For the past four years Hayleigh Barclay from Ayrshire has been glued to her laptop writing her debut novel which has just been published for the world to read.
‘Girl of Ashes’ tells the story of 18-year-old Elise who is blackmailed to assassinate a target by a religious cult, to save the day she teams up with a vampire called Natashka.
Hayleigh and Natashka have one thing in common, fortunately the connection doesn’t involve fighting blood-sucking creatures, but the fact that they both wheelchair users.
Barclay, 33, was born with spinal muscular atrophy Type 2, she wrote her novel as part of her Doctorate of Fine Arts at the University of Glasgow which she based on a poem she composed in 2012 for a masters’ course.
The plot is an action dark humour tribute to Dracula, based in a small Scottish town called Loch Fala.
Natashka, is based on Hayleigh’s best friend who uses a wheelchair in real life.
Elise finds herself plunged into the centre of a war between vampires and humans which has seen conflict for the past three centuries.
To save her generations Elise must team up with Natashka and those she once killed.
Hayleigh told Daily Record: “My thesis researched 19th century vampire literature and the goth subculture’s interpretation of the female vampire.
“The fact the book is set in Victorian times added a different dimension to the story because, as we know, society’s view on disability was very different in those days.”
Discussing how her friend becomes an important role in the story Hayleigh said: “Natashka descends from the Russian line of vampires and is a hybrid of witch and vampire who can move objects (and weapons) with her mind, enter trance-like states, and turn into a bat.
“Together, she and Elise form a formidable alliance which spans the next century.
“It is their friendship which defines the novel as I wanted the focus to be female bonds instead of male and female relationships.
“I wanted a character who was powerful and funny.
“The book references how Natashka became disabled and doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects such as sexuality. She is no saint and I think that’s why people are drawn to her.”
Hayleigh supports Muscular Dystrophy UK, she believes people with disabilities should receive more coverage in the media.
Her commitment to disabled awareness has seen Barclay signing up to a mentor programme which pairs up an older mentor to give advice to younger people about transitioning services.
Hayleigh also led a campaign for equal educational rights and the importance of body image which saw her taking part in an All-Party Parliamentary Groups discussion in Westminster.
She said: “Representation of disabled people is getting better. However, we still have a long way to go. I would say research is the way forward.
“Ask disabled people about their experiences to get an accurate perspective, and don’t shy away from awkward subjects.”
Speaking about the charity work she’s involved with Hayleigh said: “It is very important people support MDUK to help with life-changing research into muscle-wasting conditions.
“This year has been tough on everyone and MDUK needs our support more than ever.
“The services they provide, including advocacy and specialist experience in numerous conditions, are often a lifeline to those with the conditions, as well as their families.”
Girl of Ashes by Hayleigh Barclay is available to buy online. RRP is £8.99
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