If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Horrors of the Real World by Carla Damron

Excuse me if I need to rant.

My latest project is a mystery set in the world of human trafficking. I’ve learned way too much about the subject. In my day job, I’ve done advocacy to get stronger legislation against this crime and to educate social workers, advocates … anyone who’ll listen to me… about this horrific crime. Just yesterday I received the latest analysis about sex trafficking in the US, put out by the Polaris Project, a world-wide organization dedicated to help victims of this crime.

Here are some “fun facts” I’ve learned in my research:

There are 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide and at least 150,000 in the US.

Many of these are CHILDREN, some younger than ten. The twelve-to-fourteen year old group is especially targeted.

According to a US Dept of Justice report, only 2 percent are rescued.


Many of these victims start out as runaways. Data from the Center for Missing Children states that one in six runaways become sex trafficking victims. Last year it was one in seven. This is about 5500 children.

68 percent of victims were, at one point, in our foster care system.



I’ve talked with law enforcement, too. Since this crime has been on my internal radar, I’m stunned at how much trafficking happens right here in South Carolina. I can cite details of six cases with multiple victims just in the past year. Three girls from a neighborhood not far from mine were victims.
Why is there so much trafficking? Because it is LUCRATIVE. Three victims will net a trafficker a half million a year. It’s more appealing than drug dealing because you sell the same “product” over and over. Trafficking operations are extensive, crossing state and country lines, and are hard to shut down because they can move victims quickly.

Major sporting events are a hub for sex trafficking. The Superbowl, the Final Four, even The Masters. If you want to see a powerful 3-minute film about this, go here. It isn’t graphic but it’s quite powerful:

Traffickers advertise on the dark web and on sites like “Backpage.” I visited Backpage. I saw photos of young women promising to give me the time of my life. New faces appeared every couple of seconds. It made my stomach hurt.
While my agency, and other advocates, succeeded in getting progressive, aggressive human trafficking laws passed, they are poorly enforced. Just because a new law exists doesn’t mean law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges know how to use it. More education to be done!

And here’s where my rant really amps up: WHY does human trafficking flourish? Because of the demand. I don’t think it’s just pedophiles who line the trafficker’s pockets. It’s men from all over the country who may be curious. Who pretend what they are doing isn’t assaulting a child. Who think it’s okay, they won’t get caught, etc. etc.

Penalties for being a customer are not severe. When a trafficking ring is busted, the newspapers will show the faces of the traffickers, but not the clients. I’ve asked law enforcement about this (repeatedly) and get stammered responses… “Don’t want to try them before they go to court…” when the answer is really far less palatable: they are people we KNOW. They may be judges or doctors or accountants. They may be husbands and fathers. They may live right next door.
What would happen if we strengthened the laws against the client base? What if a few faces made the front page of the papers? Maybe then, the husbands/fathers/lawyers/judges/doctors might not indulge their curiosity. Maybe, with stiffer consequences, with the risk of public exposure, we could reduce the demand for sex trafficking.

And maybe that would save some children from a life of horrific pain and abuse.


In my novel-in-process, I struggle to keep it from being too dark. It needs to entertain, and I’m hoping it will educate, too. I’m not sure how to put a softer spin on the subject, or even if I should. Would dark subject matter keep you from wanting to read? 

14 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

We should forget about trying to reform crooks (that includes both pimps and johns). It is a business proposition and we need to make it so expensive that it is now longer “profitable.”

While it might be tossed out of court for cruel and unusual, Johns caught with underage children should be forced to wear front and back placards for a month while performing visible community service. The signs proclaim they were caught f$$king underage children. No reason to send them to prison where we have to pay for their room and board. Humiliation would prove a very strong deterrent.

~ Jim

Carla Damron said...

I like your ideas, Jim!

Susan Froetschel said...

Such novels are a reminder that these crimes are frequent and in many communities. People need to know what signs to look for and report to authorities. Good luck with your novel

E. B. Davis said...

It's a problem I can't get my head around.

Kait said...

Those statistics are horrifying. Would I read a book with a novel with a dark story line? Yes. Absolutely, I do it all the time, although the fact that it deals with crimes against children might make it a harder sell, it's an important topic.I like Jim's ideas by the way.Always thought the days of the pillory should be brought back. For a while in South Florida photos of johns were posted on billboards in the areas they were arrested. I don't know the details. I assume they were convicted and the humiliation was in lieu of a stiffer sentence, but you know what - it worked. There is still prostitution in the area - hey, this is Miami - but the streets have been cleaned up considerably and the area is attracting high end restaurants and starting to flourish. Humiliation works.

Carla Damron said...

We also need to decriminalize most prostitution. Most people are victims who fall into that world.

Warren Bull said...

I would read a book with that dark background. There are many things we don't want to acknowledge that should be dragged from the darkness into the light. In some states the names of the "Johns" are published and announced over the radio. The problem needs to be addressed from that end.

Chris Bailey said...

Carla, we're states apart and tackling the same crime! I'm working with the labor trafficking side of things because my book is aimed at younger readers, 10 and up. The victims are not the main characters. What I'm incorporating are the warning signs--the promises traffickers make to get children to go with them. It's mostly a light read, but may prove "untouchable" because of the subject matter. It's my belief, though, that we need to tackle difficult issues. The more awareness there is--the more outrage we express as a society--the less comfortable the johns will be. We teach young children not to go with strangers, but by 12, strangers offering a lifestyle change can look pretty attractive. Best wishes with your book! Go as dark as you need to. I think it's easier to lighten up a deep emotional scene than to remember where you hid the seeds of it in the first draft.

Carla Damron said...

Chris, you are exactly right. Kids between 12 and 14 are easy targets. They are vulnerable to predators. Their brains aren't completely formed yet and don't know how to discern real danger much of the time. Awareness is key. I'm okay with terrifying parents, BTW.

Kara Cerise said...

This is a horrendous crime! I have seen documentaries about human trafficking, but I was stunned to learn that 68% of the victims had been in foster care at one time. That is chilling and so sad. I would definitely read a book with dark subject matter, Carla.

Gloria Alden said...

Carla, I've heard of this before, and it sickens me. I agree with Jim, and I also think there should be stiff penalties and public humiliation for anyone who pays for sex, especially with youngsters. I knew that all wasn't perfect in the foster care system since some people only take in kids for the money they receive, but I had no idea of that high a percentage. Good luck with finishing your book.

Carla Damron said...

Prevention is key. Help the kids not be vulnerable. Punish the offenders so the crime becomes too risky. Get rid of the demand.

Shari Randall said...

Rant away, Carla. I've been following this issue - there is a new task force in my county to deal with this crime and, I hope, save the children caught up in this nightmare. Go as dark as you need to on this - good literature changes things.
And Jim - your solution is brilliant!

Pam De Voe said...

I'd read a true account of such abuse--if the story didn't use "education" as a ruse to provide titilation, which I'm sure your's wouldn't (given your sensibilities). And, I agree with you on the need to expose the "Johns." They may be using self-deception (Satre's concept of bad faith) and exposure would force them to come to terms with their own complicity.