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Author With Fibromyalgia Writes Romance Novel Featuring Protagonist With Chronic Pain

Author Talia Hibbert knows firsthand what it’s like to live with chronic illness as she has both fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Her upcoming romance novel, “Get a Life, Chloe Brown,” follows protagonist Chloe who has chronic pain and is ready to change her life after a near-death experience. Some of the things Chloe wants to conquer include having a drunken night out, enjoying some meaningless and pleasurable sex, and doing something bad.

For years, Hibbert struggled to find a diagnosis for her own health concerns when doctor after doctor wrote off her complaints as “no big deal” or thought she was lying.

“That period of my life felt like constant mental torture,” Hibbert told The Mighty. “What was happening to me? Could it ever get better? Was I honestly imagining it all? For years, I had no idea, and that was terrifying. When I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I cried with sheer relief.”

It was that struggle to find a diagnosis that led Hibbert to include what she calls “medical discrimination” in her upcoming novel. “I felt it was important to include because, with invisible illnesses like fibromyalgia, a lot of the difficulty comes from society’s ignorance,” she said. “We often can’t get help because no-one believes we need it.”

This is a feeling many of those living with a chronic illness may share. A lot of the time it can feel as though the world believes one thing while those with chronic illness deal with another.

Hibbert used much of her background dealing with her chronic illness, specifically fibromyalgia, when it came to her character’s journey. She not only wanted to highlight the experience of getting a diagnosis, but also show readers what it’s like to deal with pain management. She calls the management of pain both complex and personal, which is why her novel explores how there isn’t just one answer when it comes to pain.

The protagonist, Chloe, does a variety of things throughout the novel to help manage her pain, and Hibbert made sure no one judged her character for it. “Bodily autonomy is so casually taken away from unwell people,” she said. “I wanted Chloe’s story to feature lots of it.”

As a romance author, Hibbert believes in being inclusive in a variety of ways. “No marginalization, be it race or size or ability, makes a person unworthy of being loved, admired or desired,” she said. “Anyone can be a hero.” This is reflected in her novel.

Having a protagonist with chronic pain will not only offer readers insight into life with a chronic condition, but also demonstrate that those with illnesses and disabilities have similar romantic and sexual desires as those who are healthy.

As a romance novel, Hibbert also wanted her book to show the importance of being loved when you live with a chronic illness. A lot of those dealing with chronic pain may feel as though they are a burden. This novel specifically highlights how a relationship can develop if an individual accepts and works to understand the needs of their partner with chronic illness. A chronic illness doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker in a relationship, but how a partner responds to your illness can be.

“Get a Life, Chloe Brown” will be released on Nov. 5, 2019. You can pre-order it for $14.99 from multiple online retailers.

LEAD PHOTOS VIA HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

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