Tuesday, 9 June 2015

ARI by Cheryl Headford. Meet the Characters

To Be Released 19th June

In preparation for the release of Ari next week, I thought I would introduce you to the characters

Ari is in his late teens and a writer of LGBT novels. His father died when he was very young and he's been brought up by his mother and grandmother, both very strong women.

Ari is intersex with ambiguous genitala. This means he has neither male not female genitalia. All he has 'down there' is what he calls his 'nub', which is described as either an enlarged clitoris or micro penis. 

When Ari was born, his parents were put under a lot of pressure by doctors and social workers to make a decision for Ari and allow him to have surgery to create a gender, one way or the other. Ari's parents were strong enough to resist the pressure and allow Ari to grow and develop naturally. To make up his own mind when he was mature enough.

For Ari, there was no issue at all until adolescence reared its ugly head. Of course he'd known he was different. Children experiment and see more than we think, but he had no concept that his difference was significant. It was a difference akin to hair and eye colour, although it did make choosing which toilet to use in school a little more difficult, and something of an adventure.

Of course, with the advent of puberty when children start thinking about their bodies in different ways, the difference became more significant, and Ari's insecurity was born, although never allowed to fully flourish.

After being labelled a 'freak' early on, and having two disastrous pre sexual experiences which ultimately ended in physical violence, Ari was taken out of school and spent the last few years of his life pretty much secluded with his mother and grandmother in a remote house near Portsmouth in the UK.

Under the influence of the strong women who reared him, Ari grew up completely accepting and open with his gender and sexuality. He is about as gender fluid as they come. Sometimes he feels masculine and is a boy, and sometimes he feels feminine and is a girl. His sense of gender flows naturally from one to the other and back according to his moods, although he identifies mostly as male. He is (mostly) entirely comfortable with this and finds it quite natural to be either gender.

When he meets Benji he falls hard and fast, but his latent insecurities about his gender raise their ugly heads and it is only when a random even reveals his secret to Benji can he begin to relax and be completely himself. 

Benji's initial reaction to the revelation wasn't the best but he quickly realized that he was falling for the person, not the package and as soon as that was cleared up Ari went from strength to strength, blossoming in Benji's care as he had in his mother and grandmother's

Benji is an entirely different kettle of fish. Although Benji, too has known from a very early age there was something different about himself, he still hadn't found his place. 

Over the years he tried on a number of different labels - tomboy, straight, bisexual, lesbian, and finally, when he was sixteen, transgender - but none of them sat right. Even the transgender he uses now doesn't feel quite right. Maybe if he'd been aware what it was and meant when he was younger it would have been different, but transgender was a term he'd only been introduced to and got familiar with in his late teens.

Like Ari, Benji only really became aware of the extent of his difference to other girls his age when puberty hit. Until then he'd been happy in his role as tomboy, always being 'one of the boys'. Then when puberty hit and his body and sexuality began to develop, he realized he was growing further and further apart from his girl friends and closer to his male friends.

After a few disastrous relationships left him unsatisfied with either male or female partners, he started to wonder why. Of course, at that time, he was still Poppy; Daddy's little girl.

Finding himself playing the role of the 'man' in all of his sexual encounters, Benji gradually came to realize that this was not because he was a control freak, but because he was, in fact, a boy. With the discovery of the trans community came an wave of relief and understanding, and a belief he'd finally found his place.

Unfortunately, he too found insecurities worming their way in to his new found understanding of himself and he began to question whether he could really be a boy, when he still sometimes liked to wear high heels, sexy underwear and make up. Could he really be male when his female side was still there, and sometimes still strong.

At sixteen, his world was shattered when, after a tragically short illness his mother died and his father threw him out of the only home he'd ever known due to his inability to accept Benji (as opposed to Poppy)

A series of events led him to take responsibility for his younger brother who had lived with him for almost three years.

Going to the UK Meet of LGBT writers feels like a new start. It's his first trip out of Wales alone and the freedom is making him dizzy. He's already half in love with Ari from having grown to know him online, and is excited to meet him and to find out why Ari is so keen to keep everyone guessing whether he's a boy or a girl.

Benji is sure that when he meets Ari he'll know...but the doesn't. Ari still isn't telling and he's so fluid Benji can't make a call at all - and that only attracts him even more.

When he discovers Ari's secret Benji runs, but very quickly gives himself a quick shake and realizes it really doesn't make a difference because he's already falling for the wonderful person Ari is, and he's a poor one to be making those kinds of judgments in any event, given his own situation.

When they finally admit their mutual attraction, sparks fly and Ari's unique wisdom opens Benji's eyes to how unimportant labels really are and that labels are what you make them in any even.

Finding home in each other the two boys face the future with hope and confidence - and that's when their story really starts.

Ari is the story of two very unusual boys and their journey of discovery, from tentative beginnings, to a love that is so strong it can overcome just about anything - and boy does it need to be

Reserve your copy of Ari now, and don't miss getting two know two of the sweetest and most unique people you will ever read

Book trailer


Pre-order Links

No comments:

Post a Comment