Guest Post: The challenge of writing about a character with a deformity. #Giveaway

Guest Post from Author Nichola Reilly author of Drowned

DROWNED  takes place in a world where it is truly “survival of the fittest”. On the island of Tides, people are given a space on a platform they stand on when the tides come in based on their worth to society.  The less worthy a person is, the more likely she’ll be placed at the outer edge of the platform, where the tides can sweep her away.

This world values brawn and physical prowess, so I wanted to create the antithesis of that– a character with just about every card stacked against her.  Coe is young, small-statured, physically weak, burns easily, and her eyes hurt in the sun. On top of that, she was also injured as a child and has only one hand, so she’s clumsy, and people call her “bait”, which means worthless. If she lived today, she’d be called the quiet, bookish type. She’s the last person one would expect to survive.

But she has a few surprises up her sleeve.

Despite her weaknesses and the lack of faith the others have in her, Coe is plucky, and not one to back down just because she’s missing a hand. I wanted to make sure that though she has a deformity, it didn’t control her, because honestly? If Coe just sat in the sand and felt sorry for herself, two things would happen: 1) The reader would want to tear her eyes out, and 2) Coe would fall into the ocean on page one and die. Not a really fun book . . . or, er, pamphlet. But now, I feel like she’s the “everygirl”, or at least how I would be surrounded by a bunch of “survivor-types” . . . clumsy and unsure but determined to use my brain to compensate for my lack of brawn.

Other than ensuring that I gave Coe plenty of strengths (though hidden at first!) to compensate for her weaknesses, another aspect that posed a challenge was just the technical aspect of having only one hand. I have to admit, I’ve combed over DROWNED a billion times, and each time, I’d find a place where something “slips through her hands” or where she is holding something with one hand and throwing something with the other.  I had to put a sock on my hand at one point to see how she would use a shovel if she didn’t have two hands to grip it with.  I kept unintentionally switching her missing hand, too, from right to left, which was luckily caught by my fabulous copy-editor!

So while writing about a character with a deformity posed several challenges, for the most part, I think it made Coe a more well-rounded, sympathetic individual.


No one can escape the rising of the Tides. 


Drowned by Nichola Reilly

Publication June 24th 2014 by Harlequin Teen

Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam—but love has long ago been forgotten by her society.

The only priority is survival.

Until the day their King falls ill, leaving no male heir to take his place. Unrest grows, and for reasons Coe cannot comprehend, she is invited into the privileged circle of royal aides. She soon learns that the dying royal is keeping a secret that will change their world forever.
Is there an escape from the horrific nightmare that their island home has become?


Coe must race to find the answers and save the people she cares about, before their world and everything they know is lost to the waters.

About Nichola Reilly


Nichola Reilly is Cyn Balog’s post-apocalyptic fantasy-writing alter-ego. The first book in her series, DROWNED, will be releasing from Harlequin TEEN sometime in 2014, followed by a sequel, BURIED, in 2015.


Cyn Balog

Cyn Balog is a normal, everyday Jersey Girl who always believed magical things can happen to us when we least expect them. She is author of young adult paranormals FAIRY TALE (2009), SLEEPLESS(2010), STARSTRUCK (2011), TOUCHED (2012), and her most recent release: DEAD RIVER (2013).e. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters.

She also writes under the pen name Nichola Reilly. Nichola Reilly is Cyn Balog’s post-apocalyptic fantasy-writing alter-ego. The first book in her series, DROWNED, will be releasing from Harlequin TEEN sometime in 2014, followed by a sequel, BURIED, in 2015.


Find Nichola:

Website | Twitter | Facebook


 The Giveaway

Each tour stop is offering up a copy of DROWNED, and one winner will receive a fantastic Grand Prize Package including the following HarlequinTEEN titles: 2 copies of DROWNED as well as copies of RAIN, THE AFTERMATH, THE DARK WORLD and OCEANBORN.

Super Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour for more chances to win:

Monday, June 23rd – Alice Marvels – Character Interview
Wednesday, June 25th – Parajunkee – Guest Post
Friday June 27th – The Cozy Reader – Guest Post

Monday, June 30th – Chapter by Chapter – Guest Post
Wednesday, July 2nd – Reader Girls Blog – Guest Post
Friday July 4th – Such a Novel Idea – Author Interview