An Action Hero with Type 1 Diabetes

After countless movies and books where people with Type 1 diabetes are portrayed as victims, we finally have a hero. Author KJ Howe has made the main protagonist in her latest novel, Freedom Broker, a woman with Type 1 diabetes.

In this thriller, Thea Paris (not pictured above) is an elite specialist who negotiates freedom for kidnap victims and leads extraction teams when diplomacy fails. She also hides her Type 1 diabetes from her team, squeezing in glucose level checks and insulin injections between life-and-death fights with bad guys. As the action unfolds, Paris must use her skills to find her father, who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances, before it is too late.

The following is a condensed extract from Freedom Broker:

Smoke seeped into the boiler room, forcing Thea and Mamadou to leave their hideaway. They breathed through wet cloths while they prepared to leave. Most fire victims died from smoke inhalation rather than the actual fire. Lethargic, her blood sugar skyrocketing, she cursed herself for leaving the insulin upstairs.

“I hope you’re not claustrophobic.”

“The air vent?” the Prime Minister asked.

“Looks like our only way out.”

She slid her SAT phone and cell phone into the back of her pants, looped her bag over her shoulder. Then she grabbed the AK-47 she’d taken from the soldier and hopped on the box. A wave of dizziness washed over her. She ignored it. No time for symptoms now.

“I’ll go first, lead the way. You okay to crawl through the vent?”

“I might be old, my dear, but I’m limber.” His eyes glistened like a mirage in the middle of a desert. She wasn’t sure if the dampness was from smoke or emotion.

“Just follow me, and move quietly. I’ll search for a vent that leads outside.”

The heavy vegetation and the falls due west of the hotel gave them the best chance of exiting the building safely until backup could arrive.

Crawling through the claustrophobic ventilation system certainly wouldn’t make Thea’s top ten list of fun things to do. Her breath sounded heavy and raspy as it echoed against the metal boxing her in. Ironic that an airshaft should feel like it had no air.

She led the way with her cell phone’s flashlight, Mamadou following close behind. At the first junction, she turned left, then kept following the route that would take them westward.

Voices sounded from below. She froze, flicked off her light, and strained to listen. The words weren’t decipherable, but she recognized the familiar tones of Swahili.

A soft touch on her ankle. Mamadou letting her know he understood they needed to pause. Seconds felt like hours as they waited to see what would happen. Four shots fired in the distance. The men in the room underneath them shouted at each other. Loud footsteps pounded as they exited the room.

It killed her not knowing what was happening outside.

She waited another two minutes to make sure the men were gone. Sweat from her forehead dripped onto the steel. Okay, onwards. She scrambled forward on all fours, heading away from the fire, searching for an external vent where they could slip out, hopefully unnoticed.

Intense thirst overwhelmed her, and she had to pee. Not good signs. Her bloodsugar levels were rising in the absence of her insulin dose. She needed to return to her room or the great hall and give herself an injection. But first, she had to get the Prime Minister to safety.

You can buy Freedom Broker online at Books a Million or You can also read a sample chapter at the author’s website.

Do you have an idea you would like to write about for Insulin Nation? Send your pitch to

Thanks for reading this Insulin Nation article. Want more Type 1 news? Subscribe here.

Have Type 2 diabetes or know someone who does? Try Type 2 Nation, our sister publication.

KJ Howe earned a Master's in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. While there, she also won several writing awards, including three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense. While honing her fiction skills, KJ worked as a medical, health, and fitness writer. She also has served as Executive Director of ThrillerFest, the organization’s annual conference held every July in New York City. You can learn more about her work at

Related Articles

Back to top button