I've had the opportunity to ask author Lucy May Lennox a few questions about her latest novel, Love in Touch. She's taken the time to answer and the result is the following interesting chat about love beyond the barriers of disability: a very beautiful, unusual love story. Read the interview and don't forget there's a giveaway attached to this blog tour! (see rafflecopter form below)
Your novel "Love in Touch" presents an unusual love story, told with great sensitivity . Were you inspired by real people and facts?
Thanks! The plot and main characters are not directly based on real events or people. But I have known a few people with vision loss and hearing loss. Some of the details and interactions are based on real conversations that I've had or heard about. For instance, years ago I knew a guy who worked at a TTY relay, typing/reading phone conversations between hearing and Deaf people. He would regularly relay to the Deaf customer comments the hearing people made that they assumed were not to be passed on, like when a guy muttered "Oh, it's that deaf asshole." My friend dutifully typed it out, which caused a heated exchange. But later on he got a commendation. That story made me think a lot about what interpretation really is.
I should say also, I based a lot of the minor characters on people I know. It's so much easier that way to create real, rounded characters.
"Love in Touch" is not your first novel dealing with disability. Where does this interest of yours come from?
True, although it is the first to be published. Hopefully the next one will also come out soon. I have always been interested in how people experience the world in different ways. When I was in college, I dated a blind man for two years, my first serious relationship. It was sometimes frustrating how many people who should have known better made some really ignorant assumptions about him and about our relationship. Things like "Oh how sad" or "It must suck that you can't go to movies together" (Hello, blind people go to movies! Duh!). On the other hand, it was great how my closest friends treated him just like anyone else. Being with him made me much more sensitive to the cliches and inaccuracies in fictional representations of blind people, or people will all kinds of disabilities.
How do you think we can overcome barriers, diffidence, prejudices and stereotypes related to disability?
The best way is to get to know someone with a disability! But beyond that, books, movies and TV shows that represent disability accurately can make a huge difference. The TV show Switched at Birth has done such a good job representing Deaf culture, and has educated a lot of people who might otherwise never meet a Deaf person, and inspired more people to learn ASL. It's also a great showcase for some really talented Deaf actors. Part of accurate representation means using actors with disabilities.
How difficult was it to write a hero like Jake? And how rewarding was it in the end?
It was definitely a challenge. It was a little hard to think of activities for Kassie and Jake to do together, and to come up with a realistic career path for him. It was much harder to strike the right balance between portraying his limitations realistically and making him an appealing romantic lead. I went through many drafts! But it's definitely worth it to get the positive feedback from readers.
After I finished the first draft, I discovered the novel Of Such Small Differences by Joanna Greenberg, which is told from the point of view of a deafblind person. It's an amazing book, but it made me feel like I cheated by writing entirely from Kassie's point of view and not Jake's. But that's ok, I wouldn't want to just copy someone else's style, even if I could.
Does your heroine, Kassie, anyway resemble you? Does she share any trait of your personality?
Haha, yes! Her stubborn personality, that's all me. I've also struggled with trying to find the right friends, and feeling frustrated with friends who are sometimes difficult. I think that happens to a lot of people, but I don't see it represented in fiction that often.
What would you like your readers to learn reading "Love in Touch"? Is there any special message you wanted to convey?
Love isn't only for perfect people. People with all kinds of disabilities, even severe ones, find true love all the time in real life. And it can make a great story!
Lucy May Lennox is a lifelong resident of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her first ambition in life was to become a child actor, but when she grew too old to be an adorable prodigy, she turned to writing instead. A connoisseur of novels featuring men with physical disabilities, she grew frustrated with all the cliches, ignorance and stereotypes and decided to write her own positive take on disability. In addition to writing, Lucy also enjoys cooking and gardening, and is an amateur opera singer.