So Why No Novels With Speech Therapy Protagonists?

In a recent press release from The Association of American Publishers, it’s clear that digital downloads of books to mass market reading devices continues apace. From February 2010 to 2011, there has been a 202.3% increase in sales of eBooks. Not only that, eBooks are now ranked as the number one format for all categories of trade publishing, which includes adult hardcover, adult paperbacks, adult mass market, children’s/young adult hardcover, and children’s/young adult paperbacks. For those who like their number to be preceded by a $ symbol, eBooks raked in over $90 million in cold, hard cash over the year.

e-book imahe

eBooks dominate

Yet amongst the plethora of vampires, werewolves, wimpy kids, celebrity chefs, management gurus, and impossible heroines, there doesn’t appear to be ONE protagonist who is a Speech Therapist. Not one. Now, if a Whitehouse chef can be the main character in a story (e.g. “Eggsecutive Orders”) why not a Speech Therapist?

Are we not smart enough?

Miranda triumphantly slammed the digital recorder onto Chief Hardcastle’s desk and leaned forward.

“Your killer is not from New York but Boston. If you or your band of hopeless idiots had listened carefully to the demands, you’d have noticed that the ‘r’ sound is almost absent, a feature called ‘non-rhoticity’ and common among Bostonians. So I recommend you tell you slobbering neanderthals to spend less time commenting about my ‘pretty little head’ and take notice of my ‘pretty little ears!'”

With a one-sided smirk of sheer pleasure, Miranda turn around, walked away from the open-mouthed detective, and flipped him the bird as she flounced through the door.

Are we not exciting enough?

Miranda slammed another clip into the Walther and took a deep breath. It took her less than a second to peek around the corner of the desk and count the number of thugs looking for her. Three.

There would be no margin for error. If she wanted to get out alive, she had no choice but to take out all of them. Years of training had sharpened her hearing to the point where she could pick out the sounds of their feet as they tried to move as silently as possible through the room.

But it wasn’t silent enough.

She lobbed a stapler over to the far side of the room, knowing that as it clattered to the floor, her assailants would be distracted for a few seconds. Time enough to act!

Are we not sexy enough?

Brad  took her in his arms and moved his head to whisper softly into her ears. His voice was soft. mellow, and controlled after spending years as a voice specialist. Without even having to think, he knew just how to pitch and modulate the timbre of his words to enchant and captivate his victim.

And as she closed her eyes, expectant for the soft kisses to come, Brad gently licked the soft skin of her delicate neck, in preparation for tasting her warm, sweet blood…

Surely there has to be at least ONE budding author out there who can do for Speech Therapy what Anthony Zuiker has done for Crime Scene Investigators? And who would have thought that some spotty-faced kid with a stick and a weird birthmark on his forehead could spawn a billion dollar franchise and make J.K. Rowling richer than Oprah? Is there not room for just ONE heroic Speech Therapist?

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue

Hollywood's typical "Speech Therapist"

Feel free to borrow “Miranda Winchester” and “Brad Márquez” as characters. Just makes sure “The Speech Dudes” get a mention somewhere.

Postscript: June 22nd, 2011
“The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai” is the debut novel by Ruiyan Xu. It is about the interactions between Chinese-speaking three characters, one of whom has Broca’s aphasia but can still talk in English. Here’s a synopsis from the writer:

And a review from the UK’s “Independent” newspaper.

Postscript: July 8th, 2012
The offer of taking Miranda and Brad as characters is hereby rescinded; I’m working on Miranda myself. No promises but hopefully by christmas…

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2 responses to “So Why No Novels With Speech Therapy Protagonists?

  1. Reblogged this on J. R. Yates and commented:
    As I had mentioned in my post on How I Came To Write Unspeakable, the seed of the idea for my novel was inspired by a comment made by my esteemed colleague, CBW (or as I like to say, CB-Dub). CBW astutely observed that there were no speech-language pathologists (SLP) as protagonists in novels. In fact, she wished that someone out there, for once, would portray us as the sexy creatures that we are (or would like to think we are). Hence, the seed was planted and I began writing Unspeakable (click here for my post on how it went from the seed of an idea to a full-length manuscript).

    Part way through the writing process, I did a Google search on speech-language Pathologists as protagonists and came across this post by the Speech Dudes. It’s a bit dated, but I like the humor and they too have noticed the same thing. We can be sexy and exciting! Just give us a chance!

    So, I hope to heed the call with Unspeakable. Hanna, is a bit naïve at the outset (as most of us are) and overwhelmed with the demands of the job and the diverse clientele that many of us are expected to serve. (You wouldn’t ask a Neurologist to be an expert in Gynecology, yet the same SLP may see a child with autism, an adult with Aphasia, a person with feeding issues, and person who stutters all in the same day.) She flounders at first, but her heart is the right place – she wants to ‘save’ all of her patients, but as any seasoned professional knows, that isn’t possible.

    And so, I leave you with this. The Speech Dudes contributed some scenes as the SLP as the protagonist and I thought I would contribute my own, tongue-in-cheek version, for CBW. She has often teased me that there should be a sexy scene with ‘a dangling uvula’. We’ve had several fits of laughter in the clinic cafeteria about this, but I still refuse to put such a scene in my novel. But here’s one, just for fun (and yes, it meant to be cheesy!) Enjoy!

    “Come closer,” she said, leaning towards him.

    He inched closer, but the small distance between them seemed like a giant chasm. She needed him to be near her. She placed her latex gloved hand firmly on his cheek and urged him toward her.

    He couldn’t deny her. If this is what she wanted, he had to comply.

    “Good,” she whispered. She could feel his breath flutter against her skin. “Now open for me.”

    He parted his soft lips, revealing the moist expanse of his mouth. Finally, she had what she wanted. An unobstructed view of his supple tongue, and there, nestled in the back, between the perfectly rounded orbs of his tonsils, their presence simply highlighting the immense size of the long and ample rod-like structure dangling there. That which gives a special vibration to our words, our sounds; the epicenter of the mouth: his glorious uvula.

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