Friday, 18 October 2013

Guest Post: Marcus Sedgwick Talks Research and Writing She Is Not Invisible!

I'm a big fan of Marcus Sedgwick and his many books and am very lucky to have him on my blog today - thanks Marcus! His new book, She Is Not Invisible, was published in the UK on October 3rd - how nice is the cover?! Another fantastic release from Indigo!

Here's what it's all about:

Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown. He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.

Sounds good, yes?! I'll be reading it myself very soon, but until then here's Marcus talking about research and how he wrote She Is Not Invisible. Enjoy!


I’m so lucky to be a writer. For lots of reasons; one of the main ones being that you get to travel to some very interesting and cool places, call it work, and maybe, if you sell a book or two, even get paid for it. That’s pretty wonderful, I have to say, but for my new book, She Is Not Invisible, I travelled no further than Worcester, good old United of Kingdom, and yet as a result, I got the greatest reward from any of my writer’s travels yet.
So why’s that? Worcester? What does it have to offer us apart from sauce?
I’d been trying to write a book about coincidence. I’d been trying for a very long time, on and off for seven years in fact. Not getting very far, if I’m honest, and then, about two years ago, two ideas occurred to me. Firstly, I realised that books about coincidence generally do not work. Ask your folks about The Celestine Prophecy for proof of that. So instead, I decided to write a book about a writer who is obsessed by the idea of coincidence, which I thought would make life easier for me. It did. The second idea, however, made life harder. For reasons I won’t go into here, I decided to write the book, in the first person, from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl. A 16-year-old girl who has been blind from birth.
I knew this would be hard. I had no idea how hard, until I started doing some reading and research into the world of the visually impaired. I spent the afternoon with an 11-year-old girl, blind from birth, and that afternoon alone was enough to show me how big a mountain I had decided to climb.
So, it was from there, that I made the first of a series of visits, over two years, to a unique school - a blind boarding school, in Worcester, called New College. It was here, over the last couple of years, that I began to ask a lengthy series of stupid questions to the students there. They were amazing. Amazing because with great patience, and incredible openness, they talked to me about anything and everything to do with being blind.
I was stuck at the time, as a writer, I mean. I didn’t know what to write, never mind how to do it. And yet, from that very first meeting, I came away with a wonderful gift. The students at New College are unbelievable. They are inspiring, and I mean that with no connection to writing, whatsoever. I mean they inspire you to live better, to complain less, to do more. Not to whinge when you have a cold. The librarian there, who was also very, very helpful, told me that in fifteen years, she has never heard a single child say ‘poor me’ despite some of the uncommonly traumatic things these students have lived through. Things like those which have happened to a friend of mine there, an 18-year-old boy, who finally lost all sight despite more than ten operations on his eyes, after each of which he had to lie still for ten days in the hope his retinas might reattach. They didn’t.
I could not have written She Is Not Invisible without the students of New College. It is their book. I’m just grateful to them for the gift they gave me, and it was there, right on my doorstep.


1 comment:

maya said...

I'm reading She is Not Invisible at the moment and it's so good. There are bits that really made me think about what it would be like to be blind - like when Laureth says that colour doesn't mean anything to her because she's never known it. Lovely post!