormal mystery, urban fantasy and psychological thrillers. She is the author of Turbulence, the first book in The Renegades Saga, and expects to release her second book Drift by mid-spring, 2017. Website: Facebook: Twitter: @EMWhittaker2 (just starting) My interview with her: Matt Posner Matt Posner is a writer and teacher from Queens, New York. He is the author of the multi-volume School of the Ages series, about America's greatest magic school; of How to Write Dialogue, a manual for writers; and the co-author of advice manual Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships. Matt's new novel is Squared Circle Blues, about the rough and rugged lives of professional wrestlers in the 1980s. Website: Facebook: , Twitter:, Spencer Pierson I love to tell stories, and in turn see how people react to those stories. It helps to have a large amount of ideas and a really crazy imagination. I've also wanted to write for decades, but being a single, full-time father made risky choices difficult, at best. Now, however, I've taken that risk and couldn't have been happier. Just "completing" a goal for myself has helped me in so many ways. Amazon Author Page - Join my NEWSLETTER for future updates at Blog - Facebook Page - Kelly Erickson Kelly Erickson has worked as a professional reader since she was 15, reading to students and professors who are blind or visually impaired. She also volunteered in the disabled adults classes working with people who have developmental disabilities. She studied psychology and social anthropology before switching to a math major in her senior year of college. She worked for the county social services department with foster kids, homeless people and people with disabilities. Her biggest advice: don’t write about disabled people. Write about people who have a disability. The person is always first. Kelly writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to. Her book of short stories is mild horror written for teens. She has a vampire romance steampunk novel coming soon. You can find Kelly here: Mary Crawford Mary Crawford has been lucky enough to live her own version of a romance novel. She married the guy who kissed her at summer camp. He told her on the night they met that he was going to marry her and be the father of their children. Eventually she stopped giggling when he said it, and they just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. They have two children. The oldest is in medical school, where he recently found and married the love of his life, and the youngest has started middle school. Ms. Crawford writes full time now. She has written and published over a dozen books and has several more underway. She volunteers her time to a variety of causes and has worked as a Civil Rights Attorney and diversity advocate. Ms. Crawford spent many years working for various social service agencies before becoming an attorney. In her spare time, she loved to cook, decorate cakes and of course, obsessively, compulsively read. Facebook: Email: Website: Twitter: Goodreads: