This is the story of how the book came to be... When I first
looked for a book on brother-sister incest more than 25 years
ago, I could find nothing devoted to the topic. Years later
I came across a clinical book on the topic, written for mental
health professionals. But I wanted one that highlighted the
voices of the women and girls who had suffered the horrors
of this type of sexual abuse. I knew that I was not the only
one and yet I had nothing in 1979 to speak to me about my
own experience. There were books on father-daughter incest
and other types where the perpetrator was clearly much older,
and often of another generation. Brothers as perpetrators
were sometimes mentioned in these books but only briefly and
superficially. I began talking to friends about creating the
book that I wanted to read.
As word spread, I sent out flyers which women throughout
North America and overseas posted in their local feminist
and independent bookstores. I also placed ads placed in literary
and feminist journals calling for contributions. Women responded
in droves. They sent me their poems, prose and visual art,
In time I began to select which of these stories and images
would go into the book. One day I played with simply laying
the pieces out on the floor around me, and found that they
naturally fell into the three categories that are in the book:
Breaking Spirits; Wounded Hearts; Shattering Silences. I began
sending proposals to publishers, and in the end had sent over
80 proposals but did not find a publisher to pick up the book.
Many wished me well, but I believe they found the topic too
incendiary, and I was an unknown author. Finally, I decided
that I would self-publish; that we would not wait any longer
to bring these women’s voices to the world.
Up until that point, there had been only a small group of
people whom I had told about this project. At some point I
realized more deeply then I had known before how powerful
and insidious shame can be. I realized that it was shame that
had been keeping me from telling people about the book. Once
I began talking about what I was doing, I quickly learned
that people wanted to help bring the book into the world.
They volunteered for everything: editing; proofreading; writing
the specs for the printer; creating the cover; choosing ink,
paper and fonts; donating money; and keeping us all fed.
Finally one day Not Child’s Play was ready
and we took it to the printer. The printer gave us a tour
and the schedule. The day it went on the press we were there,
watching. We were there the following day and again on the
third and final day to see it on the bindery and to hold finished
books in our hands.
After 13 years of the possibility of creating this book,
the book had become a reality. We not only held the book in
our hands; we also held knowing and love in our hearts, souls
and bones for every person who has been abused, molested or
Since the book has been published we have had numerous readings
across the country, with the authors joining me when I go
to their locale. Letters and e-mails written by survivors,
perpetrators, family members, professionals, and other folks
began arriving shortly after publication and continue to arrive.
It is evident that the book has been as transformative for
readers and contributors, as it has been for me.
As I say at the end of the introduction to Not Child’s
May the voices in this anthology help to sustain and nurture
those whose lives have been gripped by incest. Our voices
speak. Read us. Think about us. Look for us. Talk to us.
Talk about our lives. This is what we have. Our lives. And
our stories. (p. 14).
With peace and gratitude… Risa