It's release time for Shade's Champion by Cheryl Headford! Pick up a copy today!
Shade has been
kept in the dark for eight long years. Now he’s facing a world that terrifies
him. A world that seems to hold no place for him.
authorities are unable to find a home for Shade, Penny, reluctantly accepts him
into the secure school she manages, despite thinking it’s the wrong place for
him. Penny fears for his safety among the other troubled children. In an
attempt to forestall the disaster she predicts will happen she appoints one of them
as his champion.
engaging seventeen year old with mental health issues, is proud to be chosen as
Shade’s champion and throws his heart and soul into the job. In doing so he is
forced to face the thing he fears most – his own emotions.
friendship begins to grow into something more, until a spiteful act tears them
apart and leaves them broken.
When Dory falls
ill, Shade is forced to face his demons and struggles to find the strength and
courage he needs to fight for the right to love, and to be there for his champion
when he needs him most.
sixteen. A year younger than me. I’m seventeen, but only just gone. One more
year and I’ll get to leave. I don’t know where I’ll go, though.” He heard the
nervousness creep into his voice and tried to swallow it. Shade didn’t need to
have his worries on top of his own.
didn’t seem to notice. He was thinking hard.
not very old, is it?”
not very. Well, not at all really. You’re not a grown up yet. I don’t think
I’ll ever be a grown up, but I guess you will. You weren’t put together wrong,
just... broken a bit.”
laughed. “Broken a lot.”
I don’t think so.”
would you know?”
can see it in your eyes. There have been broken people here before and there’s
something scary in their eyes. Your eyes aren’t scary at all.”
They feel scary to me.”
can eyes feel scary? Oh, you’re teasing me.” Dorien had caught a certain
twinkle, and it made him feel excited. Shade wasn’t so shut down after all.
There was a nice person in there waiting to come out, Dorien was sure of
smile faded. He sighed and closed his eyes.
don’t know. I feel.... I don’t know.”
that horrible doctor give you more meds?”
Shade opened his eyes and blinked at him. He looked confused, but that humour
was lurking in the shadows again.
yes. I had to go to a meeting to decide if I’m up to being your friend. My
doctor was there and so was yours. They were almost fighting because yours is
horrible and mine is nice. Penny got cross, too, and she told him that if he
didn’t stick to the point she’d throw him out. Well, she didn’t exactly say
that, but it was implied. Penny often does that, kind of not saying things, but
you know what she means.”
have no idea what you just said.”
am I talking too fast again?”
well... yes. I... I have trouble following. It’s....”
That’s okay. I get like that sometimes when the doctors change my meds. Dr.
Blake says the best thing to do is get up and walk it off. You should do that.
Hey, I can show you around. No one told me we have to stay here.”
don’t know. I don’t feel so good. I want to just lie and—”
that would be boring for me.”
said it was okay to go to sleep.”
I didn’t really mean it, and anyway, I didn’t know then how much fun you are.”
“I am?” He sounded so surprised Dorien had to smile.
you are. Come on, get up. By the time you get to the end of the corridor you’ll
be fine. Have you got a really fuzzy head? I hate that. It doesn’t happen much
anymore, but I get it a lot after an episode or when they’re changing my meds.
It will go away. Do you need me to help you?”
think.... Dorien, I don’t this is a good idea.”
me Dory. Come on, up you get. I’ll help you.”
matter how much Shade protested, Dorien was single-minded. He just knew Shade
would be okay once he was on his feet.
but compliant, Shade allowed Dorien to haul him up to sit on the edge of the
bed. He bowed his head, his hands resting on his knees. “Give me a
don’t feel right. I think I’m going to be sick.”
you won’t. Once you start walking you’ll feel better.”
you sure?” Shade looked up at him, his honeyed eyes wide and bright. Something
inside Dorien went shivery.
Give me your hands.”
hands were cold but sweating. Dorien gripped them tightly and dragged Shade to
his feet. Shade staggered forward and almost knocked Dorien over .
Be careful. You’re bigger than me. You’ll break me.”
you’re definitely bigger. I’m a long string of nothing. Rich says that when
he’s teasing me about how much I eat. I eat a lot but I never seem to put
weight on. I think it’s because I do everything fast. I—are you alright? You’ve
gone awfully pale.”
Cheryl was born
into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the
toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her
refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead
fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun
always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces,
nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in
Later in life,
Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely,
giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run
around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of
all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism
was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she
began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In
ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the
storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive.
Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to
the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and
menagerie of three cats, a dog and a dragon. Her daughter has deserted her for
the big city, but they’re still close.
always, in the world of fantasy, she maintains a burning desire to share the
stories and these days it’s in the form of books which all contain her spark
and unique view on life, the universe and everything.