Today I am super excited to welcome the fabulous Josephine Myles to Joyfully Jay! Jo is here to share a bit about her newest book, Handle with Care. I reviewed this earlier today and totally loved it. Please join me in giving Jo a big welcome!
Writing a Seriously Ill Hero
When I first came up with the idea of having my main character in Handle with Care undergoing dialysis, I had serious words with my muse. Yes, I knew a bit about kidney failure and the various types of dialysis after seeing my brother-in-law go through the process (I’m pleased to report he had a successful kidney transplant three years ago), but I was still daunted by the challenge of researching and representing a serious medical condition.
Fortunately there is a wealth of websites out there, along with many patient guides available as books. I borrowed a book all about renal failure and kidney transplants from the local library, and began surfing dialysis patient’s blogs, kidney charity websites, and all manner of informative sites out there. I studied pictures of patient’s transplant scars and the catheters used for peritoneal dialysis. I read up on diabetes and the various factors that could eventually lead to kidney failure. I pestered by brother-in-law for details about how it actually feels to be on dialysis.
One of the most important decisions I had to make early on was which type of dialysis regime Ben would have. There are two main types: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, and I had seen my brother-in-law experience both types. Haemodialysis involves trips to hospital (usually three times a week) where the blood is filtered by a machine. Peritoneal dialysis is less common in the US but more so over here in Britain, and is home based. It involves the patient’s peritoneal cavity being filled with dialysate fluid, which is then given time to absorb waste products before being drained. It takes place either every night when a machine automatically pumps the dialysate through the abdominal catheter, or involves the patient manually infusing and draining it themselves on a 4-8 hour cycle throughout the day.
Since Ben is diabetic, it stood to reason his blood sugar levels would be more stable on the daytime peritoneal dialysis regime. This had various implications, which I explored in the story. Not only is Ben paranoid about the catheter tube taped to his abdomen, but he feels bloated and sluggish when filled with the two litres of dialysate. He’s positive that no other man would be interested in him sexually, and has convinced himself that he’s unable to become aroused while filled with the fluid:
“I’d look down and see my bloated abdomen and that bloody tube sticking out of me, and any trace of arousal just evaporated. I’d just start thinking about how the fluid was sloshing around inside my peritoneal cavity, getting more and more toxic as it leached all the waste products out of my blood.”
Ollie, however, sets out to prove Ben wrong! Not only does he find Ben incredibly attractive just the way he is, but he’s sure Ben’s impotence is purely psychological.
One of the biggest challenges with writing a seriously ill narrator was in deciding how much medical detail to actually include in the final draft. I didn’t want to bog the reader down with it all, so I chose to focus on how Ben’s health issues make him feel, and how they’ve impacted on his life and self-confidence. I concentrated on the low tech trappings of his type of dialysis, such as the piles of boxes of dialysate fluid, the drip stand, and the tape he uses to hold down the catheter tube under his clothing.
I wanted Ben to deal with his predicament by using wry humour rather than falling into the self-pity trap. I’m really pleased with how the novel turned out, and I hope that readers find my two unconventional heroes both lovable and fascinating.
How do you all feel about reading about heroes who are in less than perfect physical condition? Is poor health a turn off for you, or do you find it fascinating to read about characters battling with their health issues? Also, I’d love any recommendations of other books featuring heroes facing these kinds of challenges.
Handle with Care by Josephine Myles – the blog tour
To celebrate the release of my second novel, Handle with Care, I’m on a two week blog tour. A grand prize will be awarded to a randomly chosen commenter during the tour: an exclusive Handle with Care mug (which I’m happy to post worldwide), and a $25 voucher to spend at All Romance eBooks (or alternative ebook retailer of your choice). I’ll make the prize draw on Wednesday 9th May at 9am (GMT), and will announce the winner on my blog. Visit the tour itinerary for a list of all the stops, and comment on each to increase your chances of winning!
The best things in life aren’t free…they’re freely given.
Ben Lethbridge doesn’t have many vices left. After raising his little sister to adulthood, he wasted no time making up for the youth he lost to responsible parenting. Two years of partying it up—and ignoring his diabetes—has left him tethered to a home dialysis regimen.
He can do his job from his flat, fortunately, but most of his favourite things are forbidden. Except for DVD porn…and fantasizing over Ollie, the gorgeous, purple-haired skateboarder who delivers it.
Their banter is the highlight of Ben’s lonely day, but his illness-ravaged body is the cruel reality that prevents him from believing they’ll do anything more than flirt. Not to mention the age gap. Still, Ben figures there’s no harm in sprucing himself up a bit.
Then one day, a package accidentally splits open, revealing Ben’s dirty little secret…and an unexpected connection that leaves him wondering if he’s been reading Ollie wrong all this time. There’s only one way to find out: risk showing Ollie every last scar. And hope “far from perfect” is good enough for a chance at love.
Warning: Contains superhero porn comics and a cute, accident-prone delivery guy with colour-changing hair. Readers may experience coffee cravings, an unexpected liking for bad mullets, and the urge to wrap Ollie up and take him home.
Kindle US: http://www.amazon.com/Handle-with-Care-ebook/dp/B0073WI0ZU/
Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Handle-with-Care-ebook/dp/B0073WI0ZU/
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
Don’t forget, Jo is giving away a great prize to one lucky commenter along her tour, so be sure to leave a comment here by Wednesday 9th May at 9am (GMT), as well as the other blog stops along her tour!