WEbook Featured Project: The Devil’s Virgin


The Devil’s Virgin,

a novel by WEbooker marieke,
opens with an attention-grabbing prologue: A young girl, the narrator, sits on the beach two weeks before her
fourteenth birthday. She’s accosted by a
strange man, who turns out to be the devil. The devil offers to make the girl his companion. “The rewards,” he promises, “will be great.”

The book goes on to tell the story of a young girl, the
daughter of a brothel owner in Thailand. When the girl begins seeing visions, local villagers believe that she
has special powers, and they come to her to tell their stories of hardship,
poverty, hunger, abuse, prostitution, and addiction – as well as their dreams
of escape, rescue, hope, and happiness.  The Devil’s Virgin
weaves these stories together into a rich chorus, made up of the voices of the
oppressed and forgotten.

Author marieke
shares the story of the book’s conception:

“I should have gone to church.  Instead, curiosity got the better of me before
I even had breakfast, and I started that lazy Sunday by reading my email
messages. The first message I opened had a picture in it, the size of a postage
stamp, and a link I didn’t recognize.  I
usually delete anything that looks like spam immediately, but something about
the picture made me take a closer look.  It
was the tiny image of a man between a woman’s legs. Only something was wrong
with the picture. The woman wasn’t smiling, and she seemed very small compared
to the man. She didn’t have any breasts,
or any shape at all. When the realization hit me that I was looking at a man
and a young girl – a child – I gagged.

“Before I could delete the message from my screen, my two-year old daughter
came running into the room.  In front of
my eyes, two worlds clashed. I quickly deleted the message and held my girl,
sobbing into her hair, telling her, "Sorry, sorry," over and over
again. I was sorry her Mama was so upset
and couldn’t explain.  Sorry she lives in
a world where these terrible things happen.  Sorry for the girl in the picture.  Sorry for all the girls and boys this is
happening to.  Sorry there wasn’t
anything I could do for them.

“It was easy to delete the image from my mailbox, but it turned out to be a lot more
difficult to delete it from my mind. That
Sunday, it dominated my thoughts. It seemed that with every fresh chore I took
on and every new distraction I sought, it jumped to the front again, demanding
my attention. Every time, I felt sick.

“I have never been abused myself. In fact, I had a pleasant
childhood with little to no threats to my safety. The only times that I did feel harassed, were
when I came across stories of child abuse or examples of child pornography.  I think what bothers me most is the feeling
that this abuse is happening and nothing can be done to prevent or stop it. This
feeling of hopelessness is, to me, the worst feeling in the universe.

“That Sunday, it was different.  For ten
years, I had been writing stories – light, fluffy, funny material, like children’s
stories and small-town murder mysteries. Writing is my passion. That Sunday, I
decided to  combine my passion with my
obsession. I decided to write about child abuse. And because I don’t want to
look at any more pictures, I decided to take on the hidden world of child
prostitution, where the abuse of power is enforced by money.

“I placed The Devil’s Virgin in
Thailand because that country is infamous for sex tourism. I was living in
China at the time, a country estimated to have just as many child prostitutes
as Thailand – about 200,000 – but spread over a much larger country and
population, and practically hidden. I chose Thailand because there was plenty
of information on it, and maybe also because it was a bit father from home.

“I focused the story on a girl who is being ‘saved’ to sell
her virginity at a certain age. This is a common practice, especially for
daughters of prostitutes, who, often illegitimate, uneducated, and with no
social status whatsoever, seem destined for the sex trade.

“In hindsight, the decision to write the book was the easy part. Researching
child prostitution was difficult, not because there was not enough material but
rather because of the abundance of information. I found too many cruel statistics, too many stories of children as young
as ten – their bodies so small and fragile – working in the sex trade,
servicing two to twenty men a day.

“Writing this book was the hardest thing I have ever done, made worse by
throwing all the horrible stories of abuse I’d heard through the years, like
the newspaper article about a grandfather in Africa abusing his baby
granddaughter and loaning her out to friends, in a misguided attempt to have
sex while avoiding AIDS.  I started
seeing child abuse everywhere. For a time, I could not enjoy life anymore.

“Fortunately, I found it hard to stay very angry for long, thanks to my toddler
and her natural sense of humor. (Sloshing around water is fun. Throwing rocks
is fun. Writing should on the walls is fun. Even poop is fun.) My girl made me

“I believe that a book that’s difficult to read should reward its reader with a
happy ending. Is that realistic?
Statistically, perhaps not. But the story of the The Devil’s
is fiction, after all.  And
I have this sliver of a belief in my mind, that there always is hope.  I would love to spread that hope to people,
especially children.

“The picture of the poor girl in the e-mail still pops up in my mind in
moments. Even though the actual image is getting fuzzier, the memory still
disgusts me to the point of nausea. But now I can tell her, and myself: Hold
on, my love. I am telling the world about you.”

WEbook Projects

Know a really great project on
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WEbook Project

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-- Melissa

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