There’s a question hovering in readers’ eyes when I tell them about my book. Once in awhile they’re brave enough to ask what they’re wondering: Why would I write about a stalker? Is it therapy, for my own nightmare?
Well, let me tell you a little story. It’s an ongoing one, actually, and the latest episode happened this past week. On that particular morning, I was playing with some book photography while I listened to an elderly friend, who needed to chat.
I can’t sit still for phone calls, so grabbed dried roses, river pebbles, and my book, to see what I could do with them. Plus candles, because why not candles?
In the middle of dribbling river rocks across my book I noticed a new alert had come in during the night. I’d been contacted by someone I hadn’t heard from in months, and I’d been hoping I would never hear from again. This person is not a friend–just an acquaintance, like a former co-worker you never knew well–but he’d reached out to me last fall. I network all the time, and also chat with readers I don’t know, so that plus our having mutual friends meant I wasn’t concerned initially. I was pleasant and reasonably friendly, but not overly so, and made sure to mention my husband a time or two, so he wouldn’t get the wrong idea. In truth, I can’t even visualize his face, and am not sure I could pick him out of a crowd. But soon after reaching out this sad soul soon began oversharing, and pinged me messages in the middle of the night. Then he mentioned that he was so sad about a restraining order which kept him from talking to an old friend of his…and I decided it was time to bail.
I politely made clear I wasn’t interested in being friends, and when he pushed back and name-called, I blocked him. Or I thought I did. This week he somehow managed to get past my block to deliver a tirade, rampant with accusations, about how I’d spread lies about him and what a despicable person I was. This, after no contact for some four months, and in which I had no contact (so far as I’m aware) with anyone he would also know, and honestly hadn’t given him a second thought.
Is he a stalker? No, thankfully! Just a nuisance. However, this is not my first time experiencing difficulties of this kind. My heroine, Alexa, has her own story, but the pieces of it are such that I can easily relate. In fact, prevention of all forms of domestic abuse and violence is close to my heart, and is part of why I teach self-defense classes. My book is a story, just fiction, but stories that matter are built on matters we care about, right?
However, I do try to keep things positive, and only lightly touch on subjects that are too heavy for some and a trigger for others. I took that tone in my book, and used a playful-punk approach in this post on Seven Life Hacks for Self Defense, Plus One You’ll Never Use. I hope that you’ll look over the self-defense post, and be watchful and wary when wariness is needed, but most importantly I hope you’ll read lots of beautiful books and be wonderfully happy! Perhaps, if enough of us are wisely and wonderfully happy, those poor souls who haven’t yet sorted themselves out will be able to do so. That’s always my hope!
If you know someone who’s dealt with domestic violence or experienced sexual assault, give them a hug and these flowers from me, okay? April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so don’t let the month pass by without giving the survivors in your life a little extra love!