When I saw a submissions call for short stories related to the 2012 Olympics, I was always bound to chance my arm. The anthology never happened, but my story did and now has a life of its own (see link below if you’re interested). I have to say I didn’t write about the Olympics themselves – London 2012 is as much about the Paralympics and it was from my paralympic heroes (Oscar Pistorius, David Weir and the like) that I drew inspiration. Which means that I have a hero who is less than physically perfect even if, like Messrs Pistorius and Weir, he’s hot as a fuse.
Ben is an S9 swimmer which means he has some co-ordination problems, specifically a cerebral palsy linked weakness in the left side of his body which gets worse when he’s tired or worked up. I love him to little bits and he was great fun to get inside the head and body of. But, it occurred to me, he’s just about the only one of my characters who has physical imperfections.
I don’t count here Jonty, Orlando or Nicholas, with their WWI acquired injuries. They started their storylines pretty well physically perfect. Paul (Nicholas’s primary love interest) has a weakness in his legs (I see a theme here) which means he’s exempt from war service but that’s as far as I’ve gone with my characters. None of them are blind, deaf, in a wheelchair, missing a limb or the like. Nor are the romantic leads in the books I love reading – gay romance or otherwise.
Why are there so few of them around? Is there something about physical imperfection that’s a turn off (doesn’t turn me off Oscar Pistorius) or are we afraid readers won’t accept a hero who is less than a perfect ten?
Come on, remind me of other romantic leads who start out with physical disabilities or the like. There must be some.
Tumble Turn is a short story about love, swimming and the perfect incentive to win.