Last night I attended an amazing book proposal and pitch crafting workshop with the talented author Theo Nestor. Below is the expanded version of my pitch that I developed in class.
My memoir chronicles the tragicomic omen cast over my life when I was born on the set of the Coen Brothers’ film Raising Arizona. A modern western set against the backdrop of the film and television industry of L.A. and Phoenix in the 90s, this memoir is best described as The Glass Castle meets Educated meets Running with Scissors meets Mommy Dearest meets The Godfather with child sex trafficking.
I was the female Michael Corleone, determined to renounce her violent mafia family and run away on a horse at ten years old.
Peppered throughout with tragicomic relief and humor, this book details how I survived and ran away from my life as a child actor-child prostitute. Trafficked by my father to pedophiles, my dad also stole my identity to name me as his company’s 5-year-old CEO to commit fraud and tax evasion. Years later as a homeless teenager with ruined credit, I had to negotiate a payment plan with the IRS to pay my dad’s back taxes and fines.
Periodically flashing forward, the narrator reassures readers that the protagonist is now a healthy, happy adult in the present day. This book will counter pop culture’s romanticized notions about being born into a criminal mafia family, classically portrayed in works such as The Godfather. Having criminal parents is violent and dangerous, not romantic as fans of Goodfellas will insist. It is especially unsavory when you are an exploited child victim, caught in the fray of your parents’ criminality without the choice to leave. Children are only guaranteed the privileges and protections that their parents are willing to grant them because when we are born, we are unwittingly sealed into an eighteen year legally binding Power of Attorney contract with our parents. Some of us are just lucky enough to have been born to law-abiding Power of Attorney Parents (POAPs).
My book also explores the intersections of race, CPS and foster care reform, felon voting rights, socioeconomics, crime, domestic violence, affluence, poverty and trauma. The farcical parallels that my childhood had with the plot of the movie set that I was born on (my mother was the casting director for Raising Arizona) will buoy the heavy #MeToo and human trafficking segments of the book. Jovial Hollywood stories are included like the time that Gary Busey babysat me and I decided that he was the most fun grown up I had ever met! Declaring that I wanted to be just like Gary Busey when I grew up! Other humorous celebrity anecdotes include playing basketball with Charles Barkley on a commercial set when I was a very short (but aggressive!) 6 year old. And the time that the ex girlfriend of a ZZ Top bandmate gave me their shih-tzu puppy after a breakup because it looked too much like her ex boyfriend with his long grey beard.
The book ends on a hopeful note when the 10 year old protagonist runs away on her horse to California, determined to make it to the ocean. The ocean is the one place she feels safe. She packs apples for her horse and copies of her acting C.V. and headshots with a plan to audition and book jobs in L.A. so that she can buy an apartment where her younger siblings and mother will come live safely away from her violent, criminal father.
My memoir is prescient in a time when human trafficking, CSEC survivors and sex work in America is receiving more attention and coverage. Because the book’s antagonist also exploited and trafficked Latino migrant laborers, this book will be a powerful narrative to counter the US Border Patrol’s inhumane policies and shadows the crisis of undocumented immigrant children being detained in internment camps. Additionally, this book touches the zeitgeist of families, torn apart by political beliefs and Trump. In the #MeToo and #TimesUp era, I believe that my memoir will appeal to a wide array of readers and be commercially marketable and successful.