• Hearing colors

      Blackwood, Adrianne; Brightwell, Gerri; Farmer, Daryl; Reilly, Terry (2020-05)
      This thesis project is the first part of a historical fiction novel. It takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 1910 and imagines the perspective of a sound-color synesthete named Bert Beasley, who witnessed the Wright brothers complete the first engine-powered flight. Bert wants to leave his home to pursue aviation but is unable to do so because he is needed to help run his family's failing general store. When Elisabeth Lavoie, a French musician, moves to town and buys a dilapidated house, Bert believes he'll be able to solve his problems by earning extra money as her repairman. However, her voice is purple--the only color he's never heard before--and her music changes colors, which shouldn't be possible. As he grows closer to Elisabeth, Bert becomes less sure that he wants to leave, but his decision is complicated once more when he learns that the Wright brothers have opened a flying school. The novel switches between the third-person points of view of Bert and Elisabeth. The dual perspectives provide insight into their individual inner conflicts--Bert longs to leave a home he loves as Elisabeth struggles to find a home she has lost--and demonstrates how their respective relationships with sound have shaped them into two people who have the potential to be a home for each other. The descriptions of synesthesia in this project present a creative interpretation of how color-sound combinations manifest themselves in synesthetes, both visually/audibly and emotionally. I conducted research to accurately portray the visual/auditory experiences of synesthesia, but I also took some artistic license in that the story implies that Bert's emotions, or the emotions of the musician playing the music he hears, has an effect on the color of the sound. This is not based on the known science of synesthesia but allowed for a deeper exploration of the characters' relationship and the question of home.