Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Crusade: Le'seur's Bells

Plot bunny #2, folks. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you simply must drop by Anne-girl's delightful blog and learn all about the June Crusade. LINK, in case you missed it.

I love this quote!
This one was inspired purely by my budding interest in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Having just watched the Disney film and loved the story (and especially Alan Menken's score), I determined to read the book. Sure, I knew it was different. I wanted to know how different. Well, peoples, I'm barely a fifth through the novel, and it's very different.

One of the biggest differences is in the main character, the hunchback himself. In the film, Quasimodo is portrayed as a misshapen bell-ringer, and while that's true, Disney tones it down for the kids. Quasimodo is in fact much more hideous, and in addition to being ugly and bent, he's also deaf from ringing the bells. All those huge bells, and the tremendous noise they make... well, that would definitely make someone deaf. Yeah, Disney kinda glossed over that fact.

Then I began thinking about how a deaf person would narrate a story. If he/she had been deaf for as long as he/she could recall, how would they view the world? Without hearing, it would be impossible for them to understand dialogue, so naturally the writer foolish enough to indulge in this plot bunny could not write dialogue from the deaf person's perspective. Interesting, eh? How to write a book with no dialogue? Is it possible?

Now, I'm not entirely sure this story will remain all dialogue-less. Many times I begin a project and it completely turns itself around on me. Just so you all know. But I am determined to see where this goes.

Usually, when a story like this jumps out to me, the story name leaps out along with it. But for this particular story, I'm having a difficult time trying to pinpoint a title. I've been debating with a list of them, and I'm hoping to get some feedback from you, my lovely readers. I'm stuck with Le'seur's Bells for now, but I'm not totally sold on it. I want something that implies the connotation of being deaf, but still speaking. Almost oxymoron-ish. Any thoughts?

Okey dokey, this is my best attempt at a summary:

The Evaristé is undoubtedly the most beautiful building in Cotédor, and perhaps the greatest building in the world. Majestic, ancient, and with a bell tower stretching to the skies, it stands proudly as a symbol of the glory of kings past. Once the Evaristé housed the law courts of Cotédor, royal families and peasants alike flocking the granite steps to hear sentences read on the most desperate criminals.

Bartrid was one criminal whose case was an accident. Convicted of a felony he did not commit, he was acquitted and offered the position of the bell ringer for Evaristé as no one would trust a man branded a criminal. Even when disaster struck and the great building was left to its own ruin, he refused to abandon the only home he knew. Years later, he still remains the bell ringer of the Evaristé, faithfully plying his trade every morning and evening. His only companion is his young grandchild, a girl born beneath the great bells and sorely affected by their song. She is simply called Le'seur – the deaf one.

Le'seur is content to live under the golden splendor of the Evaristé's bells. Being deaf, how could she ever gain friends? What more could she ever want than the joy of being with her grandfather and the bells? When Bartrid's loyalty to Cotédor is attacked, and he is taken into custody, Le'seur will have to clear his name no matter what the cost. And that will mean leaving her beloved bells behind and trusting her safety to strangers. But who can help her? How can one little deaf girl speak the words to change a kingdom and save the life of the only person who ever loved her?

And, just because, how about a bit from the first chapter? I haven't gotten very far yet, but I just couldn't wait to share this with you.

She was strong in body and mind, she was an orphan, and she had the most beautiful smile in Cotédor. Of all of that, Bartrid was certain. But he also knew one thing more about his granddaughter – she was deaf, and the world would not look kindly upon her for it. So he thought on the day she was born, and so he thought twelve years later. But it wasn't her fault; nor did the fault lie with her mother or her father. No, if any could bear the blame it was Bartrid himself. The bells were his, and it was their song that had stolen the sound from his granddaughter's ears. And for that, she was called simply Le'seur – the deaf one.

It must also be pointed out that Bartrid did not have perfect hearing either. His fifty years under the bells of the Evaristé had not gone without consequences. He could hear little, but what was that to him? Le'seur could hear nothing, so it was only natural that he shared in her silence.

But for her silence, Le'seur never made any complaint. She always greeted her grandfather in the morning with a hug and a smile, and her eyes always flashed with the wonder of her surroundings. She did not know what it was she missed, nor did she need to miss it. The work of the bells contented her well enough. And Bartrid was content to let it stay that way. 

God bless!


  1. This looks wonderful. I hope you keep writing about the little deaf girl.
    Doubtless you already know this, but she can feel the vibrations of the bells. It is not the same as hearing, but it is a sort of music that you can feel. If I were her, I would love the vibrations of the bells as much as anything...and miss it sorely if I were away from them. For what that's worth...

  2. That sound cool! I have the Hunchback of Notre Dame but I'm kinda skeptical about reading it. Would you recommend it so far?

    Title ideas: umm, Silent Bells, The Ringing of the Silence, Silence Speaks, Quiet Music, yeah that's all I can think of right now :)

  3. Oooh, very intriguing idea! I've never actually seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame because our parents weren't too keen on us watching it when we were little, and when I got older I just kind of never bothered with it, and I've never read the book. So I know very little about the story. But I LOVE the idea you have here! A story through the POV of a deaf person? Fascinating! I'd be too intimidated to take up such a challenge. You're amazing, Kiri!

  4. *squeals* THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME!!!! AAAGH!! :D This looks terrifical, Kiri Liz!:) Great snippet!

    Would you recommend THoND book to someone who loves the movie? I flipped to the end at the library once (*cringes* I know, I know, an awful thing to do), and I can't decide if I want to read the book:) Any thoughts?

  5. Bound and Freed ~ Ooh, you're right! She would feel the vibrations. I never thought of that, but I like the idea! Thank you so much for pointing that out!

    Lauri ~ If you like Victor Hugo, it's a really cool story. The Disney adaptation, granted, is not perfect, but I adore the soundtrack. Aw, thanks! For some reason, deaf people have always fascinated me, and I've always wondered how they saw the world, especially since they couldn't hear it.

    Ashley & Arwen ~ Do I recommend the book? For mature readers, sure. I'm not very far right now, but since I love thick books and classic literature, I'm enjoying it. There is a lot of violence in the book, so I'd definitely warn people about that. There's a lot in the novel that never shows up in the movie, so much so that I'm almost viewing them as two completely different stories. It took me a while to get around to picking up the book, and in a way, I'm glad I waited until I was older. I like it, but it's deep.

  6. Absolutely splediforious idea!I love the notion of a book without dialog. Now this may be just me but from the description I honestly thought it would be first person from the little deaf girl's POV.

  7. Love this idea! You have earned yourself a follow. :)

  8. Congratulations on winning the week's selections, Kiri Liz. I thought Le'seur's Bells might win when I read it. ;)

  9. Anne ~ Honestly, when the idea first hit me, I expected it to be first person POV from the deaf girl. However, her grandfather insisted that he have the right to start out the story, and I didn't have the heart to tell him no. :)

    Alyianna and Bound and Freed ~ Thank you so much, girls! Your comments are really encouraging! :D

  10. YOU'RE RETELLING THOND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I remember discussing the music of the Disney movie in our emails and how much we loved it. I'm definitely looking forward to what you do with this!! Especially with her having been deaf since birth.

    Interestingly enough, it was a Frenchman who published the first manual for the manual alphabet we use in ASL today. And he was the first person to begin a school for deaf children in Paris in 1755.

  11. She could probably read lips. Just a thought to think about :)