Meet: Novellist Rosamund Lupton, who features a Deaf character in her new book The Quality of Silence

Posted on October 15, 2015

How did your own deafness inspire you when you wrote The Quality of Silence?

The character of Ruby, who is ten years old and profoundly deaf, was inspired partly by my own experience of deafness as a child.

I developed a vivid interior world, and would choose writing over oral speaking. I started writing stories then and continued to write even when my hearing improved.

When I was thinking about this novel, and about Ruby, I thought that unlike when I was a child, Ruby would have other ways of communicating with her friends.

My own sons often talk to their friends in emails, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc. For them – and for Ruby – it is a mother-tongue, while I am still trying to learn it. In this medium Ruby is as loud and vocal and articulate as a hearing child – more so because she’s very bright.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 09.36.40How did you research deafness and sign language?

I began with excellent websites, NDCS and Action on Hearing Loss, and read their publications and newsletters.

I went on line to look at BSL and ASL and had their apps. I read accounts written by people who are deaf, and also used your website – the Limping Chicken – and films, such as Found. I spoke to a journalist who is deaf and to a paediatric audio-vestibular specialist.

Did you find out anything that surprised you?

Yes, many things. I’d become so immersed in the novel, and Ruby, that I really wanted to sign, and there’d be a moment before realising that I don’t know how – and wishing that I did.

I also discovered while writing this book that my audio agent, Alice Lutyens, who has sold the rights to my first two novels as well as The Quality of Silence, is profoundly deaf.

I hadn’t realised that we always talk to each other using email. If I’d followed her on twitter I would have known as her account is @DeafAudioAgent.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 09.36.50In the book, the deaf girl writes about how words feel and look. How much is this based on your own personal experiences (if at all!)?

I really love playing with words, and this seemed a new way to play! I loved writing Ruby’s tweets about words.

What has the response to the book been like?

I’ve had some wonderful emails from readers and the press has been really positive, so it’s a big relief.

What’s up next for you?

I’m having a breather before thinking of my next book!

You can find out more about The Quality of Silence, and buy it, here:

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