As I arrived on the stage of this show, everything seemed surreal. The lights, the crowd, the music, it all was too good to be true. Abby would have hated it, her being a lover of nature and despiser of anything that had to do with television and all. My anxiety kicked in, but it was too late to go back now. I took a pill before coming, hoping to lessen the constant “no” motion of my head and shaking of my hands… There wasn’t much else to do, so I put on my brightest smile, closed my hand on the medallion around my neck, and went to take the host’s hand. I let him guide me to a chair facing the audience and took a deep breath. The show must go on, right?
Host : “Hello Miss M., thank you for joining us here tonight”
Me : “My pleasure, thank you for inviting me! I’m a big fan of your show, I watch every Tube video you guys make”
Host : “What an honor! They are available in your country? Would you mind telling the folks here where you’re from?”
Me : “I’m from France. The country of cheese, wine, and gourmet food”
Host : “And what are you doing here in New York tonight?”
Me : “I’m here to talk about the making of my first movie based on my first book, and to thank all the awesome people I had the chance to work with on the film.”
Host : “I heard that your book was such a huge success in France that you had to translate it to English in less than two months?”
Me : “Yeah, I didn't want anyone else to touch it and my editor threatened to chain me on a computer if I didn’t finish the translation on time. He even took my personal computer and blocked Steam on the one he gave me so that I wouldn’t be distracted. Very thoughtful of him, don’t you think?”
Host : “Where I’m from, this is called torture! Now, would you tell us what that book is about? I tried to read it but I haven’t found the english version yet and my french is as good as your german”
Me : “Wow, that’s saying something! I’ll tell you the story, but it might take a while”
Host : “Don’t worry, we’ll cut all the useless parts when we upload it on Tube.”
Me : “That’s very reassuring, thank you. So there's the thing : a year ago I published a book on an app. It was written in French so I didn’t think it would find much of an audience, but oddly enough it did. It kind of went viral in my country, to tell the truth. The story is about a girl who had been abducted and kept as a slave for two years, and managed to escape. The book starts when she comes back home. It deals with the trauma that comes from abuse of all kinds, and how to live with it."
Host : "What do you mean "how to live with it"? "
Me : "How it affects your relationships with your close ones, per example. It’s a story about pain, horror, torture, and most of all hope. And two of the main characters are rats. I’m actually quite proud of it, if I may say so”
Host : “Oh, I think you may! It sounds like a truly awful story, it must have been quite a hit”
It was, indeed, an awful story. I cried so much while writing it, I still don’t understand how I managed to finish. There was so much of my own pain, of my nightmares and my hopes, that I had deleted and rewritten it three times before deciding to publish it. I believed that only my friends and my mother would bother reading this weird mix of fantasy and very real horror, and I wasn't sure that they would enjoy it.
The truth is, I have known more than a few of the hardships that my hero has had to face during her time as a slave. Some of my friends as well, and that is the reason why I had to write it : it was supposed to bring healing to me and to some of those poor souls that had suffered the same fate. Spoiler alert : it didn’t. But it helped, and most importantly, it brought us together.
I ended up receiving letters and e-mails and comments all thanking me for having the courage to write about some of the worst taboos of our “civilised world”. And then it hit me : I was not alone! We were hundreds, maybe thousands, around the world, to have experienced these things. I needed to bring us together. To let others know that they had a safe place somewhere, and the weirdest family waiting to love, accept and protect them. My editor agreed with me, for financial reasons, hence the deadly deadline for the translation to English.
I worked day and night on it, resigning from my actual job just to have more time for this whole strange adventure. It was a tough time, with close to no contact with the outside world, no video games, no Tube, and a hell of a lot of instant noodles. Seriously, I just love those. They take 2 minutes to cook, go with almost anything you want to put in it, and give enough energy to work non-stop for six hours in a row. The only respite I had was cigarette breaks, and even these grew scarce as the translation progressed. NEver actually stopped, but reducing is already something, isn’t it?
Anyways, I digress.
I still didn’t think it would touch that many people. I mean, it’s a rather slow-paced story taking place in a fantasy world but without magic or elves or dwarves, and it talks about things that have already happened. Nobody wants to hear someone rant about their nightmares or tell only the worst pieces of the epic things they lived, right? Right? Wrong.
People from all around the globe reached out to tell their own stories in comments, reviews, and any other possible way. This book unleashed a tsunami, and I was no longer in control.
My therapist was a trauma specialist. She read it, and asked if she could refer it to some of her other patients to help them understand what PTSD was and how it affected them. One of these patients was Abigail, nicknamed Abby, and she wanted to be an actress. Another, Pierre, was a script. And both of them independently asked if they could write a movie out of this book, as they thought it might touch even more people and help them heal along with therapy.