Back in April, I wrote a blog post about just how real we like our romance and romantic characters to be (https://www.ellenkbennett.com/single-post/2017/04/24/Keeping-romance-real-But-how-real).
Recently I have had reason to think about this topic in another way, as reviews of Still Waters and Pinned have started to come in. A number of readers commented that they found some of the scenes and descriptions in those books enormously disturbing, which I agree they are. They are meant to be. They describe real-life, fact-based traumatic incidents that are integral to the plot. My stories are as 'real' as I can make them.
The question is, should these accounts come with a trigger warning, as has been suggested by a number of readers? I am alive to this suggestion, and contemplated it when the books were first published, but I demurred because I thought that these warnings would be a spoiler for the plot. Chemistry has always indicated in the blurb that it deals with the topic of date rape and the use of date rape drugs. At the end of Still Waters, there is an author note explaining the context and my own personal engagement with the topic, and I have included a section on how date rape drugs are dispensed and how they work at the end of Chemistry. But perhaps more is required?
I have now taken steps to add trigger warnings to Still Waters and Pinned, but should there also be a section somewhere of where to get help for these types of abuse? This is fiction, after all. All of my books are clearly indicated as being for readers of 18+, but in addition to this, how much of a warning do readers need for sensitive and potentially triggering content?
As always, I would love to hear the opinions of readers, so please share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org