Please join me in welcoming author Jina Bazzar here today. You may know her from Authors Inspirations, where she blogs about her experiences writing and editing a book as a woman who is blind. She created her blog to connect with other women who are undergoing the publishing journey and have disabilities. I remember when I first learned about Jina’s blindness and I was blown away by this as I recognized the big challenge to the writing process that must bring her. Jina Bazzar is an inspiration, as you will see from her guest post below.
When All Else Fails, You Have to Dream
When I first became blind over a decade ago, one thing I had in abundance was time. There was nothing really much I could do to entertain myself besides listen to loud music, bake, and sometimes listen to talk shows on TV.
In a world where women, particularly women with disability are one of the biggest marginalized groups, it was no surprise that my application for inclusion in learning and rehabilitating systems were denied. Especially when I was living in a patriarch, third world country.
It took me time, but I eventually learned about screen readers, and with that, picked up the habit of reading again. But soon, I was restless. For purely entertainment purposes, I decided to write my own book, a story where discrimination, abandonment and abuse walk hand in hand and people with power go unchecked, confident that there would never be a punishment for their crimes.
Jina Bazzar On Writing Fantasy
Fantasy was my hobby, both because I found it fascinating and because of its flexibility and versatility. There are never any boundaries fantasy can’t cross, and so it was no surprise the story I began writing fell under this genre.
The protagonist, a twenty-two year old mixed breed named Roxanne, had lead a normal life until the age of twelve when she was forced to leave her home for a research facility, where she learned that she was not human. For nine years while she lived as the scientist’s special guinea pig, Roxanne’s rights were non-existent. The story takes place a year and a half after Roxanne has escaped the facility.
To avoid being discovered by the mercenaries the scientists send after her,
Roxanne is forced to stay on the run, taking low paying jobs and moving from one place to the other, always afraid of discovery.
Her self-esteem is low, her self-confidence nil, but she’s determined to stay free, to lead as normal a life as possible.
Creating Female Character Roxanne
Creating Roxanne’s character sometimes came naturally to me, other times it was more difficult. It was easy to envision what a realistic reaction would be. In other words, what a person who’s been through what Roxanne did would reply or do. At times though, I had to press the delete key more than once and go researching.
Aside from all the discrimination and abandonment issues, there’s mention of rape in the story (though nothing descriptive or graphic). There were times during the revision where I contemplated erasing this part. But I know such things are, unfortunately, very real. And so at the end, I decided to keep it. When the topic comes up, Roxanne must face it. Humiliation and shame are among her top emotions, along with anger. She’s shunned and neglected by her own clan for being born different; she’s starved for any modicum of affection. Despite, or in spite of, all her doubts and fears, nothing stops her from fighting for what she wants; her determination is bound in iron.
At the end, Roxanne Fosch turned out to be a complex character. A person who was as compassionate as she was unfeeling. She saw a lot of horrific things and yet remained naive. A person who had many faults and flaws and the potential of becoming something great, but who wanted nothing but an ordinary, boring life.
Heir of Ashes is the first book in the Roxanne Fosch trilogy. It is an urban fantasy novel full of action and adventure. It’s full of the ugly, but realistic truths of the world: discrimination, abandonment, abuse, power and superiority and broken laws.
About Jina Bazzar
Jina was born and raised in Brazil, and currently lives in the middle-east. She led a normal, uneventful life, until she developed a chronic disease during her late teens that eventually caused her to go blind.