Did your work and what you witnessed as a lawyer as well as recent popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight inspire you to pen this book?
Real life is what inspires me to write. Look around you, listen to your family’s stories, your neighbors’ daily lives, read the newspapers. There are so many stories waiting to be told and not enough time to write about them. My book treads on the same subject of my Law School thesis, which was about violence against women and children. I have always felt that children and women are still very much abused and too many cases still go unpunished. And I’m talking about many types of abuse: verbal, physiological, physical and economical abuse, besides physical and sexual violence. I had already begun in my trilogy when, on November 2010, 30 Seconds To Mars released a trailer to one of their songs, called Hurricane. It caused great controversy due to the strong and violent sexual content. And when I read James’s books, I’d already written 800 pages of my trilogy. I’m a woman of my time and this subject is being talked about all around the world and not only by EL James. The problem with James trilogy is that she uses the BDSM as an excuse to transform the male leading character in an abuser. So, I changed a bit Alistair’s character to introduce in the literary world my thoughts about this subject.
Who are the characters of Alistair and Ethan based on, if anyone?
I wouldn’t say Ethan and Alistair have a blue-print but I can say that I have mixed in my cauldron a few personalities and came out with them. Alistair was abused. His marriage was a damaging relationship where the supposed submissive wife, who wanted kink sex and a BDSM relationship, was an abuser disguised. There are many forms of abuse and sometimes we are not able to see them. If one doesn’t like something and only does it for the sake - and pleasure - of the other, it's an abuse. Ethan is like so many deranged and troubled people who infest our world today. He’s the fruit of horrible parents, who, one way or another, profoundly hurt their offspring because they are selfish, criminally negligent or perverted. I do believe in John Locke’s principle that people are born tabula rasa. Children need care and education. They need limits and love, so they can learn to live in society. Just look around you and you will see how many perversions and crimes are being freely perpetrated on a daily basis. People auctioning their bodies in TV; Babies being sold for mere dollars, women being enslaved and trafficked for prostitution... In my opinion, we are yet to learn how to live in society. Many people don’t know how to respect themselves and others and what morals and principles mean. For every act there is a correspondent counter-act. Sometimes, only a tragedy makes us see that too much freedom and too many pleasures only lead to disaster. We have to review a few of our so called rights and a few of our so called freedoms, or else we are going to lose a great deal of what we have achieved.
The things Sophia undergoes through, did you or anyone you know experience them? And who is Sophia based upon, if anyone?
Oh! There is a lot of me in Sophia - and also in Gabriela. But I wish I were more courageous about so many things that enchant or disgust me. And, yes, many things that she has experienced I’ve drawn from my experience. For example: I could read when I was three years old. I started college - Fine Arts - with fifteen years and Law School when I was sixteen. Fortunately, I’m still married to my dear husband, but I had a friend who had experienced a very similar situation to Sophia’s and Gabriel, her first husband. I think that the author must understand and do a thorough research of what she/he is writing about. I cannot write about something I don’t know, I don’t relate or I don’t understand.like her. I write because I’m too shy to speak out loud
Do you feel that your book should serve as a warning not to romanticize the type of men that Twilight and Fifty Shades perpetuate?
Not judging vampires or BDSM sexual preferences, but what happens in those series is pure abuse, verbal, psychological, economical and, in the end, physical romanticized in wealth and power. Abuse is a crime and it must be called as so.
And the BDSM sometimes is a dangerous practice. And let’s say it: It is considered crime in UK, here in Brazil and many countries, because, among other things, it puts lives - and minds - in grave danger.
What's your opinion about Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey?
I think the 50 & the Twilight series communicates dangerous messages about what is acceptable or admirable. They say that unhealthy and emotionally abusive relationships are desirable. It seems women’s only life choices (and “choice” is a key word here) are to get married, have children, and do what their husbands orders without complaining. And on the top of the list they talk about child-grooming and pedophilia as not only acceptable but desirable, as a way to help children to be better.
I’m not a feminist in the full concept of the term but I’m proud of being an independent woman and I like to have the possibility to choose to do what I want, when I want, whenever I want.
What is more important: One cannot put the other’s desire or well-being as less important.
The leading characters in those series are always thinking what they should do to pleasure the male characters and giving no importance if they like it or not. It’s completely subservient, submissive, and self-esteem damaging. Let be clear here: There is nothing wrong with being married, having children and being a stay-at-home mother. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to pleasure your partners AS LONG AS it doesn’t go against your desires and feelings. And it doesn’t matter if the control and the abuse is done with good intentions, or if one apologize after hurting and harming another, when it comes to a controlling, short-tempered, abusive men. It has to be named for what it is: a crime, a violence. It cannot be romanticized. In fact, these are often the main reasons women feel trapped in abusive relationships. So, the oppression and degrading of the female characters are subtle but they are there. It may have been unintentional, but authors have to be responsible and take care with their words. Words have power.
I’d like to thank you for this interview. Hearing from readers is very important to the writer. It always helps us to do a better job. So, I want to invite everybody to leave a message on my website 'cristianeserruya.com.br'.
Cristiane Serruya lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with her husband and two teenage daughters. She majored in Fine Arts and Law, and has a Masters in Business Law. She is also specialized in cases of sexual abuse and violence against children and women. She worked as a full-time lawyer from 1991 to 2010. She is widely traveled, having lived and studied in Brazil, England, France, Italy and Switzerland. After twenty-two years of practicing law, Cristiane decided to give writing a go and, amazingly, it was just the piece that was missing in her life. Cristiane Serruya can be found online via her website ‘cristianeserruya.com.br’.
Thank you for your time in answering my questions, and for this interview as well. Here are the links to my reviews of her Trust Trilogy. Third book will be out in November.
Trust: A New Beginning