Eyes Of The Blind by Alex Tresillian
A young blind woman receives the world’s first and miraculous binocular eye transplant, but questions surround the operation. Why was she selected? And why is a major charity so keen to put up the huge amount of collateral to make the operation happen? Enter Niall Burnet, unemployed and visually impaired journalist, who believes all is not as it appears and searches for answers. Using his network of contacts he begins to unearth a conspiracy in the higher echelons of the charity, a conspiracy determiend to ensure the transplant is a ‘heroic failure’. When an ex-girlfriend is blinded, his guide dog is knocked down in a hit and run, and a doctor commits suicide, Niall joins forces with the ‘miracle patient’ to find out the truth a truth that will threaten their very lives.
I am not visually impaired. Which has led people to ask the question why the protagonist in my thriller Eyes of the Blind and its sequel Blind Justice is a totally blind journalist. It does seem, perhaps, a strange choice, not least because some risk-averse booksellers have been very nervous of stocking the titles fearing that the idea won’t sell.
And there, straight off the bat, is one of the answers. That kind of cageyness around any form of disability is a state of mind to be challenged and overrun.
For a dozen years I worked with V.I. students and learned as much from them as they did from me. I saw all types, from those who were really struggling to cope to those who were making so much of their lives that to call it a triumph over adversity would be an insult. From the outside looking in, I could see, and in some measure understand, the world they experience.
I came away with a notion of sharing that with as wide an audience as I could. To me there was an advantage in not being V.I. myself, because I could see my characters as others would see them, as well as try to inhabit the world through their perception of it.
My protagonist, Niall Burnet, has been blind from the age of twelve:
“Niall’s monitor had started to pack up at the age of eight, although he had gone on seeing up to the age of twelve. It meant that the world was still a visual space to him; he prided himself on the fact that he still thought visually, that he could describe people and places in such a way that no-one could believe he couldn’t see them.”
He is curious, challenging, intelligent but prone to crises of self-esteem during which he leans increasingly on his guide dog, Hugo. What I hope readers will see in him is the burning desire to be treated as ‘normal’ and unremarkable cohabiting with the acknowledgment that there is a ‘blind world’, almost a parallel universe, the same and yet very different.
Maybe the fear amongst booksellers is that readers won’t be able to identify with him, and yet he feels the same emotions, makes the same mistakes, experiences the same satisfaction that any investigative journalist might feel hunting down major fraud in a large national charity. Eyes of the Blind isn’t a minority interest novel about the life of a blind man, it’s a mainstream, page-turning conspiracy thriller in which the main character happens to be blind.
For me, Niall’s eye condition adds a level of jeopardy to his investigation because his targets have the benefit of the fifth sense that he lacks.
I pay tribute to Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications for wanting to bring Niall to the world despite that institutional reticence. I hope, in the end, we will prove their fears groundless.
In Eyes of the Blind, a young woman waits nervously for a ground breaking operation that will enable her to see for the first time in her life. Niall Burnet, VI journalist, looking for a story around the financing of the operation, discovers something far worse than illicit money changing hands. High-ups at the charity that has put up most of the cash for the surgery have taken steps to ensure that the operation is a failure, having calculated that a series of heroic failed attempts will bring more publicity, and therefore more donated income, than a success. His pursuit of them leads him into a world of sordid sex parties, and into the arms of the young woman, Miranda Leman, whose new eyesight is so fragile and threatened. Together they battle to bring the truth to light.
In Blind Justice (published July 2018), what starts as an undercover investigation into the financing of a small disabled sports charity leads Niall into the dangerous world of performance-enhancing drugs produced and marketed on an international scale. Again the trail takes him to some unexpected places and he finds he has to face the challenge of taking up golf in order to hunt down the people at the heart of the trade. At the same time, old enemies from the eye transplant case continue to threaten his and Miranda’s lives.
Via Urbane: https://urbanepublications.com/book_author/alex-tresillian/
Alex Tresillian grew up in rural Oxfordshire. He has worked in the theatre, museums, catering and education in places across Britain, Abu Dhabi and Beirut, where he was the uncredited author of two series of English Language textbooks – grammar and writing – used in countries as disparate as Egypt, Pakistan and the USA. His enthusiasms are his wife, his family, his garden, ruined castles and deserted beaches.