A relative of Patricia’s — who was at the profound end of the Down’s syndrome spectrum inspired the seeds of Lottery, though she is careful to point out that Perry isn’t based on him. However, she thought of him, and the responses others had to him. There were a lot of day-to-day things he couldn’t do by himself. As he got older, the stakes went up to find something so he could earn a small living. But they failed to find the right thing. Finally, someone thought to have Bic send them a bunch of pen parts. “This was the era when they’d send you all the parts and you’d get paid for how many boxes you would fill. He could put together Bic Pens faster than anyone else,” she says. “Lottery isn’t a book only about a financial one, it’s also about the lottery in life, the genetic lottery, the windfall one receives when they find something where they can achieve some success.”
Pat also made sure that she wrote about Perry’s sexuality. “Sex is a desire of those with mental challenges. It was important for me to include it. People like Perry want love, they want a girlfriend, they are curious about sex and they want it.” She points out that the perceptions and also many of the depictions on television and movies typically choose to render the disabled sexless.
Though Pat says that the story’s the thing, she hopes that it’s a vehicle for deeper thought and discussion. Perhaps the readers who will gain the most from Lottery are those with little or no experience with those with different abilities. “Love transcends mental acuity, age, weight, education, even morality.” The real lottery is when people go beyond fences that hold them back.
Patricia Wood’s book Lottery is available in paperback now.