If this were a fantasy, I could let my imagination run free. I do that when I write for young kids, and I love it. However, since I wanted this book to be as realistic and accurate as possible, I did a lot of research.
I attended a presentation by Karen Trolan, a woman who lost the use of her legs in a small plane crash and still downhill and water skis. She’d written a short biography about her experience as a paraplegic, and I read that to get a first-hand account of what it’s like to go from someone with the use of all limbs, to one who has to rely on a wheelchair. The image of the sit-ski on her cover is one that helped me describe this adaptive equipment.
Of course, I did a lot of Google searches. The world of paraplegia is well represented, and so I was able to find excellent information about a subject I knew little about.
I also interviewed one doctor and a clinical specialist in spinal cord injuries when I started to draft this book. They both gave me some very Real Facts about what paraplegics face. They also made it clear that Hollywood hadn’t gotten it right, hinting that they hoped I would.
Making the story real and yet making it appealing for readers was my biggest challenge in writing this story. How could I avoid the Hollywood cliches, yet keep a reader reading? And most importantly, how could I give an honest portrayal so that anyone who experienced what my main character did would identify with her?
I was fortunate that these very busy experts were willing to give me so much of their time. After I’d spent several hours talking to them and asking questions, I had no choice but to finish the project and see it into print. I felt as if I couldn’t let them down.
The biggest test is going to be my paraplegic readers. Will they think I got it right?
I’m in countdown mode and hope to see this book in print before long. If you haven’t already offered to lend a hand with my launch, just leave me a comment if you’d like to add your name. Any help is appreciated!