I had a wonderful time talking to Imani about Diversity in Fiction and being an author with chronic health conditions, both mental and physical. I’ve found I naturally gravitate toward including characters with mental health or physical disabilities because it’s natural to share my lived experiences through my characters.
I’m particularly excited (and terrified) as I’m writing City of Quartz, book two in the Children of Nar series, because I’m recalling the experience of being the sibling of someone with a terminal illness. My brother Gaelon was diagnosed before I was even born, so all my life I knew we wouldn’t have forever. He got sicker and sicker as we all got older. We had more time with him than anyone could ever have imagined, but it still shaped me as a person to live so close to the edge of death. And I find I draw on those emotions and this experience when I write scenes as Wish, whose sister, Niah, is dying.
Having the opportunity to share characters with chronic illness in our fiction gives us the chance to let others look into that world. This can help those who have never experienced it build empathy and understanding, but it also helps those who do feel a sense of belonging and of being seen and understood. Both of these outcomes are powerful and I’m honoured to play my part.
A huge thank you to Imani for spending some time with me talking about this. She’s such a fantastic go-getter herself, and a published author at just twelve years of age! I’m in awe of her and I know we’ll have more and more come from her in the future.