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People ask me a lot of questions about The Boy Who Saw In Colours, but one question that always seems to rise to the surface the most is "what does your title mean?"
The Boy Who Saw In Colour follows a young synesthete in 1940's Germany.
But what is it?
Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
In other words, your senses are mixed up, causing one to hear colours, see scents, and taste sounds along with different sensory experiences.
As adults, our five primary senses – hearing, sight, touch, taste, and smell – are processed by the brain independently, but at birth, they are interlinked. As the brain develops, a gene comes into play that cuts all the other connections. In some cases, though, this pruning isn't complete, and some extra neural connections remain in place.
One theory is that we all have synaesthesia to varying degrees; it is simply that some of us are more aware of the sensory stimuli.
There are also a few documented cases of acquired synaesthesia, where individuals experience synaesthesia for the first time later in life, following a head injury or severe emotional trauma.
“I know that the number four is mustard yellow. Mother always insisted that numbers couldn’t have colours; or months, or letters, or people, but I thought that was nonsense.”
Excerpt From: Lauren Robinson. “The Boy Who Saw In Colours.”
My whole life, I've had an emotional connection with colours, albeit to a lesser extent than the protagonist, Josef. It can be described as having a sixth sense, and almost everyone I explained it to thought I was mad. Admittingly, I did too before I started research for The Boy Who Saw In Colours. When I was a child, I used to choose friends based on the feeling they gave me when I was around them, and later in life, I used this same technique when choosing romantic partners.
The emotional label that comes with synaesthesia is quite a powerful one. If I don't like the synaesthetic feeling of something or indeed someone, it's not an easy feeling to shake off. It's a very personal inner feeling that stays with you.
The Boy Who Saw In Colours is a unique look at a subject we are all somewhat familiar with - life as a German child during WWII. It is a novel that will engage all of your senses and an experience that everyone should have. The Boy Who Saw In Colours takes us on a journey back to Josef's youth, beginning at age 12 and ending at 17. We join him on a journey into his upside-down view of Nazi Germany, and how the moustache man managed to hypnotise the minds of a generation. Sounds are tasted, memories have colours, the strong do not survive, and the best chance of survival may be in a concentration camp. With a hot passion for art and painting, Josef shows us what it was like for a young boy who dared to dream in a time of chaos where his mere existence could get him killed.
As an artist, Josef expresses his emotions in the only way he knows how - painting. At some point, he realises that it is because of the mere existence of art that he can express himself at all.
Colours and art change his life.
Pick up your copy of The Boy Who Saw In Colours here by clicking on the images:
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In the days leading to VE day, there are many men and women we could be celebrating, and all are worthy of our praise and adoration. I would like to take this time to honour ALL children who inspired #TheBoyWhoSawinColours, the innocents of war, and I will be posting about them in the coming days.
The military use of children can take three distinct forms: children can take a direct part in conflict as child soldiers; they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, and lookouts; or they can be used for political advantage and propaganda.
Does this boy look familiar?
His name and age are unknown. The Americans captured the young boy in 1944. He thought removing his uniform would help him evade arrest. This young man should have been safe, protected by the people he trusted, but instead, the adults acted like maniacs. What chance did the children have? Instead of staying up all night just to read an extra page of the adventure book he'd been reading, the nightmares of his fallen friends kept him awake. Their screams punch through the night.
I don't know what happened to him after the war or what kind of life he chose to lead, but I hope wherever he is, that he is happy and safe.