Many people have asked me why I choose to make Montana Wylde a prostitute, who started out with many life challenges and then slowly worked her way through her GRE, community college, and NYU, and then finally on to Columbia’s School of Law. At the beginning of The Purified, Montana’s about to leave her high end in call service to start her career. She only has to pass the bar exam. Then as you know, life hands Montana a curve ball when her best friend and business partner, Suzette Peterson goes missing and Montana puts everything on hold to search for her.
I based The Purified on many of my own experiences, as well as the experiences of others I’ve known who worked in the sex industry. I do admit I used plenty of artistic license in embellishing the characters and plot to suit the storyline. When I was shopping the book to agents, some turned me right away based solely on my protagonist’s career. That was okay. If people cannot handle a character like Montana Wylde, then they probably cannot handle me either because we’re a lot alike, (though she’s a lot smarter than I was when I worked in the sex industry).
I wanted to show readers that a heroine doesn’t have to be one that fits inside a neat box. So many people I know have been through challenging times, where life forced them to do things that they might not have otherwise done had they had more choices. I have always stressed my own problems that I have overcome—I have been open and vocal about my past career in the sex industry, my heroin addiction, and the many poor choices I made in my younger years.
I also wanted to show that people can undergo dramatic changes if they put their minds to it. Montana went from being an abused child, with no education, a crappy career and a depressing life in New York to working her way through school and reaching her dream of becoming a practice attorney. The second of The Montana Wylde series, The Deceived, shows her beginning her new career in that field.
People change. People can make remarkable changes in their lives if they believe in themselves and if they have goals that they map out and stick to them no matter what. As I said, I am quite a bit like Montana Wylde in some ways: I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I had a difficult childhood and young adulthood, I worked in the sex industry but then miracles happened and I turned my life around. Although believe me, I had plenty of help along the way.
If Montana and I can do it, then anyone can. I hope that The Purified also sends readers that message of hope and inspiration.