(This post is appearing simultaneously on Mysteristas.)
Seeds. Some writers can take a seed or two and grow an amazing story seemingly out of thin air.
Me? I need some dirt. Preferably dirt grounded in a social issue. The messier—the muddier—the better.
That's where TRAFFICKED began. I had a list of topics that were interesting to me and I kept going back to one. Human trafficking. At the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This dirt ran deep. And wide. And muddy.
My kind of gardening.
In some ways TRAFFICKED was the most difficult story I've ever told. In other ways it flowed from my heart to my head to my fingers to the page effortlessly.
Many readers of this blog are fans of cozy or traditional mysteries, and while this book is neither, it walks right up to the worst of the mud and doesn't get mired in explicit detail. The idea was to deal with the horror of sex trafficking without spelling it out.
Two early cultivators:
Peg Brantley's TRAFFICKED is a heartbreaker, a thriller, and a hair-raising education, all at once. I wish I hadn't already read it, so I could read it for the first time again. — Timothy Hallinan, author of the Junior Bender and Poke Rafferty crime novels
The scourge of human trafficking is worldwide; yet, most Americans clutch the idea that it couldn’t possibly exist here. Peg Brantley’s chillingly honest, gritty novel moves readers to empathize with lives shattered by modern-day slavery. Through an accessible, awareness-raising narrative, Brantley spotlights a foul, hidden human crisis. In Americans’ own back yard, not only can trafficking happen, it does. — Susanne E. Jalbert, Ph.D., Activist
Not Thailand. Or the Philippines. Or Russia.
Rich or poor, black or white, girls disappear across this country every day, pulled into the nightmarish world of prostitution and drugs.
Mex Anderson is back, tasked with finding three missing girls before it’s too late. Three girls. Three girls who could live in your town, your neighborhood, or in your own home.
Jayla Imani Thomas is fifteen. A smart kid from a poor part of town who has to fend for herself. Jayla is headed for college and a better life than her mother had.
Alexis Emily Halston is seventeen. Money provides everything she wants or needs except functional parents. Alexis has the world by the tail and she knows it.
Olivia Emma Campbell is twelve. She’s a middle child who dreams of being a veterinarian when she grows up. But right now “Livvy” just wants someone to notice her, maybe even to love her.
Caught up in a cruel system fueled by lust and money, all three young women must find the courage within themselves to survive. And Mex must come to terms with his own loss and face his demons head on—or he might not have the strength to save them.
TRAFFICKED is now available for pre-order.
It's all better with friends.