Superfat Seven

Yesterday I was having a chat with one of my writer friends about putting your face online. He has just launched the second novel in his series about Ardamin, a clone inhabiting a dystopian future (check the series out here on Amazon) and he has been promoting the latest novel on Instagram, including showing himself with his book.

So far, so normal. Unless you’re me, or someone like me. I’ve been running this blog since April 2013 (with some gaps for life events) and I’ve never put my face, let alone my body, on view. Over on my Instagram account there are maybe three instances where I’ve revealed myself as an adult. That’s out of 581 posts I’ve put up over there. And… to be honest I fight every day not to take them down. I may yet do that.


Superfat Seven.

When I was nine, we moved house, from a big city to a village. I was The New Girl. And some boys in the class below me immediately started calling me Superfat Seven. Until this point, I don’t think I’d ever thought about how I compared to other kids in my class. I was just me. That name would follow me everywhere I went, and I dreaded walking home from school if they were on the same street (which they often were) because the name calling would follow me home. I’ve seen photos of myself at that age and I can’t see why they chose that name, looking at it objectively. I had pudgy cheeks, but I wasn’t the huge lump that I very quickly saw myself as due to this name. Looking back, I guess the sole reason I was bullied was because I was The New Girl. That was it. But, the name had life-changing consequences.

I’ve never been diagnosed (I’ve never sought it out), but I’m almost certain I have Body Dysmorphia. I will do almost anything to avoid having my photograph taken. Even with family photos as I was growing up, I desperately wanted to grab the camera and throw it to the floor. But I was a well-behaved kid and knew that cameras were expensive so… I didn’t. I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror. The only thing I focus on when doing my hair in the morning is the hair itself. When going somewhere where I have to be presentable, I focus on the neatness and cleanliness of the clothes themselves and whether what I have chosen is objectively ‘good enough’, not how I look in what I am wearing, because I will never accept how I look.

I have learned to mask the depression and anxiety that this has caused, but it has become entangled in other issues over the years. Unravelling it all seems like another lifetime’s work. Masking is what we do to get by in life, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for one minute think that anyone else is bothered by how I look, nor do I think I am the focus of their attention. This is all about my inability to accept myself.

Superfat Seven.

What has this got to do with writing, with being an author? A hell of a lot, actually. Marketing your novel when the perceived wisdom is that you will be more approachable, more memorable, more relatable (I hate that word so much!) if you show your face, is a huge problem for someone like me. I know so many other authors who have their Instagram account filled with themselves. Their posts are bright and engaging and… relatable.

The upside is that I used this crushing mental health issue (because it is a mental health issue, let’s be honest) to my advantage when writing Callie, the main character in Anti-Virus. The cause of her situation is very different and entirely more violent than childhood bullying, but I was able to build on my personal experiences to create her story. So, there is that.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It may be true. Sometimes though, it would be such a relief to be strong without having to go via Superfat Seven Highway to get there.

Home Fires – SoCS June 11/16


Reconnecting with times gone by, my growing up years, the comforting rhythm of a warm and welcoming family home, the transistor radio on the kitchen table providing a constant, mellow-voiced background to my life, my parents, my sister and brother.

I listen now, some voices familiar, some new, the rhythm of their families entwined with mine. Rolling countryside, lives dictated by sowing crops, milking cattle, harvesting when the weather dictates. I can see, in my mind’s eye, the sun, the rain, the laughter, the tears, as if they were mine.

It feels like coming home, this fictitious place, this Ambridge. Fifteen minutes a day, six days a week, the longest running drama in history. It’s been a part of my life for decades. Thank you, Radio 4, for reminding me of home.

Here’s my entry into the lovely Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week she invites us to write anything including a word using the letters ‘mb’. I was listening to The Archers on BBC Radio’s iPlayer when I saw her prompt and it just seemed to fit. For those of you outside the UK, The Archers, a radio drama, has been running since 1950 and the first producer, who had originally worked on agricultural programmes, hoped that farmers in particular would pick up ideas on how to feed a country that was still subject to food rationing post World War Two. It continued with this heavy emphasis on education until the early 1970s, when the drama began to take precedence. Personally speaking, I still learn a lot from it, and I can hear the echo of farming news in the storylines (Radio 4 also produces Farming Today at the crack of dawn, and many of the issues discussed in  this news programme are reflected in The Archers over time).

The Archers has a loyal fan base, of all ages. There is a blog here, if you are interested, and the lovely Stephen Fry has an introduction to what it’s about here.

Anyway, thank you to  Linda for hosting this prompt again this week. Do hop on over to her blog to read all the other entries – they are guaranteed to be extremely varied!

Cover-up – Five Sentence Fiction

Female applying red lipstick, close up

Female applying red lipstick, close up

They only see what they want to see; I don’t blame them really, it’s the way of the world, fast-paced, overwhelming, images of beauty everywhere – or at least what society tells us passes for beauty.

I look perfect, I make no bones about that, I’ve spent years and thousands of pounds adding, removing, refining, sculpting, enlarging, reducing and enhancing to become who, or what, I am now.

They get the shock of their lives when the truth sinks in, when they reach down below and find something extra that they didn’t expect, and to be honest, I get a perverse sort of pleasure out of that.

Sorry, you wanted my name for the interview didn’t you?

Yeah, it’s Steve.


Here is my latest entry into the lovely Lillie’s Five Sentence Fiction, where she has provided this photo for our inspiration.

Please do visit here to read the entries from other writers who love to keep it short too.