Traffick is a sequel to a book I wrote five years ago called Tricks that was about five teens from all different parts of the country who fall into prostitution. This is the book that decides whether or not they can go home from that experience. (It includes) a lot of stories about being trafficked as teenagers, all inspired by true stories that people have shared with me. It’s a real look at what sexual exploitation is. It’s hard hitting, but it’s actually softer on some levels than the original because it’s about (the characters) going home to the people who loved them.
If you could collaborate with any other author, who would it be?
The only person I have ever talked about collaborating with is Neil Shusterman. He writes very different kinds of books than I do, but he is also interested in writing in verse. We talked about writing a book that would be kind of back and forth.
Which one of your characters do you most closely relate to?
Probably Whitney, who came from a very upscale family and had a lot going for her, but, because of the choices she made, ended up in a very bad place. I think a lot of young people, including me, early on end up in a place we don’t want to be. I think sometimes you think you’re doing the right thing, but you aren’t.
What genre would your book fall under, and what attracted you to it?
This is issue-based contemporary fiction. I am attracted to that genre because I don’t think enough authors write contemporary. A lot of teens need to see themselves in books. I don’t think there are enough books out there that teens can see themselves in, whether they’re the teens who made those wrong choices or whatever. I want to represent those young people and be the voice to those young people. I think it’s hugely important, and I hope more young writers consider going into contemporary rather than fantasy or other genres.
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