How important are architecture and décor to the way we perceive the world around us? How do these things impact our comfort? These questions came into sharp focus in my mind when my mother decided to update the house I grew up in. Truth be told, she never liked the shingled décor of our house, a fact I only recently learned. Fortunately or not, the opportunity to correct what she saw as a flaw in the building’s original design came when the last coat of paint refused to adhere to the house’s fifty-year-old shingles. Each time the rain fell water seeped under the paint, first bubbling then peeling the thin coating. Neither sanding nor repainting alleviated the problem. Finally, mom decided to take bold action. The house is currently being resurfaced with stucco.
There is no doubt; we live in a visual world. For most of us our eyes are the first sensory organs to take in and interpret our environment. But, what is this world like for someone without sight? How are things sighted people take for granted perceived by those without sight? Are they?
In my Blind Traveler mystery series (Blind Traveler Down a Dark River and Blind Traveler’s Blues) the protagonist, Douglas Abledan, is a blind man who was born sighted. Before losing his vision, Douglas developed an appreciation for art and architecture. I wanted him to keep those interests in his newly darkened world, but I had to figure out how to do that.
I studied the other senses people make use of: touch, smell, taste, and hearing. I decided to show my readers that a widely held belief, that remaining senses become stronger when one sense is lost, is a myth. To do this, Douglas had to learn to pay closer attention to his remaining senses. So, in order to acquaint himself with his environment and learn about the architecture and décor around him, Douglas uses his hands. He pays attention to what his fingers tell him. He feels the textures of artworks and buildings. He reacts to the temperatures various materials relay to his fingertips. So, if Douglas were visiting my house he would pay close attention to the materials used to construct the building. He would feel the roughness of the stucco. His fingers would perceive every curve, nook and cranny of each architectural feature.
Filed under Life, Writing
The other day two things happened. First, I had a radio gig that I had been eagerly anticipating. It went well despite a timing snafu and I was happy I did it. I enjoy doing radio interviews. They keep me on my toes, thinking and I enjoy the idea that many people will hear what I have to say. So, the thing went great, until I heard back from the interviewer the next day telling me that the show had not been recorded properly and would not air. I was assured this had happened to several of the guests that day so I shouldn’t feel too bad, but I did. I asked if I would have an opportunity to be re-interviewed. Still waiting for an answer.
On the other hand, I was sent a pre-release review of my book, Blind Traveler’s Blues, and I think when the review comes out people will be happy with it. I sure was. I’m always happy to get reviews. What author isn’t? What makes me even happier is that each time I get reviewed the reviewer finds a different aspect of the book to concentrate on. This time it was the environmental aspect. I enjoyed reading what she had to say. And, in a follow-up email I received she said she would be picking up my first book, Blind Traveler Down a Dark River, as well. How cool is that!!
What is it about Wednesdays that makes a person slow down? I’m sitting here trying to think about what I want to write next. Alas, my brain is in full-blown revolt.
I have a thread coming together for the next Abledan book, but it is still only a tiny thread. Keep finding new information about Antarctica and new technologies for the blind (like a “smart” white cane complete with cell phone) that I think would be cool for the new book, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.
I’m thinking I need a vacation, but who can afford that these days.
Filed under Life, Writing
I am about to come out with a new Douglas Abledan short story.
What is it like to be blind? What does the world feel like? What does it smell like? These are questions I constantly need to ask myself as I write about my blind protagonist, Douglas Abledan. I could use help in answering these questions. I’m officially inviting people to become part of my creative process. Tell me what new mysteries you think a blind man can solve. Tell me what challenges a blind detective might have that a seeing person might not. What tools would be useful to him and what tools wouldn’t be? While I am asking for feedback, I must mention that I reserve the right to accept or reject any ideas I receive. Also, any ideas submitted become the property of Robert Bennett and Enabling Words and may be used without compensation. So, now, let the conversation begin.