Alison Gervais is the author of the new young adult novel The Silence Between Us. She also has written the YA novel In 27 Days.
Q: You note that you work with the Deaf community and are hard of hearing yourself. At what point did you decide to write a novel featuring a Deaf protagonist, and how did you create your character Maya?
A: I decided to write a novel with a Deaf main character when I'd been working in Deaf services for about a year. I'd gone to my local Deaf gathering, we were chatting about my first book - In 27 Days - and I was told that I should write a book for the Deaf.
It took a while, but The Silence Between Us ended up evolving from that.
Maya was a character whose voice ended up developing naturally as the story progressed, which made the whole writing process surprisingly easy. Maya is also nothing like I am, so it was both enjoyable and a challenge to write from her point of view.
Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: I honestly had no idea how the novel would end when I first started drafting the story. I wasn't even sure of how I wanted things to wrap up until I was about halfway through writing! It kind of developed on its own, as silly as that may seem.
Q: One of the issues in the novel involves cochlear implants. How did you decide on Maya's views toward the implants?
A: The subject of cochlear implants can be a hot topic of debate, for sure. Maya's stance, I think, can be interpreted as a fairly common one. It's a personal decision whether or not to receive a cochlear implant and it shouldn't be taken lightly.
Q: You write, "I hope readers understand that just because someone's world may look a little different from their own it doesn't mean it's a bad thing." What else do you hope readers take away from the novel?
A: I hope that by reading this story people also take away just how unique and amazing the Deaf community, their culture, and ASL really is! It's a topic that I believe doesn't get nearly enough attention and recognition as it should, and one good way to learn about new things is to pick up a book and read.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm currently working on a new project, but I can't share too much about what it is - so sorry!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Nothing much to report here...probably just off to reread one of the Harry Potter novels yet again!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb