When I’m doing research, I often find myself researching the small details. Well, but bulk of my research for my Snow White retelling has been big details about small people: namely little people.
I have become a frequent visitor to LPA, or Little People of America. It’s a fabulous website, chock full of information and things I, being typically sized, would never have thought of.
Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism, but there are many different causes of short stature. Most of the dwarfs in my story have this form of dwarfism. Two characters are merely short. In my story, a female with Achondroplasia is married to a typical man who is short. They have a six foot son. When one person with this condition has a child with someone that does not, the chance of a child with Achondroplasia is 50%.
People with this condition often develop lower back problems. There are certain adaptive products available to little people. These chairs not only have short legs, but they have short seat backs, high arm rests, and sometimes built-in footrests. I never would have guessed the high arm rests, but I learned that many people with Achondroplasia have upper arms and legs that are shorter than their lower arms and legs.
I also looked into mobility products, but since my story takes place in times past, I don’t need to read about things like pedal extenders and extra seat cushions in cars to accommodate driving–but I did anyway. A good many people with Achondroplasia also have to use walkers.
But really, the reason I wanted to write about little people has little to do with the Snow White story. When I came up with the Accidental Enchantments theme, I drew some sketches of some characters I had in mind for four stories. One was the prince in Snow White, who I have mostly kept intact with my original vision. However, I only had 1500 words written. I couldn’t make the story work until I came up with Gretchen, a young woman with Achondroplasia. Then, I was able to write the rough draft in six weeks.
And I wanted to write about such a person because they are rare enough to be memorable, yet so rare in fiction. When I have an interaction with a little person, I remember it for years and years. I realize that this is probably both a burden and a blessing to such people. But because of these people who remain fixed in my memory, I wanted to write this story. I’m glad Snow White gave me the impetus to do so, but i wanted them to be genuine characters, not caricatures. And I wanted them to be the main characters.
I just hope I don’t botch it.