Library to host soundscape workshop based around local author’s book

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, April 14, 2022

Local author Heather Henson is hosting a book reading and soundscape event at the Boyle County Public Library to celebrate the release of her new novel, “Wrecked,” on April 21.

Henson released her young adult novel “Wrecked” on March 22. The story is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest,” and focuses on three teens growing up in the knobs of Kentucky.

Henson describes the book as gritty and real, dealing with the issues of drugs, family secrets, and first love. One of the three teens, Miri, has a father who cooks crystal methamphetamine. Her long-time friend Clay also struggles with family issues. The third teen, Fen, moved to Kentucky from Detroit, and enjoys creating soundscapes as a way to express himself.

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Young Adult Services Librarian Bretton Smith worked with Henson to design an event around the book. They decided to incorporate soundscapes since the character Fen makes them as an art form. Henson contacted artist Elizabeth Haigh, who has made soundscapes in the past, to help with the event.

“We wanted to do an actual reading,” Henson said. “We wanted it to be interactive, not just listening to soundscapes, but Elizabeth will give a workshop.”

Haigh has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in composition. She has written music for orchestras, film, and is a session musician. Haigh recently moved from Los Angeles to Danville, currently works at the Henry County Public Library, and does sound projects in her free time.

Haigh has been working on a soundscape based on Henson’s book. It will be played at the event, and she will host a workshop for people to learn to make soundscapes.

The event will go from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on April 21. Henson will begin by reading an excerpt from “Wrecked,” to the tune of Haigh’s soundscape. Henson will then sign copies of her book, which will be available for purchase courtesy of Plaid Elephant Bookstore. Haigh will then host a workshop for anyone interested in learning to make soundscapes.

Participants will learn basic concepts and be able to use free resources. Haigh will have people pick sounds from a website and put them together to create ambient sounds and music.

She wrote down parts of the book that would incorporate sound, as an inspiration for participants; such as when birds are singing or when Fen hears Miri on her motorcycle. As for Haigh’s own soundscape, she is working on ambiance for different scenes.

“Right now I’m working on a sound where Miri hops on her bike, goes through the yard, then gets on the open road where she just feels so free,” Haigh said. “So I’ve literally got a vintage Harley sportster sound, the engine running, recorded from someone riding on the passenger side.”

Haigh explained that the art form is not limited to music, but is also not sound effects, like coffee dripping or slamming doors. Rather, soundscapes create ambiance or emotion, like a storm building in the background to show anger.

After creating soundscapes, participants will have the opportunity to share. The experience is not just for teens; adults are welcome. Snacks will be provided. See the full schedule below.

6:00-6:10 – Hello and welcome. Introduce Heather and Elizabeth. What to expect from the event.

6:10-6:30 – Reading/soundscape portion.

6:30-6:50 – Q&A with Heather and Elizabeth about writing and sound design

6:50-7:30 –  Heather signs books

6:50-7:00 – Elizabeth sets up sound design prompts and gives instruction

7:00-7:20 – Attendees work on sound design

7:20-7:30 – Attendees present work (optional) and close with summary/last questions/advice