Fiercely independent Helen Winters was born completely blind, but she vowed never to let her disability keep her down. She did not expect a traumatic event to devastate her life and force her to drop out of college. Disillusioned by the cruelty of people, Helen retreated from society to live by herself as a reclusive writer in the woods—where no one could ever hurt her again.
When a brilliant young doctor shows up on her doorstep, promising her that his new research can give her the ability to see for the first time, Helen stubbornly refuses. She has learned not to trust anyone, and to rely only on herself. But Dr. Liam Larson will not take no for an answer. He makes it his personal mission to rescue Helen from her loneliness, and bring joy into her world once more—the joy she has denied herself for so long.
When Helen’s demons come racing back into her life, threatening to rip her apart and destroy the strength she has carefully rebuilt, Liam is the only one who might be able to save her.
Can he reach the broken girl in time, helping her to heal and see the world in a different light? Or will Helen’s grief send her spiraling out of control, lost to him forever?
“I wish Owen would stop babbling so that I could actually talk to you for five minutes,” Liam muttered. “You’re such an interesting person.”
“Me?” I ask in confusion. “I’m just your average hermit writer.”
"Exactly,” he says. I hear a smile in his voice. “I don’t know too many of those. You’re part of a very rare species.”
I look down to hide my embarrassment. I can feel him staring at me; the tension is beginning to grow thick in our small quarters. He is sitting very close to me, even if we are separated by the back of his seat. When Owen was in the car with us, the atmosphere was light and funny. But now, it’s dark and intense; it’s laced with something I don’t understand and don’t want to discover. I try to think of something to say to take his focus away from me and my life. “It’s just a job,” I say dumbly.
He scoffs. “Just a job? Helen, I work with other doctors every day. We heal people, and it should be glamorous; we should feel like heroes. But in truth, it gets... mechanical. At some point, you start to question how important your work really is. I mean, you can heal a person’s body... but that doesn’t really heal the person. We aren’t just bodies, you know? That’s where your books come into play.” He pauses, and I can feel him giving me an earnest look. “Books are medicine for the soul. They heal the eternal parts of a person.”
“Liam,” I say in surprise.
“You are a doctor of sorts, too,” he tells me, “except for the fact that your work persists. If a person reads a good book—they become permanently changed. They can’t even help it. They can’t unlearn what they’ve learned. It will always be with them. Our bodies all crumble and fade, and we’ll all eventually lose our eyesight near the end, along with many other basic bodily functions. But I like to think that even when we’re gone, the soul retains some of that wisdom—some of that feeling. What I do is simple science, but what you do is... magic.”
“Stop talking,” I whisper. “Seriously, stop talking right now.”
“Why?” he says, somewhat hurt at the interruption.
“Because I’m pretty sure that if you keep talking like this... I’ll have to marry you, or something,” I explain nervously. “So just zip it.”
#1. Why did you choose to write about a blind heroine?
Due to the first person narrative, the whole story is colored by the filter of the main character’s point of view. It can make for an excellent reading experience to have a unique personality who is special or charming in some way—maybe they’re just incredibly witty or perceptive. Maybe they’re a hilarious pessimist or self-deprecating downer. I thought it would be challenging and rewarding to allow the reader to experience the story without vision to really put us inside Helen’s world. I feel that since we get to know other characters based on who they are instead of what they look like, there is a greater potential for deep connections.
#2. The first scene of your story is very heartbreaking and difficult to read. Why did you choose to write about the subject matter of rape?
I posted on one of my Facebook fan pages about rape once, and I had several of my readers message me in private and share their experiences. It was quite shocking and disturbing, and I was simply stunned at the frequency of these horrible events. While I do believe there is little I can do to prevent this type of behavior by simply writing, I hope that I can advocate compassion and caring for the victims of abuse by showing the way it has affected Helen.
#3. It was interesting to read about Helen’s retreat deep in the woods. What made you choose this location?
The concept of a reclusive writer living peacefully tucked away in the woods has always been enchanting to me. I often dream of having a similar little writing haven someday. I think being surrounded by nature and removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the annoyances of people would be the ideal situation for any writer. The specific location of New Hampshire was inspired by Walt’s cabin in Breaking Bad. The winter scenery was so gorgeous; and just outside the window, the sky has been dumping heaps of magical snow on us for months. I couldn’t resist writing about such a pretty landscape and sanctuary for a girl who likes to call herself Winter.
#4. What about your male lead? Why did you choose to make him a doctor?
I briefly dated an ophthalmologist who shared plenty of interesting surgery stories with me. However, he was boastful and condescending, and simply a horrible person. It was like he used his job and helping people solely as a lure to impress chicks. Sometimes, when people disappoint me in real life, I like to reimagine them as better and more likable people and write them into stories. Liam is a man who wants to help Helen because improving someone’s life will give him joy—not because he gets something in return. (However, I did put some of the negative attributes of my doctor into Owen’s character!)
#5. What’s next for Helen?
You will simply have to read on to see where her story leads. Helen has a difficult struggle ahead of her, coming to terms with her past and trying to move forward into a brighter future. She is a clever and strong girl, and if anyone can do it, I know she can!
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