Thursday, April 7, 2011

Breaking Faith - Stuart Aken

Brought up in isolation and ignorance by a religious fanatic, Faith is forced to take work with local glamour photographer, Leigh. His cruel, misogynist assistant hates her on sight and threatens her with violence. When Faith falls in love with Leigh, will she defeat the dangers she faces or will corruption overcome her innocence and destroy her?

Writing since I could hold a pencil, I have always been fascinated by words and their power to transform, educate, illuminate, entertain and influence. Stories are so fundamental to human beings that they form an essential part of our psyche, and to be privileged to tell my own versions of tales that have abounded for millennia is an honor.
I was born in Hull, England, in 1948 and had my first writing published in the form of illustrated articles for the British photographic press when I was 19. My fiction started with a radio play, Hitch Hiker, produced and broadcast on national radio by BBC Radio 4 in the 1970s. Several of my short stories have been published and others have been prize winners in competitions.
I am married, for the second time, to a charming and lovely lady who proof-reads my work. We have a daughter who, at the time of writing, is preparing for entry to university to take a photography degree.

What will readers like about your book?
As one reader put it: ‘I read this book in one sitting, unwilling to put it down, immersed in the Yorkshire of the sweltering summer of 1976 and Faith's journey from darkness to self-knowledge. Her sometimes frightening honesty washes all hypocrisy away, for she is a girl who sees things as they are and tells it the way it is.’ 

Why did you self publish?
The story was too radical for conservative mainstream publishers to dare take on.

What is your writing process?
I must get the story down first. Editing, which I take very seriously, comes only when the tale has been completely told.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
My inspirations are many. But this tale was born out of love for those who understand that emotion, dislike of those who use other people for their own ends, suspicion of those who confuse religion with spirituality, and frustration with those who think sex is the same as love.


‘Fainted, love.’ Mrs Hodge frowned down at me. ‘Fainted with the heat after the snow.’ She spoke slowly and loudly, as if I might be deaf, or stupid, like so many others did.
‘Thank you, Mrs Hodge, I know. I’m sorry. I don’t usually fall over when I meet people.’
‘Don’t worry on my account, love. Women fall at my feet all the time.’
‘Bighead.’ Mrs Hodge accused him.
Father held women inferior to men but I had seen them behave almost as equals at the Dairy. It was good to know that, in this house of sin, women were able to speak their minds.
Mrs Hodge squinted down at me. ‘You all right, love?’
‘I’ll be fine if you’ll help me to my feet and let me sit for a bit, thank you.’
Her look of confusion deepened.
‘Told you.’ The man smiled back down at me with satisfaction. ‘Sure you’re ready to be upright?’
‘I’d feel happier perpendicular than prone, now my brain’s recovered its circulation, thank you.’
Mrs Hodge looked utterly flummoxed but helped me to my feet and guided me to a wooden chair in front of the desk. ‘It’s no good, love; I’ve got to know. You are Faith Heacham, aren’t you?’
‘Yes. I’m sorry about that. I normally just say hello, you know.’
The man grinned and held out his hand. ‘Leighton Longshaw; pleased to meet you, Miss Heacham, or is it Faith?’
I took his hand. It was warm, dry and firm. At the Dairy, I had started with Father’s formal approach but quickly learned most people preferred first names. ‘Faith.’
He held my hand for what seemed a long time and only let go when a slight frown crossed his brow. ‘Coffee or tea, Faith? Or something stronger?’
‘What are you having, Mr Longshaw?’
‘Call me Leigh, everybody does. “Mister” makes me feel a hundred.’
‘And he’s only ninety-eight, you know.’
I saw a twinkle in Mrs Hodge’s eye and, starting to understand some of the humour I had heard at the Dairy, wondered if I should risk joining in. The way she spoke to the man made me bold. ‘I can’t believe that, Mrs Hodge. I wouldn’t have thought Leigh was that old.’ She looked at me expectantly and I dared the rest. ‘No, not a day over eighty-nine.’
They both laughed and the look that passed between Leigh and his housekeeper showed me I had been right to try.
‘I’ll get the coffee.’ Mrs Hodge left, shaking her head.
‘Ma thought you were…, your reputation, you know?’
‘Reputations, Leigh. I suspect, and hope with all my heart, that you know more than most folk just how false they can be.’


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