Justice and Revenge

“It’s intense, but very well-written.”

That’s how a New York Times Bestselling author just described my book to me.  He emailed to tell me he’s still reading, got bogged down with work, but this is his initial response.  

Intense makes me nervous.

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In my search to find an agent I’ve read a lot about how the publishing industry is tired of the child-abuse story.  Despite recent bestsellers like The Glass Castle, numerous agents say readers don’t want to feel bad for helpless children and thus won’t read a hundred pages of horrible beatdowns and alcoholic induced explosions.  I agree with them.  But I agree with them because too many child abuse stories end in an escape or revenge, but rarely ever in justice.

Revenge is seeing the other person fall.  

Justice is having others not only validate the hurt, but work to right the wrong.

At it’s core revenge is about the perpetrator, person at fault, or child abuser...not about the one hurt.  So it’s lonely and rarely fulfilling.  

While justice is about an outside source seeing the victim, not the criminal, and fighting for them.  So it’s a place of rest and satisfaction.

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Take The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, for example.  International bestselling series and somewhat of a flop in the box office.  (The English version anyway.)  The female lead is horrifically raped towards the beginning of the story and WOW, does the movie show it in detail.  Even though I read the books and knew it was coming, I still found myself shutting my eyes tight.  It was too much...way too much for a lot of people.  The fact that a few scenes later she was able to get revenge on the guy, did little to satisfy the audience.  Her revenge wasn’t enough to make watching that scene worth it.  But those who read the books know how in the third one she finally got more than revenge...she got justice.  That alone turned the books from a cheap attempt at shock value to a satisfying story of redemption.  

As the audience, you just have to power through the rest of the hardships to get to that redemption.

No Beauty Queen goes after justice.  I wrote with intensity in the beginning so the ending would feel that much sweeter.    

It wasn’t cathartic to write.  It certainly wasn’t therapeutic.  I wasn’t trying to exorcise demons.  

I’m taking my readers on a journey.  Offering them a little justice therapy.  And showing the demons who’s really in charge.