RA: Your novel, 'Nefarious', features a disabled vet as the main character, as well as a diverse set of important secondary characters. Can you share with us why you didn't go with the default 'white and able-bodied' cast?
STEVE: I wanted “Nefarious” to reflect the world around me. Our country and, of course, our world include an incredible degree of diversity, which offers the potential to construct a layered, rich narrative not possible with a one-dimensional approach. This approach also confers a greater realism and connects with a broader audience of readers. Last, diversity of characters provides opportunities for ideas and cultures to intersect, which builds more tension because the reader has less certainty in which direction the plot will move.
RA: I have to agree with you on all accounts. Is there a reason why you chose to go with a disabled main character?
STEVE: Most good stories contain a character arc: a transformation in the main character(s). Alton, my main character, sustains his injury in the first chapter. This injury shatters not only his body but also self-confidence. Alton's struggle to overcome his physical and psychological trauma therefore becomes a key part of the entire novel. I believe his disability immediately draws the reader into Alton's corner, making him/her more invested in him as a character.
Here's what the "Good, Bad, Bizarre" book-review website had to say about this aspect of Nefarious:
"Tackles disabilities: This directly follows the previous point, but it was special enough that we thought we should bring it up again, just for emphasis. There aren’t that many stories out there that feature disabled or somewhat mobile-impaired characters, and of those few that do, they often bring in disabilities only for the purpose of lecturing the reader about this or that issue. Of course, this sort of thing often backfires, because nobody willingly reads to be lectured at (and those readers who claim that they like that sort of thing? Well, they’re lying). But this story is different. Does it feature a disabled/mobile impaired character? Yes. Does it harp on the issue? No. Does it ignore the issue? No. Does it show a character’s mindset, as he overcomes his limitations to grow as a person? Yes. While Alton isn’t in a wheelchair (i.e., he doesn’t possess a more serious condition), his physical impairment does put a definite dampener on his career plans, which of course makes it a Very Bad Thing. But it was really nice to see a story that handled a subject like this without allowing it to break the story’s back: yes, Alton is mobile impaired, yes, this seriously affects his life, but no, we’re not forced to endure any trite preaching on this matter, and yes, we do like seeing him deal with his problem in a human way without letting it overly define him and who he is. While reading it, we were definitely reminded of what real military personnel go through every day. We really appreciated this, so we’re giving it a specific shout out."
Here's the link to the review(which is quite a bit longer):
RA: Do you have any experience with physical disabilities?
STEVE: I did have a stress fracture in my right leg a few years ago. This was serious enough to require surgery to insert two screws into my femur. (The screws are still there, in fact). However, for the most part, I recovered, whereas Alton is disabled for life. I felt that using a more severe version of my own injury would lend a little more credibility to my descriptions of the physical sensation.
RA: You've given such well-rounded answers, with lots for us to think about. I really appreciate the time you put into sharing with us.
Readers, you can find Steven F. Freeman on his Amazon author page here, and his website here.
Nefarious is the first book in "The Blackwell Files" series of four published books, and #5, The Devil's Due, is almost complete. The books can be read standalone, but are probably more enjoyable as a series since they feature the same main characters (including Alton, of course).