Memoir Creator: the story so far…

by Elly Danica

In 1988 my first book was published: Don’t: A Woman’s Word, a memoir of my childhood experience of sexual abuse. It became for a brief few months, a sensation in Canada, primarily because of an interview I did with broadcaster Peter Gzowski which was aired on CBC, the national radio network.

My memoir has never been out of print in Canada and is taught in a range of university programs across the country. I have had reports of it being used as a text in Women’s Studies, family law, social work, nursing, Canadian literature, and once saw it listed for a course on medical ethics. It is a resource for therapists working with adult survivors of child abuse trauma. The book was published in England, Ireland and the US, translated into German, Dutch and French.

I toured Canada with the book for the better part of two years, giving readings, interviews, speaking at conferences and at community events for adult survivors from coast to coast. In 1990 I also toured in Europe and Ireland for 7 weeks. It was a heady and also grueling experience.

In 1996 I was a writer in residence in rural Saskatchewan for a year, again doing readings, meeting with local writers, teaching workshops in primary and high schools as well as adult workshops.

1998 was a pivotal year for me as I was finally able (with a great deal of help and support) to realize a long held dream to move to the Maritimes. Here I found work as a ‘transition coach’ working with older adults and for me the best part of the job was hearing the stories of each person I worked with.

Our stories need to be heard. It was (and still is) amazing to me how transformative being heard was. The first time I read from my manuscript, I did so in a near whisper, so certain I would be dismissed (as I always had been) and not believed. I worried that I’d be met with indignation and wasn’t at all prepared for the compassion and caring I received instead. When one of that first small group of listeners asked me if I could speak up I said no, and kept on reading in a barely audible voice, the best I could do at the time.

Our stories have power, first in our own lives, but also in the lives of our readers and listeners who are moved by the words and witness to the telling.

Over the years my books have continued to sell in very small numbers and most stores no longer had copies in stock. I wanted to do something about that. With help (once again) I was able to purchase the rights to both Don’t and Beyond Don’t with the goal of making them more readily available. To that end both titles are now Kindle ebooks and available at You can read ebooks even if you don’t own a Kindle by simply downloading the free Kindle app to your computer or other device.

If you are interested in buying a signed collector’s copy of Don’t: A Woman’s Word please contact me.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen November 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm

You are right; Our stories need to be heard and shared. Your blog is inspiring.

I’ve started my life experiences memoir, hoping to reach young adult women. But now I have writers block after 41 pages. I’m trying to find input and help on how to continue.

Currently I don’t have a website.

Chris February 10, 2013 at 11:46 am

Thank you for this blog. I am a writer, activist and survivor of childhood abuse–incest and prostitution by my family. Anyway, I am looking fwd to reading your books. Amazing and wonderful that you received so much media attention! My first novel, Nickels: A Tale of dissociation was a Lambda finalist and it gets good reviews but it is a huge struggle to get it out there! Anyway, good to know there is hope of getting this work into the mainstream! Congrats!

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