All of these things are related, somehow, in my head. Years ago I had an idea to use my experience with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) in a novel about an amnesiac alien on Earth who has no idea she’s not native to the planet. The premise was not nearly so coherent when it first occurred to me, and I was busy working on other material so no need to think much about it.
The subconscious can be very wily. In December, as I was wrapping up revisions on one novel and about to begin revisions on a second, I felt the need for something different. So I shook off the preconceptions of what and how I write, metaphorically cracked my knuckles, and when the words started coming, they were about the amnesiac alien with tinnitus. In first person present tense. (Really not sure how that happened.) Only now my alien had a hearing loss too, and something about endangered bees and evil aliens who mine a planet to death.
The tinnitus aspect of my main character, Deja (DAY-hah), is straightforward enough. If you’ve ever gone to a concert or been exposed to a loud noise, you may have experienced some ringing in your ears afterward. For many people, that ringing doesn’t always have a definite cause, and it never ends. I can’t remember ever not hearing the noise in my head because it was there long before I was ever aware of it. It would be much cooler if the “Beeeeeeep” was the result of something like alien communication. Thus, Deja’s tinnitus gets a Higher Purpose (hardware malfunction).
What I didn’t plan for this book was to incorporate my experiences with hearing loss. As with the tinnitus, I don’t remember ever hearing better than I do. And because I hear well enough despite the loss, it wasn’t caught until I was in elementary school. As I got older, I wised up to the ways in which I was compensating. And I realized that my left ear sucked at its job so the right one inherited phone duties. Combined, they’re an okay team. And now they’re helping me to write a main character who’s not defined by what a piece of her can and cannot do (or several pieces considering the amnesia). My previous MCs have struggled more with ethics than anything else, and I’ve never incorporated so much of myself onto the page before. I’m looking forward to the journey. I’m especially looking forward to that “something about bees and mining” part.
If you’re curious about what the world sounds like with hearing loss, check this out.