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The Hidden Gems Author Podcast

Episode 51 – How Understanding Trauma Can Help You Write More Authentic Characters

Hosted by: Craig Tuch and Roland Hulme with special guest Virginia Cruse & Katie Salidas

To write deep and engaging characters that readers can connect with, we must first create empathy. This is commonly done by giving those characters detailed backstories, sometimes filled with the same sort of difficult histories and traumas that we’ve faced within our own lives. To do so, however, authors have to tread carefully – ensuring that they’re handling these complex and potentially triggering issues as sensitively as possible, and that they understand them enough to write about them accurately, even if they lack personal experience in the specific issue relating to their character.

To understand the best ways to handle these types of topics, we’ve invited two subject-matter experts to the podcast. After writing A Soldier’s Guide to PTSD, veteran and licensed professional counselor Virginia Cruse turned to USA Today bestselling author Katie Salidas for help on expanding her work to a wider audience. Through their partnership, the women were able to translate the more clinical or technical jargon into language that was easier to understand, eventually leading to the publication of Acknowledge and Heal: A Women-Focused Guide to Understanding PTSD.

In today’s episode, Virginia and Katie help explain how understanding the “why behind the what” of our behavior (that is, how our past trauma and experience guide how we act) is the key to writing believable and engaging characters that connect with readers without scaring them away.

Virginia Cruse

Katie Salidas

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