One of the most difficult things about being a writer is having to deal with all the publicity that comes with having to market your book, your image as an author, and exposing yourself to critics, hecklers and non-believers. Being a literary activist adds yet another dimension to this complex and complicated journey, because you know that what you write about is not necessarily what will be lapped up by the public. Romance and sex will always sell a million fold better than books that criticise the plight of the outcasts and downtrodden and expose the ugly realities of our world. This begs the question then, why even get into this genre in the first place if you know you are going to be a commercial flop?
Because I am a writer, and that is what writers do – write.
We write to be read, to understand the human psyche at its worse, celebrate human resilience at its best, and dissect the intricacies of social malice that govern the lives of so many victims and their family.
Literary activists don’t write to grace the covers of the popularity contest or bestseller list, if they do end up there then it is an additional bonus. We are a smaller group of authors who did not just stumble into this niche by accident. Many of us were championing the causes on a more personal (or professional) level before we chose to integrate real-life experiences with fiction in order to raise awareness.
This year, 2021, marks my journey with my next book, Sunset Shadows, as I struggle to piece together all the evidence and information gathered. Part of the thrill of writing a new book is the research involved, particularly for a literary activist who gets involved heart and soul with the issues and causes. The theme of human trafficking continues, but this time it focuses on transgender trafficking across two continents, which inevitably gets horribly entangled with organised crime, drugs and a plethora of other social issues prevalent throughout major cities of Europe.
The lack of acceptance of transgenders in society is an issue that traditional social norms have to face. It begins with the work place, and embracing the fact that some very talented people do not fall under the narrow categories of male or female. Many of the interviews I conducted for this book touched on the dual identity people are forced to live simply because the work places have not come to terms with LGBTQ rights. Sunset Shadows touches a raw nerve and will be a bitter pill to swallow for many, but it is time that we shed light on all those who live in fear in the shadows, or get drawn into evil networks that change their lives forever.
Writing with the knowledge that someone somewhere will be able to identify with the book and the characters is reward enough for me. Being a writer, novelist or literary activist is a calling, and not just a passion. I am emotionally and socially invested in the cause, the people whose harrowing stories inspired the novel, and all those who still cower in the shadows. It is just as scary to expose the issues and routes, as it is for the people involved, be it the investigators, non-government organisations, and social workers. There are families who want answers and closure, people who suffer in silence with no place to turn, and their stories need to be told, so we may be aware.