I love the setting – Chicago (White City!) during the World’s Fair was a magical time and it was a pleasure to bring it alive again. But the rest of the novella was difficult for me to write. I went into this project knowing that I was taking on a lot. I wanted to show my readers the tragedy that had happened to Neferet when she was a teenager known as Emily Wheiler, and by doing so I wanted my readers to empathize with young Emily, to understand why Neferet turned to Darkness for solace, and to feel pity for Neferet/Emily, but ultimately to realize that even though Neferet was the victim of a terrible act, she made the choice not to heal. She decided to embrace vengeance and quest for power instead of loving herself and looking to others (her mentor, her High Priestesses, etc) to help lead her from self hatred and violence.
There was another aspect of Emily/Neferet’s story that was difficult for me. When I was a very young teenager I was date raped. Back then there was no support system for women against whom that kind of violence was committed – the violence perpetrated against women by a “friend”. For a very long time I blamed myself. I disliked myself almost as much as I disliked men. Like Emily, I was broken. Unlike Emily, I found a path to healing and chose love and light instead of revenge and darkness. But I knew as I was writing Emily’s story that I would need to tap into a piece of my past that would be painful to relive. It was painful, but it was also cathartic. It made me sad for the young girl who was Emily, as well as the young girl who was, many years ago, me. It also made me understand Emily and Neferet. I disagree with Neferet’s choices, but I see how she could have made them. I hope my readers can also understand and see.
It is for those of you who have also been touched by violence that I mention this dark part of my past. Please know that: 1. IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT, 2. There is help available today if you choose to seek and accept it, and 3. Choose love. Always love. For yourself and for others.
Wishing you the brightest of blessings,