In Stitched Up Heart and Locked-Down Heart, the two main female characters are both veterans and both have PTSD. My goal for their storylines was to portray women veterans honestly and empathetically, but also in a way that didn’t take away from them being women and being the heroine of their story. What better way to do that than to draw from my own experience? PTSD is something I’ve had to deal with on a personal level and, yes, writing about it was cathartic in ways therapy wasn’t.
I also wanted show the effects of PTSD without listing the effects. More often than not, I’ll read a military romance and it feels like the author found a checklist of PTSD symptoms and went down it when coming up with their characters (who are typically men). I can usually tell when the author has or has not served in the military. Side note, one of my favorite Military Romance authors is Jessica Scott. Yes, she’s in the military.
There are a lot of military spouses who are Military Romance authors and I love them, but their perspective is different. For instance, one of my favorite military spouse authors is Rebecca Yarros. In her book, Hallowed Ground she describes how the hero Josh is driven to go back to combat after he’s severely injured. In a conversation thread on her FB page about the book, very few people understood Josh’s perspective – they sided with the heroine, Ember. I was all about Team Josh. I knew exactly what he was feeling and thinking, because I’d been there.
I want to write characters female service members can connect with and I've personally found there is a severe lack of realistic female veteran characters in Romance. This may be (with the exception of Jessica Scott) because I haven’t found the right books (if you have any recommendations, send them my way). If the heroine is in the military she’s usually some sort of badass, super spy. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that – I love a kick ass woman and I enjoy reading those types of stories – but as an author I want to give voice to the thousands of women veterans who fight and live and love and still manage to be kick ass every ordinary day.
On a lighter side, I may or may not have drawn inspiration from real life conversations and events. My best friend messaged me while she was reading my first book and said one of the conversations between Bree and Denise sounded really familiar. I told her that’s because it was a conversation we’d actually had. She laughed and reminded me of some others that we’d had that will probably make their way into future books. 😀