I first decided
to write a deaf hero after reading an article that said women are attracted to
men who stare at them like they are the only thing in the room.
I thought, who
would stare at a woman like that? A deaf man.
I have friends
who work in the deaf community, plus I have some limited experience with
American Sign Language, so I had a foundation to work with.
Next, I needed
to figure out how he would communicate, and how to convey that to the reader.
This is what I came up with:
"Spoken dialog is in quotes."
Written words are in italics.
And when I gesture there are no quotes, Brander motioned. He added:
If they follow the tag there is a colon and capital letter.
(I had to
explain all of this to my editor so she didn't try to "fix" what was
historical novels and ASL doesn't exist in Europe now, much less in the 1700s.
When I began to describe Brander's gestures, I had to forget everything I knew
and create motions that would make sense to a seven-year-old.
I also needed
to give him a realistic trade, one that a deaf man would not only be able to
do, but do well. As a private
investigator, Brander can use his deafness and lip-reading as some of his
tools. After all, he says, when people find out I'm deaf, they forget
I'm in the room.
I have a scene
in the second book, "A Discreet Gentleman of Matrimony," when a
doctor asks to look into Brander's ears. My discreet gentleman experiences a
moment of shock and wonders if he could regain his hearing.
He cannot. And
when he thinks about it, Brander realizes that he isa better man
because he is deaf. To regain his hearing at this stage of his life would
be a detriment to his career.
That is a very
realistic response. Not heroic. Not bitter. No pounding anyone with a
politically correct agenda. Just real.
Of course, the
hearing people he encounters are as insensitive and ignorant as humans can be.
To write the story otherwise would be a mistake as well.
As I was typing
along, I occasionally made those mistakes. When I did, I tried to work them
into the narrative. Like this line:
"Regin lowered her voice…" Oops. Well, go on with the
thought: "…before she remembered she didn't have to." The hearing
spouse is making an adjustment, too.
I even had a
line of dialog where Regin points her finger at her deaf and mute husband and
shouts, "Don't you ever say that to me again, do you hear me?" Who wouldn’t
use words they were accustomed to in the heat of an argument?
at her like she's crazy and asks: Do you realize what you just said?
what I mean!" she retorts.
And a little humorous, to be honest.
And did I
mention sexy? That intense stare, quick intelligence, and the ability to see
things others cannot make for a uniquely strong character. I confess: I'm