So, it's 2:00 and I'm just now getting to my computer for the day, which is very strange for me since I live at my computer. Anyway, I've been asked a lot recently about writing a blind hero. I don't closely know anyone who is blind, but I did try to become aware of what a blind person would have to go through on an daily basis. Our very own Jenius Jax joined some other friends and blindfolded me one night at a retreat. They had fun and I gained insight.

When I was writing Ian (my blind hero), I watched Daredevil several times and I thought back on At First Sight with Val Kilmer. I was watching Ray for the first time a few days ago, and it made me think of Ian in Sounds to Die By. I know one person who lost her vision as she aged, but I don’t know anyone who has been blind for most of their life. I relied on movies and my own imagination to make sure I captured Ian’s character correctly and handled his lack of vision as accurately and believably as possible.

When I watched Daredevil, I paid attention to how things sounded and how he could judge where things were because of sound waves, but I didn’t go so far as to give Ian an actual visual sensation from the sounds. That was one of my favorite things they did in that movie, but I wanted Ian to have to get through life without that sort of advantage. I also needed to get inside Ian’s head, so I blindfolded myself a few times to see what I noticed when I didn’t rely on my vision to get me through the house. I would shower and dress with all the lights off and my eyes closed to consider even the small challenges a blind person would deal with.

I felt that I’d done a pretty good job of writing a blind hero, and after watching Ray, I’m even more confident that I did. Jamie Foxx (Ray) was on a bus at one point and the driver asked him how he got around without a cane or guide dog—something Ian does in the book by choice at times. He explained how everything makes a different sort of sound and that he wore hard-soled shoes because they made sound vibrations off the walls so when he came to a doorway the sound changed. I used the sounds waves vibrating in the air around him as the explanation in the book, but Ray’s sense of hearing was a lot like what I did with Ian’s character. For example, he was in a restaurant on a date and made a comment about the Hummingbird outside the window. His date was surprised that he could hear it, but he sort of shrugged it off with the remark that you just had to listen. Ian does the same kind of things to Kieralyn.

Sounds to Die By has by far been my most challenging story to write, but it has also been extremely rewarding. In doing a few simple exercises of blindness, my writing improved because I had to find new ways to describe things, but I also came to appreciate the things we take for granted a little more. Like a great song.

For example, I love the song Do You Know by Enrique Iglesias. If you listen to it normally, you hear the ping pong ball bouncing at the beginning, but you can easily lose the sound of it when the music and lyrics kick in. By closing your eyes and concentrating on that ping pong ball, the rhythm and feel of it before the song kicks into full swing, you can hear the ball beneath the lyrics and music. You feel its rhythm more viscerally. Try it. I’d love to know if the same is true for you.

Available Now!
Sounds to Die By, Sensory Ops book 1
Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60504-677-8
Samhain | Kindle Version | Books on Board

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