Charlie No Face is my latest novel. It was released by Savant Books and Publications in January 2011.
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>FINALIST---NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE BOOK AWARDS FOR 2011--General Fiction (announced May 15, 2011)
>Listen to the interview I did about Charlie No Face on the Peter Boyles Show (KHOW 630AM radio---Denver):
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Savant is an independent publishing that brings together new and experienced writers with diverse voices.
What follows is a synopsis.....
When eleven year old Jackie goes to live with a distant relative and meets disfigured hermit and local legend, Charlie No Face, Jackie’s life changes forever.
Charlie No Face is a coming of age story about an eleven year old boy, Jackie, who lives with his father in a small western
The summer of ’59 is a summer of promise for Jackie. His father is home on a long vacation; he is the starting centerfielder for the mighty Kiwanis baseball team; and with his friends, Brian and Tommy, Jackie is exploring his world, including his budding interest in the female anatomy, and even more importantly his fascination with Charlie No Face, the ghastly local hermit whose deformed body and face are the stuff of nightmares, tall tales and late night expeditions, hoping for a Charlie sighting. His late night ride with friends and their encounter with Charlie are exhilarating, terrifying and transformative:
Charlie sat back on his haunches and raised his head. I had never seen anything like it before. It was as big as the globe that sat on Miss Loss’s desk in social studies, but not exactly round, more ballooned out in spots, like something went terribly wrong at the factory when they made it, like the whole continent of Asia stuck out as if it were as high as Everest, while South America was just one big indent, like it was a reject globe, one that no teacher would ever put on her desk, one that no one would ever want.
Before Jackie knows it, his idyllic summer implodes when his father’s car gets vandalized, a tornado ravages the neighborhood, rumors of Charlie’s death abound, and Jackie learns that his father is not on vacation; he’s unemployed and must leave home to look for work.
Jackie must stay with his only living relative, great Aunt Dee, out in the country near the
I watched as they stepped into the moonlight. I could not believe my eyes. “Oh, my God,” I said out loud, “Oh my God.” There was Abigail trotting beside Henry, who was using his stick to find his way. But it wasn’t Henry at all. It couldn’t be. I watched his every move as they walked several more steps and then disappeared into the shadows again. I was sure. I knew it had to be, but how could it? I had only seen a head like that once before. I looked up and down the road again. Was this the same place? Was this the road? I thought of Kelso and the guys and that ride and what we saw and how we didn’t say a word the whole way back to Ellwood, how we sat in silence, how we didn’t speak of it much after that night, and how stunned I was when I heard that he was dead. But now I knew the gossip was wrong. Now I knew the truth. I stepped out into the middle of the road, not a car in sight and squinted to see if I could catch the shadow again, but I couldn’t. Nevertheless, I knew.
They fall into an unlikely friendship and Jackie learns to look at Charlie with his heart, not just his eyes. He also learns that, much to his surprise, the catastrophic accident that befell Charlie as a child also holds the key to understanding who Jackie’s mother was and, perhaps more importantly, who Jackie is.
Who was Charlie No Face?
As a young boy growing up in western Pennsylvania, I learned about a man who roamed the country roads at night; who was disfigured and had green skin; who was too horrible to look at; and who, many thought, was a danger to anyone who came near him.
The truth is that Charlie was Ray Robinson who, as a young boy, was severely burned when he touched an electric cable while reaching for a bird's nest near a local train tressel. Ray's face melted, leaving him with no eyes, a crater for a nose and a slit for a mouth. Tall tales grew about Ray and teenagers often cruised the area roads at night looking for him, offering him beer and sometimes taunting him. Those who knew Ray say he was a quiet man who wouldn't hurt a soul, a man with a tragic past just trying to make his way in life.
Although I never saw Ray, when I considered writing a first person coming of age story about an 11 year old boy, I thought a fictionalized version of Ray (Henry Hopewell) would be an excellent companion or guide for young Jackie. And so their relationship was born.
Ray Robinson died in his seventies in the early 1980s.