Welcome back for another Writer Wednesday!
Today, we have a guest post from YA debut author, Lizzie Colt, who is going to speak on disability rep in YA and why it’s important to her.
Take it away, Lizzie!
My name is Lizzie and I’ve been an avid reader most of my life. I have also, at some level or another, been disabled since I was born. I grew up longing to see heroines like myself, people like me in books at all, but the few disabled characters I encountered were either killed off, pitied or evil. They never saved the day without dying in the process, they never got the love interest without being somehow cured first.
Examples of this are that in a group of characters a disabled\chronically ill character will be the one to sacrifice themselves if one person must die as they’re seen as expendable or having less to live for. And with love a hero often comes along with a cute that allows them to live the disabled character and for them to live a ‘normal’ life.
I know that in the time since my teenage years there has been an improvement, especially in indie publishing circles. If you know of good disability representation, please step forward and give me recommendations of books and publishers. I’m very much open to self published and indie publisher books, as well as mainstream, and am very keen on own voices/disabled writers with any sort of disability representation.
For me it isn’t yet enough though. And won’t be until disabled readers of YA do not have to hunt down good representation – like I still am, as you can see by my sneaky book request in this post. I want disabled people, especially disabled/chronically ill teens, to go into bookstores or online and be torn over what book to try first because there are so many good choices. We shouldn’t have to settle for crumbs, while other readers get the whole cake.
Constantly I see tweets saying, ‘if you want rep, write it yourself.’ And while that is problematic to demand that disabled writers do all the work, the truth is that what I have been most of my life is a writer. So I have started writing YA with disabled characters. My first is due to be published with NineStar Press in June and is a f\f fantasy where a princess needs a bodyguard and the person she chooses to trust is a young female warrior with undiagnosed PTSD, dyslexia and a deformity in her left hand that has lead to a prosthetic and limited movement. She is strong, she has faults, she doesn’t get magically cured.
I love this book and hope others will too. It’s a book I’d have read as a teen and I kept going back to the idea as an adult. My next book is still a work in progress and is very personal – despite the fantastical setting of outer space – as one main character has chronic pain which, out of all my disabilities, is probably the one that is most debilitating for me on a daily basis.
I plan to write lots of YA books with various pairings, but mostly focused on queer characters, as I myself am bisexual and find disabled queer representation even harder to find. I had books I loved as a younger reader, but none that connected to that part of my life, and I want to give that for others.
I want to show there is no such thing as perfection and that we don’t need to be reaching for these imagined ideals in order to be heroes. In order to be happy. In order to be loved.
Lizzie Colt is a biromantic and demisexual writer living with chronic illness. She is very pro including disability representation in her YA work and loves writing and has been doing so since she was a child. Lizzie loves all kinds of animals and reading. And can be found at @lizziecolt on Twitter.