SARAH J. HARRIS
The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder
One Ordinary Day at a Time
Thirteen-year-old Jasper Wishart lives in a world of dazzling colour that no one else can see, least of all his dad. Words, numbers, days of the week, people’s voices—everything has its own unique shade. But recently Jasper has been haunted by a colour he doesn’t like or understand: the colour of murder.
Convinced he’s done something terrible to his new neighbour, Bee Larkham, Jasper revisits the events of the last few months to paint the story of their relationship from the very beginning. As he struggles to untangle the knot of untrustworthy memories and colours that will lead him to the truth, it seems that there’s someone else out there determined to stop him—at any cost.
Both a touching coming-of-age story and an intriguing mystery, The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is a poignant and unforgettable read—perfect for fans of bestselling authors such as Mark Haddon and Graeme Simsion.
So excited and thrilled that my book was published in the USA by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
My book is both a touching coming-of-age story and an intriguing mystery, The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is a poignant and unforgettable read—perfect for fans of bestselling authors such as Mark Haddon and Graeme Simsion.
You can also listen to the Colour of Bee Larkham' Murder on audio books. This was read by the amazing Huw Parmenter, best known from Vikings.
You can also listen to my podcast, in which I speak to experts and the people who experience face blindness and synaesthesia to find out more about them and what this means in their everyday lives. There is also the first chapter of my book read by Huw.
I'm an author and freelance education journalist, writing for national newspapers.
The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder was my first adult novel and was published by HarperCollins in May 2018 in the UK and by Touchstone Books in the United States in June 2018, with other countries including Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Turkey, China, Croatia, Israel, France and the Czech Republic.
My second adult novel was One Ordinary Day at a Time, also published by Harper Collins and it came out in January 2022
I grew up in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, and studied English at Nottingham University before gaining a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.
I trained as a journalist at the Western Daily Press in Bristol, where my highlight was interviewing screen legend Charlton Heston and my low point was being sneezed on by a cow at a fatstock competition.
I enjoy martial arts - I'm a black belt in karate and a green belt in kick-boxing. I live in London with my husband and two teenage sons.
I first came across synaesthesia nine years ago, during my work as an education journalist - and have been fascinated ever since. Researchers at Edinburgh University had carried out the first ever study into the prevalence in childhood of the condition that causes a ‘merging of the senses’. The study estimated that the average UK primary school has at least two pupils who experience colour when they hear or see words. But researchers warned of a lack of awareness in schools - a finding that probably still resonates today.
The findings stayed with me long after my synaesthesia feature was published in a national newspaper in 2008. I often wondered what it must be like for a child when people struggle to understand their daily experiences - or simply don’t want to know. Over the years, I’ve kept cuttings from newspapers and magazines about synaesthesia and also avidly read up on another condition called prosopagnosia or face blindness. The inability to recognise familiar faces affects about one in 50 people and can be particularly stressful - and dangerous - for children. Among the pupils in a corridor, who is their real friend and who is their tormentor? Outside the school gates, who is their mum? Who is a total stranger?
I wanted to write a novel that combined the joy of seeing a world through colour, with the dangers of never really knowing who to trust. The character of Jasper eventually came to me in a dream - a harrowing image of a young boy tearing across a suburban street at night, terror etched on his face. When I woke up, I realised a particular colour could have traumatised the boy. Perhaps he had face blindness and identified people by the colour of their voices. What if the voice colour of someone he knew had transformed to a horrifying shade as they screamed? What if he had seen the colour of their murder? The book grew from there and I was enormously helped throughout the process of writing it by the synaesthesia and face blind community, here in the UK and the United States. I interviewed experts and many people with both conditions to make my novel as authentic as possible and to help with plot points.
I was also inspired by wild ring-necked parakeets, which I often see bickering in my back garden and local parks. I imagined Jasper standing at his bedroom window with binoculars, enjoying the vivid colours of their songs. I interviewed wildlife experts about the nesting habits of the birds and had lessons in painting with Acrylics as Jasper is a keen painter who captures on canvas the sounds of the baby and adult parakeets nesting in his neighbour, Bee Larkham’s oak tree. I painted the different hues of voices and the most important picture of all, the colour of Bee Larkham’s murder - ice blue crystals with glittery edges and jagged, silver icicles - to learn how Jasper would also eventually attempt the horrifying task.
The extensive research was crucial - and I have to say, thoroughly enjoyable. I still paint with my children and watch the parakeets in my back garden. I remain a member of a worldwide online synaesthesia forum and since finishing my novel I’ve become one of the founding members of the International Association of Synaesthetes, Artists and Scientists (IASAS).
My interest in Jasper’s intriguing world will never wane. I hope you will want to experience it too.