Monday 14 September 2020

Other Girls Like Me by Stephanie Davies @Stephanie5Davie BLOG TOUR @BedazzledInk @midaspr #OtherGirlsLikeMe

Till now, Stephanie has done her best to play by the rules—which seem to be stacked against girls like her. It doesn’t help that she wants to play football, dress like a boy, and fight apartheid in South Africa—despite living in rural middle England—as she struggles to find her voice in a world where everything is different for girls.
Then she hears them on the radio. Greenham women—an irreverent group of lesbians, punk rockers, mothers, and activists who have set up camp outside a US military base to protest nuclear war—are calling for backups in the face of imminent eviction from their muddy tents. She heads there immediately, where a series of adventures—from a break-in to a nuclear research center to a doomed love affair with a punk rock singer in a girl band—changes the course of her life forever. But the sense of community she has found is challenged when she faces tragedy at home.

Other Girls Like Me by Stephanie Davies was published in paperback on 1 September 2020 by Bedazzled Ink.

As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share an extract from the book with you today

Extract from Other Girls Like Me by Stephanie Davies

When we broke into Stonehenge to spend the night

From Chapter Nineteen


WHEN EVENING CAME, we made our move. One hundred women, armed with bolt cutters, bottles of water, and sleeping bags swarmed through the chain link fencing, dark splotches bobbing and weaving up the hill toward the majestic stones of Stonehenge. Mary was not strong enough to throw her sleeping bag over the fence, so I threw it for her, along with mine. We crawled under the fence, our faces, elbows, and knees pressed against the earth, and as I emerged on the other side, I jumped up, picked up both sleeping bags, shook off the memory of Aldermaston that flashed through my mind, then ran laughing and hooting toward the stones. Looking behind me, I saw the uniforms following us—police officers, this time, not soldiers, and they were walking, not running, with not a gun to be seen.

We arrived at the stones and dispersed, like horses let loose after a night in the barn, drifting this way and that in freedom. In the distance, the full moon was slowly appearing on the horizon, heavy, orange, and huge in the clear night sky. Below us, a line of cars wove along the A303, like toys, and I wondered if the drivers could see us dancing, playing, and celebrating, if they, too, were entranced by the auburn moon, or if they saw only the road in front of them and the headlights behind, as they made their way to brightly lit kitchens and curtained living rooms blocking out the magic of the moon.

Women were gathering in the centre of the stones, lighting incense, sitting on the ground, closing their eyes in prayer. Starhawk was among them. She had taken off her anorak hood and let her thick hair fall loose, her face shining. Behind her, Sally and Elena played leapfrog. Mary sat quietly next to a stone that was lying flat on the ground, stroking it gently. I heard the distant sound of a guitar and soft singing. We were each in our own magical worlds, connected to each other by the electricity in the air, the shimmering stars that appeared brighter and brighter as dusk ushered in the dark expectant night, watched over by our sister moon. I walked quietly around the entire circle of stones, watching my friends and fellow activists play, pray, and dance. One small group was singing one of my favourite Greenham songs, “Sister Moon watch over me/Your friend I’ll always be/Sister Moon watch over me/Until we are free.”

As I stepped out beyond the inner circle, I met another circle—of police officers. But there were only a handful, interspersed at quite a distance from each other, and they did not seem the least bit worried by what we were doing. I walked up behind two who were standing together, surprised to discover that they were whispering. They must have been captivated, too.

At last, I plucked up the courage to walk up to one of the stones. I had been dying to touch one, but I felt silly doing it. I looked around and nobody was watching—everyone was doing her own thing, and nothing I did would seem unusual anyway. I looked up to see the stone looming high above me, its shadow falling softly on the luminous ground, the stars and the now bright white moon shining in the sky above. I put out both hands, palms outstretched ahead of me, and placed them on the stone. A deep humming, a dark vibration, electrified my hands. I breathed in deeply, relaxed, and let the energy enter me, dark and light, powerful and creative. It was male energy at Stonehenge, one of the Green Gate women had said earlier, Silbury Hill was female and Stonehenge was male. But what I felt transcended gender, time, and space. What I felt was the pulsing of the universe, the breathing of the oceans, the life force that gives and gives and gives.

When at last I was ready to sleep, I found Mary, Sally, and Elena already in their sleeping bags, which they had placed in a row facing the glowing full moon, the stones at our backs. Mary was staring peacefully at the massive sky enveloping us. I fell asleep to the sound of distant laughter, the strumming of a guitar, the lilting of a flute.

“EXCUSE ME LADIES.” A male voice startled me from the deepest sleep I’d ever experienced. I opened my eyes to see a red-haired, freckle-faced police officer bending over me. “The site would like to open up,” he said, cheerfully. “If you wouldn’t mind leaving now?”

I sat up slowly, remembering the times the police had dragged us by our armpits, yelled at us, called us names.

“Of course,” I said politely and looked around to see his colleagues gently waking my friends, who were quietly and obediently standing up, rolling up their sleeping bags, and getting ready to make their way back down the hill. I nudged Mary awake, and she sat up, stretched, yawned, and looked around her, an expression of utter alarm on her face.

“What is it?” I asked, worried.

“My back,” she said, putting her hand behind her to touch her slight hump. “I can’t feel any pain. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel any pain.”

As for me, I felt as though I had enough life-giving energy to tide me through the court case and way, way beyond

Stephanie Davies is a communications consultant who worked for many years as the Director of Public Education for Doctors Without Borders. 
A UK native, Stephanie moved to New York in 1991, where she taught English Composition at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus and led research trips to Cuba. 
Before moving to New York, she co-edited a grassroots LGBT magazine in Brighton called A Queer Tribe. 
Stephanie earned a teaching degree from Aberystwyth University in Wales, and a BA in European Studies from Bath University, England. 
She grew up in a small rural village in Hampshire, where much of her first book, Other Girls Like Me, takes place.

Photo credit NYRA LANG

Bedazzled Ink is dedicated to publishing literary fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books that celebrate the unique and under-represented voices of women. 

Twitter @Stephanie5Davie

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