However, since I've never had dreadlocks, I needed to do some research. I was so excited when T. A. Brock, the awesome author of Fatal (The Dead of Asher), generously answered my plea for help when I contacted her on Twitter. So I sent her an email asking her some questions:
T. A. Brock on dreads & meaninghow do you feel about your dreadlocks, maybe as part of your identitywhat made you choose dreadlocks in the first place?how do you start them?and how do you maintain them?The character will be a significant one in my current WIP. She's half-faerie and doesn't always feel like she's in the right place, i.e. the mortal world. She's kind of ethereal but also rather tough. I guess I want her to love her dreadlocks and also that they have some meaning to her, if that makes sense!
It's perfect that you want your character's dreads to mean something to her because in my experience, that's how it is for most people who have them. Sure, there are some who view them as simply a hairstyle, but for many, there is a deeper reason for why they wear dreads. For me specifically, it was quite a few reasons all rolled into one.
Here are a few:
I'd always wanted them. I thought they were cool but I didn't ever think I could actually wear them (I suffered a lot of misunderstandings concerning dreads, but we'll get to that later).
After my daughter was born, I suffered a VERY mild case of agoraphobia. Some days, the idea of leaving the house brought a deep sense of dread. I knew this wasn't me. Wasn't like me. I wanted to change it. My main hang-up was I felt like people were always staring at me. It was silly to think like that since I'm pretty sure people weren't ACTUALLY staring at me, but once it was in my head, it was there for good. My dreads became a sort of immersion therapy. Where I live, there are not many people who wear dreadlocks so I received a lot of curious stares. Somehow, this helped. It was like, if I caught someone staring, they had a reason. I could think to myself, it's my hair, not me. They're just interested in my hair.
T.A. Brock on dreads as a learning experience
They've taught me patience. It takes at least a year, sometimes more, for a single dreadlock to mature. Until then, they are loose and frayed and fairly unsightly. With dreads, you really have to commit to them and be willing to give them time to become what they should be.
They've taught me things don't have to be perfect. In the beginning, it was very hard for me to have "messy" hair. It didn't feel right. I even had parents at my kid's school make comments about how I just didn't want to comb my hair. Eventually, it became liberating, one less thing to stress about. It also helped me to let go of caring what others thought about me.
Which brings me to my next point.
Dreads have taught me about acceptance and the importance of not stereotyping. What I mean is, I learned the value of not being judgmental... while being on the receiving end of a stereotype. I found out rather quickly, that people in my area associate dreads with "pot-smoking hippies". Unfortunately, I became aware of this when a policeman knocked on my door in the middle of my kid's naptime and informed me that an anonymous tip reported a strong odor of marijuana coming from my house. Ummmmm... I remember just staring at him for the longest time, trying to absorb what he was saying. Then I said, "Do you smell anything?" He actually stared pointedly at my hair before finally saying no. Now, whatever your beliefs are on the matter, I personally have never tried marijuana so this experience was equally hilarious and disturbing.
T.A. Brock on starting dreads:
There are several ways to start dreads:
Backcombing (using a comb to rat a section of hair)
Twist & Rip method (not as awful as it sounds but sort of hard to explain), and
Natural/neglect (completely neglecting hair except for washing, this eventually creates knots/dreads).
I did the twist and rip method with NO wax. I'm not a waxer. I put nothing in my hair to start it.
T.A. Brock on dread maintenance
There are so many different ways people maintain their dreads. Some go to a salon and have them tightened (loose hairs are pulled in with a hook-like device). I chose not to do this. I have a lot of loose hairs but I kind of like them. It seems natural to me so I leave them alone. The only thing I do is sometimes trim the underneath, around my nape. The hair there is almost completely un-dreaded. I do the same with my bangs.
Washing. This is probably the most misunderstood part of having dreads: Yes, you CAN wash them. You SHOULD wash them. I wash my hair the same as I did before I had dreads... except I rinse longer. Gotta get all that shampoo out. Also, I use a residue-free shampoo, otherwise you can damage the dreads with soap buildup. I've had MANY strangers in public, ask me if I wash my hair. Yes, they actually ask me that! I always reassure them that I do.
About Fatal (The Dead of Asher) by T.A. Brock
Zombies eat brains: wrong.
Zombies are mindless and unthinking: nope.
Zombies are rotting bags of flesh: not necessarily.
Zombies kill humans: never... well, there is that one exception.
Grayson Patch hasn’t been human since he was seventeen years old… and that was nineteen years ago. When he rose from the dead that night, a Zombie, he had no memory of his former life, a craving for raw flesh, and only one purpose: to find a cure. He wishes only to be human again and he is promised that it is possible. But first he must find the human that can help him before he begins to decompose… and trade her life for his. As he learns more about her, he just doesn't know if he can do it. Can he? When the cost of being human again is to become a monster?
Cori Abbot isn’t scared of Grayson. Not when there are a million other things for her to worry about. Like being the new girl in a school that is a fraction the size of her old one. Or making new friends while battling her antisocial tendencies. And then there’s the big one: dealing with the recent and sudden death of her father. Yeah, there are bigger problems than the strange, withdrawn, and consistently angry guy who seems to hate her for no apparent reason. Imagine how surprised she is to realize that the ever hostile Grayson might actually be the one who understands her the best.
"I love you and that’s just the way it is.”
He hated that she felt like that, wished that she didn’t. With all his being, he wished it. It didn’t matter that he felt like he couldn’t live without her. It didn’t matter that the very thought of losing her took him to dark places.
“I’ll ruin you.” His voice broke and he hated himself a little more for it.
She turned her face and kissed his palm. “No, you won’t.”
Her eyes… they were so pure in that moment, so full of hope… and love. They were full of love. She loved him. How could she love him?
Her arms went around his waist.
With that gesture, he felt everything inside him crumble. Everything that made him, him just broke apart and came back together in a different way. He didn’t want to go on without her. He wasn’t sure just what kind of person it made him but he couldn’t hold back anymore. Whether it was wrong or right, he wanted her.
in closing, please enjoy the Twinkle Brothers performing Faith Can Move Mountains