On June 5, 1994, I was abducted and raped. When he was done with me, I spent three hours talking to him - literally talking him out of killing me, very carefully, minute by minute.
He let me go. And I entered seven years of silence.
I had been writing since fifth grade. I'd had Shayara, my life's work, in my head and pouring out of my typewriter since I was sixteen - four years, at this point.
And... it stopped. For seven years.
It took seven years for me to wake up, to say "You cannot have me anymore. You do not own my voice."
And, with the help of my artist, Stacy Lucas, I began work on Shayara again. This time as a comic book.
Stories into the darkness
In 2003, I heard about a new charity project - Blogathon (http://www.blogathon.org). Blogathon is an unusual sort of marathon. In a Blogathon, you commit to posting something, anything, in your blog every half hour for 24 hours.
At this point, I'd been on LiveJournal for over a year. I'd amassed a decent-sized readership. And I realized that this was a perfect opportunity for me to use the voice I'd regained to help people who were still locked in their silence.
So for 24 hours in July of 2003, I blogged to raise money for the charity that meant to most to me: The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.
RAINN (http://www.rainn.org) is a national hotline that helps sexual abuse survivors get the help they need - the help that, had I reached out, could have brought me out of my silence far sooner. Dialing 1.800.656.HOPE will put a survivor in touch with a local counseling center. RAINN has helped over 900,000 people since its inception, and is, in my opinion, a vital resource.
In 2003, I raised nearly $2,000. And as a reward for donors, I did what I do best, what I regained - I wrote a Shayara story, reprinted here for the first time.
In 2004, I did it again. A little over $2,000. Another story.
Here are those stories, and two extra snippets, in the hopes of raising more money for RAINN. In order:
"Fallen" is one of the first stories of Shayara, before it was even a city, before it had a name - and it's the closest I have to actually relating to the charity.
"Fenris: The Purges" is the story of the most terrible night in Shayara's living history. The Purges is the name retroactively given to the night the Council released the Hounds upon the streets of the city, with intructions to kill everyone in House Tamra and decimate House Bartomn. Special instructions were given regarding Tamrani political dissident Jessamyn Donnelly - the beloved of Fenris, leader of Shayara's de facto police force.
"Four Sisters" is a simple look at a day in the life of the four daughters of Stephen and Katrina ni'Tamra. Tessa, rescued from the Council, who travels around the country helping Dasaroi who don't know what they are. Alanna, false Lishaya, slipping farther out of control every day. Katrianna, icy and distant, secure in her superiority. Julia, secret sister, on the run.
"Shawn" is the snippet I wrote to accompany the comic published in Shooting Star Comics Anthology #6. It gives a little more insight into Shawn's nightmare, and into the mood of the city post-Purges and directly before our story begins.
More information about Shayara can be found at http://www.shayara.com.
Unlock the silence
All proceeds from the sale of this chapbook will be donated to RAINN. If you wish to donate more, visit their website at rainn.org.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the stories.