Here’s the thing: Although I’m open about having multiple sclerosis, I was hesitant to create a character in one of my novels that had MS.
I was approached by a friend at one point. He asked me if I was going to write about a character that had multiple sclerosis. I told him that no, I wasn’t going to. I already blogged about it, that was enough, or so I thought at the time.
I’ve written over thirty romance novels and there wasn’t one disabled person in the massive cast of characters. They were fantasy, I told myself. There was no reason to put real life in fantasy, there was no place for it, no need. I’ve also written a multitude of short stories and other novels and no one was disabled in any of them either.
Shortly after I was diagnosed with MS, I began to write poetry. I wrote about the disease within those words because it felt safe. It wasn’t a novel; it wasn’t something someone turned to for escapism. It enabled me to write about what I had within me; it gave me a way to escape. I had the poetry I wrote and the blog. That would have to be enough.
Except that it wasn’t. I turn to books for comfort like a lot of people do. None of the books I was reading had any disabled characters or people living with chronic illness. I began to wonder if I could tackle that, if I could create a character that had MS.
I came to the realization that I was afraid to do that. I had held off writing about a character with MS because I was afraid. Of what? I wondered if it would change the way that I wrote. I knew that I would have to pull from my own experiences, my own life. I wrote about my path with MS in my memoir, Little Yellow Magnet, but I knew that if I was going to write a character with MS that it had to be true.
Most authors put a little of themselves into each character and I’ve always done this. However, writing this character would be all of me within a fictional world, blurring the lines between the different genres and types of writing that I do. I decided to go for it.
I was working on the third book in my Lemonade Series. It dealt with life, real life, and was grounded in reality, so I thought it would be a perfect stage to put my character in. The novel deals with all kinds of love and relationships and I wanted to really show what it would be like to date in the gay community if you live with a disability or chronic illness.
I had one moment where I was going to write about someone in a wheelchair but in the end, I decided to write what I knew. I knew nothing about being in a wheelchair. I created Zack. He had the red hair and green eyes that I always wanted when I was young. Hey, it’s a novel, so there has to be some fantasy, right? However, he would be living with MS.
It was freeing writing Zack’s character. To me, he represented everything that a person living with a chronic illness or disability is: courageous. In Zack, I put my zest for life, my fierce drive to succeed and my desire to find love. Thankfully, I’ve found love with my husband, but I well remember what it was like when I was in the dating world. I tried to capture that in Zack and his story.
While I love all three novels in the Lemonade Series, Love and Lemonade holds a special place in my heart. It’s the novel where I was the most truthful with a character, where I was finally represented in a story, where all of me was present and accounted for.
Check out the trailer created by my publisher Renaissance Press!
I do hope you find out what happens with Zack and company. You can find Love and Lemonade at the following places:
Renaissance Press Paperback: https://renaissance-107765.square.site/product/love-and-lemonade-by-jamieson-wolf/123?cp=true&sbp=false
Amazon.ca Paperback and eBook: https://www.amazon.ca/Love-Lemonade-Jamieson-Wolf-ebook/dp/B07W8H7KLG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1VLLAJHD05CBF&keywords=love+and+lemonade+jamieson+wolf&qid=1570136645&sprefix=Love+and+Lemonade%2Caps%2C157&sr=8-1