Updated: Sep 24, 2022
If you haven't read Trusting Maverick yet, this post may be a bit confusing, but hopefully, once you read it, you'll want to check it out. One of the side characters in Trusting Maverick is Gwen's sister, Ellie. Ellie is twenty-four, lives with her, and has Down Syndrome. This post is going to be out just who Ellie is, and why I put her in my book.
When I started plotting Maverick and Gwen's story, I had this idea of there being another woman involved in the plot, but it just didn't feel right. Besides, if I'm honest, I hate other women drama for no reason, and there just didn't seem to be a good reason other than a woman wanting Maverick for his money and connections. And that's been done a thousand times. I wanted something else. Something that you don't read about all the time.
Believe it or not, I have a photo of my aunt near my desk, and I looked over at it after getting particularly frustrated about my plot not working the way I wanted, and it hit me. I could put in another woman, but it wouldn't be a romantic interest. Instead, Ellie became Gwen's sister, and the rest is history.
Being that my aunt inspired her character, I used her as the inspiration for Ellie's mannerisms and speech. Some may not like it, but not all people with Down Syndrome are the same. I said this in my note at the beginning of the book, but I want to say it again. People with Down Syndrome are wonderful, live completely normal lives, and have gone on to make amazing careers and lives for themselves. Others struggle but are just as important and worthy of celebration.
Who Is My Aunt?
My aunt's name is Nicole, or Nikky as we called her. She passed away in 2010 at the age of 39 from cancer. It was very fast, and being that I was just graduating from high school, I didn't really have a lot of time to process it. Still, I know that in my 17 years up until that point, Nikki made a huge impact. Enough that she is my ONLY character that represents someone in my life in one of my books. I have always vowed that I will never put anyone I know in my books in any way shape or form, and I plan on sticking to that, other than this one time.
You're probably wondering why I'm breaking that vow. Nikki was special. I don't mean because she had Downs, but because she was always smiling, laughing, and as much as she used to annoy us as kids by taking our treats and toys, we loved her a lot. Nikki could barely talk. I don't mean that she had a speech problem, but she could only speak a handful of words. Nikki could say Me, Mama, Dada, Debbie (it sounded like Dobby), Yeah, Ehhhh, and Awww. There may have been a few more, but those are the ones she always used. She could also sign a few things, and certain ones more than others.
She loved old TV shows and movies. She loved Happy Days, and when Fonzi would say Ehhhhh. We could ask her all the time what did Fonzie say and her response was immediate. She also LOVED James Bond. Pierce Brosnan in particular. she'd act like a little school girl with her first crush whenever she saw him on the TV. It was adorable.
Nikki's reaction to Bond was my inspiration for Ellie's reaction to Maverick. Now, Ellie can talk, so I have her articulate it a bit more but I imagine that's what my aunt would have sounded like if she had been able to talk. I mean, who wouldn't swoon over Bond, or hell, a man like Maverick Lincoln?
You know, the more I write this, the more I smile and think about all the fun memories that I have with my aunt. Far too many to name in one blog post. So for now, all you need to know is that in Trusting Maverick, I'm putting pieces of my aunt in there for the world to enjoy. Because she was special, and every year we have a "Nikki Day" to celebrate her life. I guess with this book, I'm just celebrating a little bit earlier.
Want to Know More About Ellie?
If you haven't read Maverick and Gwen's story, and met Ellie, then check it out now on Amazon. I really hope you fall in love with not only them, but Ellie too.