May 4th, 2008

Toulouse cross

Blindness due to childhood illness

My character is growing up in a medieval/renaissance society and is blind due to an illness in childhood. It's important that the blindness is clearly not congenital (i.e. nobody is going to shy away from marrying her for fear she might produce blind children), that she has once been sighted and thus has the concept of sight, colour, etc; and that she is not otherwise disabled or disfigured.

I've tried Googling "blindness+childhood illness" from which I gather that smallpox, scarlet fever, meningitis, measles and mumps can all sometimes cause blindness. I think smallpox is a non-runner because, as I understand it, smallpox is normally highly disfiguring as well - I don't want her to have any visible disfigurement or any other deficits. Can anybody advise me which of the other is most likely to simply leave a child blind, without any other complications?

Another question: what would be the optimum age for a child to retain the memory of sight and the concept of all that sight entails, but still be able to adapt fully to blindness, using echolocation etc?


Life under Communism - Bosnia

My novel is set in 2007 Bosnia, but I'm working a lot with the backstories of my characters. Specifically a 67 year old woman who grew up in Yugoslavian communism.

I'm trying to get a feel for what day to day life was like, which is proving problematic. Most of what I'm getting talks about the overall picture or the politics, and that's not what I'm after. I'm writing flashbacks and thus need to know what it was like to live in Bosnia for individuals at various times from the 50s to present day. If anyone knows of any good sources/books/whatever that would be helpful, I'd really appreciate it, as there are going to be a fair few more flashbacks to come.

I'm looking for a more personal and individual perspective, as the purpose of these flashbacks will be to flesh-out my characters and give them life, not to make some hugely poignant political statement about Bosnia's history. Daily routines, the rules/laws people had to follow, how people communicated with each other, what home life was like, how easy it was to move around the country etc. Those are the sorts of things that will help me out here.

Many thanks!