Greetings, NA Alley friends! I’m A.J. Matthews, and I’m a member of the non-speculative team here. I write contemporary New Adult romance—what’s now considered pretty “traditional” stuff in this young category. However, I begged the fearless leader of the Niche team to let me write a post on a topic near and dear to my heart: special needs romance.
And while all romance authors think our couples are special, one of mine really is, as in “special needs,” one of the terms we’ve come to use in the U.S. to describe people of different abilities, especially severe physical or developmental challenges, such as Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, and the like.
Why write—and read—about special needs? So many reasons. A few months ago on Twitter, readers, bloggers, editors, teachers, and librarians contributed to #WeNeedDiverseBooks, a hashtag devoted to creating a more robust body of literature celebrating our differences. One of the themes I took away was the desire to see more people with disabilities represented positively—and in non-stereotypical ways—in literature. Another theme: those with special needs want to see people like them in books, and those who love them want to see that, too. That’s what I am trying to do.
I also want my stories of Mac and the other exceptional people I write about who suffer from physical challenges, PTSD, eating disorders, abuse, and more, to help others see just how much people with special needs are like everyone else. They crave acceptance, strive to express their individuality, and desire love in their lives, whether platonic or romantic.
I’m full of ideas already, but really want to know: What types of special needs love stories would you love to see?
Until next time…