Featured Author: MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT

Featured Author:

MARTA MERAJVER-KURLAT

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1.   Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

First of all, let me thank you for your kind invitation. I’m an Argentine author, translator, psychoanalyst, and an English Language and Literature teacher, as well as a wife and mother and a friend to my friends. I spent my youth traveling, studying, and working around the world. I love reading, animals, nature, knitting, and cooking, so it would be accurate to say that the person behind the pen is both multifaceted and complex 🙂

2.    What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.

My mom was a great writer, and I played at writing before I knew what was at stake. I’ve written ever since I can remember, but began to publish children’s stories in my thirties. Then there came a long period of “abstinence”, until a stupid discussion about suicide prompted me to write my first novel, “Just Toss the Ashes”, in 2005. I am now working on my fourth novel, after having published two others, four self-help books, a guide to Joyce’s Ulysses, and a biography of Korean filmmaker Kim-ki Duk. My fiction deals with real life; thus, it is triggered by true events, although I do not write about any particular person or real situation. I tend to focus on the unpalatable side of life, drawing attention to what people would rather not hear about. Going against the grain will not earn me a place among best-selling authors for sure, but I have no regrets.

3.    How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

The truth is I do not do much to promote my books. Once they are out of my hands, I leave that to the publisher, who does what he can. I have tried some resources, but don’t find them helpful. In the long run, my books sell either because people find me “interesting” -*grin*- and are intrigued about my work or because readers recommend them to friends. “Just Toss the Ashes” has been selling steadily since it was first published, and that is a remarkably long time for a novel to keep in the loop.

4.    Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

My first review was not bad, but the critic who wrote it for an American online magazine specializing in Latin American literature read the Spanish version, and I’m afraid her Spanish wasn’t good enough to cope with the nuances of the language. How it made me feel? I just wanted to kill her. There were many others for the English version, all of them showing full understanding and appreciation of the novel.

5.    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

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I don’t write series. This particular book explores suicide and its sequels, through the journey the dead woman’s son undertakes to find out about a mother he didn’t really know. The public has embraced it as a means to understand something that may be unthinkable or taboo, depending on each person’s take on the meaning of life. Also, many people that experienced a loss through suicide approached me to tell me that the novel had proved healing.

6.     Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).

The direct link to the book and its reviews is http://www.amazon.com/Just-Toss-the-Ashes-ebook/dp/B0010XG5VY/ref=la_B009TC8C5A_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382720711&sr=1-5

Other interesting links are my website http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/

My Amazon page if you’re interested in my other books,

http://www.amazon.com/Marta-Merajver-Kurlat/e/B009TC8C5A

my Facebook pages in English and Spanish https://www.facebook.com/martamerajverkurlat

and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marta-Merajver-Kurlat-Talleres-de-Lengua-y-Literatura-Ingl%C3%A9s-y-Espa%C3%B1ol/413887565360477?ref=hl (2077 people following)

Last but not least, The Write Room Blog, a wonderful group in which thirty-odd writers work and publish http://www.thewriteroomblog.com

There’s also a Pinterest site that reveals a lot about me

http://www.pinterest.com/martamerajver/

7.      I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

Let me give you an excerpt that describes how the dead woman’s psychiatrist feels after he learns she has committed suicide:

“Heading downtown from his luxurious home in Martínez, he went over the Sylvia case in his mind, since he would not have time to stop by the office to pick up his notes. He would do it later and possibly use them to present a paper at the next conference. He wondered fleetingly why he hadn’t seen it coming, but discarded the notion almost violently. He wasn’t a magician and she had deceived him. One way or another, patients always lie whether they know it or not, and they always hide things, even when they don’t intend to. Dr. Garnet intuited that this act was not the result of a sudden impulse, but rather had been carefully planned and that, in a way, she had used him, sometimes as a pawn and sometimes as a king, in a game of chess. As a pawn he was disposable and to top it off, she had checkmated him. She had shut down all movement with no warning, sending up smoke screens that had kept him from seeing what she was up to. And now, she had wiped him off the board. Looking for a parking spot, he was frankly angry. The suicide of a patient that he had diagnosed as non-suicidal could damage his professional reputation. Not to mention that the family could lay the blame on him publicly as well as privately.

This…”lady” had been a hard nut to crack from the start.”

Thanks again, Lori, for having me on your page. I feel honored, for I very much admire you and your work!

*** Marta is a WONDERFUL author and par excellent’ colleague.  She is caring and warm hearted and I strongly encourage you to read her work!  Thank you so much Marta for allowing me to interview you.

The “keep quiet cause no one will believe you” crime!

Childhood sexual abuse,  is the “hush-hush” crime.  Most who go through it are scared to death to tell anyone out of fear of not being believed, or fearing their molester so bad that they just keep quiet.  My experience was no different.

I was 10 years old when my brother started playing this “tickle” game with me.  It started out with you tickle my foot and I’ll tickle yours, then it advanced to tickling other things.  I was mortified the first time it happened.  My brother was 8 years older than me and I was the only adopted child in the family, so I think he justified it due to this. (not being his REAL sister).  I know my mom must have known but my brother was her FAVORITE and he could do no wrong, so I was really confused.  Do I tell my mom and have her hate me because I said something bad about her baby, or do I keep doing it to get her approval.

I remember when it started happening, I became so frightened when my parents would leave the house and I was left there with him and my sisters, I started banging on the screen door once screaming for them not to go, I banged so hard my hand went through a glass door.  Don’t you think my mom should have realized something??? All of a sudden I start going nuts anytime she leaves the house.  But she never said anything when he did other cruel acts to me.  Once he called me out to the garage and had my bunny hanging upside down in his hands and then he hit it over and over again on the head and killed it, and we ATE IT THAT NIGHT FOR DINNER.  I truly thought it was chicken then my brother blurted out it was my bunny, I ran from the table and threw up.   My brother never had intercourse with me until he knew for sure that I had already experienced it at age 13.  I won’t say too much because this is in my book, but I will summarize it by saying at age 15 I emancipated myself from my family and got married, so I could escape the house where my hell was being played out.  I couldn’t believe my mom and dad let me go so easily, but they did.

Now I know I’m not the only one who has been abused but I wanted to share my story so you know it’s OK TO TALK ABOUT IT!  There are places to go for help, there is counseling for those who have been through it, you don’t have to KEEP QUIET ANY LONGER!!!

I beg you all to get the help you need and for the rest of you to LISTEN when someone is trying to tell you of an incident like this.  Most of us feel uncomfortable when someone starts telling us something like this and we are unsure of what to do, so I will give you some resources.  Also some behaviors to look for that might indicate someone is being molested.

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent

  • Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times
  • Has a sudden change in eating habits
    • Refuses to eat
    • Loses or drastically increases appetite
    •  Has trouble swallowing.
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
  • Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
  • Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
  • Talks about a new older friend
  • Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
  • Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

Signs more typical of younger children

  • An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
  • Has new words for private body parts
  • Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
  • Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
  • Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

    Signs more typical in adolescents

  • Self-injury (cutting, burning)
  • Inadequate personal hygiene
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Running away from home
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Suicide attempts
  • Fear of intimacy or closeness
  • Compulsive eating or dieting

Physical warning signs

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare.  If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor.   Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
  • Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

WHAT TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING

 

  • The typical advice “Don’t Talk to Strangers” doesn’t apply in this case. Most sexual perpetrators are known to their victims.
  • Do not instruct children to give relatives hugs and kisses. Let them express affection on their own terms.
  • Teach your children basic sexual education. Teach them that no one should touch the “private” parts of their body. A health professional can also help to communicate sex education to children if parents are uncomfortable doing so.
  • Develop strong communication skills with your children. Encourage them to ask questions and talk about their experiences. Explain the importance of reporting abuse to you or another trusted adult.
  • Teach your children that sexual advances from adults are wrong and against the law. Give them the confidence to assert themselves against any adult who attempts to abuse them.
  • Make an effort to know children’s friends and their families.
  • Instruct your child to never get into a car with anyone without your permission.
  • Teach your children that their bodies are their own. That it is OK to say they do not want a hug or that certain kinds of contact make them uncomfortable.
  • It is important to remember that physical force is often not necessary to engage a child in sexual activity. Children are trusting and dependent and will often do what is asked of them to gain approval and love.

What to do if you think a child you know has been the victim of sexual abuse

  • Give the child a safe environment in which to talk to you or another trusted adult. Encourage the child to talk about what he or she has experienced, but be careful to not suggest events to him or her that may not have happened. Guard against displaying emotions that would influence the child’s telling of the information.
  • Reassure the child that he or she did nothing wrong.
  • Seek mental health assistance for the child.
  • Arrange for a medical examination for the child. Select a medical provider who has experience in examining children and identifying sexual and physical trauma. It may be necessary to explain to the child the difference between a medical examination and the abuse incident.
  • Be aware that many states have laws requiring that persons who know or have a reason to suspect that a child has been sexually abused must report that abuse to either local law enforcement officials or child protection officials. In all 50 states, medical personnel, mental health professionals, teachers, and law enforcement personnel are required by law to report suspected abuse

Where to go for help

Several organizations can provide information and advice about child sexual abuse, including:  BUT REMEMBER IF YOU SUSPECT IT, IMMEDIATELY GET THE CHILD TO A HOSPITAL FOR EXAMINATION AND NOTIFY POLICE PERSONNEL IF NECESSARY. BUT GET THE CHILD OUT OF IMMINENT DANGER!!!!!   ALSO THERE IS A HELPLINE  Helpline 1.888.PREVENT

American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children 407 South Dearborn Suite 1300 Chicago, IL 60605 (312) 554-0166 http://www.apsac.org/

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Charles B. Wang International Children’s Building 699 Prince Street Alexandria, VA 22314-3175 24 hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST http://www.missingkids.com/

Child Help USA 15757 North 78th Street Scottsdale, AZ 85260 (800) 4-A-CHILD http://www.childhelpusa.org/

Prevent Child Abuse America 332 S. Michigan Ave Suite 1600 Chicago, IL 60604-4357 (800) CHILDREN http://www.preventchildabuse.org/index.shtml

Child Welfare Information Gateway (formerly National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information) Children’s Bureau/ACYF 1250 Maryland Avenue, SW Eighth Floor Washington, DC 20024 (800) 394-3366 http://www.childwelfare.gov/

Also remember that most childhood sexual abuse survivors suffer from PTSD later in life, so it’s very important to get into counseling to “get control”.  I hate using the word RESOLVE, because personally I don’t think issues can be RESOLVED, I think they can only be MANAGED.  Thank you, Lori

I hope this gives some insight to this epidemic.  It is too bad we live in a world where I would even THINK of writing a post like this, but the sad truth is WE DO, and we have to protect our children.  Thanks, Lori