I’ve now added a sensitivity warning to TOIL AND STRIFE, the first book in the Hathe series. I’ve resisted doing this for a long time, worrying it would detract from the story and act as a spoiler, or it might look as if I was apologising for putting in the scene or thought it was gratuitous. Then I saw a social media post likening content/trigger warnings to the age and content ratings for films. Readers need to know if a book includes something that is a trigger or uncomfortable, and can choose if they like that or not. So now there’s a warning at the end of the blurb.
The warning refers to a scene with a description of sexual assault. It’s not that graphic and is a short scene, but it happens. I’ve thought long and hard about whether I should take it out, but every time came to the same conclusion. The scene is essential for the story and affects the characters actions for long afterwards. What the hero and heroine must do in this story is ugly – they are on opposite sides of a war that both believe they must win to save their people. Both put their loyalty to their people ahead of themselves and neither believes they have a right to do otherwise.
It’s an ugly position to be in. Both must set aside their own morals, their own scruples, if they stand in the way of their side winning.
But you cannot do that without paying a price. It’s an ugly way to live, and what they do is ugly. That changes them, and changes how they connect to the one person in the world most important to them. It was important to show that ugliness in the character’s lives and relationship. Sexual assault is as ugly as it gets.
But can they can live with it, or find a way through?
However, not everyone wants to read a book with such a scene and as an author and reader, I respect that.