It was suggested that I write a post about the musical influences behind my new book, She Is Not Invisible, and this is a great suggestion, not only because I love music, but also because every book I’ve written has had music either hidden in it or proudly displayed in it. In my eleventh novel, White Crow, for example, I was even able to create a Spotify playlist of the songs that meant everything to Ferelith, the book’s anti-heroine.
But music doesn’t feature in She Is Not Invisible. Neither does sight. That’s because the heroine of the story is a 16-year-old blind girl, called Laureth.
There’s always a sense, when you’re writing a book, that you’re not doing it properly. One of my big hang ups is the sense that I am not describing new characters, places or scenes in general ‘fully’. It’s a kind of tyranny that we’re supposed to work to, to bring a scene ‘to life’ by our accurate description of what the characters are seeing.
Since Laureth has been blind since birth, this question simply never arose in She Is not Invisible. The whole book has to let the sense of sight go completely unused; and here’s the thing I found interesting: only when it was done did I realise that far from finding that limiting, I actually found it liberating. What a joy, for once, to be free to not talk about vision, and maybe dwell on other senses a bit more instead, sense like hearing.
And talking of hearing, music did inspire the book, though indirectly. I had been struggling to write anything for a couple of years; I simply did not know what to do any more, never mind how to do it, and during that time, I read a lot about creativity, and inspiration. I scared myself by reading about composers like Rossini who composed very little for the last thirty years of his life or Sibelius, who composed nothing for the last forty years of his. And then one day I was you tubing and came across this video of an interview and recording session by one of my favourite bands; The Mars Volta. I like this interview for two reasons, first because Cedric is so honest about having a really hard time trying to work out how to sing the song Cotopaxi (which to be fair, is in a really odd time signature), but most of all I like it for Omar describing what it is they do. They go into a recording studio, and they play. Not play as in ‘play music’, but play as in ‘have fun’, play as in ‘not work’. That’s the key to creativity and hearing this was what finally helped me pick up my laptop again, and start writing a new book, by having fun with writing again.
So this one is for Cedric and Omar J