OS: We are lucky to have Jana Denardo here with us today to talk about the new Dreamspinner book honoring victims from the Orlando shooting. Thanks for joining us and for working on this anthology Jana!
JD: Thanks for giving me time and space to talk a little bit about this anthology and my story. Like so many others, I was horrified by the shooting at the Pulse and wanted to help any way I could. One of those ways was to create and take part in charity anthologies such as Love Wins. I’m very happy and honored to be a part of this anthology and its theme of ‘love always wins’. I’m also grateful Dreamspinner allowed us to set our stories inside our established universes. I loved being able to write a stand-alone with Aaron and Rhys from Kept Tears.
I chose them because of Aaron. He’s an Army vet who had enlisted to pay for medical school but ended up losing an arm in the war and nearly losing a leg as well. His self-esteem has taken a beating. He was in the process of reclaiming his life, getting back to school, when he met and fell in love with Rhys. Most days Aaron is still not sure he’s worthy of being in a relationship, especially not to a man who turned out to be Tylwyth Teg, a Welsh faerie. In fact, Rhys is crowned prince with more magic at his disposal than Aaron ever believed possible, in spite of being a world-class geek. But this story is not about Rhys and the magic he welds but more about Aaron coping with his disabilities and proving to Aaron that love does win.
My story in the anthology, More Than His Scars, opens with Corrine, Aaron’s best friend, enlisting Rhys in helping to keep Aaron’s spirits up as the anniversary of the day he lost his arm approaches. Rhys had no idea as their relationship is still quite young. Corrine’s plan was simple, take Aaron to Kennywood Park, a historic amusement park in Pittsburgh. I chose it because I love that park (I grew up in the area) and it always lifted my spirits.
I was a doctor in a VA hospital once upon a time and I wanted this story to honor the sacrifice our veterans made. So Aaron does face things many disabled vets do, including the ignorance and cruelty of others in the face of his disfigurement. I tried to be as authentic as I could with Aaron and his issues. The upper arm prosthetic Aaron sports is a real, albeit currently rare, thing. They respond to the patient’s nervous system, and I can’t overstate how amazing they are.
Rhys’s plans to buoy Aaron’s spirits are more intimate in the sense he wants to be Aaron’s anchor, for Aaron to know that he’ll there for him, no matter what. In the end, Aaron isn’t miraculously cured of the terrible emotional pain he’s in. No one who has suffered deep losses is ever instantly fixed but the light of hope shines brightly and to me, that is what this story, this anthology, is all about.
Excerpt: Aaron glanced at his prosthetic hand, flexing its fingers. “Wish mine was as cool and normal-looking as Luke’s.”
Its polymers were definitely not lifelike, nor were its movements smooth, but Rhys still was stunned by it. “They’ll have that arm down pat soon enough. I don’t have to tell you that. You and Corrine, you’re going to school for this sort of stuff. I’m not sure you realize how amazing that is.”
Aaron shrugged. “I’m not that amazing.”
Rhys sat on the bed with him, cupping Aaron’s face. “You are beyond amazing. You are astounding. You served your country in exchange for them funding med school, and when it all went to shit, you didn’t just lie down and give up. Many would have.”
“Mom kept me going, and then Corrine and you. You’re the amazing ones,” Aaron whispered.
“Just because you have a good support system doesn’t mean you yourself aren’t amazing. No man is an island. We push you, but if you didn’t want to do it, you wouldn’t. You’re looking to help others. You do help at your wounded warrior meetings, so give yourself credit.”
Aaron smiled thinly. “Okay, I’m amazing.”
“Damn straight.” Rhys kissed him.
OS: That’s so awesome! Thanks for sharing and good luck on the tour!
Buy Links: Dreamspinner
Anthology Blurb: With time comes healing, but Orlando and the LGBT community are still recovering from last June’s tragedy. To show our ongoing support for those affected by the Orlando shooting, our authors, editors, artists, and staff have volunteered their talents to create this second benefit anthology. All proceeds will be donated to LGBT organizations in central Florida. Join use as we reaffirm that no matter the obstacle, love always wins.
More Than His Scars Blurb: Facing the anniversary of the day he lost his arm while serving in the Middle East, Aaron is understandably depressed. It’s up to his lover, Rhys, to plan a special day to help Aaron see how amazing he really is.
Author Bio: Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.