Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Freaks & Freebies with Hayley Lawson-Smith

The Julius Romeros Extravaganza, Part 1, the Bearded Girl

Years ago a distant relative researched our family tree. Scattered on the various branches were the usual 'Ten Pound Poms', farmers and sheep-stealers; people many Aussie families can boast about.

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.

The book Hayley speaks of is at the moment FREE on Kindle! Download your copy today from Amazon.

Blurb: Abigail has been born into a wealthy, upper-class family. Good breeding is essential to her upbringing. But Abigail has been born with a beard and the prudish housekeeper, Mrs Hiffeltrimp, along with her stuffy butler husband, aim to veil this whiskery problem from the rest of the world. While Abigail's mother hides herself in an expensive health spa and the master of the house is away at war, Mrs Hiffeltrimp will go to any lengths to be rid of the offending whiskers. Even if it means being rid of the little girl from whose chin they sprout.


  1. Hayley,
    This book sounds terrific! I love how you came up with the idea. I am going to download my copy right now!


  2. This book sounds very unusual and interesting. Love it! I just downloaded it.