I strive to create a diverse universe for my science fiction stories. I don’t want to describe a freak show; on the contrary I want to show that humanity consists of all kinds of unique persons who all contribute to society in their own very colorful ways.
In About Damn Time, my work in progress, I described one of the young secondary characters as being short. I didn’t think much of it, and I didn’t care to over-describe her since, for one thing, she is a secondary character, and secondly, because I prefer to give my readers only an impression of a character’s physical appearance, and let them fill in the details.
Then I started watching Game of Thrones on HBO. Peter Dinklage plays Tyrion Lannister, the younger son of one of the powerful families. This series is so complex and has so many characters, I won’t go into any of that here. But I was impressed at Mr. Dinklage’s screen presence. At a height of 4’5″, he is not your typical leading man.
I started thinking about basing a character on him, and I soon thought of the young woman in my WIP. The two characters and their romance started building in my brain.
Then, someone (I don’t remember who, it was in the midst of facebook comments) theorized that dwarfism would be cured hundreds of years in the future.
I never thought of dwarfism as being a disease or condition that needed to be cured. But then I looked at Peter Dinlage’s IMDB profile, and it referred to him having achondroplasia. I also remember seeing Little People, Big World where two of the family members had medical issues related to their dwarfism.
I used the topic for a SyFy Question of the Day, and got a mixed response. I tried e-mailing Amy Roloff, but did not receive a response. I desperately wanted to have a Little Person’s perspective before I let the story foment in my brain any further. Their stature is an important part of the plot, not just a characteristic.
Then along came Madeleine. Innocently pushing her cart through Costco, minding her own business.
I debated asking such a sensitive question of a total stranger in the middle of a huge store. I had my 3yo with me, and didn’t want to expose her to any rude behavior. But I took a deep breath, said “Excuse me…” and politely asked my question.
Madeleine was wonderful. She graciously answered my question, explaining that there are over 200 types of dwarfism. It is a genetic anomaly, not a disease. She did seem to be a little offended that someone might suggest it would be “cured”. Maybe it was more that she thought the idea of a cure wasn’t so much insulting, as it was ridiculous.
So my story lives! Natasha and Peter can live happily ever after. I just need to finish About Damn Time first.
The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1qnT4-eU