The Making of Not Child’s Play…

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, and letters.

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 raped.

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 Play:

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