Today I am one of the stops on the blog blitz for Thalidomide Kid by Kate Rigby. I will be sharing an extract from the novel. And if you live in the UK, there is a giveaway going on!
Daryl Wainwright is the quirky youngest child of a large family of petty thieves and criminals who calls himself ‘Thalidomide Kid’.
Celia Burkett is the new girl at the local primary school, and the daughter of the deputy head at the local comprehensive where she is bound the following September. With few friends, Celia soon becomes fascinated by ‘the boy with no arms’.
The story of a blossoming romance and sexual awakening between a lonely girl and a disabled boy, and their struggle against adversity and prejudice as they pass from primary to secondary school in 1970s Cirencester. The story deals with themes and issues that are timeless.
This is an excerpt where Celia overhears a conversation about ‘the boy with no arms’. Celia is still at primary school and her father, deputy head of ‘the big school’ has invited the head Miss Bond, for a meal.
“Should we retire to the snug?” Dad said, when second helpings had long been demolished; a cue for the girls to clear away the plates and help Mum with the dishes. Celia and Abby took out the sherry glasses first, sipping the bits left at the bottom. They knew which was Miss Bond’s glass by the pink shade of her lipstick.
By the time they’d done the dishes and their mother had seen to the coffees in the best Prinknash cups, the conversation had switched again. Dad, in one of the armchairs, was relighting his pipe, the blackened match nearly burning his fingers in its dying flare, while Miss Bond was holding forth on the studio couch, the tail end of which was about a fourth year boy from Upper Churnside who was always truanting and up to no good, even when he did attend school.
“Let’s be blunt …” Miss Bond continued, her glasses on the end of a chain and her plump knees pointing to one side. “They’re a family of juvenile delinquents and congenital liars.”
Mrs Burkett, after offering the coffees, sat at the other end of the studio couch. Abby took the other armchair, leaving Celia with the milking stool one of the boys had made in woodwork at Dad’s old school in Accrington. She sat on it against the wall and pulled out one of her old Buntys that had somehow found its way into the magazine rack, having decided that it was OK to flick through her comic in this situation, seeing as the grown-ups were talking about stuff which wasn’t strictly for her ears. In this situation, discretion was a good strategy, she decided, and tried to lose herself in the pictures of fictional schoolgirls, some with pudding-basin haircuts like her own.
“It’s not surprising,” Miss Bond went on. “The father’s in and out of prison and a couple of the older ones have been sent to borstal.” She looked at their father over her slanted glasses. “Even the younger ones are at it. There’s one, only about ten years old.”
Celia noticed how this Bunty had lost its new smell, that hot off-the-press smell it had when the instalments were all eagerly waiting to be read.
“A Thalidomide,” said Miss Bond. “So he gets away with a lot of mischief because of his handicap. Apparently he was caught stealing and was sent home with little more than a slap on the wrist, except he hasn’t a wrist to slap, of course. Maybe he wants to prove to his family that he can be like them, though I think it’s more a case of them exploiting his handicap. He’d be about Celia’s age.”
Miss Bond glanced over at Celia who’d become enthralled by the story unfolding outside the confines of her comic. It must be him that Miss Bond was talking about. The boy with no arms.
“I think he goes to her school,” continued Miss Bond. “The mother had a fight to let him go there, I believe, instead of the physically handicapped place. Of course, we’ll be presented with the same dilemma next year, though we pride ourselves on our progressive policies towards the integration of the handicapped at Cirencester High. A mark of any civilized society, don’t you think?”
The conversation gradually moved on again to the fourth year parents’ evening and PTAs and school governors, and Celia drifted off, glowing on dregs of sherry and thinking of May and June with their severed legs and the handicapped boy with hair the colour of a doll’s. Lovely, unspoilt hair.
About the Author:
Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south west of England. She’s been writing for nearly forty years. She has been traditionally published, small press published and indie published.
She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and has since been updated.
However she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003) Sucka!(2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work has appeared in Skrev’s magazines.
Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).
Her novel Savage To Savvy was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Quarter-Finalist in 2012.
She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories, in an erotic anthology published by Pfoxmoor Publishing and more recently in an anthology of Awkward Sexcapades by Beating Windward Press.
She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?).
She has re-Kindled her backlist and is gradually getting her titles (back) into paperback.
Win 1 signed copy of Thalidomide Kid
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*Terms and Conditions –Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for Fierce Grace by Jess B. Moore. I will be sharing an extract from the novel.
Annabelle Dare is in a good place. She landed a sweet job, teaching at the quaint Fox River Elementary School. She has everything she needs: teaching music and sharing an apartment with her best friend. A simple life, she’s convinced, is all she needs.
Asher Grace knows who he is and what he has to offer. Nothing. A poor boy from the wrong side of town, steel worker, with too much weight on his shoulders as he is trying to hold his family together. Best choice is avoiding too-sweet-for-her-own-good Annabelle at all costs.
Annabelle falls in love with the way she comes to life with Asher. He awakens a hunger for life and love in her that she didn’t know she possessed.
Asher must learn his worth beyond his upbringing and his past. Annabelle must learn to stoke the fire of life as it burns within her and learn how close she can get before the flames lick her.
Buy Fierce Grace here.
**Note from Jess B. Moore: I’ve pulled this extract from an intimate scene early in the book. The first time Annabelle and Asher have been alone together, talking and opening up with one another.
I like this scene – and chose to share it with you – because it tells us so much about each of them. We have their desire, but also their need to get to know one another first. Asher is protective of his family, and swamped about worries where Annabelle is concerned. You also have your first peek into Annabelle’s past – one she isn’t quite ready to share yet.
My body responded to his nearness, to his words, until it took all my effort not to lean into him. I couldn’t move away. Not while he looked at me with desire painted on his handsome face. My feet wanted to lift onto my toes and push me upward for a kiss. I stared boldly at his lips.
Asher moved first, not breaking the spell, but weaving it. He brought his hands to my arms, moved them slowly up and down. My heart raced and my fingers tingled and all I wanted was to fall into his warm chest and clutch hold of him. Then he took my hands and directed us to the living room.
He sat on my sofa, like it wasn’t totally strange he was there with me. I sat down too, leaving an entire empty cushion between us. I was reading too much into little things, and tried in vain to stop the crazy pounding of thoughts in my skull.
“How many brothers do you have?”
It was the first normal thing to pop into my head as a topic of conversation. I knew he had brothers, plural, from mentions here and there. The Grace brothers were a source of whispered gossip in Fox River, and I had generally ignored anything I heard about them. Asher was the only one I’d met, which seemed strange in such a small town. He’d mentioned an older and physically bigger brother the night before.
But after asking, it seemed like the wrong thing. Jumping into the personal without looking first. His face was carefully guarded when he answered.
“Two. One older. One younger.” Asher paused, clearing his throat, and had to make himself continue. “Hudson is turning thirty this year. Which is unbelievable. I can’t figure out how we got so old.”
“Speak for yourself.” I swatted at him and he let out a laugh. He watched my movements, and it helped him relax, to sink into the couch.
“Brandt is twenty-four. He’s … well, he’s got a lot of growing up to do yet.”
He sounded both protective and pissed when he talked about Brandt. I had oh so many more questions. But I thought better of it, and let it drop.
He nodded, his face serious. Of course with his secretly paying attention, and having asked Nate and Kendra about me, he would know my age.
“I’m trying to convince myself I’m not too old for you.”It sounded like an excuse. Not a very good one either.
“It’s four years. That’s nothing.” I rolled my eyes at him.
Age is a funny thing. When you’re young, every year matters. If we talked about me being fifteen and him being nineteen, then yeah, he would be too old for me. Even when we met, I was twenty-one and he was twenty-five, and he seemed a lot older. I had still been in college, living without a lot of responsibility, very little insight on the Real World. He’d had a legit job that required hard work, and had been supporting himself for who knows how long. The age gap was big at some point. But over the course of a couple of years, it had dwindled. Now we were both simply in our twenties. No big deal.
“Do you have siblings?”
“No.” I shook my head, “Only child.”
I’d always wished for a sibling, a little sister to follow me around and keep me company. I romanticized the whole notion, imagining a sweet and spunky little girl who would adore me. We would have been best friends. But I outgrew those childish fantasies about the time my dad succumbed to alcohol and became a monster. I wouldn’t want my precious imaginary sister to grow up in my house after all.
Another note from Jess B. Moore:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this exclusive sneak peek from Fierce Grace and it leaves you wanting more!
Fierce Grace is available through Amazon, in digital and paperback:
My debut novel, The Guilt of a Sparrow is also available (with ties to Fierce Grace) here.
I hope you enjoyed reading a small piece of my book, and that you want to get to know Annabelle and Asher even more now!!
With mirth & moxie,
Jess B. Moore
About the Author:
Jess B Moore is a writer of love stories. When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her talented and stubborn children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.
Jess lives in small town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family. She takes too many pictures of her cats, thinking the Internet loves them as much as she does. She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.
Please leave a review to tell other readers what you thought. Reviews are everything for writers!
Look her up on social media @authorjessb – she’d be thrilled if you followed her on Twitter, overjoyed if you visited her on Facebook, and filled with glee if you liked her Instagram posts.
Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for Love Punked by Nia Lucas. I will be sharing an extract from the novel.
When her life is irrevocably altered by a post-Rave tryst on her mother’s floral patio recliner, Erin Roberts’ long-standing relationship with Humiliation takes her down a path that’s not so much ‘less well trodden’, more ‘perilous descent down sheer cliffs’.
Armed with a fierce devotion to her best friend and the unrequited love for the boy she might have accidentally married at age seven, when Erin falls pregnant at sixteen, life veers off at a most unexpected tangent.
Her journey to adulthood is far from ordinary as Erin learns that protecting the hearts of those most precious to you isn’t balm enough when your Love Punked heart is as sore as your freshly tattooed arse.
Whilst raising football prodigies and trying not to get stuck in lifts with Social Work clients who hate her, Erin discovers that sometimes you have to circumnavigate the globe to find the very thing that was there all along.
“EARTH TO ROBERTS! Jesus woman, you gonna write on my bloody shirt or what?”, I am jolted out of my slightly nauseous daydreaming by Gio Romano, brandishing a marker pen and pointing at his graffiti-scrawled shirt.
Today is the last day before study leave starts and my peers have all lost the proverbial plot. Teacher’s cars have been egged and ketchup’d in the car-park, leading to two of my classmates being led away in handcuffs following their arrest for criminal damage after the ketchup stripped the paint off the cars. Well played lads.
There has been a water fight which saw an entire corridor of art-displays ruined and another five of my peers being frog-marched home under suspensions and the pièce de résistance was the arrival of the two ambulances which were required when another group decided to try stacking the picnic benches on the hockey field. They managed to make it to five benches high before the pile collapsed on them and the resultant crush injuries required paramedics.
The remainder of the Class of ‘96 are now sat under armed guard in our common room, Mr. Gibson threatening bloody deaths to anyone who so much as farts out of turn.
“You ‘kay Roberts? You look well peaky?”, Gio’s face is scrunched up in concern which surprises me.
As a rule, I avoid Gio Romano. After being at school together for our entire childhoods and adolescence, the coffin nail in our fractious association was that night at the Under 18’s Disco last year, when he and Daniel McNamara rode roughshod over my fragile teenage ego. He always makes a point of taking the piss or catcalling me on the bus, winking at me like he’s hilarious when I retaliate.
Gio, the grandson of Italian immigrants, has become a little bit of a heart-throb this year though. He’s by far the most physically matured lad in Year 11, he’s over six feet tall and whispers abound about an alleged six-pack. He’s also got the olive skin and dark curls that give him a bit of an edge on his more doughy, rural peers. To me, he will always be annoying Gio Romano who used to pick his bogies in Mass and whose willy I reluctantly observed in the home corner at playgroup when we were four. He’d cried when I’d dropped my own knickers and showed him my fairy. To be fair, I think he was expecting a woodland creature with wings. They were probably tears of disappointment.
He still considers Daniel McNamara to be his ‘best mate’ and on the school bus, my ears prick up when I hear him reading aloud Daniel’s letters to the lads. Daniel is loving life in New Zealand, a surfer apparently and in possession of a tanned, blonde girlfriend whose photo elicited whoops from the lads.
Today though, our interaction is a continuance of what I can only describe as a ‘thawing’ in our association. I think that Adam has said something to Gio, I’m actually certain that he has, because it’s often Adam AND Gio who wade in when the comments directed my way get too bawdy or the girls looks become too vicious.
Right now though, he’s not wrong. I do feel peaky. In fact, I feel proper poorly.
“Gio, I don’t feel very well”, as I stand to run to the nearby loo, I am astonished to see that the common room carpet has also decided to come for a little jog with me. In fact, it’s jogging very fast towards my face.
When I start to come round, my body is gently bouncing, as if I’m on a horse. I can’t open my eyes right now because they are too heavy and it’s too hard but I’m definitely riding something. I can feel something warm and firm against my cheek, strong supports against my back and under my knees and I can smell something nice, like herbs and lemons.
I think I’ve got on that bloody horse with Humiliation Palmer-Smart.
Then my horse speaks, “Don’t you chunder on me Roberts, we’re nearly at sick bay, don’t you bloody hurl on me now”, it turns out that when horses speak, they do it with Gio Romano’s voice.
I find the energy to prise open one eye and peer out like a tortoise.
“Gio?”, I think that Gio Romano is carrying me.
“Roberts, you wanna be grateful I caught you back there. Your face was headed right for that floor and honestly, you can’t afford to get any uglier”
I’ve thrown up all over him before I even realise what’s happened. To be fair, he doesn’t stop moving nor does he drop me but he’s not happy,
“FUCK’S SAKE ROBERTS!! That is pure rank”. I’m not listening though, the darkness has claimed me again.
About the Author:
I am a UK based author of Contemporary women’s fiction who is passionate about telling the stories of strong, sympathetic, entertaining and engaging female characters and the lives that they lead. My Welsh heritage and my life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences my work as does my love of all things 90’s and an adolescence spent immersed in clubbing culture.