Making an Average Character Unique
When I decided to write The Key to Charlotte, I knew I wanted to highlight some aspect of autism. While choosing to make a character autistic may seem like an arbitrary decision, there is actually a good reason behind it.
I’m on the autism spectrum.
One thing I’ve come to realize is that adults on the autism spectrum are rarely mentioned unless there is something particularly spectacular about them (Temple Grandin comes to mind here). Like any other segment of society, autistics are varied in their abilities, intelligence, and talent. The majority are just as average as anyone else. I chose to make the heroine in The Key to Charlotte an average autistic and give all of us average people out there a moment in the spotlight.
What makes an average heroine shine? A hidden talent or two doesn’t hurt, but you’ll have to read the book to learn about Charlotte’s talents. The most important part of any heroine, however, is her personality. She has to be likeable, someone readers would like for a friend. And of course the hero has to be attracted to her. This is a given in any romance, no matter how average or extraordinary the heroine.
But with any character, it is important to make them real. In the case of Charlotte, I had an entire lifetime of experience as an autistic to rely on to make her realistic. I still had to do some research, since I’ve never been completely mute, but a lot of Charlotte came from my own experience and talking to others on the autism spectrum. In case you’re wondering, no, Charlotte is not based on a real person. That would be cheating, since she’s a fictional character and therefore a figment of my imagination. I just did the same thing any other author would do and used personal experience and research to create a three-dimensional character.
Autism is a complex and often misunderstood neurological disorder, one that is usually attributed only to children or seen as a devastating diagnosis. While it can be devastating to some, particularly parents of autistic children, it is my hope that The Key to Charlotte will help bring understanding of what life is really like for an adult autistic. Most of all, however, I hope readers enjoy the story for what it is: an inspirational romance between two unique characters.
To celebrate the release of The Key to Charlotte, I’m giving a copy to two lucky commenters on this blog tour. The rules are simple. Between October 28 and November 6, leave a comment on any of my blog tour stops (including this post) with your name and email address letting me know you want to be entered into the drawing. You can find a complete list of the blog tour stops on my blog http://thewestcorner.wordpress.com. I will draw two names at random from all of the entries and announce the winners on November 7 (winners will also be contacted by email). The two winners will each receive a free PDF of The Key to Charlotte. Good luck to you all!
Wow! Thanks for sharing, E.A.! Now that we’re totally intrigued, let’s find out more about The Key to Charlotte:
Charlotte Harris can’t speak due to a quirk in her autistic brain, but that doesn’t stop her from communicating with others. Unfortunately, it prevents her from achieving two of her dreams–to praise God through singing and to carry on a simple conversation with her own voice.
Zakaria Rush is the new Director of Children’s Ministries at Charlotte’s church, and he can’t keep his thoughts off the partially mute blonde with a love for guitar music. Her innocence and love of the simple things in life intrigue him and make him long to give her what she wants more than anything: her voice.
Can Zakaria help Charlotte find the key to unlocking her ability to speak, or will his attempt to help her only lock away their chance for love?
Who is E.A. West?
E.A. West, author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she discovered the wonders of sharing her stories with others through writing. She picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. Her love of writing encompasses not only the romance genre but also a variety fiction and non-fiction styles.
Born and raised in Indiana, she still resides there today with her family and a small zoo of pets that includes the typical dogs and cats, and the more unusual African water frogs and a ribbon snake. Her interests are as varied as her critters. She has been known to carry on conversations about everything from politics and current events to gardening and theology. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her working on her latest knitting or crochet project.