MY THIRD NOVEL, THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE, ventures beyond the humor and pathos of family drama explored in my first two novels to dig deeper into contemporary culture at large. At its heart it’s a love story, if one framed by the provocation of race dynamics in modern-day America, specifically the disparate impact of prejudice, privilege, racial conflict, and police profiling on the various characters in the book.
Given that subject matter, I wanted to share a little background as to why I felt this specific story was mine to tell, particularly at a time when concerns surrounding “cultural appropriation” emerge as valid, widely debated, and meritorious of thoughtful conversation.
As a longtime essayist and op-ed writer, I have written frequently on the topic of racism, particularly via my work at The Huffington Post. My proximity to dialogue and feedback from many different quarters has kept me aware of the controversies over whose voice gets tell stories of race, who has true insight to offer; who should talk, who should listen, and how we process information from the side we’re not on. Even with the sensitivities surrounding those issues, my gut told me I had a worthy and topical story to tell; because of those sensitivities, my mission was to tell it as authentically as I possibly could, allowing the illuminating, sometimes harsh, and often painful viewpoints of each of the characters to be honestly expressed throughout.
There is a great quote in a Vulture.com profile, “Meet Justina Ireland, YA Twitter’s Leading Warrior,” that struck me as salient on this issue:
Ireland argues that the industry should publish more books by nonwhite authors, and that white authors should think more carefully about how they represent black and brown people in their books. Some of her peers from marginalized backgrounds have urged “white, straight, able-bodied writers to stay away from writing marginalized voices,” as she noted in one Twitter thread. “Not me,” she added. “I think you can write whatever you want. But that means you’ve got to make sure you don’t fuck it up. If you do, Imma tell you.“
So that was my goal… to not to ‘fuck it up.’
Tapping my own experiences in a long-term mixed-race relationship earlier in my life, along with perspective born of prodigious research, myriad interviews, and essential input from sensitivity readers, THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE came to life imbued with as much realism, sensitivity, and truth as I could capture.
In a world so full of lonely people and broken hearts, CHRIS HAWKINS, a black sound engineer from Chicago’s south side, and SIDONIE FRAME, white, suburban-raised; head manager of one of the city’s most elite venues, meet by work-related happenstance and fall quickly in love, convinced that by that act alone they can inspire peace, joy, and happiness in the world around them.
They’d reflect often upon that fleeting optimism in the many months ahead.
Their meeting was serendipitous. Chris, who runs his own sound company, is surrounded largely by members of his own community, and Sidonie is rarely outside the environs of work and its predominantly white clientele… their paths would likely have never crossed. But when the club’s sound manager goes AWOL on the night of a big event, and Chris is hired to come in as a last-minute replacement, destinies collide.
Immediately drawn to each other, they fall quickly into an unexpected and thrilling relationship, inspiring a spectrum of reaction amongst various family and friends on both sides of their lives. But even as their attachment evolves, the day-to-day tensions and disruptions of Chris’s life as a black man in the gritty environs of Chicago quickly become a cultural flashpoint, challenging Sidonie’s privileged worldview, as well as his ability to translate events. After an unpredictable and gut-wrenching series of unwarranted police encounters shakes their resilience, it’s the shattering circumstance of a violent arrest, in which Chris is identified as a serial vandal and potential rapist, that sends their lives into free fall.
He claims his innocence, she believes him, but the forces pushing against them both at this point are many and strong. With a looming trial to endure, the dissipating loyalties of key allies, and unforeseen twists that can’t help but trigger doubt and suspicion, Sidonie and Chris are driven to question what they really know of each other and just who to trust. As new details emerge, pushing the narrative in surprising directions, they must both decide where their lines of trust and forgiveness are drawn, leading to a powerful and emotional conclusion.
THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE is set for an April 9, 2019 release via SHE WRITES PRESS, an award-winning hybrid publisher founded in 2012 by Kamy Wicoff and Brooke Warner. A wide-ranging marketing campaign will start in the months leading up to and through the launch; if you’d be interested in being an advance reader or part of a “street team,” or would just like to be included on my emailing list for current updates, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org; I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.
Publishing updates will be posted here and on social media… more to come!
Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles. Contact @ email@example.com