|Raina Bloodgood ~ from The Witch Collector by Charissa Weaks|
This week here at the SFF Seven, our topic is Characters Who Aren't Perfect Specimens: Do you make the conscious effort to include characters with physical limitations?
I do. Could I do better?? Absolutely. Always.
In The Witch Collector, Raina Bloodgood, my heroine, is a voiceless witch in a land where magick is created by song. And yet this doesn't stop her from creating magick. From the moment the book begins, she's dealt with this her entire life, so she's learned to translate the ancient language that others sing into a hand language that allows her to create magickal constructions. I also offer a novella on my website that includes a heroine who is blind. And yet again, I think it's important to show how people with disabilities adapt or have already adapted, and so blindness doesn't define her. I also do not make disability something to be cured via magick.
There have been people with disabilities in my life since I was a very young child, especially girls and women. My mother also taught special education for 25 years--I still have one of her sign language books. Disability, in many forms, has always been a part of my life. It obviously impacted me, more than I think I realized until I found myself writing my second heroine with a physical disability.
HOWEVER, all that said, it's important to remember that being a person with a disability does not render someone imperfect because there's no such thing as perfect in the first place. Also, we should strive to reflect our world--even in fantasy--meaning that our character list should contain diversity of all forms. If you hold up a mirror to the world, the reflection you get is not all white and it is not all non-disabled people. I know people who have physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and intellectual disabilities--they deserve to be represented in fiction, too.
We writers have to do our best to be inclusive while doing no harm, being willing to listen, and striving to do better.