Welcome author Nara Malone as she tours the virtual realm for her latest release, Blind Heat. Nara is guest blogging today and I asked her to talk about doing research for Blind Heat in which her heroine, Allie, suffers from a genetic disorder known as Face Blindness. Little did I know, this topic is one Nara is quite familiar with.
First, here’s the blurb for Blind Heat then I’ll allow Nara to take over.
Blind Heat Blurb: Allie is determined to build an ordinary life. To survive, she needs to be the sort of woman no one notices. She has a generic job, lives in a generic apartment, and thinks maybe one day she’ll find an ordinary Joe who wants an average Jane sort of woman.
Marcus is anything but an ordinary Joe. Even if humans don’t know he’s a shifter and millennial being, he’s the sort of man women notice. A night of passion spent with Marcus is a night any female, human or Pantherian, won’t forget.
But Allie does forget. She repeatedly fails to recognize him even after an intense sexual encounter. Marcus discovers the source of her problem—face blindness, a genetic disorder with no cure. And he decides to use erotic rituals to teach her to see with more than her eyes. What he doesn’t count on is Allie seeing past the man—and recognizing the beast within.
Heart Sight: My Research into Face Blindness by Nara Malone
You would think that someone born with the congenital form of face blindness wouldn’t need to do research. But even though my face perception is severely impaired, I went through most life unaware that I was any different from everyone else. I had my suspicions. I recall one time hearing a talk show host complaining about that her guests who wanted to conceal their identity. She said wearing a wig and glasses was like putting a napkin on your head and expecting no one would recognize you. That statement didn’t make sense to me. If my brother puts on a ball cap he looks totally different to me.
That should have been a clue. The number one feature a face blind person uses to identify a person is hair. Unfortunately, people are always changing hairstyles. Men’s hairstyles and clothes are so generic it makes them extremely difficult to tell apart. Another interesting fact I turned up in research– a large percentage of face blind women marry men with facial hair. My husband has a beard, mustache, and a head full of curly hair that falls to his shoulders. I didn’t purposely seek out a mate with facial hair. I just thought beards were sexy. I have to admit that his appearance makes it easy for me to find him in a crowd.
I suspected I had some inability to imprint a memory of a face, but had never heard o any such disorder. Face blindness was thought to be extremely rare and for a long time believed to be the result of traumatic brain injury. Research into the condition was hampered by the fact there were so few subjects to study. A few years ago researchers decided to launch something of a publicity campaign. They did a media blitz about the symptoms and set up a website where people could test themselves. My husband saw one of those programs and I took the tests. I recognized 3 people on the famous faces test. One of them was just a lucky guess. Even so, it was a few more years before I was willing to become part of the research.
Admitting you can’t recognize people leaves you incredibly vulnerable. It’s something I’ve spent my life covering up. When I fail to recognize someone, especially a family member or friend, they think it is because they are not important to me. I’d learned a variety of tricks to get by. All of those skills fail me regularly.
In my new novel, Blind Heat, those skills fail my heroine, Allie. I introduce Allie in a scene where she is drawing the faces of people she has to interact with regularly, hoping that she might be able to remember their face if she just draws it enough times. She has never heard of face blindness and thinks her recognition problems are due to inattention on her part.
Been there, done that.
Allie discovers her condition in the same way I did, the man she loves figures it out and explains it to her. But unlike me, Allie has fallen for a paranormal shape shifter. Marcus is the high magus of the Pantherians, a millennial being, spiritual leader to his people. He believes Allie’s problem is caused by human over-reliance on the sense of sight. While he can’t tell her he’s not human, he can offer her something humans can’t–a cure. He uses erotic rituals and sex magick to teach her to see with more than her eyes.
Oddly enough, recent research has backed up a Marcus’ hypothesis. Not the part about erotic rituals, I don’t think they’d get away with proposing a research project like that. But when a face blind subject is shown a set of pictures, a mix of familiar and unfamiliar people, her skin conductance (a measure of emotional response) changes when she looks at a face that should be familiar. On a subconscious level recognition is occurring. Her body knows even if her brain doesn’t. That same sort of knowing crops up in Blind Heat, maybe served up by my subconscious as I wrote.
I believe there is another level of knowing, a way that I recognize people when I’m not stressed and can take the time to do it. I call it knowing by heart. There is an individual essence that generates a physical response I us to the energy and personality of people we love. That’s never going to be evident in the laboratories where they show us photographs on computer screens. While I did eventually participate in some of Harvard’s research, and they did help me learn how to decode a face, there is no cure. I’m a little better and faster at solving the identity puzzle, but I’m not cured. I don’t have that instant recognition you might have when you see your child’s face.
I think for me, like for Allie, the answer lies in learning to see with my heart and trusting what it tells me.
If you’re curious about face blindness or if this sounds like someone you know, you can learn more here. http://www.faceblind.org/
You can take the Famous Faces test or a variety of other fun tests of visual perception and memory here http://www.testmybrain.org/
An EXCERPT from Blind Heat
The greatest threats from a man were injury or death. She’d known how to read those kinds of threats in a man before she was old enough to read a book. She could see no intent to harm. No evil. He looked at her as if he’d discovered something precious. A warmth seemed to reach from his eyes into her soul, drawing her closer. She made her choice.
The red cloth shimmered with an aura of passion, dared her to press her body to it. The thought sent her blood zinging through her veins. There was something there, something irresistible. His eyes spoke promises she could feel. Her feet wouldn’t let her turn away, but took the risk. Took one step. Then the next. Her lips burned with a need to glide over his jawline, explore planes and angles with kisses and nips. Her heart hammered so loud he had to hear it even over the rain.
True to his word, he didn’t move an inch until she was right there in front of him, reaching to press her hands to the shirt, feel its heat, prove he was real. Her palms sighed with pleasure, like the fabric was a meal to be savored. His strong fingers closed around her wrist then, not painfully but with the finality of a manacle, reminding her that he’d said he wouldn’t let her go until he had what he wanted.
“Good girl,” he whispered, soothing away the little trill of fear that rose with his touch, stroking her face with the backs of his fingers. Her body sang like chimes in the wind, notes shivering down her spine.
“I won’t stop at a kiss,” he said. “But you can start with one. Make it sweet.”
She rose obediently to her toes, finding his lips, feeling them firm, parting under hers. He ordered and demanded with such a low, seductive tone. If he’d told her to go rob the jewelry store, in just the same way, it would have seemed a good idea.
He shifted, turning quickly so she was between him and the tree, cutting off any chance to change her mind and run. He held her face between his hands, and her own hands felt small and fragile against the breadth of his. He kissed his desire into her. Her mind grappled to reassert caution, but her thoughts slipped away, formless as water spilling through fingers. He didn’t stop kissing until she stopped thinking, until the rigidity in her muscles softened, until she kissed him back.
He tasted like spring rain.
His hands were warm through her soggy shirt, his fingers curved under her chilled breasts, his thumbs stroking over the tops. Thumbs and fingers came together, squeezing until she squirmed. His lips and tongue moved over her neck, tracing the line of her collarbone, a warm, sensual touch that made her whimper. He split the worn cotton with a sharp twist. The ripping sound jolted her. Her shirt split down the center, parting to offer her breasts. A wave of fear welled in her belly. of desire trickled between her thighs. She glanced down the puddled path. He pressed her tighter against the tree.
“You had your chance,” he whispered. “It’s the last I’m willing to give you for a while.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Like the heroine, Allie, in Blind Heat, Nara is face blind and lived with the condition not knowing there was a medical explanation for her inability to remember faces. It’s a rare and only recently publicized condition. She hopes Blind Heat will help get the word out about face blindness.
Nara lives on a small farm in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When she’s not writing, she loves to run, hike, bike, and kayak. Every story she tells incorporates her love of animals, nature, and adventure.
www.NaraMalone.com – author blog
www.Therianverse.com–blog containing interactive content for her books from two series that include therian shapeshifters –Patherian Passions, and Passions Portal.
www.PassionsPortal.com– interactive website for Shadowling Manor , the setting for the multi-author paranormal series.
Nara_malone on Twitter
Nara.malone on Facebook
The interactive world Nara built for Blind Heat is here– http://therianverse.com/naras-worlds/
**Nara will be awarding a digital copy of The Tiger’s Tale, first in the Pantherian Passions series, and a $10 Ellora’s Cave GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a GC to purchase a video game targeted for female gamers written by Nara Malone with Orchid Games, Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch to a second randomly drawn commenter.**
Readers, follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/06/virtual-book-tour-blind-heat-by-nara.html