Blind Man’s Bluff is a writer’s humorous and often-heartbreaking tale of losing his sight―and how he hid it from the world. We spoke with author James Tate Hill about the inspiration for Blind Man’s Bluff, his devotion to audiobooks as “Real Books,” and more!
“Disarmingly honest and funny…An inspiring, often incredible story that reminds us of the strength that come from vulnerability.”Bookpage
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
As a young writer, I never imagined publishing a memoir. Of course, when you spend a large portion of your life in denial about a prominent feature of your identity, the idea of writing about yourself takes a while to seem appealing. My first book, a novel called Academy Gothic, was my first foray into writing about my blindness, but I was surprised, while writing essays around the time it came out, that my own story felt like something I could tell—and wanted to tell. Having explored my vision loss behind the mask of a fictional character, I recognized the narrative and comic potential of my lifelong charade of trying to pass for sighted with the blurry peripheral vision I still had.
Only a few pages into Blind Man’s Bluff, the voice felt like something that had been trying to surface for a long time.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
Audiobook readers of Blind Man’s Bluff will encounter a fellow audiobook lover who has read exclusively with his ears for nearly three decades. My memoir even contains a chapter titled “Real Books” that is a sort of love letter to the audiobook.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? What struck you about the narration?
I am still so stunned and overjoyed that we were able to get my dream narrator, Curtis Armstrong. I knew he’d capture the humor and tone of my voice on the page, and his performance is everything I hoped my first audiobook would be. What surprised me about his narration was how much emotion he brought to certain scenes. Listening to it for the first time, I felt parts of my own narrative more deeply than I had since my earliest drafts of the book.
Are you an audiobook listener? What are some of your favorite audiobooks?
Check out this playlist of some of my favorite contemporary memoirs:
Playlist: James Tate Hill’s Audiobook PicksView the playlist
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
I live in Greensboro, NC, where we’ve been lucky to have Scuppernong Books since 2014. Scuppernong is the apotheosis of the independent bookstore, both a place for book lovers and a community hub. They’ve been the driving force behind our annual literary festival, Greensboro Bound, and the spacious store has offered artists and customers a safe and inspiring space since they first opened their doors.
I would also love to give a shout out to a few other North Carolina bookstores I adore, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, Malaprop’s in Asheville, and Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. I feel so lucky to have had events at these stores, and I can’t say enough wonderful things about the staff and book selection of these three indies.