A Young Boy in a Wheelchair Makes a Difference in Young Adult Fiction

A Young Boy in a Wheelchair Makes a Difference in Young Adult Fiction

Today, I share with you an interview I did with young adult fiction author, Glenn Wood. I read his book The Brain Sucker with interest because the main character is disabled and uses a wheelchair (and wait until you see how cool this wheelchair is- yes! I said cool!).

I love the positive message The Brain Sucker sends to younger audiences, just as Frankie, my dachshund in a wheelchair, did through her books, also. Instilling in kids that no matter what their challenge, they can do good things, too!

I’m excited to welcome Glenn to Joyful Paws! I hope you enjoy the interview.

Barbara: I have to say it’s been quite a few years since I’ve read a young adult fiction book. What intrigued me about your book, The Brain Sucker is the fact the main character Callum, is disabled and gets around in a wheelchair. As you might know, I had a dachshund named Frankie who got around the same way, but in a wheelchair made just for dogs. She inspired me and helped me become a better person. Why did you choose to have your main character as someone with special needs and in a wheelchair?

Glenn: I wanted a main character who had already experienced an enormous amount of difficulty in his life but had faced this adversity with courage and resolve. Callum refuses to be held back by his physical limitations (a bit like Frankie) and attacks life head on. I think this makes him an inspirational and likeable character.

Barbara: In a few different parts of the book Callum has a hard time accepting being helped, wanting to do things himself. One of the things I learned from Frankie is that asking for help isn’t a weakness, but rather helps us to grow and evolve. Can you speak to what you want young readers to understand through Callum?

Glenn: One of the key themes in the book is that it’s okay to ask for help. I wanted to demonstrate that with your friends beside you, you can achieve almost anything. Callum is fiercely independent to the point of bull-headedness. While this is understandable, it does get him in a lot of trouble.

Barbara: Can you tell us more about Callum’s wheelchair called Thunderkit? While having a wheelchair can sometimes be viewed as a negative, Callum’s wheelchair sounds like it looks really cool.

Glenn: The Thunderkit is based on a wheelchair called a Trekinetic K2 All Terrain, which in my opinion is one of the coolest wheelchairs on the planet. I was lucky enough to meet Mike Spindle, the designer and CEO of Trekinetic, while researching the book. His inspiration for the Trekinetic came when he saw a very fashionable teenage boy in a horrible, clunky old wheelchair and challenged himself to design something that looked more stylish and had vastly improved functionality. The resulting chair is incredible and has improved the lives of thousands of disabled people. This is the website for the Trekinetic – http://www.trekinetic.com/


Barbara: So the theme of the book is that there is this sinister man named Lester Smythe who wants to rid the world of goodness with a special machine he invented that sucks the goodness right out of people’s brains. Made me a bit squeamish until I reminded myself this is only fiction! Ha! But, what lesson is it that you wish for young readers to understand about goodness?

Glenn: I think it is a classic good versus evil story but hopefully done in a unique and entertaining way.  My message is for kids to think about how horrible it would be to live in a world devoid of human kindness.

Barbara: I loved the other two main characters in the book! Sophie, who is not your typical girl, but one who would be considered more of a “tomboy” if I can say it that way without it sounding judgmental because I admire all that she can do and how authentic she is! And then there is Jinx… and I’ll let the name speak for itself so others will want to read the book and see what he is all about. Were these characters based on anyone you personally know?

Glenn: Sophie is a combination of several very talented women I know. I wanted a strong female character who was brilliant, brave, loyal and fun. She’s one of my favorite characters. Sadly, Jinx is based on me. I’ve always been plagued by bad luck and spend a lot of time injured or in trouble!

Barbara: I don’t want to give the ending away, but am relieved we will still have goodness in the world thanks to Callum, Sophie and Jinx. I’m wondering if you are planning on a sequel and if so, would you consider having a dog in a wheelchair as a character and partner to this amazing trio?

Glenn: A second book following the continuing adventures of Sophie, Callum and Jinx has been published in Australia and New Zealand.  It’s called The Bully Chip and I have plans to release it in the USA in the near future.

Barbara: What is the message you most want young readers to take away from reading The Brain Sucker?

Glenn: The book is an action adventure and the most important thing for me is that my readers to enjoy the story. I’d also like them to think about Callum’s character and next time they see someone in a wheelchair to consider the person first and not their disability.

Barbara: Is there anything else you wish to share either about the book, your writing life, or what’s next for you?

My next project is a book for slightly older kids called DeadHead. It was fun to write so I’m hoping it’ll be equally fun to read!  Thanks for your questions Barbara, it was a pleasure to answer them.

Barbara: Thank you again for being here today, Glenn! Wishing you much success with sharing The Brain Sucker with young audiences and with future projects.
glennTo learn more about Glenn Wood please visit his website.

You can purchase The Brain Sucker on Amazon for Kindle or paperback.