Guest Post: Lynette Hill on the origins of The Glass Singers

Thank you Belle for letting me share a little about the origins of my fantasy series, The Glass Singers. The first two books, Halfnote’s Song and Octavia’s Journey, are available on Amazon. The third book, currently titled Prelude, will be available later this year.

Every two years the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. holds a folk life festival celebrating the customs and traditions of a particular part of the world. In 2002, at the urging of world renown cellist Yo-yo Ma, the festival focused on the countries and cultures that hosted the fabled Silk Road of Central Asia.

I lived in the Washington D.C. area at the time and so had the great good fortune of attending a variety of performances by Mongolian throat singers. They were all masters of the Tuvan throat singing technique. A Tuvan singer produces two or more completely separate sounds at the same time: one from the throat and one from the mouth. Singers use a form of circular breathing to sustain multiple notes for long periods. Young Tuvan singers are trained through a sort of apprentice system to use the folds of the throat as reverberation chambers. For a demonstration of the Tuvan technique, check out this link.

One afternoon during the festival Yo-yo Ma himself turned up to organize an amazing impromptu jam session. He played cello with musicians who accompanied him on the traditional string and acoustic instruments of central Asia. At some point in the midst of all this creative activity I began to mentally toy with the idea of using vocal acoustics to create objects. What sort of things would this amazing music create? How could you use voice to shape things?

Then the character of Halfnote, the youngest apprentice of Verre House of Glass Singers, arrived in my thoughts. She began to share her experiences from within the mythical Guild of Glass Singers. Glass singers create beautiful objects through the power of their voices.  The Glass Singers series of fantasy novels shares the experiences of Halfnote and her older sister, Octavia.

Halfnote struggles to find her place in Verre House, the place which gave birth to the art of glass singing. At the beginning of Halfnote’s Song, Octavia is about to take the test that will decide whether she can join the glass singers’ guild.

Against the rules, Halfnote sneaks in to observe the test. At first, all goes well. Then, just at Octavia’s moment of triumph, all of the finished glass pieces in Verre House cry out in distress. No one knows what to make of this. The cry is a warning, yes, but of what?

Soon, the cause of the glass’s distress is all too apparent. A terrible plague strikes. The glass singers of Verre House are asked to create a healing mirror. Such an instrument, made correctly, can determine the best cure for any illness. If tainted, however, the piece becomes an all-devouring monster. How can the glass singers decide what to do when every possible choice puts those they love in danger?

The second book in the series, Octavia’s Journey, explores the consequences of the decisions made in Halfnote’s Song. Octavia, once declared the greatest voice in three generations, has lost her talent. Struggling to come to terms with this turn of events, she decides to travel the Khelana River with her parents. Octavia is unaware that a far off queen and her ancient living mirror are watching. Queen Anula and her mirror know how to solve Octavia’s problems, perhaps, but have no interest in helping the singer. They just want to make use of her.

Lynette Hill is an American writer who lives in middle England with her partner Ruth and Badger, their cat.

As a print journalist she has reported on elephant races and professional magicians, worked as copy editor and layout artist for the Daily & Sunday Oklahoman and covered amateur sports and recreation for the’s Entertainment Guide in Washington D.C.

When not writing she enjoys hiking, traveling, music and live theatre. She is taking advantage of her time in England to explore the places made famous through folklore. She has climbed the coastline around King Arthur’s castle in Cornwall and visited his apparent burial place in Glastonbury. She knows where to buy a magic wand in London and has made a wish from inside the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire.

Halfnote’s Song: Goodreads | Amazon
Octavia’s Journey: Goodreads | Amazon

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