Tintabula, a bedtime novel

Silence is a sounding thing, to one who listens hungrily. ~Gwendolyn Bennett

Tintabula is a story of sensory delight and overstimulation, exploring the moment when rapture turns to derangement. A modern Alice in Wonderland for the neurodivergent set, the novel follows a young woman with Sensory Processing Disorder on her odyssey through the dream world, navigating the twists and turns of consciousness, interoception and the psychic landscape.

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Very St. Clair falls asleep like she falls in the waking world: clumsily. For Very, sleep is unattainable, sounds are searing, and she has trouble processing the tintinnabulation of the world, world, world.

Desperate, Very takes an experimental sleep class led by a fringe-science neurologist. That night, Very falls asleep easily–too easily, perhaps–and is dragged through the undertow of a series of phantasmagorical dreamscapes.

Very discovers that she and her sleep classmates were lured to this dream world, called Tintabula, for a reason; It involves a young girl, Viking metal and a black stallion named Bathory. Her classmates have their own sensitivities: the neurodivergent, the anxious, the empaths, the obsessive personalities, the attention-deficit-disordered. Those who feel too much, too fast, too late, too much. Or, “feelies,” as Very likes to call people like herself.

In this collective lucid dream, where fireworks blossom into nebulae, and wildflower fields swell with breath, creativity kills the competition and the introverted, for once, are verted in the right direction.

Very finds the quirks that plague her in real life are super-powers here. She’s what you’d call filthy rich with innerworld expertise. Very’s heartbreaking childhood haunts her through different dream vignettes as she comes to terms with her own brand of “weird girl power,” and defeats a madman, all while trying not to get trapped in Tintabula forever. Though she’s not entirely sure that would be a bad thing.

Infused with absurdity, the prose of Tintabula is much like the psychedelic landscape of the realm itself: Embodying an exquisite appreciation for the ridiculous, a fluency in the nonsensical, and above all else, a belief that whimsy is an underrated therapy for the soul.

Hilarious, strange and yet somehow nostalgic at the same time, this is a psychedelic meditation on the languages we speak that no one ever talks about. Woven throughout are shiny tricks to calm a busy mind courtesy of synesthesia, ASMR, Sensory Integration through Occupational Therapy, and psychological therapies for anxiety.

Tintabula is a love story for outcasts who yearn to feel comfortable in their bodies, in their minds, on this planet.

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