A Canterbury author is making challenging social stereotypes a central theme to his writing.
Born severely deaf, David R Ewens uses his series of Frank Sterling crime stories to examine “unpalatable” issues and try to defy depictions of disability and impairment in mainstream literature.
The 65-year-old’s characters include a criminal wideboy with Downs Syndrome, an anti-social wheelchair user, and other complex personalities who “dare to defy their expected behaviours”.
His books are also unafraid to explore issues such as Islamophobia, racial hatred and xenophobia.
David, who lives in the Westgate area of Canterbury, said: “My books are not focused on impairment and nor are their central protagonists physically or intellectually impaired.
“But they include disabled or differently-abled characters who, crucially, dare to defy their expected behaviours.
“It is my view that more books should feature – and embrace – disabled characters, and this can only become custom and practice with the help, support and guidance of the mainstream publishers.”
David was speaking at the launch of his fifth book, The Golden Spurs.
He has been writing books since he was 58 after retiring from a career in higher education.
His detective novels – set in Kent, East Anglia and Belgium – feature the private investigator Frank Sterling and are inspired by his interest in politics, local, national and international, inequality in all its aspects, and current affairs.
But they also draw on his own experiences of sensory impairment and the challenges of life in a hearing world.
The father-of-one has been deaf since birth, but managed to “scrape by” with a rudimentary form of lip-reading until 2011 when his life was transformed by a cochlear implant.
David added: “A cochlear implant will never define me in much the same way that wheelchair users should not be defined by the wheels on which they move.
“We are all different and it is this diversity that the wider publishing industry continues, with honourable exceptions, to overlook, often by stereotyping characters or, worse, including disabled people because doing so satisfies a ‘quota’ or a perceived social expectation.”