Writing my first fiction series
Mid-June I began sketching out my first series. A couple months before, during a Zoom creative writing session, a character popped into my brain about a misanthropic beach-keeper on the island of St. John.
The idea stuck with me, so when I wanted to explore writing a series, the character of Johnnie seemed the perfect fit.
As a flawed protagonist, his anger needed a sympathetic root cause. After research on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I decided Johnnie was an ex-Marine, dealing with its lingering effects. Specifically, in his case, depression, vision issues, moods, anxiety, and memory problems.
In college, I was in a car accident, resulting in memory issues for several months. No one called it TBI back in the early 1980s. I remember the panic of walking to class and having to stop and sit on a bench for fifteen minutes trying to remember where I was going. Or taking a test where I had zero recall of a particular lecture topic. Unpredictably encountering small areas of complete loss of memory. But I consider myself lucky that my case was
mild and temporary. Researching TBI cases for Johnnie has given me a better appreciation of TBI's devastating and varied effects and the hard work and resilience of its survivors.
I corresponded with a retired TBI researcher and she pointed out that many TV shows and books unfairly turn TBI sufferers into the bad guy or the murderer. My hope with the Johnnie series is to shed light on the subject in a respectful way while creating story lines and characters that entertain. I'm daunted by this challenge but also energized to try. I'll be reporting my progress on Twitter, so follow me at @ds_whitaker for updates.