Elisa Freilich is the author of the spellbinding novel Silent Echo. Here is some of what she has to say on reading, writing, and the inspiration behind the book!
1) Silent Echo revolves around the sirens of Greek mythology and a world of music. What was your inspiration in outlining the plot?
I have always been a person fascinated by words, language and lyrics. If you think about it, words are our most powerful weapon. I wanted to write a unique story that would center around the beauty and power of words and writing about a Siren just seemed like a great way to do that. When I wrote the first iteration of Silent Echo, I would put in other people’s songs to move the musical scenes forward. When I realized what the copyright issues would be with that, I was both disappointed but also inspired. I now had the chance to write my own music, my own lyrics to all the music in my head. It was a very liberating experience.
2) Throughout most of the novel, Portia is incapable of speech. Was it difficult to describe character interactions without using standard dialogue?
That is actually one of the things readers love about Silent Echo – the different modes of communication. It wasn’t really difficult for me to write the scenes that way because, ahem, kids today actually don’t do all that much straight-up talking with the advent of the cell phone, wi-fi etc. I learned from observing my own children but then also delved into the world of the hearing and speech impaired. I love that Portia and Felix can sign to each other and the majority of their peers don’t know what they are saying! It’s like they have their own language. Actually, those two really do have their own language…
3) Silent Echo contains a lot of lyrical verse. Were there challenges in writing verse that correlated to the story line?
As I mentioned earlier, writing the lyrics was actually my favorite part of creating Silent Echo. I was delighted to be able to tap into all the wordplay that is constantly swimming around my head. I love music largely for its ability to put a person in a certain mood and I was challenged to do this to the absence of sound in Silent Echo. But the musical scenes really just came spilling out of me and now that I am editing SE’s sequel, Griffin’s Call, I am so excited to expand on the lyrical repertoire of the Silent Echo story.
4) Do you have any past experiences in music or mythology? How much research was involved in writing Silent Echo?
I have always loved mythology! When I decided that I would write about a Siren, I re-read The Odyssey and literally could not put it down! (The last time I had read it was in Ninth grade and I barely remembered anything so it was extremely compelling.) That was basically enough to get me moving on the mythology part of silent Echo, as much of the storyline was extracted from my own imagination and then layered atop Homer’s epic poem. As far as the music, I am one of those people that hears a song once or twice and somehow automatically remembers the lyrics. I also like so many different types of music, from pop to jazz, so I drew on all of that to write this “musical” story.
5) What encouraged you to become an author?
I love connecting with teens. And, ahem, even though I am nowhere near teen-hood anymore, I still think of myself as one of the gang. I am determined to stay connected to my kids’ world in a way that they can relate to (sorry to end on a preposition there ;)). When I was writing Silent Echo, I kept saying to myself, “Elisa — write a book that Abigail and her friends would want to read.” Abigail is my oldest daughter (and, incidentally my cover model for Silent Echo) and her friends do love Portia Griffin’s world. I do think that one day I will go beyond Young Adult, however. The back burner in my head is constantly simmering with new stories and eventually one will pour out in a voice that is meant to connect with an older audience.
6) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Know that the world of books can never be exhausted! When I was writing SE, I got my fair share of rejections until I became agented and then published. There were times I felt like giving up and I would say things like “well maybe the world doesn’t need another story”. But that’s the thing — there can never be a surplus of great storytelling. My husband once said to me, “just because the kids read the Twilight series doesn’t mean they won’t read your series too! It’s not like buying shoes or pocketbooks where eventually your budget or closet space is going to put the kibosh on you.” And now I have come to learn that readers are readers. They embrace all new stories and there is always room for one more — especially if you’ve poured your heart and soul into it!
7) What are some of your favorite books/authors?
I grew up on Pat Conroy and Margaret Atwood. The Prince of Tides and Cat’s Eye were the kinds of books that shaped my adolescence and my love of reading. As far as current authors, I am a big fan of John Green, Meg Wolitzer and Lisa Genova. As an adult, I can say that one of my favorite reads continues to be Garth Stein’s, The Art of Racing in the Rain. It is a tender story that gets me every time…
Thank you Elisa!
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