Becky Wade joins us to talk about writing a character with PTSD and how family and friends can support those returning from military service.
Beth: What gave you the inspiration to write a story featuring a character that is a military veteran?
Becky: I was inspired to write Jake Porter by news stories I’d watched and read about real life military heroes struggling with PTSD.
Beth: Was Jake always in the military in your mind, or did that aspect grow once you “met” the character? What was most challenging about writing his character, one who is both physically and emotionally scarred?
Becky: In my mind, Jake always had a military background. From the beginning, I saw him as a Marine who’d been wounded by an IED while serving overseas.
Jake was challenging to write for a few reasons! Reason #1: at the outset of the novel he was so remote and bitter that he didn’t want to talk. It’s tricky to write dialogue for a character who doesn’t want to play nice and cooperate! #2: As wounded as Jake was, I had to make sure he was sympathetic, too, otherwise it wouldn’t have been believable for the heroine to fall in love with him. #3: Jake survived some hard, sad things. Delving into his memories and his heartache was heavy for me personally at times, because in order to be true to him I felt that I needed to ‘go there’ as much as possible, to live it/feel it/experience it with him.
Beth: What kind of research and preparation did you do in order to prepare writing a character that suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of traumatic military experiences?
Becky: I read a biography written by a Marine with PTSD, which was tremendously helpful. I read several first person accounts online of servicemen and women who’d been involved in IED explosions. I also combed through medical accounts about PTSD, its symptoms, its causes, its treatments.
Beth: It can be difficult for friends and family to understand what their veteran might be going through, especially if their loved one encountered traumatic experiences while serving. In Lyndie you created a character that was particularly patient and loving in helping Jake deal with his PSTD symptoms. What do you think that non-military can do to be supportive of veterans who may not have any physical evidence of trauma but might be hurting mentally and emotionally?
Becky: I think it’s helpful for friends and family to educate themselves as much as they can about PTSD and about the resources that are available for people dealing with this issue. More is known about PTSD now than ever before, but it’s still a very complex condition. It doesn’t look the same in every case and not every therapy is helpful for every person. Again and again, my research highlighted the fact that there is no ‘cure’.
Friends and family need to be ready to listen, to empathize, and to be steadfast and patient supporters of their loved one over the long haul.
Beth: A portion of your earnings for the first two weeks of sales for A Love Like Ours went to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. What is it about this organization that made you decide to partner with them?
Becky: I chose to give to Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) because they’re rated very highly by charity watch groups and because they’re committed to treating military personnel with PTSD, as well as a range of other physical and mental disorders. When I watched the videos of IFHF veterans talking about their lives I was blown away by how similar some of their stories were to Jake’s story! I got goose bumps listening to them. I knew, after watching just one or two of the videos, that IFHF was the right match for me.
Beth: What do you want readers of A Love like Ours to take from Jake’s (and Lyndie’s story)?
Becky: Through A Love Like Ours, I hope readers are reminded that with God, there’s always a reason to hope. He can redeem suffering and trauma. He can offer any of us — all of us — hope and a future. No matter what’s come before.
To find out more about Becky and her books, visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.