Award-winning self-published author Taylor Fulks reveals how she came to write a novel about the taboo subject of the sexual abuse of children – and why she's glad she did.
Readers, of all makes and models, “read what they need.” Some are inquisitive, with an insatiable desire for knowledge; seeking out the How-To’s and What-For’s of Non-Fiction; while others, need the distraction of fiction, or make-believe; an escape from the mundane or toilsome life they’ve been dealt.
A little over two years ago, I sat on my back porch ready to embark on the world of writing; hoping to be more than just a micro-droplet in a sea of romance novels. I’m an OR nurse. I sew flesh back together for a living. I had no credentials, just a desire to write.
But as I began to try and pen my intended story, I kept hearing a small, subdued voice in my head saying, “Tell our story, Taylor.” Don’t ask me why, but for some reason, I listened. It took me several tries to summon the courage to even write the first sentence, many weeks later. The reason: my story is taboo…
Choosing Fact or Fiction
I knew from the beginning I didn’t want to write a memoir; though some feel and say it reads like one, since it’s written in first person. I had never read a memoir, so I didn’t have a clue how to begin to write one…or end one for that matter. I also felt that a memoir had to be unadulterated fact (I learned much later on, it does not), and my story would have to be altered (names, dates, times), to protect not only my family, but also myself. So I chose to write my story as a fictionalized novel, based on a true story…my story.
A scandal erupted here in the States; tantamount to the fall of the Roman Empire. I was about one third of the way through my manuscript when all hell broke loose on the national news. A prominent University and a popular coach, and an athletic director were ensconced in a child sex abuse scandal; spanning two decades and numerous little boys. The coach, and beloved icon, had been informed and had done nothing.
I watched like a hawk for stories from the victims but the only stories provided were grossly edited snippets of interviews that minimized the severity, and sometimes, questioned the validity of the abuse. Then I watched a group of students, administrators, and staff from Penn State University, stand in front of a TV camera and cry foul! One middle-age man looked right into the camera with unflinching eyes, and said, “The punishment is too harsh for the crime!”
I have known rage in my life; feelings of anger so toxic, it was quite frightening, and made me feel hollow for days. I was possessed! I didn’t think. I didn’t process or calculate what I was about to do. I just wrote. Raw, blatant honesty became my mission. I had to take the reader to that dark, dismal, shameful place no one ever talks about, and with my written words…make them feel.
I also found myself embroiled in a defamation/slander campaign, and on the verge of having my book banned for content. We all like neat and tidy: the girl gets the guy, this gizmo or gadget will do that, if you do this, and the ever-popular, happily-ever-after. My Prison Without Bars is none of those things, unfortunately. My book is the raw, unfiltered truth about child sexual abuse.
One year after publication of my taboo novel, I am forever changed. I have received over five hundred emails and private messages from readers; other victims struggling to find “normal.” In writing my truth, my way, I’ve found something I never expected: acceptance. Not so much from others, though it is offered quite freely, but acceptance from me. I cannot change events from the past, but I can remember “I don’t live there any more.”