I’ve just started reading Cassandra By Starlight, the first in a series of three novels by Susan MacNicol. I don’t normally read romance novels – as in NEVER. However, I met the author on Twitter recently after she told me about her book and a plot twist involving a female rapist and male victim. I was informed of this by the author after responding to a Tweet she made recently regarding a blog article she authored pertaining to male rape survivors.
Apparently, my own story of rape at the hands of a woman has been used as source material for part of the plot of a novel by author Susan MacNicol. She had read my story online and used it to help frame the rape of her male protagonist.
The author takes the issue seriously and did not play it for laughs in the book. I won’t lie, it is a tad unnerving to find out your traumatic experience was immortalized (even as a fictional construct) in book form. Thankfully, Susan is a very nice person and is not presenting the experience in an exploitative or titillating manner. I appreciate that and look forward to finishing the book soon.
Let me be clear, Bennett Saville, the male protagonist, is not based on me. However, my experience is part of what forms his character’s experience. Strange does not even approach how this feels, but not in a triggering or negative manner if that makes sense. A few years back, I granted permission to the Empowerment Theatre to use my survivor story as part of their stage production in the UK. I was also interviewed for a video spot that plays during Precious Porter’s one-woman show – Love Should Not Hurt.
A book is a different experience for me. Not wrong or upsetting in any way, just different. I’ve had time to process the fact that my experience has been incorporated into a stage production by the folks at Empowerment Theatre or my story discussed on video in front of Precious’ audiences. It will take a little time to process the scene in this book. I’ve been interviewed for or my work/websites mentioned in about 50 books over the last 15 years, but those were non-fiction and related to my civil liberties work through The Multiracial Activist and The Abolitionist Examiner. This is fiction. I know it isn’t me in the book, but it is part of me, part of what I endured immersed in between the text.
Thankfully, it is a story where two people find each other and better things happen for them both. I’m glad I got a chance to meet Susan and I hope my experience as translated through her characters helps change a few minds about female on male sexual violence. At the very least, I am grateful that she takes it seriously and took the time to reach out to me.
Susan’s website is below:
An excerpt of the book is available here: