But there was also a gentleman with a more unique claim to fame. He was a Londoner named Charles, born with no arms, double-jointed legs and six toes on each foot. Times being what they were, poor Chuck didn't have a whole lot of prospects, so his older brother placed him in what was politely called a 'side-show' once he was in his teens. Despite being stuck in a cruel situation, my ancestor became successful, performing tricks such as pouring tea with his toes, even playing the piano, and I couldn't help being fascinated, and fairly proud, that there was a 'freak' in our family.
Particularly when I went on to read that Charles married young and fathered twelve healthy children. Not a bad effort.
Being a theatre person myself, I’ve always loved the arts, artists, extroverts and performers. I was intrigued by the idea of being part of a world of colourful characters; a romanticised story of life in a freak-show formed in my head and it was a story I wrote for myself. It's a trick I’ve done since being a kid; creating a character I can live through, someone who has outlandish adventures, meeting eccentric and off-the-wall folk. For this story, I chose a bearded girl. I took the idea of a child running away to join the circus and twisted it a little; it occurred to me that my ancient relative hadn't so much 'run away', but he was 'given away'. The Julius Romeros Extravaganza, Part 1 covers Abigail’s childhood, into her teens and young adulthood. Basically, I had a lot of fun writing this book, always with the goal of writing Parts 2 and 3, where things grow a little darker and grittier. My fondest wish is that my audience enjoys reading this novel as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
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