Today I have a guest post by the lovely Kris Tualla about her new book, "A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery." Take it away, Tualla!
My "Discreet Gentleman" is deaf. Intrigued?
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 intentional!)
I write 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 is a 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.
Others agree, according to this very complimentary reviewer of books & movies with characters with PD: http://paradevo.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-discreet-gentleman-of-discovery.html *smiling*
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?
Brander looks at her like she's crazy and asks: Do you realize what you just said?
"You know what I mean!" she retorts.
Realistic. Real. 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 thoroughly smitten.