Author pulls characters from her mother’s New Ellenton salon
Well, Kim Boykin teaches in her debut novel “The Wisdom of Hair” that it’s OK to shape up your outer beauty to show you off too.
And, Zora Adams, the book’s protagonist who is doing what she can to make her future bright, sets out to prove this and that anyone can make a difference in his or her life.
“The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old,” an excerpt from the book reads. “People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair, because I wanted to change my life.”
She grows from this defining moment and eventually moves on from her alcoholic mother and her tiny mountain town to the Davenport School of Beauty.
There she hones hair-styling skills, a friendship with a natural stylist and a romantic relationship with a troubled man — ultimately learning what really does matter in life.
For 15 years, Boykin’s mother operated a beauty shop in New Ellenton, and Boykin remembers going in and observing her mother’s little miracles.
“I remember seeing women come into my mom’s little beauty shop, dog tired, some just happy to be there, some with all kinds of problems,” Boykin wrote on her website. “My mom listened to them and made them beautiful.”
Boykin, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., even recalled her mother going beyond her basic duties and pick up elderly clients who were homebound or didn’t drive.
“They were grateful to get out of the house, to be around a bunch of women to talk, to gossip a little, laugh a lot.”
It was these times watching her mom that helped Boykin create Adams and the “Hair” world. However, no one character is based on one real person.
“My characters come to me fully formed with their own stories to tell,” Boykin said during a recent interview. “Zora brought all the characters to the party, and I just tell their stories … My mom isn’t anything like any of the characters in the story.”
As far as Boykin’s own styling experience, it was very short-lived. It was a summer day, and she was in third grade, accompanying her mom to the Augusta Beauty College.
“I got to play with the wig heads but showed absolutely no natural abilities, so I became a writer,” Boykin said.
“The Wisdom of Hair” was picked by for a 2013 Winter/Spring OKRA by the Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance. The OKRA is a seasonal award given to Southern-centered books.
The book will be released on March 5 and will be available at several bookstores and online at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and IndieBound.
Boykin will be at the Aiken County Public Library on April 20 at 3 p.m., for a book sale and signing with all proceeds going to the library.
For the April 20 signing, she’s hoping people will buy books for their hair stylists, too.
“This novel is really a love letter to them for all they do for us.”
Boykin also keeps a blog at www.kimboykin.com. For more information on her book, visit her website.