Sereya’s Superpower

Sereya’s Superpower

Author Christy Gurley’s charming book celebrates a child’s discovery of her synesthesia

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The author is interviewed by Patricia Lynne Duffy

“I felt there was a real need to get the information out into the world for Synesthetes, their Families, and into the educational system. I want kids to know that while they may experience life a little differently, their experiences are true and valid.” – Christy Gurley

PLD: Sereya’s Superpower is a charming children’s story for all ages about a little girl discovering her synesthesia.  What inspired you to write the book?

CG: I’ve always loved books & absolutely devoured them as a child! I would check out as many as I could & spend all day reading them and disappearing into worlds of color, taste and texture. But I never saw anything about Synesthesia.  In fact, I had graduated from University before I’d even heard of it! I felt there was a real need to get the information out into the world for Synesthetes, their families, and into the educational system. I want kids to know that while they may experience life a little differently, their experiences are absolutely true and valid. Finding out about their special traits at a young age could also help kids tailor their education to develop and focus on those unique gifts, and to have a chance at some unusual and fascinating careers.

PLD: You, yourself are a synesthete. Can you describe your own experiences of synesthesia?

CG: One way I’ve started to describe my experiences is that my world seems to have a saturation filter. I’m a Polysynesthete, which means I have many forms- mostly good, and a few that can be challenging. Most of my Synesthesia is visual or sound related. I taste and hear colors, they have a temperature, a feel, and personalities too. Words often have a taste. It takes me a long time to write because I need to roll the words around in my mind’s eye until they have the right sound, taste and feel. I am enormously affected by color, sound and texture, which makes music very special because it produces all of those when I hear it. Music often appears as puffs of color, appearing and disappearing, or building on itself as I hear different instruments or sounds. In fact, music was a kind of conversation that was better responded to with movement. I became a Dancer and Ice Skater as ways to express that. Now I channel them into Art and Pattern Design. To me, creating Art is like dancing with your senses! I love having Synesthesia and wouldn’t want to be without it. 

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Christy Gurley, author

PLD: In your book, Sereya’s aunt, also a synesthete, plays a special role in her life.  Have you based the relationship between Sereya and her aunt on any real-life relationship? 

CG: I got the idea from the fact that Synesthesia often runs in families, and I wondered what a conversation like this would look like. I thought this could be an example of a positive and supportive way to approach the topic with young children. It’s very important to me that kids feel secure and confident, especially during that tender time when they start to discover they might have some differences from their friends. In my case, no one in my family had ever heard of Synesthesia. Since I’ve started talking to them about it, it sounds like at least two members of my Family have at least one type.

PLD: Have you interacted with any children who have read Sereya’s Superpower? (or had it read to them?)  What reaction did the story receive?

CG: To my delight, the response to the book has been really positive!  Synesthete children and their families have been thrilled to find a book that they can relate to.  Synesthete or not– all kids have loved the idea of tasting colors and seeing music! Tons of people have suggested it would be a great show for kids, like Dora the Explorer. I think that would be brilliant! Most Teachers are discovering this information for the first time, and are happy to have another tool in their toolbox to reach more students. 

 I anticipate writing a series of books with each story featuring a different child from around the world and a different type/ types of Synesthesia: space-calendar, OLP graphemes,  number lines.  My readers are excited for the new books to come out. I’ve also updated the current book with several reference pages in the back that are meant to help Families & Teachers learn more about Synesthesia in general. I plan to have such a resource section is each book in the series.

PLD: You recently attended the Oxford University Conference on Synesthesia where there was a display on Sereya’s Superpower. What kind of reaction did the book receive from conference attendees?

CG: I was thrilled to attend the Oxford Conference, what an amazing group of people! I got tons of positive feedback about the book from other Synesthetes there, especially those who had already read it. People said that it’s the book they wish they had as a kid. (It’s extra-special when I hear that from other Synnies!) Hearing their comments definitely gave me motivation to write more stories they could relate to. Several people said they couldn’t wait to show the book to their own kids someday. People were curious and excited about the new stories coming up and what forms would be in them. They were also supportive of introducing Synesthesia earlier in the educational system. 

PLD: Is there anything else you would like to say about Sereya’s Superpower?

CG: First, I want to thank everyone for their wonderful support. I’m really happy to do something to support our extraordinary Community and introduce Synesthesia to more people. Sereya’s Superpower has been translated into three other languages so far (German, Spanish & Korean) and I hope to release those soon. You can find the original book on my website, starshinesdesignart.com

     I have several other books in different stages of development, and I’d love to share them with you when they are finished.

PLD: I’m sure JTTS and its readers would love that, Christy!  Looking forward!

(l to r):PL Duffy, Christy Gurley, Pau at Oxford

Christy Gurley’s website:  www.starshinedesignsart.com

Purchase Sereya’s Superpower on Amazon HERE

Patricia Lynne Duffy is the author of the now classic, Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: how synesthetes color their worlds, the first book by a synesthete about synesthesia. An audio version of the book with research updates, music by synesthete-composers, and an “Afterword” is recently out.   Available from Audible She also contributed a chapter, “Synesthesia and Literature” to the Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia. See her website, bluecats.info

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