What Inspired Me to Write Bad Traffick
by DV Berkom
Bad Traffick deals with the pervasive issue of child sex-trafficking in the United States. It’s not something that only happens “somewhere else” – children are forced into the sex trade every day, from California to Iowa to Alaska.
I’ve been aware of human trafficking issues for some time and have read dozens of articles pertaining to the exploitation and trafficking of migrant and domestic workers, as well as women and children being sold into sex slavery. My interest deepened after watching a documentary on child sex trafficking in the U.S. shown at a local community college. The statistics floored me.
The socio-economic factors alone are staggering. Worldwide, human trafficking earns over 32 BILLION annually for the criminals and organizations associated with it, second only to the illegal drug trade. Over 20 million women and children have been trafficked (these numbers are deemed to be conservative, considering the underreporting that goes on) with 80% having been sold into sex slavery. A full 50% of these victims are minors. In the U.S., over 300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked. Because traffickers often use violence to coerce compliance, many never try to escape.
The average life-expectancy of a child sold into the sex trade is seven years. So, if a girl is forced into prostitution at the age of twelve (the average age in the U.S.), odds are by the time she’s nineteen, she’s dead. And it’s not only prostitution; child pornography is one of the fastest growing components of trafficking, due in large part to easy access via the internet.
Once I became aware of those statistics, I filed them away in my brain for future reference, intending to use them at a later date in a novel. But the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I kept coming across more and more information about child sex trafficking and couldn’t concentrate on the book I was planning to write.
Then Mara showed up.
When I say she showed up, I mean that she popped into my mind as a fully formed character. I had to tweak a few things, most specifically her age. Mara came to me as a nine-year-old, but when I started bouncing the idea off of friends and colleagues, every one of them urged against it. As one of my writer friends put it, “Readers are aware younger girls are victims of human trafficking. That doesn’t mean they want to read about it.” After I thought long and hard about their comments, I decided they had a point. I remedied the need to be true to the original character by alluding to another victim in the book who is nine, and Mara became a twelve-year-old.
Then I had to decide whether I wanted to write a stand-alone novel apart from my other two series’ characters, or use one of them in the story. I decided on Leine Basso, an ex-assassin, because I really liked the idea of a strong, kick-ass woman with a shady past who tries to redeem herself by working to rescue a young girl. Having Leine as the main character allowed me to include exciting scenes with guns, explosions and car chases along with a steamy romance with Detective Santiago Jensen, while helping to bring more awareness to the issue of trafficking children.
There’s an incredible amount of information about the modern slave trade available, and several organizations are committed to tackling this horrific problem. If you’re interested in learning more, go to http://www.polarisproject.org and http://www.missingkids.com/home to start. The more people know about it, the faster we can end human trafficking.
Genre – Romantic Suspense
Rating – PG13