Secondary Characters – Lupus
When I wrote Lilacs for Juliana, I knew I wanted the heroine’s sister to have some type of chronic illness, and her mother, too. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and several other inflammatory conditions and we have other family members with authoimmune disorders, including Lupus. I wondered when physician first began understanding the disease. As I researched, I was pleased to discover that during the time frame of my story (late 1800’s) there were physicians, particularly in England, who were looking for treatments for Lupus. So my sister’s heroine was given Lupus and I had her mother suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Any condition is experienced as an individual responds to it. There is no one size fits all, despite our tendency to think that a certain diagnosis means certain symptoms. So I had to decide which characteristics of Lupus would present with Juliana’s sister, Claudette, and under what circumstances. And I introduced a physician into the storyline who had trained in England under the researched interested in Lupus. So he’s a bit “intrusive” as he’s fascinated by Claudette’s manistestation of the disease and wants to help her.
There is no cure for Lupus, even today. There are ways to manage the disease, but even then there are no guarantees. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.
I wanted Claudette to be someone coping with the disease, but wanting more for herself. She couldn’t be allowed to move to the forefront of the story, but I wanted her management of her symptoms to result in some changes for her life that also affected my heroine’s story line.
Also, being the youngest in the family, Claudette hasn’t coped well with her disease—having been babied by others, including my heroine, who believes it is her responsibility to caretake this younger sister, who is also an adult, like herself. When the doctor challenges Claudette to begin some treatments, she pushes back, surprising Juliana. But when she does make some changes in her life, doors begin to open for Claudette.
Do you have a family member with an autoimmune disorder? Have you read any books where you felt this disorder was particularly well shown in the novel?
Bio: Former “Yooper” Carrie Fancett Pagels writes Christian historical romances about overcoming. She grew up in Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where many of her stories are set. Possessed with an overactive imagination, that wasn’t “cured” by twenty-five years as a psychologist, she loves bringing characters to life. Carrie and her family reside in Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which is perfect for her fascination with history. Carrie enjoys reading, traveling, baking, and beading—but not all at the same time!
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