Broken Dignity by Michael J. Lando

dignity

Synopsis:

“As a former adult film star, how do you rebuild a normal life when the world refuses to forget who you were? For Cristal Caprice, it seems impossible.

It took nearly a decade for Cristal to escape the control of a sadistic tyrant named Mason, who refused to let her leave the sex industry alive. Three years later, Cristal re-emerges with a new identity in a new home, the small town of Thornwood. There, her new neighbors and friends know her only as Bianca Nubreze.

Struggling to come to terms with her shameful past and adapt to a new life, Bianca isolates herself from the world and slowly sinks into a deep depression. As she teeters on the brink of suicide, Bianca finds acceptance and optimism in a Christian evangelist named Robyn. Even so, her new found hope in life is short-lived as her secret is exposed. Revelations about her past involvement with US Congressman Adrian Reese ignite a national media scandal, and her new life is turned inside out overnight.

With her true identity and whereabouts exposed, Bianca becomes the town’s pariah and is once again relentlessly hunted by Mason. As her life spirals out of control, her only hope for redemption lies in her new found faith in God, Robyn, and a shrewd political strategist named Tamara who will do whatever it takes to protect Congressman Reese’s career … at any cost.”

Excerpt

Cristal Caprice was having a hard time ignoring what was happening to her best friend, Solae, in the other room. Between Solae’s high-pitched screams and the pungent odors that hinted at diseased sex, she was starting to get nauseous. It didn’t help that the men in the other room were calling Solae every sort of demeaning name imaginable to a woman. Cristal wanted out. She wanted out of that room, out of the business, and out of that life so badly that thinking about it gave her a migraine. It wasn’t the fi rst time that Cristal Caprice had felt that way; the urge to quit consumed her several times a year ever since she had entered the industry.

This time, however, she was sure of it. Cristal Caprice was no longer willing to live her life that way.

It was a decision she always feared would come too late–after her looks were gone or after some horrible, untreatable sickness forced her to quit. Although neither had come true, Cristal felt the potential for those scenarios escalating.

She had reached a point in her life when nothing seemed to matter anymore, and she looked out the large bay windows that extended over a hilltop and imagined the unthinkable. It was a two hundred-foot drop to the start of the gated roadway to a home that sat on the tip of a small mountain.

Cristal imagined climbing out onto the window ledge and free-falling to the pavement …

Michael J. Lando is an African-American writer, born in Greenville, Mississippi and currently resides in the Chicago area with his wife and daughter. Michael attended Columbia College Chicago, the largest private arts and media college in the nation, where he studied Screenwriting and Fiction Writing.
Get to know Michael:

So what made you decide to become an author?

Initially, I wanted to be a screenwriter–that’s what I studied for in college. I wrote three screenplays in fact; one of which made it to the finals of an international screenwriting competition. Unfortunately, outside of that, my screenwriting career didn’t go anywhere. Living in the Midwest made it harder to make connections in LA (the social network scene hadn’t arrived yet). On top of that, the more screenplays I wrote, the harder I found it to constrain myself to the preferred 90-page script format that’s preferred. I love writing and screenplays force you to tell stories through external actions. Novels on the other hand force you to tell story through internal actions–so you can get inside a characters head in ways a screenplay never could.The encouragement I’ve received from family and friends from my short stories is what ultimately did it. One of my friends in particular, constantly suggested it but I didn’t think I could commit the kind of time an energy it took to write a novel.

So why did you self-publish instead of pitching your story to traditional publishers?

The publishing industry is changing. The demise of big box retailers like Borders and Barnes & Noble made it harder to get noticed by traditional publishers who were becoming more selective. I felt I had waited long enough to live out my dream, so I decide if I was going to do this, I couldn’t sit around and wait for someone to approve of me. Plus the opportunities that the e-book format offered to reach more customers seemed like a no-brainer.

For your first book–Broken Dignity–you chose some controversial topics. Why?

For me, it was more of a “Why not?” approach. My biggest problem with movies, books and music is that there’s a small group of artists that create things that take us places we never thought of and then there are those that take us to the same place over and over again. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and go somewhere different. The last three screenplays I wrote before Broken Dignity were about: a music group trying to make it, a comic book-style action hero, and a sports comeback drama. All were conventional topics that were…well…safe. They were also boring and I was passed over time and time again. I was trying too hard to write something that fit a Hollywood formula and it showed. I was trying to make a quick dollar instead of making something that actually mattered to me.

 

So why did you chose this particular subject?

It began with a special I saw on MSNBC about human trafficking and how this one girl was taken from another country and ended up as a stripper in Michigan. Her story was horrific and it made me think about how we glamorize female sexuality without concern for the women involved. I began researching human trafficking and came across horror story after horror story. Somewhere along the way, my research led me to a site call PinkCross.org. The site was created by a former porn star that helps girls get out of the sex industry and re-acclimated to normal life. Right then, I asked myself: What does that look like [re-acclimating after that life].

 

Were you worried the topic could scare off readers?

Definitely. Porn isn’t exactly dinner table conversation, yet 68 million people search it out everyday according to the statistics on PinkCross.org. Plus, who wants to tie their first project to that subject, but I figured…stop being scared…and write something with meaning. So I decided I would tell Bianca’s story from the perspective of life after the industry. I didn’t want to glorify that lifestyle in any way. I don’t judge anyone in it, but I do think there’s a myth out there that most women in the business enjoy what they do. Most don’t. It’s a means to an end. Broken Dignity argues against that notion and exposes that perception as nothing more than marketing propaganda.

 

What do you want readers to take away from Broken Dignity?

That no one is perfect and we all deserve a second chance in life. We’ve all made bad decisions in life but its the choices we make now that matter, not the one’s we’ve made in the past.

 

How did you feel now that you’ve completed it?

I was nervous about the reception it would receive. When I got a phone call from my editor and she absolutely loved it and awarded it the Editor’s Choice Award…I felt better. But the real test is the readers.

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