Why I Wrote Web of Angels

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  Web of Angels is a Canadian bestseller! But that’s something I couldn’t have known when I set out. Here’s what drove me  forward.



7 thoughts on “Why I Wrote Web of Angels

  1. Hello Lilian, I could not put the book down! Riveting, warm, loving, serious, playful, humorous, and ultimately the fight between good and evil. The big question is, the evil parents, were they also abused, or were they just plain bad human beings? Always, I felt the ‘lils’, the different ‘personalities’ in Sharon, although different, looked after each other, were caring and really worked together. It also dealt with child abuse, child pornography. I had the sense that this book was well researched, written by a person who had knowledge or experience, and of course, you confirmed it when you spoke about it here. Do you give talks about child abuse? I am a foster mom employed by a treatment centre for children and youths, and there are many who have suffered this kind of abuse as well as neglect. Thank you for this wonderful book! Margaret

    1. Thanks so much, Margaret! I’m sure you must see a lot of this as a foster mom (Kudos to you by the way!!), as well as in the centre. Yes, I do give talks. You can see an example of a video I produced with the University of Toronto (geared to health care providers) here.

      That’s a good question, re cause vs morals, that there is no single answer to, is there? In some ways the answer is a personal one, ie your philosophy of life. There is always a cause, whether it’s experience or biology. The question is whether people have choices even when there is a cause. Someone could argue that even sociopaths are victims of their own brains. But if you take the position as I do that people have choices in life, then they are responsible for their actions, whether they’ve been abused or not.

      For me, intention is an important factor. There are people who act out of ignorance, who don’t know any different, say, than to hit as they’ve been hit. But if they’re taught better, they do better. On the other hand, if something is a secret, then clearly the perpetrator knows it’s wrong, or at least unacceptable. Even there, I can understand people wrestling with their own demons and needing help…if they’re willing to take it. But there is a point, where it crosses a line. I can know the causes, I can understand, I’ve been on the receiving end of it so I’m shocked by nothing. And yet when I became a mother, I learned how to be shocked because I saw the innocence of my own babies. And it became incomprehensible to me that anyone could hurt children so profoundly.

      So now, when it comes to perpetrators and whether they are acting out of hurt or are just plain bad, I give that up to the light for judgement. My role is to act on behalf of victims, to use my gifts to give voice for those who can’t, to let them know they’re not alone, and to inform and educate people so that the world is a better place for survivors, and, really, everyone. Because we’ve all been wounded one way or another, and we are all stronger walking hand in hand.

    2. Now to answer specifically your question about the characters in Web of Angels, ie the evil parents. I imagine them coming from an abusive family themselves, and there are hints of that in the novel. But they are also bad. Their intention is to do harm and mind-fuck children to make them easier victims. They enjoy it. They make money off it. That’s bad. Evil, as you say. They are typical perps in porn rings. Most people who have been abused don’t become abusers. They do everything they can to break the cycle.

  2. Thank you so much, Lilian, for your thoughtful, insightful comments. You have covered the whole gamut of sexually abused children, their resultant behaviour (love your comments that most abused children do not want to abuse!); and abusers, perpetrators: sociopaths or abused; causes to abuse being either experience or biological; yet there are always ‘choices’, choosing to hurt, etc., or not. And I wonder: people like Russell Williams, Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka…will any treatment work for them? Are there warning signs, red flags, to identify the ones that are truly dangerous? There must be, but it is pretty ugly.

    Again, thank you for such a lovely, heartening, well-written book. You are special. Margaret

    1. It is ugly, and the stats on rehabilitation are generally bleak for sexual offenders, never mind the extremes. Offenders know how to mask themselves, but there are signs, if someone is open and honest with themselves, and if we honour our instincts. So I think the best focus is on healing and empowerment, not only to break the cycle, but to prevent it from starting. And thank you so much for your kind words! It’s made my day.

  3. Dear Lilian:
    Let me tell you a story. It’s about a girl from Haida Gwaii, a very stubborn girl, much like your Emma. As she grows up, she tries to make sense of her “Indian” self and her “white” self, she tries to make sense of G-d. Ultimately, she finds “The River Midnight.”

    This book, with its themes of social justice and the lives of women, helps her decide to convert to Judaism.

    She sets aside the dichotomy of being in the world but not “of the world,” she studies Torah, she studies midrash, she studies Kaballah. She gives charity and immerses herself in tikkun olam. She bears children, with the help of midwives.

    Finally, she finds acceptance in the Jewish community, serving on the boards of directors of two synagogues, Ahavat Olam, and the PEI Jewish Community.

    I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the girl is me.

    Even though the world turns, and I’m now the only year-round Jew in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, the story of Emma, and Misha, and Alta-Fruma stays with me, has become part of the fabric of my mind and soul.
    Thank you.

  4. Hi Sarah–what an amazing journey. I’m honoured that you shared it and delighted that The River Midnight was a part of it. Life is full of surprising connections. I’ve been to Haida Gwaii and spent several summers writing in PEI before having children. The scene at the end of The River Midnight takes place in Bunbury, overlooking the Hillsborough River and the old bridge across the estuary…that’s where I wrote the first draft.

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