Their Story is Our Story…and The Story behind One of My Books…

Tonight, a friend of mine shared the story below on Facebook. It’s from Their Story is Our Story, a site about refugees that’s a bit like Humans of New York. TSOS gathers stories from refugees and put them into the world.

This story below broke me.

It was exactly the sort of real-life hellish narrative I had in mind when I wrote the book I’m querying. My book– 21 CARAT GIRLS– is about a world where girls are bought, sold, hunted, used, disposed, and worse. It’s grim place, but a place where girls are fighting back. My book’s a fantasy, so there’s magic, demons, legends and all the things I love in fantasy novels. But its root–its heart– is from real life. And as much as I don’t want my book to be lumped in with other misogynistic stories, I had to write it.

It began with a tidbit from history about things that happened to women under Genghis Khan that I stumbled across while writing my Marco Polo book. As I wrote more, however, I also was thinking of child brides in Florida, Yemen, and all over the world. I was thinking of my own experiences with sexual harassment/assault and the experiences of almost all my friends.

I finished 21CGS long before the current resurgance of the #metoo hashtag (it’s been around for nearly a decade and was started by Tarana Burke), but that didn’t mean I was unfamiliar with these narratives. I’m a woman. I have my stories. All the women I know have their stories.

We just don’t talk about them unless we’re drinking. A lot.

My personal collection of real life #metoo stories keeps me up at night sometimes, but they aren’t even close to the nightmare this refugee woman endured. It’s not my intention to co-opt the stories of other woman. Rather, I wanted to write a book that said: this happens all over the world, throughout time, and to differing degrees. It’s always terrible, and god help us if we ever normalize it (even more so than we already do) because there be monsters lurking there.

For so many reasons, I hope 21CGs sells some day. But one of my biggest goals for this book is to use my platform (small though it may be) to amplify other women’s stories. I’d like to send part of my royalties to organizations that help women get out of the sex trade or escape places where being raped in front of your children is something that happens with frequency. (FFS, what a thing to live through.)

We shall see. In the meantime and without further ado, I share this woman’s story. Trigger warnings for rape, assault, and violence. But if you can, please read it. Her story is so, so important. #hertoo #metoo