Posted on 10/12/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Teachers, as has been observed many times, can have an outsized and positive impact on the youths around them.

In author Andrew Grey’s case, the teacher who affected him so strongly didn’t even instruct him.

Grey grew up across the street from Carol, an elementary school teacher who used a wheelchair because of the polio she’d caught as a teenager.

Her influence can be felt in Grey’s writing, as many of his novels and short stories include people with disabilities who, like Carol, don’t let those challenges stop them.

Add to that inspiring figure a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them, and you have all the role models in the world to form a successful writer.

Grey, who writes contemporary gay romance, took some time away from preparing his latest novel (and, of course, gearing up for the Boundless Love anthology release) to share his journey with us, in honor of October being National Disability Awareness Month.

SADYE: How did you get to know Carol, and how did you connect?

ANDREW: I used to do odd jobs around the house for her and her mother.

Her car had been fitted with hand controls, and because money was limited, she had learned to do a great deal for herself.

Carol was a big woman, but nothing ever held her back. She did everything possible herself and was a real inspiration to me.

She was different, and I was different as well. So we became close friends, and I got to understand some of the struggles that she endured on a daily basis.  

It was eye-opening, especially as a teenager.  

SADYE: Are you still in contact with Carol today?

ANDREW: Unfortunately Carol’s mother died about twenty years or so ago, and Carol passed away about eight years ago.

There are times when I miss her. I sent her one of my earliest books.

SADYE: You have a master’s in information technology — how did you wind up writing?

ANDREW: In January 2007, after reading a number of romance novels on the gym while I was working out, I got an idea and decided to try my hand at writing.    

I expected to write one book because I’d always wanted to do it.  

But like potato chips, I couldn’t stop at one, and soon I was writing every day.

SADYE: What has your writing and publication journey been like?  

ANDREW: Mine was relatively easy. Early on I discovered Dreamspinner Press, and they bought my second manuscript.  

Since then we've been on quite a journey together. I've grown over the years, and they've grown right along with me.

SADYE: How have you made sure that your characters’ disabilities are portrayed accurately?  

ANDREW: I use multiple methods.

First is research and talking to people. That’s very important.  

Next I try to put myself deeply in someone else’s shoes. Try to feel what they might be feeling and look at the world through their eyes — or ears, as the case may be.  

I always try to be sincere in my portrayal and make each a fully realized character.

SADYE: What feedback have you received from people with disabilities on those portrayals?  

ANDREW: For the most part it has been extremely positive.

I try to be sensitive and show characters in situations that reflect reality.  

Sometimes I get comments both ways on the same character from different people. That’s fine too.    

If I get something wrong, I own it and learn from it.

SADYE: How did you become involved with the Boundless Love anthology?

ANDREW: I met most everyone at the Romance Writers of America conference, and when they asked me to be a part of the anthology, I jumped at it.

It’s been a fun experience.

* * *

Learn more about Andrew Grey on his website, where his books can also be purchased; like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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Categories: Author Interview

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