Thursday, 3 May 2018

#BlogTour Girl Fighter by Cyan Night

Today it is my turn to host the BlogTour for Girl Fighter by Cyan Night. It is a harsh look into the world of women in a so-called male dominated sport, whilst taking a closer look at the person behind the fighting fists.

About the Author
Cyan Night is a self-professed martial arts junkie with training in Chinese Martial Arts (Wushu), Thai style boxing (Muay Thai), Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Judo, Fencing and MMA. She grew up in Asia, holds degrees in Design and IT from universities in London (where she lived for 6½ years) and currently lives in Melbourne.

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About the book
A novel that goes behind the scenes in the life of a female MMA cage fighter - the training, the dedication, and the danger. Written by a former competitive martial artist who can talk about the life and motivation of women who fight.

- Fighters are rarely the brainless thugs we imagine. Many are intelligent, highly-qualified and looking for an outlet. Most are marginalised, have experienced tremendous hardship and are looking for the only way out of poverty and/or abuse.

- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a real risk and fighters who suffer repeated head damage often show symptoms such as a negative shift in temperament and a severe reduction in productivity. While writing the novel Cyan Night joined several forums and support groups for TBI survivors and caregivers and included their experiences in the book.

Aliyah, a mixed race Australian lives a solitary life as a computer specialist in London. She is born with an exceptional intelligence but her gifted mind does little to alleviate the pain she carries inside since her childhood.

One day Aliyah stumbles upon a mixed martial arts gym. Like many fighters before her she finds peace in a sport that is seemingly violent. She takes on training with a military discipline as an easy substitute for any meaningful bond in her life. Her journey to her debut cage fight is challenging, but
it does nothing to prepare her for the biggest fight of her life.

Girl Fighter explores the motivations of a mixed martial artist, the challenges of women in combat sport and the unseen struggles of a brain injury survivor.

This has such a personal feel to it from both an emotional and professional sports perspective. As a reader it is fair to wonder how much of Cyan Night is infused into the story of Aliyah.

A reader wouldn't be wrong in thinking that Girl Fighter is all about the journey Aliyah takes in the art, control and power of the sport, and her personal journey after it changes her life. However, it is also a long hard look at loneliness and the way people in society co-exist without really knowing each other at all.

Aliyah spends the majority of her time alone. The only time she interacts with other people is at work and in the gym, but even there she is isolated and spends her time doubting herself. Everything leads back to a motherless childhood and a father who drank to drown out the pain of losing his wife. She often wonders what it would be like to have memories of a loving mother, to have a family member who actually cares how she is feeling, but what she really wants is someone to share her life with. A partner, a confidante, a lover and a friend.

You can't see or feel it when someone is lonely, especially not when we are all caught up in our own lives. Suspicions are usually waved away with phrases like 'I'm fine, I am ok' and we are happy to hear it, because we have enough on our own plate.

The most honest and realistic aspect of this story is the inner rage. The type of rage a person is often unaware of, as it simmers just below the surface waiting for the opportunity to break free and rain down upon someone like an angry vicious beast.

Neglect, trauma and a lack of human interaction can cause a brain that is still developing to rewire and make connections a happy content brain doesn't make, so  I would throw that theory into the arena before Aliyah receives a hammering in the cage. The rage is a result of the past, the pummeling provokes the uncontrolled reaction and causes physical pre-damage to the brain, before the actual accident.

It is a dire set of circumstances that come together and end up changing the way Aliyah deals with situations and her emotions. One could argue that the groundwork for the reaction was already set in stone long before the accident, and that her impulse control vanishes after the event in question.

I think a first person narrative would have been better for Girl Fighter, and there are minor editing issues. Aside from that it is an emotional and often dismal read with a brutally frank approach to mental health, sexism in sports, racism and the chauvinistic attitudes in men.

Cyan Night comes down hard on her character, herself and society's response to her in this particular situation. It's not an easy ride, in fact it's a fast bicycle ride through the busy streets of life, during which you have to watch out for car doors waiting to catapult you through the air. Like the fallible humans we all are, sometimes these doors catch us by surprise.

Buy Girl Fighter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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