“I can’t believe you wrote this.”
I’ve heard the statement above, in one form or another, from many of my readers. Shattered Angel is a huge departure from the Kingston books, and I knew I was taking a bit of a risk by writing it. So why did I? How could I?
I’ll start by telling you how Shattered Angel came to be. As with my first novel, the idea for Shattered Angel came to me in a dream. This was back in 2013, while I was still writing Kingston’s Project. My dream was this:
A young woman was out at night, running from someone. She was with a young man, and when a car drove by they hid. She asked him why they couldn’t go to the police and he told her that the police couldn’t be trusted because they were working for the person they were running from.
That’s what I started with. As I thought about my dream the next morning, I could literally feel the fear from the young woman. As I processed the reasons why she would be running and couldn’t trust the police, her background organically grew. It is possible that I was influenced by the fact that my husband and I had been binge-watching Law & Order: SVU at the time. However, the reality is that I did not set out to write about human trafficking. It just turned out that it was what I was supposed to write.
Once I knew the direction of the novel, I decided that it had to be impactful. The more research I conducted, the more convinced I was that Shattered Angel needed to nearly shatter the reader. I wanted my readers to feel Angel’s pain. I wanted them to want to fight for her—to save her.
I’ve also been asked about the ending. I don’t like to give spoilers, so I won’t tell you Angel’s fate in the end, but I will say that I knew from the start what it would be. I didn’t know exactly how it would play out, but I knew the direction. I stopped writing for a bit as I neared the end of the manuscript to make sure it was still the right way to go, and I knew without a doubt that it was.
After finishing Shattered Angel I remember telling my husband, “I wish I could just write light and fluffy chick lit.” I was so emotionally spent and it took me a long time to be able to release those feelings. I didn’t like knowing that anyone could learn how to be a pimp from the Internet. I didn’t like learning that some of these sites ‘awarded’ pimps for pictures submitted. I still don’t want to know what a ‘guerrilla pimp’ is. I don’t want to believe that young girls who were ‘recruited’ into the sex industry are arrested rather than treated as victims. I really don’t want to believe that the men who pay for sex can dismiss or look the other way when it’s a child and convince themselves that it’s OK because she ‘chose’ to be in the sex industry.
But I did learn all of that and so much more.
As the author, I made a choice that Angel wouldn’t be sexually abused until she was a teenager. Sexual abuse at any age is wrong, but I just couldn’t write about a young child being abused in that way. The abuse Angel does go through was hard enough to write. I know the reality is that most young girls don’t get this reprieve. But Shattered Angel is fiction and I gave myself that bit of allowance.
Even though it’s a difficult subject and it wrecked me emotionally, I’m grateful that I was called to write Shattered Angel. We need to start perceiving the sex industry in a different light. We need to be willing to recognize that a change needs to happen. We need to stop saying things like, “Oh, well, they chose to be in that profession so they deserve what they get.”
If you fall into the camp that wished for a different ending to Shattered Angel, I ask you to think about why you wanted a different ending. Now take that frustration and anger and use it to fuel a fight for a real-life Angel. Learn more about human trafficking and what you can do to help make a difference. Click here for 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking.