GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Brynn Chapman

I am often asked from where story ideas originate. For this particular book, Where Bluebirds Fly, I happen to remember.

One wintry afternoon I was driving home from work, listening to NPR, and they said the word Synesthesia.

Being a connoisseur of the weird and wonderful, I was immediately intrigued; I had never heard of this particular disorder of perception.

In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored, while in ordinal linguistic personification, numbers, days of the week and months of the year evoke personalities. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be “farther away” than 1990), or may have a (three-dimensional) view of a year as a map (clockwise or counterclockwise). Yet another recently identified type, visual motion → sound synesthesia, involves hearing sounds in response to visual motion and flicker. Over 60 types of synesthesia have been reported, but only a fraction have been evaluated by scientific research. Even within one type, synesthetic perceptions vary in intensity and people vary in awareness of their synesthetic perceptions.” ~ Wikipedia

So, like any geek, I joined a cognitive neuroscience board, to go in search of synesthesates.

Within a day, several contacted me, each with an individual type of synesthesia. Some people tasted shapes, so let’s say they taste chicken soup~immediately the feeling of a circle might appear as if they hold it in their hand.

For others, peoples’ names elicit a specific taste. Others saw days in different colors, or letters with specific colors. There was a blurring of the senses, experiencing the senses in two unique, simultaneous ways.

My conversations with them were fascinating. I tucked away the idea, waiting for the story fairy to arrive. And arrive she did.

Fast forward a few months later, I towed my husband on another history trip, this time to Salem. As we heard the stories of lives lost, people wrongly accused for witchcraft, it hit me.

What if someone with Synesthesia lived during the time of the trials? What would happen?

Very, very bad things was the answer.

Salemites were a superstitious lot; I heard stories of suspicion of outsiders. Of how red hair was considered ominous or if one stuttered while reciting the Lord’s Prayer, one might be condemned as a witch.

A chill rushed down my arms, standing them on end. In my work with children, stuttering was a very common occurrence. I pictured those innocent faces…and my stomach turned.

Thus was born, Where Bluebirds Fly.

19TH January 1692
Salem, Massachusetts

Some sounds you cannot forget.

They stay with you always, becoming part of you. They are as familiar as the creases lining your palms.

Some say what the eyes see, imbeds forever in our memories.

But sounds fill my head, late in the night, in my mourning hours-three refuse to die.

The sound of my mother’s laugh. Low and resonant, like the church bell’s peal on Sunday morn. To think on it too much would call madness into my soul. How that voice could lift me out of the blackness in my head and heart, threatening now to snuff the dwindling light of my hope.

The sound of my mother’s screaming. It follows me down the path to sleep. Stays with me. My mother’s hair, in blond waves, hangs loose from the Indian’s pouch alongside my father’s black and white locks. The gurgling, drowning sound in her throat tells me she’s going, where I cannot follow.

The crunching snap of Goody Bishop’s neck on the gallows’ noose. The first to die under the charges of witchcraft.

There is one thing wrong, historically about my post here. If you’ve read about the trials, perhaps you can spot it. The person who does will win an electronic copy as well as an Amazon gift card. And if no one knows, I will randomly pick the winner and tell you the answer!!!

About the Author:Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.

Verity Montague is a servant in 1692 Salem. Her flaming red hair and mismatched eyes make her a prime target for accusation of witchcraft. Orphaned during the Indian raids, she and her brother with Asperger’s Syndrome come to live with the key historical figures of the trials-The Putnams. They keep their synesthesia secret- that days, months and years appear as color in Verity’s mind, and for John, that symphonies play in a Fantasia-style performance of colors and geometric patterns.

Truman Johnstone’s ability to discern people’s expressions, and decipher if they were lying- made him an outspoken child. Being different kept him from being adopted till he was fourteen. He now runs an orphanage for problem youths, and is a feeding therapist in his desire to help children deal with their peculiarities. To give them the childhood he never had.

The harvest festival corn maze Truman creates every year has an unwelcome visitor. Children hear disembodied voices skipping through the corn maze amid the backdrop of eerie orchestral music. In every year of the calendar, intermittent doors of time swing open and closed, so long as the cornfield stands.

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  1. It was not in January, it started in February.


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