Everyone likes superheroes. They help make the world a better place (with some collateral damage of course) and they help people with their powers and position. Superheroes don't really exist, of course, but by golly, I'm going to try to get as close as I can get with charity being my power.
But first, some backstory.
In 2003, I was placed in a mentor-ship program that paired 5th and 6th grade students in the honours program with professionals in the fields they wanted to pursue as adults. Some kids got paired with game designers. Others got paired with architects. 5th grade me really wanted to be a veterinarian, but I wasn't allowed to because a student did that once and ended up passing out at the first sight of blood. So I settled for a writer. I was paired with a fantasy author and was instructed to write my own novella. I thought for a bit, then came up with a story about a slave girl who turned out to be a princess and needed to be brought back to her war-torn country's capitol to restore peace. Does that sound familiar? Totally okay if it doesn't. That was the first version of what is now "Year of the Marachi."
When I first wrote the story, I didn't really have a reason of why I made Shanaihe, my main character, a slave. Adult me thinks that she was a personification of my anguish - I was incessantly bullied at school for a multitude of reasons, so a slave who was really a princess seemed to resonate me (and one day she'll be on the throne and shout out "SUCK IT!" to all of her previous oppressors! Sweet revenge!).
But as the years went on and the novella expanded into an elaborate epic, I started feeling like something was off about me, a privileged first world white girl, writing such a challenging and at times depressing narrative about a character whose experiences I have never experienced myself. I am well acquainted with feelings of despair and being pushed down. I am not at all acquainted with being an actual for-real slave.
The story became harder to write. I felt more and more sad for my protagonist. In a way, I felt powerless - I just wanted to help her. Insane, right? She doesn't even exist - I MADE HER UP! But then I started paying more attention to what was happening around the world. I started learning about other countries and their customs, of other cultures, and tried so very desperately to put myself in other people's shoes. I then found out about trafficking. For some reason, I thought that slavery was a narrative of the past because all my history books made it sound that way. The effects of slavery certainly still linger, and that is a whole other serious problem that certainly needs fixing, but I was disgusted to hear that slavery was not a past tense issue. Trafficking is a rampant problem, and it isn't even an issue reserved for under-developed countries - it happens in the United States!!! Why on Earth is this still a thing??? Are human rights and freedom meant to be reserved as luxuries??? I'm getting so steamed just thinking about this...
There are too many things in our modern era that make me feel like I'm powerless and that my voice doesn't actually matter. There are too many terrible things happening that I have no control over. I'm sick of feeling powerless. I want to take some initiative. I want to do something good that will genuinely reshape the world into a better place. I thought that for a while just drawing Year of the Marachi was enough for me, but it's not. I need to do more. And then it hit me - the answer has been in front of me ever since I started writing this story in 5th grade.
My co-writer Nicholas and myself have decided to make "Year of the Marachi" a charitable campaign. Now, instead of us making a personal profit from book sales, all profits will go to different charities - a different charity for each of the four books in the series. Book One: Kajarla, currently our only published entry, will have its profits donated to Durga Tree International, a non-profit charity that strives to abolish trafficking and to support and educate trafficking survivors, thus helping them to be successfully reintegrated into society and to live life to its fullest post slavery. This felt like the right thing to do, not only because Shanaihe, our main character, becomes a slavery survivor, but now our altruistic and humanitarian narrative is coupled with a genuinely good cause. With this, the Shanaihes of the world can achieve freedom and success, and that is incredibly exciting.
I hope that you will be able to join us in our endeavor to, in author John Green's words, "end world suck." Freedom should be a right, not a privilege. I have no idea how far we will be able to take this venture, but it will be exciting to go forward with others at our side.
(As a side note, we already know what charity we will be donating to for book two! We're keeping it a secret for now.)
If you want to read Year of the Marachi, including the second book which is in progress, click here.
If you want to purchase a copy of "Year of the Marachi Book One: Kajarla," click here to help us jumstart our campaign for freedom.
If you want to learn more about what Durga Tree International, our chosen anti-trafficking charity, does for the cause, click here.
Our protagonist, Shanaihe, when she was still a slave. (Book one, chapter one: The Beginning)
This scene, from the Book One prologue, is the first time we meet our protagonist as well as her eventual liberator, Mingu.