I was just finishing up The Gastien Series and was seriously doubting anything would inspire me as much as the world of Gastien and his family did.
My husband and I were driving down the highway, talking about why I hadn't read 50 Shades of Grey when, out of nowhere, the words "house of pleasure, house of pain" came to me. I looked at Dave and said, "I know what my next series is going to be about. I know the names of the first two books, too." And I did. I was excited about the possibility of telling a story about human trafficking—the horror of many teen-age girls who decide to run away and become unwilling victims of prostitution.
Yes, I was going to write about a teen-age girl named Phoenix, who much like the bird named Phoenix, rises from the ashes. I was going to tell the fictional story, but it would nonetheless drive home the fact that, while men may see houses of ill repute as houses of pleasure, brothels are really houses built out of pain. The pain of the girls who work there. That pain may come both from their past and also from their present situation. But make no mistake, behind the facade there is raw, keening pain.
The first book, House of Pleasure, is about the abduction of the girls and the house being opened, along with some of the men who see it as a pleasure palace. Phoenix vows from the start that somehow, some way she is going to ruin Antoine, the man who bought her, his whorehouse, and some of the men who use young girls for their sick pleasure. This book is available now here: http://amzn.com/B00HJF7R5U .
The next book will be House of Pain. In this one the girls' backgrounds will be revealed, along with another character that arrives at the end of the first book. That character will share main character status with Phoenix going forward. This will be followed by House of Trickery, where the opportunity for revenge finally presents itself and things get put into place to make it happen. Then comes House of Shame, which will be the take-down and destruction of everything Phoenix vowed to destroy.
There may be more books based on the two main characters after that. If so, they may be titled House of Hope, A House Divided, and House of Peace. We will see.
As soon as I knew this was my next series doubt swept in. It's not wise to switch genres. Still, I have to hope that fans of my writing style follow me from one genre to another. After all, one reason I became indie in the beginning was the freedom to make my own decisions. Besides, although this series is not historical fiction like Gastien was, both series are drama. So, the tie-in is there. People who like dark, angsty, raw stories where people aren't always decent and life isn't always pretty should be cool with following me.
At any rate I hope so. The ugly reality of teen-age girls being forcing into prostitution is very real. It happens every single day in our country. It's not just someone else's problem. Believe me, I know this saga gives my characters a much better life in a much better situation than 99.9% of the girls forced into this life. Still, I had to find a way to make people take a look at what's happening before our very eyes. Even in a glamorous environment of fiction, the ugliness is still very brutal. If it's brutal in a fiction setting, how much worse do you think it is in reality for these girls? When are we going to do something about it as a country, as a planet?
Here is part of the "Author's Notes" in the first book, House of Pleasure. I think they give me a good ending to my blog today. I hope you think so, too.
According to the FBI, hundreds of thousands of children are at risk for being trafficked or exploited for sex. Many people think only poor, hungry immigrants—desperate for a home or food— are forced into prostitution. The facts tell a different story. Of the sex trafficking cases confirmed during the period of January 2008 through June 2010, about eighty-three percent of victims were American citizens. Additionally, 40 percent were children. Most were female, and the average age of these girls was twelve to fourteen years old.
The bottom line is this: child sex slave trafficking is alive and well in the United States of America. It isn’t just a problem of “other” countries. Additionally, the children who end up in this lifestyle in the United States are seen as whores instead of victims.
I realize the story I am telling has little chance of coming true for any of the real victims of these crimes. Regardless, the fact that underage girls are for sale in my country angers me, making me wish the victims could have a mighty form of revenge. With this in mind I created There Was a House, where at least in fiction, somebody pays for their sins.
I in no way take the pain and abuse countless girls have suffered after being trafficked lightly. No one really ends up at a “Rêve” nor would they find the owner of such a house as easy to manipulate or as lax as my character Antoine Chevalier.
Regardless, fiction gives us a chance to hope. My hope is for our country to start acting much more aggressively toward traffickers. Until then, we have to open our eyes and realize this is happening here, every day. The girl may not end up in a limo on the way to New Orleans, but somewhere out there, maybe right now, a young girl is being taken. She won’t become a prostitute because she enjoys it, is stupid, or has no morals. She will become a prostitute because she has no choice. Many are runaways, who saw running as their only option. Unfortunately, they end up simply trading one form of hell for another.
Once we all wake up and realize the value of these girls, things will change. Until then, I dream. Until then, I pretend by writing this saga. Until then, the vast majority of the time these girls only revenge will be—unfortunately— fiction.
Caddy Rowland is a novelist and painter. Her social media links follow.
To find out about her novels visit http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005FW8BZE
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