|Taylor Evan Fulks|
OHIO / USA
TEXAS / USA
Question: How long have you been writing?
I’m relatively new to writing. I’m a voracious reader (700 books in 6 years) and I foolishly thought I could just plop down with a pen and paper and crank out a romance novel. I mean really…how hard could it be? With my daughters almost ready to venture out into the world, I thought this would be a great way to stave off the empty nest syndrome and commit some of my own verbal storytelling to paper.
Unfortunately, when I sat down to write I found I had no muse, just a small voice inside my head telling me, “Tell our story.” For the record, I don’t hear voices. This was basically just a niggling in my head that wouldn’t go away, a cry from a child deep inside of me. So I listened.
Question: What was the name of the first book you ever published, and when was it published?
MY PRISON WITHOUT BARS: THE JOURNEY OF A DAMAGED WOMAN TO SOMEPLACE NORMAL is my fictional memoir. It’s a novel based on a true story…my story.
Question: Was this book published by a publisher; or did you self-publish?
I'm a self-published author.
Question: Tell our readers about this very first book. (For example: What was the inspiration for writing it, and what was it about)?
When I began this journey, in writing, "My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal", I could barely utter the words “Child Sexual Abuse” without stuttering and stammering, even though I was hell bent on using my real name and not a pen name, as I was encouraged to do. I didn’t want to write a memoir. I didn’t know how. I hadn’t ever read one. I had this crazy notion that if you wrote a memoir, somehow you were supposed to have some sort of second sight, some grand insight…answers, if you will, to all the points and questions that you raised while telling your story. Unfortunately, I knew I had no answers…just Shame.
In the beginning, my writing was relatively innocuous. I told of my abuser and the abuse I endured with little to no detail. I continued writing my story skimming the abuse, moving on to the fallout or damage that victims live with long after the abuse ends. Halfway through my novel, Penn State University exploded throughout the U.S. headlines with breaking news about long term, persistent, child sexual abuse of young boys in a summer athletic program hosted by the University, run by Jerry Sandusky…now, a convicted pedophile.
Joe Paterno, the head football coach for Penn State and beloved icon, had been informed of this heinous activity years earlier and did nothing to stop it or prevent it from continuing. He had knowledge of the crime for years, yet turned a blind eye to it. By turns, he was quickly fired for his part in the cover-up. He and his football team were stripped of all their awards and titles, not only for this particular year, but for all accolades during his tenure. The University even went so far as to remove a statue honoring him. The University was also sanctioned and subjected to heavy, punitive fines. I was ecstatic! FINALLY! Someone was taking a stand on behalf of the victims.
I was glued to the television, following the story as it unfolded. Then I noticed the victim’s interviews were being edited and cut. I watched students protest and riot in the streets. The final straw for me was a group interview on the campus with several students, faculty, and some administrators crying “FOUL!” One administrator or faculty member said, “This isn’t right! The punishment is TOO HARSH for the crime!”
I was beyond RAGE…a door in my head swung open and something inside of me snapped! I actually felt possessed. I went to the beginning of my novel, read through the first eight chapters that described the abuse (leaving much to the reader’s imagination) then I tore it to shreds! I started OVER…
The words poured out of me like a faucet with a busted valve. I wrote with rage and fury, letting the words and experiences flow from the depths of my soul. I wrote until my hand cramped and my fingers were numb…then I cried. I cried for myself…for that little girl locked away inside of me for four decades, and then for all the innocent children that are lost and have no voice. I cried alone and in Shame…
It wasn’t until I sat down to edit, that I truly realized the magnitude of what I had written. Don’t get me wrong, I never forgot, blacked out or had repressed memories…No, I remember everything that happened to me, down to the smells and noises around me. But it wasn’t until I read what I had committed to paper, saw from the perspective of the child I had been, that I really got the significance of what I was about to do.
As I said in the beginning of this post, I had to self-publish out of necessity. I attempted to go the traditional route; contacting five houses accepting open submissions. I was shunned by them all. I found my subject matter listed with the “not allowed topics” of bestiality, necrophilia and child porn. I felt the shame and rage well inside me again (no wonder survivors live in darkness and secrecy) as well as a resolve that nothing in this world would stop me…not shame, and certainly not a bunch of editors and publishers placing me in a category where I didn’t belong!
So why “the shun” from traditional publishing? In a word…TABOO! Child Sexual Abuse is abhorrent behavior in any civilized society. It is even referenced in the Bible as an abomination and a sin. Abusers and Society shape and hone victims into becoming the gate-keepers of secrets and shame, to be forever locked in a prison not of our own making. We like our world neat and tidy. Child Sexual Abuse isn’t neat and tidy. It’s a dark reminder that we as a society aren’t as ‘civilized’ as we think we are.
Standard publishers want edgy, over-the-top and pushing the envelope, as long as it’s pure fiction; something they can wrap their mind around. However, the mind is a compensatory computer, allowing a plethora of knowledge and feeling to flow through its pathways…yet, the mind is always filtering or camouflaging some things, buffering and blocking others, or shutting off completely when unable to compute. In other words, it makes sure the soul can handle the download.
And therein lays the problem with Child Sexual Abuse. We hear those three words and our minds will only allow us to imagine so much before we filter, buffer, block, or completely shut off the things too unpleasant to handle. When no one would give me a chance, my mission became clear…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. It became a journey I had to make alone…
I spent thirteen months reliving my childhood nightmares with the goal of exorcising my demons, gaining some sense of self-esteem, healing myself, and finally telling my dirty little secret with full disclosure while giving the reader full access to my heart. Oddly, I didn't find the outcomes I expected...absolution, understanding, and self-forgiveness. But I did find something I didn't expect...Acceptance.
So, for good or bad, I laid myself naked and exposed to the world (or at least to the few friends that would actually read my book). I bared myself before everyone to be judged, criticized and condemned. I left nothing to the imagination…I take the reader far beyond what is comfortable and far beyond what most would consider appropriate. And in the telling, I have been set free.
(Official Book Trailer)
Question: Can a person still buy this book? If so, where?
Yes, a person can still buy this book out on amazon or at barnes and noble.
Question: How many total books have you published?
Just the one, it is my debut novel.
Question: Any future writing projects in the works? If so, tell us about it, and any pertinent dates to go with it.
I’ve fallen in love with writing and I’m actively writing my second novel, also based on a true story but totally different. This one is a Mystery/Romance…a labor of true love. I hope to self-publish “SINS OF MY FATHER” by summer of 2014'.
Question: What is the title of your current book, and tell us a little about it.
"Sins of my Father", set to be release in the summer of 2014', which will be a mystery/romance.
Last question, if someone comes across this article and reads it, what would you like to tell them about why you think they should try reading your book or books? ()?
Surprisingly, my novel to date has done very well. On Amazon it has over 120~ 5 star reviews out of 140, and has ranked in the Top 25 in two categories for twenty weeks. On Goodreads, my book maintains a 4.5 rating and has over 80 ratings/reviews. I never ask anyone to buy or read my book. I feel that’s a personal choice and my novel isn’t that type of book. It’s a difficult and disturbing read…not for the faint of heart, but it is available on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes and Noble online. The links are provided below.
As of June 1st 2013, my little “taboo novel” won 1st Place in the prestigious IRDA, INDIE READER DISCOVERY AWARDS presented at the BEA, BOOK EXPO OF AMERICA (the largest trade show for publishers and authors in the world) in NYC. I went to New York to accept this award by myself.
I was recently notified that my book is also a finalist in my category Reality/Fiction in the READERS FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS. The winners will be announced September 1, 2013 and the award ceremony will be held in Miami, Florida in mid-November. I plan to attend that ceremony as well.
As for what I’m doing now, I’m a storyteller in every sense of the word. I love to hold an audience of my friend’s captive with my words…my spoken words. I never had aspirations of being a writer. I put pen to paper (yes, I wrote my novel on eleven spiral notebooks…I’m old school) as I said, to stave off the empty nest syndrome looming over my horizon (my youngest daughter will graduate from high school in 2014).
Anything else you'd like to add that I didn't ask you, but you would like to share with our readers?
In closing, you may be asking yourself, “Why in the world would I want to read something like this, and how is it any different than any other “sob story” about child abuse?” That’s a great question. My answer is that my novel is just that, a fictional novel based on a true story. It reads like a memoir, yes (I wrote in first person) but it’s also a psychological thriller, a love story and a mystery ending with revenge of sorts. It doesn’t read like a book report, I assure you. By the time you finish my book, you will have experienced every emotion known to the soul. I promise…
“My life is what it is. My experiences happened in the past. I don't live there anymore. I can choose to be angry and ashamed for the rest of my life, or I can accept my life for what it's been, what it is now, and move toward the light...and who knows, maybe help someone else along the way. Hence, my mission statement: The rest of my life will be the best of my life. It's not about my destination...it's about the journey that gets me there.” ~Taylor~
Thank you for having me. I’m truly honored and humbled by this opportunity. The little girl inside this book, inside of me is fine…I protect her now.
TAYLOR EVAN FULKS