Interview: Jennifer Wilck

Interview: Jennifer Wilck

Today’s interview is with Jennifer Wilck, the author of A Heart Of Little Faith, which is a romance novel with a paraplegic hero.

Here is the description from Amazon:

“Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance.
With a wheelchair instead of a white horse, and a vow against falling in love again as his armor, Gideon Stone is the last person Lily expects to sweep her off her feet. But when a business agreement forces the two of them together, that is exactly what happens.
As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone.”

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1) What inspired this story?

I was watching a TV show and there was a minor character in a wheelchair. I just started thinking “what if,” and A Heart of Little Faith popped into my head.

2)How much real life is in your books?

I always try to insert something from real life into my books. In A Heart of Little Faith, there is a massage scene where the heroine, Lily, tells a story from her childhood about how she used to give back massages to her dad by walking on his back and by pretending his back was a pizza pie. She’d swoosh on the sauce, sprinkle the cheese and pat on the toppings. I used to do that when I was little.

3) What appealed to you about having a hero with a disability?

Having a hero with a physical disability was something different from the average romance novel. And, I wanted to show that really, the disability wasn’t what was preventing Gideon from having a relationship, it was his emotional scars from a previous relationship. We all have those, regardless of our physical features. I also like having heroes and heroines who are “balanced.” I don’t like the “damsel in distress” and the “superhero” hero. I like them both to have vulnerabilities and strengths and have a true give and take relationship. I thought a hero with a disability was the best way, at the time and for this story, to demonstrate that.

4)What kinds of research did you do to portray that disability?

That’s a good question. It was a little awkward, I have to confess, since I don’t have anyone I know to whom I could speak. So I found a support group (actually, several) online and I queried them to see if anyone would be willing to talk to me in order to make my hero’s portrayal as realistic as possible. I was lucky enough to find this really nice man who was willing to answer any question I wanted to ask. I’m pretty shy by nature, so I have to say it was a little odd talking about fairly intimate things with a man who wasn’t my husband—thank goodness for the anonymity of the Internet! All that being said, any errors in my portrayal are solely my own.

5) Were there any unique challenges to having a hero who used a wheelchair?

Yes. I think I had to explain more ordinary things (like transportation options, for example) than I would have with a hero who didn’t use a wheelchair. I also needed to work hard to make sure my portrayal of Gideon didn’t come across as weak, which was the exact opposite of the character that was in my head.

6) How did you pitch this story?

I pitched it in a similar manner that I’ve pitched other stories, and I stressed the strength of the hero. Here’s the blurb I used:

“Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance.

With a wheelchair instead of a white horse, and a vow against falling in love again as his armor, Gideon Stone is the last person Lily expects to sweep her off her feet. But when a business agreement forces the two of them together, that is exactly what happens.

As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone.”

7) Who do you see as the audience for this book?

Romance readers who are looking for something a little different than the typical “perfect” heroes and heroines. I tend to show a lot of emotions in my characters, so hopefully they are well-rounded.

8 ) Are there any tricks or rituals you do to get yourself into the different points of view while writing?

Well, I understand that men and women react and behave differently in the same situations, so I try to look at things from other points of view and see if I can visualize how a man might react to something. When in doubt, I ask my husband! And with my hero, Gideon, he wants to be seen for more than his disability, so I tried to demonstrate more of his internal characteristics.

9) Did you learn anything interesting in the process of writing this book?

Everything about this book was interesting to me, because it’s my first one. So I was brand new to all of it—writing, researching, editing, etc. I loved talking to my “Internet man” and getting to know him, while trying to find the perfect balance between research and nosiness (hopefully, I found it!). I loved figuring out a way to get the voices out of my head and onto the page in a way that did justice to the characters.

10) Do you have any other books or stories with heroes who have disabilities?

I have another book, Skin Deep, coming out in November. Neither the hero nor the heroine have physical disabilities, but they both have emotional scars from abusive pasts. Here’s the blurb, if you’re interested:

“The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that’s exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series’ star.

John Samuels hides a terrible past—a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.

Will he learn that the life he’s been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?

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I do like how Gideon and Lily are not your typical romance hero and heroine. They have a bit more reality in their lives and believable reasons why they might have a hard time acknowledging their love for one another.

It’s great to hear that you found someone to help you make sure that you were writing realistically about paralysis. I’m also glad that you purposely made sure that Gideon remained strong and capable.

What a special treat to see the original pitch blurb for this book! I would not have guessed that this was your first book. It read like a seasoned romance writer’s book to me.

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