Matt Wixon has never met “Teddy,” a boy with Down syndrome who is the main character of his new novel, 3 Seats from the Hero, but the author says he can hear Teddy’s voice, see his face, and imagine the way he interacts with everyone.
“Teddy is fictional, but he feels very real to me,” Wixon said. “I wrote about a seven-year period in his life and that felt like spending time with him. It’s strange to find yourself rooting for a character when you’re the writer of the story, but that’s how it felt.”
Wixon’s wife is a special-education teacher who works with children of varied abilities, and as a journalist for the Dallas Morning News, he got to know a young man with Down syndrome. Those were among the inspirations for the book, and especially the charming character of Teddy, who is described as “the baseball star’s little brother, the boy who dreams bigger than his challenges, the boy who longs to prove he is more than special.”
The author believes that people with different abilities are not represented enough in books and movies, and often they are not portrayed accurately. That was added motivation to make Teddy the centre of the novel, but Wixon said he didn’t want it to be a novel about Down syndrome.
“It’s a novel about Teddy and all the people around him,” Wixon said. “I wanted Teddy to be like everyone else because people with Down syndrome are like everyone else. Teddy has strengths and weaknesses just like all of us, and he makes mistakes and learns from them, as we all try to do.”
The novel follows Teddy and his best friend Michael, along with their families, during the inevitable highs and lows of growing up. The book is described as “a story of parents and children, brothers and sisters, the things that bring us together and the heroes who emerge when we’re falling apart.”
The title of the book comes from Teddy’s love of superheroes, along with his great desire to be the hero himself. But Wixon said the title applies to all the characters, and he hopes readers will see that 3 Seats from the Hero is a story about families and friendships, understanding and redemption, and the heroic potential in each of us.
Teddy, the character he knows so well, is at the heart of it all.
“I wanted to fully develop all the characters so I could show how much they were affected over the years by Teddy. All the characters grow and change throughout the novel, and at the centre of those changes is Teddy,” Wixon said. “Teddy might not always realise it, but he is a giant force in the lives of the people whom he loves and in the community beyond. He’s a great example for all of us, because we all have our own special gifts and heroism comes in many forms.”
3 Seats from the Hero is available in both paperback and eBook form at Amazon.com.