A lot of you may already know Stacey Honowitz from her appearances on HLN as a panelist. That’s how I’ve gotten to know her as well. She’s a funny, intelligent woman who has graciously agreed to this interview. I’m grateful to have gotten to know and love her.
She’s the Assistant State Attorney at Broward County State Attorney’s Office in Florida and has written two books regarding the sexual abuse of children. Thanks for appearing here and educating us as well, my friend!
Let’s start with this…you’re in the business of law and an advocate for children. How did you also add “writer” to your resume? What motivated you to write your first book, “My Privates are Private?”
I have been a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse prosecutor for almost 24 years, and I have met with thousands of victims and their families. I realized that so many parents were too scared to talk about private parts with their kids, and too many kids were clueless when it came to touching, molestations and sexual battery. I decided that education was the key, and I needed to show parents an easy way to deal with this delicate subject matter. I knew that tools needed to be out there to help parents and kids "break the ice' and actually discuss an uncomfortable topic. Sexual abuse is an epidemic, and nobody ever thinks that their child could be a victim. Sexual abuse has no boundaries, it affects rich and poor, black and white, Catholic and Jewish. You have to be able to get your head out of the sand and realize that if you don't discuss this subject, you are committing "parental malpractice". Thus the books were born, easy clear limerick pages that get a huge message across "don't ever be afraid to tell".
Was it difficult to get your first book published? Any challenges? Especially considering the title of your second book. I remember some backlash when you appeared on TV.
The first book, between edits and trials, took me about 3 months. I also struggled to get both books published. It's so interesting to me, everyone in the publishing business that I came across had children, all of them thought 'great idea and so necessary' and yet NOBODY would publish them. I would pitch and pitch about the importance of this information, beg them to watch me on television a few nights a week talking about sexual predators, and still they would not do it. I knew how important this project was, I saw how the books would sell out at my lectures, and so I never gave up. The rejections just poured in. I remember thinking if g-dforbid something happened to their kid, I would be the the first person they'd call to prosecute the person. It came down to one thing "sales" and profit. They kept telling me that on the open market the books would not do well. I knew that parents were thirsty for this information, "how to talk to their kids" so I went ahead and self published the books. The more rejections I receive, even today, the harder it makes me work to prove them wrong.
This is why I love your spirit and tenacity! I remember you appearing on TV and talking about the problems you had with some of the public still wanting to turn a deaf ear and blind eye. How did your second book, “Genius With a Penis: Don’t Touch” come about?
I wanted to have separate books for the boys and the girls. When I would first lecture about "My Privates are Private" mothers would come up and say to me "I have a little boy, could you do something that maybe isn't so girly". I then wrote "Genius with a Penis, Don't Touch" and that brought on a whole new slew of issues. Now nobody would touch it with a 10 foot pole because of the word "penis". I hate to burst everyone's bubble, but that's what the male genitalia is called. Everyone is so embarrassed by the word, except for a little kid if you tell him that's what it is. We can tell them that they have eyes, a nose, and arms, but we have to lie to them about what their penis is called? If you aren't afraid to say it without laughing, neither will they. The parents and adults are the ones that make the word dirty or funny. Teach them early on what the proper names are, that way if they need to tell someone they have been abused, nobody has to guess what a whoo whoo is.
You make some excellent points. Parents - take heed! How do you market your work? What avenues have you found work best for your genre?
I do everything I can to market my books. I do a lot of television, which I have been doing for years, just so people recognize me when it comes time to talk about the books. I do a lot of speaking engagements where I introduce the books, and now with social media, I tweet as many PR people as I can. I have tried desperately to get a celebrity involved because people listen to stars. So many celebrities have been sexually abused, and they can't wait to talk about it when they are trying to sell their books, yet I haven't had any that are willing to help spread the word about my books. Like I said, I know how valuable the information is, and I believe in the good that the books provide, so if you reject them, it makes me promote them more. I can see the results in the kids that read the books. It is constant work to market and promote, letters to magazines, tv morning shows, and lots of emails to people that I think might be able to help.
What’s one important tip from your books that you want to share with parents?
I think the most important tip for parents from my books, is to teach your kids to recognize that even nice people might want to touch your privates, and you should never be afraid or embarrassed to tell someone. Parents need to realize that this is not a one day discussion. It's ongoing, until your kid rolls his eyes at you and says "mom and dad, I am tired of this talk, I know, if anyone touches me or makes me feel uncomfortable I have to tell" "I get it."
These books will never "go out of style." They are not like the latest diet books, and should be mandatory in every household. Sexual abuse will always be in society, especially with the internet, and social networking sites. Every parent should realize the importance of these tools, and know that 5 minutes of uncomfortable beats 5 years in the State Attorney's Office.
What’s your take on the recent wave of e-publishing? Any chance of seeing your books on Kindle and Nook? And what do you love and hate about writing?
Publishing has changed drastically, with the Nook and the Kindle, they are great and convenient, and if you choose to have this discussion in that format, great. However you feel will get the message across to your child the best way, is proper. My books are available on Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon. com so if you want to read them electronically, be my guest! My advice for writers (and I don't truly consider myself a writer) is to never give up. If you have an idea that nobody else likes, now you have the opportunity to do it yourself. It's the marketing itself that's difficult, but where there's a will, there is a way. What do I love and hate about writing? I loved having an idea, and seeing the final product. I didn't like the criticism, but I love that my books have a real purpose. I love when someone writes me or texts me and tells me how much the books have helped their family.
Do you have any projects in the works? What do you do in your spare time?
I don't have any books on the horizon. I am still spending my free time marketing these! I don't have a lot of free time, as I work full time as a Supervisor in the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit of the State Attorneys Office. I do television at night, speaking engagements and I am a single mother at 50 with a 3 1/2 year old! So I am busy, and making it my mission to get these books in all the schools, pediatrician offices, and the media.
Stacey, thank you again, for stopping by to chat with me and the readers. I treasure our new found friendship and appreciate you taking the time to do this!