Download the novella as a pdf file here: The Silence of Others by W. M. Lewis (c) 2011.
It’s funny how stories begin. This one started with the title. The phrase came to me and I couldn’t shake it so I decided to write a story that supported the title. Of course, it seemed to me like something someone must have used before (a film? a book?), so I Googled the shit out of it but couldn’t find anything. So I used it. It felt weird. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything based on just a title before.
The original story idea and first draft was completely different to what I ended up with. It involved a scuba diver who was progressively losing her hearing, and how she adapted to that. She ended up ‘speaking’ using a combination of diving hand signals and Auslan. Maybe it was a good idea for a story, I don’t know, but it was poorly executed. So I put it aside for a long time.
Still, I couldn’t shake the title. And so I resurrected it for this novella, which I think of as an international political thriller. Sort of. (Genre definition is so difficult, eh?)
The idea for this new story arose due to my interest in how odd a life it must be as a high-level politician, especially those who operate in an international sphere. Also, coming from a country where political violence is extremely rare and political assassinations even rarer, I’ve always had a fascination with both. That became woven into the fabric of this story. Finally, I had the good fortune to spend a couple of months living and writing in Paris, and the flavour of the place and the city as a setting played a big role in how the story came out.