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surviving childhood abuse

Surviving Childhood Abuse: a Neglected Child – Part 3

In this third interview, Denise Brown continues to share her experience of writing Transcending Darkness: A Memoir of Abuse and Grace. This is a startling tale of a neglected child —of an entirely neglected family. To read Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here. —DL


DL: How do you recommend people deal with sensitive material that relatives might take offense at?

DB: Believe it or not, I still have not told my parents that I wrote a memoir. Having been a neglected child, I have very limited communication with them and have not felt the need to bring it up to them. I’m not worried about them stumbling upon it. They are late in life, and my father doesn’t read anyway.

However, two years before publication, I sent a copy to all of my sisters, each of whom had also been a neglected child and who are written about at length. I asked them to read it and to give me comments on what they thought and to make sure that I didn’t have any of the events in our lives misinterpreted or misremembered. All of them were very supportive and they had some very helpful comments. I changed everyone’s names in the book except for my own. 

Each of us who publishes a memoir has to figure out what is appropriate for each family member. It is very dependent on each person’s circumstances. My one piece of advice is to tell the truth in your memoir, not a bitter truth but the hard truth. That is where a sympathetic family member comes in so that they can let you know if it is your hurt and anger about being a neglected child speaking or if your story is an accurate depiction of the events. Don’t outright call someone bad, describe the actions that made them so and let the reader decide.

DL: Did you envision yourself as a writer before you begin this book? What is your identity as a writer now?

DB: I suppose that I would consider myself a writer via the fact that I have published my memoir. However, this was always my passion project, and I have never labeled myself as a writer, rather a soul telling her story. My sense of accomplishment comes from my desire to pay it forward to the next generation of abused teenagers who feel alone and without hope.

DL: Will you write another memoir? Why or why not?

DB: No, I don’t foresee a future memoir. I have a notebook of positive memories that I plan to gift to my son eventually but that doesn’t require an actual published book.

DL: How have people reacted to your book? What sort of feedback have you

DB: The reviews that I received both in life and on Amazon were better than I anticipated. Not everyone can relate to my story as a neglected child, but even despite this those who wrote something had a positive message. I greatly appreciated that.

DL: Was selling copies important to you? If so, what sort of outreach have you done to pursue sales: did you speak to groups, do guest blogging, do interviews, etc.?

DB: Although I haven’t specifically felt the need to sell a lot of copies, my goal was to get my memoir out into the general public in the hopes that those who could benefit from it would stumble upon it. I have run free days through Kindle Direct Publishing and have run an advertising campaign through Amazon. I spent slightly more on the Amazon advertising than I recuperated with sales but that was fine with me. In total since November 2021, about 100 copies have been picked up by readers.

DL: What are your future writing plans?

DB: I have an idea for a future non-fiction book. This project would require not just a lot of writing but a lot of research as well. Writing my memoir certainly has given me the self-confidence to move onto a bigger project in the future. However, I will probably hold off on pursuing it until my son graduates from high school or, at least, no longer needs his mom to drive him everywhere. 

Transcending Darkness is available on Amazon.


This is Part 3 of Denis Ledoux’s three part interview with memoir writer Denise Brown. To read Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here.


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