I’m so pleased to welcome A. E. Walnofer to Linda’s Book Bag today. I love historical fiction and when I saw the fabulous cover of With Face Aflame, I simply had to ask A.E. Walnofer to explain a little more about her protagonist.
With Face Aflame is available for purchase here.
With Face Aflame
Born with a red mark emblazoned across her face, seventeen-year-old Madge is lonely as she spends her days serving guests and cleaning rooms in the inn her father keeps.
One day, she meets an unusual minstrel in the marketplace. Moved by the beauty of his song and the odd shape of his body, she realizes she has made her first friend. But he must go on to the next town, leaving her behind. Soon after, while she herself is singing in the woods, she is startled by a chance meeting with a stranger there. Though the encounter leaves her horribly embarrassed, it proves she need not remain unnoticed and alone forever.
However, this new hope is shattered when she overhears a few quiet words that weren’t intended for her ears. Heartbroken and confused, she flees her home to join the minstrel and his companion, a crass juggler. As they travel earning their daily bread, Madge secretly seeks to rid herself of the mark upon her cheek, convinced that nothing else can heal her heart.
Set in England in 1681, With Face Aflame is the tale of a girl who risks everything in hopes of becoming the person she desperately wants to be.
A Guest Post by A. E. Walnofer
Because Madge’s birthmark is central to her story, I felt it was important to portray it on the book’s cover. After deciding on the above image, I showed it to a number of friends, seeking their opinion. It surprised me how many people expressed that they were made uncomfortable by it. Perhaps discomforting is not what authors ought to strive for when deciding on their book’s cover, but I was actually quite glad about the reaction it was getting. We are constantly bombarded by images that are superficially perfected, to the point that very normal sights strike us as abnormal, and atypical yet healthy sights disconcert us. This negatively affects the way we see others and ourselves, causing dissatisfaction and alienation.
The body positive movement which has truly blossomed in the past decade or so is vital to the health of our society. With the development of technology, whether medical or digital, that can erase or at least alter every physical ‘imperfection’, it is easy for us to embrace and extol unrealistic standards and norms.
Pondering this, got me thinking about people in the past who had no chance to effectively modify their appearance. Thus, Madge was born. Her entire identity and self-perception are tied up in her facial complexion, but there is so much more to Madge than her birthmark! She knows this and desperately wants others to know it as well. Unfortunately, she thinks they never will until she rids herself of the mark. On her quest to accomplish this, she meets a number of people, all with their own valuable stories that affect her deeply.
Often unusual-looking main characters in books are accused of witchcraft or clandestine sin. At no point in With Face Aflame is Madge dunked in a proving pond or tried by jury for stirring eyes of newt into a bubbling stew of dragon’s blood. Madge’s story resonates with the people of her day, as she discovers when she begins to allow herself to interact with them. Also, people today can relate to her in spite of the makeup, laser therapy and photoshop available to us.
It is my hope that anyone who reads the tale of Madge’s healing will be assured of their own worth and abilities. No matter what time period we were born in and regardless of how we look, we are all individuals, uniquely beautiful, intriguing and important.
(What wise words. I think Madge sounds a wonderful creation. Thank you for telling us more about her.)
About A.E. Walnofer
A.E. Walnofer is the author of With Face Aflame, as well as another historical novel, A Girl Called Foote. She spends weekdays mobilizing the soft tissue and synovial joints of patients, and weekends typing out stories that are incessantly brewing inside her head. There are lots of these tales and she hopes to share many more of them with you in the future.