I’ve always wanted to write an enemies to lovers story. There’s a big problem with that, my characters have a tendency to quickly fall into, “her eyes, her laugh, I’ve loved her since we first met!” which doesn’t work for an enemies beginning! Add to that my own desire for everyone to get along, and I needed a strong inspiration I couldn’t ignore.
Enter my heroine being hard of hearing. There’s a lot (a LOT!) of frustration that I deal with being hard of hearing. I find that so many people don’t really understand what it means and what my needs are, even after I explain it to them. So I thought, what if my hero is soft spoken? And that one thought had all the light bulbs going off. Because everyone I know that is soft spoken I can’t communicate with.
Now I’ve got a heroine and hero who have never been able to have an honest conversation. Give my heroine some sass, and it turned into an instant enemy situation. For me, at least. Which allowed me to write them at odds with each other.
It also allowed me to write some truths of things I experience being hard of hearing. Things like constantly missing things and the frustration of always playing “what was that word?” And since this story largely involved family interaction, it also allowed me to use well-meaning family antics that tend to grate on those of us with disabilities. Like thinking they know what we need, and shining a light on us, when we’re often capable of adjusting without the spotlight being thrown.
People have a tendency to talk down to us with disabilities, to push us down as well. We often have to fight harder for our accomplishments but it’s not always seen that way. Another reason to write a head strong heroine who is successful, but not allowed to feel her success.
But that’s off track, back to the enemies’ piece. When we can’t understand someone, it makes it really hard to be patient and get to know them. So I have two characters that grew up together and should have been close, almost sibling level close, and instead don’t know each other at all. My heroine knows why, but my hero doesn’t, because when you tell hearing people to speak up they do, for about a sentence, maybe two. It’s not sustainable and I don’t know a single person who has been able to consistently alter the way they speak.
So my hero calls the heroine a “dragon” and thinks she hates him. And that’s where my desire for everyone to get along comes into play, because once he knows why, he can’t help but try and fix things. This is a romance, after all!
I used a lot of my own experiences in the start of this book, had the chance to funnel my frustrations into my heroine. The set up did not allow me to simple flip a switch and have my couple be all cozy together. Because as I mentioned above, people don’t easily change how they speak. So if a person speaks loud enough one day, we’re not expecting it to last. We might enjoy the brief window into communication, but we’re ready for the fall. That holds my heroine back, that keeps the enemies’ portion brewing, just long enough to make everything work.
And in the end, yeah, I had my hero step up. And thus created a bit of a unicorn situation. Because I have to tell my husband and tween daily to speak louder for me, and repeat themselves. Heck, I needed the tween to repeat about five times before leaving for school, and this is a kid who has never known a hearing mother.
There are so many ways to write enemies to lovers, many authors do it often and revel in it. For me, I needed that reason why, something that would resonate deeply within me. And focusing on my disability, on things I’ve dealt with all my life, that gave me the fuel I needed. I hope my readers will learn a thing or two, but I always hope that with the books I write. And I’m grateful I got to use this part of me to create a different spin on an enemy start!
What’s your favorite enemies to lovers romance? Tell me in the comments and I’ll choose one winner to receive a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of The Un-Arranged Marriage!