I am so excited that Cheryl Headford is back with us today, rocking her hat (per usual!) and bringing us a great excerpt from her book The Face in the Window. <3
Hi Cheryl! Welcome back to the insanity that is my Hat Party. Please don your best hat and let’s get this party started!
If you could have your ideal secret writing lair, what would it look like?
Tell me one of your earliest writing memories.
I was camping with my sister and her family. I was maybe eight or nine. I had a dog eared old notebook. I think an old school one. I was sitting in a folding camping chair, writing while I watched my niece and nephew playing around. I didn’t really get to do much writing, because shortly afterwards I was soaked with a water pistol and it ruined the book.
Describe yourself using a literary quote.
"From life's school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger" Neitzche
You’ve been stabbed, shot, AND bludgeoned! (WOW, enemies, much?) As you’re dying, what one object do you possess that is so special to you that you wouldn’t write the killer’s name on it?
It would definitely be one of my paintings. My laptop would be okay because you could just wash the blood off. Same with my son, and the dog. The cats would have buggered off. But my paintings would be ruined.
Be totally honest, what’s the worst part of being a writer?
Not being appreciated. I don’t know about anyone else but my writing ego is fragile as hell. It hurts when it seems everyone around me is selling books, winning awards and prizes, and having fans.
Tell me about a time in your life when you were changed.
Wow, this is hard. There have been many. The birth of both children changed me in different ways, as did both occasions when I was rejected by my husbands. Breaking my back brought about a big change.
I think the biggest change came about when I joined the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. It was about 1986/7. I was in my early twenties and a new mother. It was going through a bad patch in my spiritual life. At the time I was a Christian and there was a big gaping hole inside that just wasn’t being filled. I tried everything from daily reading the Bible to getting involved with the church but the more involved I got the hollower it seemed. Christianity just wasn’t doing it for me and there were certain parts of the Bible that repulsed me to the point I decided that if Christians were right I hated the so called god they created.
I was angry, disenchanted and restless. Then I came to Druidry and I took to it instantly. It called to my Celtic roots and ultimately brought me the peace I so desperately needed. I can’t say the change was quick, but it was profound and it moved me a very long way from where I was before,
The spirituality I found at that time crested a sacred place within me that became my haven of peace where I still go when life is difficult.
A drunken relative has just insulted M/M rom up one side and down the other. Plus they spilled their drink on you in the process. What is your most articulate response?
Depends if I’m drunk too. If I am there would probably be a lot of swearing. If not I might say something like -
Clearly you’re an authority on the subject, so you must have read a lot of it. I wonder if that’s why your hand is so shaky.
You can go back to any point in your life and give yourself a pep-talk. How old is your past self and what do you say?
Probably my 17 year old self planning a wedding. I would probably say something like – for God’s sake stop behaving like you’re already middle aged. Don’t put your life on hold for a mother who doesn’t deserve you, and stop trying to gain approval you’re never going to get.
Live a little. Let your hair down and dye it green, then travel and be the mother****ing freak you know you are.
Complete this sentence: if I weren’t a writer, I would ______ probably be dead.
You’ve just inherited a dachshund farm. What do you do now?
Plant dachshunds, of course.
~ ~ ~
ISBN# 978-1-60820-8937 (print) $14.99
MLR-1-02013-0162 (ebook) $7.99
Cover Artist Deana C. Jamroz
288 pages / 79,000 words
Ace is blind and Haze is damaged. They live in different worlds and not everyone is happy when they become boyfriends. Haze is struggling with the after effects of a traumatic event in his past that has left him at the mercy of an uncontrollable rage. When Ace’s brother steps up his campaign of torment against Ace, they’re all in danger from Haze’s outbursts, though it isn’t until things get completely out of control that the healing can really begin. But with Ace unseeing and Haze perched on the edge of a cliff, will either of them survive long enough to benefit?
We had lunch in the same restaurant that we had the first time, and Nick was suitably impressed. Ace enthused about the menus, the food, how nice the waitresses were, and Nick watched him with a slightly bemused expression on his face.
That was nothing though to the expression he wore when we went down onto the beach and I had Ace doing cartwheels again.
“Bloody hell,” he murmured under his breath as we watched Ace’s wild abandon. I don’t think he was physically able to say any more. Ace literally took his breath away.
“He’s full of surprises, isn’t he?”
Nick nodded, unable to take his eyes away from his brother.
Eventually Ace stopped and stood still, turning his face to the sea breeze, and simply waited, quietly.
“What’s he doing now?”
“Waiting for what?”
I couldn’t help a giggle. “For us, of course. He has no idea where he is now.”
“Oh. I…I didn’t think. He must trust you a lot; just to stand and wait and not be scared.”
“Ace is never scared. He’s the bravest person I know.”
We were walking by then, and Nick fell silent. We hadn’t quite got to Ace when he said, “I wish I could see the sea.” There wasn’t any sadness in his voice, just a hint of wistfulness. “It feels so…big and wild.”
“It is.” I slipped my arm around his waist, and he rested his head on my shoulder.
“Mister… Mister…” At the sound of the breathless but excited voices, we turned and I saw two boys, about eleven years old, racing across the beach toward us.
“That was awesome,” one of them gasped as they skidded to a halt.
“Can you do it again? Can you teach us?”
“How did you do it? Are you an acrobat?”
“Or a ninja?”
Ace laughed and shook his head; he frowned thoughtfully. “I don’t know how I do it, not really. It just feels…right. I don’t know if I could teach anyone, because I don’t know what I do myself.”
“Aww, but we really want to learn.” His voice was so earnest that Nick and I exchanged glances and stifled giggles.
“Please, Mister, just tell us what you do.”
“I just… You need to find something inside that really wants to come out, that needs to be free, and then you just throw yourself at it and it takes you over.
“I learned how to trust my body and the space around me at school. We do a lot of martial arts and most of the flipping and stuff are just part of the moves.”
One of the boys turned to the other and said, “See? I told you he was a ninja.”
“Ninjas,” said the other one, “wear black and don’t look like that. He’s all white with funny eyes.” His eyes widened, and his face got an excited expression. “Maybe he’s from one of those secret organisations, like the White Dragons or something, like we saw in that film. Maybe he’s an assassin.”
“WOW, Mister. Are you really? Are you? Are you a secret assassin?”
The other boy hit him in the shoulder so hard he almost fell over. “If it’s a secret, he’s not going to tell you about it, is he?”
“Oh. Sorry, Mister.” He was subdued for a moment, with downcast eyes, scuffing the sand. Then he brightened up and with a sly expression on his face. “But are you? Are you really? I mean you can trust us, because we’re only kids so you know we’re not like…like from a rival gang or something.”
His friend rolled his eyes and sighed. “Sorry. He’s a bit thick. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.” Ace was grinning as the boy dragged his friend away.
“Hehe, one day I’m an angel and the next a secret ninja assassin. Nice. I wonder what I’ll be tomorrow.”
I hugged him close. “Mine,” I said, and he giggled.
Available from Featherweight Publishing | Amazon
Is there anything special you’d like us to know about your book?
What are your hopes for this title?
What inspired you to write the story you’re promoting?
My basic premise was to write a story that was much lighter and less angst ridden than my usual stuff. I was already getting a reputation for being dark all the way through, which is quite right, and I wanted to show I could do other things and write about people who weren’t totally broken.
But, of course, the darkness still crept in. I just couldn’t stop it. It’s just way less noticeable in this story. There’s more humour and less distress. Of course, the main character turned out to be blind, but that doesn’t hold him back at all. If anything he’s the one who brings the lightness.
My secondary premise was to explore the nature of love. From the stifling love that have parents basically locking their child away from the world because they’re afraid of how the world will treat him, to the very different love between two very different sets of siblings, to the love between two very different boys.
Is there anything special you’d like us to know about your book?
Ace, the main character, is blind. All through the book I’ve tried to give a strong flavor of what it’s like to be blind, and also to give the message that being blind doesn’t have to be a disability. Ace is the strong one, the one who knows what he wants and where he’s going. He’s the one who brings healing and life, and Haze, his boyfriend, goes through the process of learning first that Ace doesn’t need protecting and saving, to realizing Ace is the one who’s protecting and saving him.
Although the book is about a blind boy and there’s a lot in it about his ‘disability’ it’s also about how he doesn’t let his blindness define him and keeps pushing boundaries. He sees himself as ‘normal’ and just wants everyone else to realize that. He’s independent and can look after himself. To him, disability is a state of mind and he refuses to accept the labels.
I think that’s an important lesson
What are your hopes for this title?
I love Ace, and I think his message, that disability doesn’t have to debilitate you, is important. I want people to see that disabled doesn’t mean damaged or incapable or not normal.
About the Author:
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.