So…I try to follow that old advice about not getting too worried about reviews, and mostly I don’t dwell on them. However I do read them – not every single one, I am sure I’ve missed a few lol – but I always have a read when a new book comes out to see how it has been recieved. Otherwise, how can you tell if you’ve connected with people, right?
Well, yesterday, my new dark contemporary romance came out – Hard – Book Two in the Raw Heroes series.
And I had a quick read of my reviews and one of them said this: “I suffer from PTSD and I can relate to some of the feelings expressed in this book. The author handed this delicate subject very well and this was an awesome book all the way through it. There are events that happen that devastate people and change their whole life and this book showed some of that. Beautiful heartfelt read! I volunteered to read an advance copy of this book.”
This review meant so much to me. Why? Because I too have suffered from PTSD – complex PTSD the diagnosis was. And I suffered with panic and anxiety. Hell, at one point I got so bad I couldn’t go farther than four doors away without having a panic attack. I had a really bad three or four years of it. Then I got help with a brilliant therapist, and learned mindfulness and acceptance and it helped a lot. But, those demons are still there. They still snap away in the background, and I suppose once you’ve suffered with something like this, you’re always afraid it might return. I wanted the subject to be handled delicately because I’ve been there myself.
Writing about PTSD in fictional characters isn’t easy, despite having had it myself. We are all different and we all experience things differently. My version of PTSD might not be someone elses. My feelings of panic and anxiety may be experienced in a totally different way to someone else with anxiety and panic.
I once went with a friend to the dentist as she was terrified of going. I thought she did brilliantly, she sat still and calm in the waiting room chair, and went in alone. I almost wondered why she needed me there. When she got out, she was a shaking mess and burst into tears in the car. Her way of dealing with the feelings of panic was to freeze. To go into herself and go completely still and quiet. Me? I pace. I overbreathe. And if it gets really bad, I cry. (As a side note, I learned that crying actually really helped because it released a lot of the panicky feelings – and in time I stopped giving a damn about what people thought so you wouldn’t believe some of the places I’ve cried in!).
My hope when I wrote the book was always that it would be a sensitive portrayal for anyone who had suffered with various mental health issues, as I have. I’d hate for it to upset someone or not ring true. So waking up to this particular review, this morning, meant a lot to me.
As someone who also suffers from chronic illness (including many things, but amongst them a cardio/neuro condition that means my autonomic system is screwy and I can get very faint and dizzy just from standing) I also want to write characters who suffer with chronic illness. It’s rarely addressed in fiction, and even less so in romantic fiction. So that’s on my to do list this year, and I already have a heroine who is speaking to me, but her story isn’t fully formed yet.
So, if you’re a fellow spoonie, what do you think is something that needs highlighting in a story about a character with chronic illness?
If you want to read Hard – it is on sale now for $0.99 for a limited time here in the US: https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Raw-Heroes-Book-2-ebook/dp/B079Q79QLH/ref=pd_sbs_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=ANBD3K3C35TBP5BJWWZC
And book one in the series – Raw – is FREE for two days only! You can get that here: https://www.amazon.com/Raw-Heroes-Book-1-ebook/dp/B076Z1JL8S/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_sims?ie=UTF8