Towards the end of last year, my daughter turned 15 years old. Despite all of the ups and downs common to a non-resident parent in their relationship with a kid growing into young adulthood – in her case, young womanhood, we’ve kept a pretty strong relationship over time. Sometimes it’s tested, but sure, it would be tested if we were under the same roof.
The important thing is, for me, that I can see her changing into a beautiful, intelligent young woman. I’m as proud as hell when I see her and talk to her – she’s a good scholar, she overcame bullying admirably, and stopped short long before that, when some of her behaviour I classed as bullying. Boys have certainly noticed her, and for a long time she wasn’t that interested, but it’s clear from some of our conversations now, that’s changing.
Men jokingly tell me that the worst is yet to come, as of course, her perception of boys changes, and aspects of her life will become secret and certainly won’t be shared with me. I say they’re joking, but I think they are letting me in on their own fears, which to a certain point mirrored my own when I considered the future when my daughter was just a little girl – she is going to grow up. She is going to have boyfriends!
In truth, I know her mum and I have done our best in each of our roles, to try to lay out the components of the world in front of our daughter – supported in this by our partners – hoping that when the time comes for her to make big decisions, she’ll make good ones, armed with knowledge. We’ve tried not to be preachy and dictatorial in these things, but firm enough for her to know that right is right and wrong is wrong (even though she’s quickly going to learn that wrong is fun so long as you don’t get caught). And in that way, hopefully, when she’s upset, or worried, she’ll pick at least one of us to confide in and ask for help, instead of being petrified for fear of judgement.
What has all of this got to do with the headline? Well, I’m getting to that.
As my daughter grows up and her ideas change, and she becomes stronger, I see that she really does have the world at her feet and if she stays wise and stays tough, she’ll be capable of anything. She’ll have the keys to the kingdom, the freedom to decide on what her future holds. And that basic idea, freedom of choice and control of one’s own destiny, got me thinking about how lucky she is, how lucky we are, to live in a developed nation.
This isn’t the first time I’ve thought of it, of course, but it is the first time I’ve considered my fortune as a father, and more importantly, the father of a young woman.
My daughter can enjoy freedom to pursue whichever industry suits her mind and abilities, she can excel and seek promotion. She could start something up herself and carve out her own business. She could marry, not marry. She could make me a grandfather before I’m 40 (please God, no!) – or she could choose never to have a child. She can be gay, straight, find religion, lose religion, mix in the company of people from other faiths and ethnicities and expect, in a just society – which by comparison, ours is – not to be judged for any of the legal choices she makes.
And it is that thinking that made me realise that the first charity to be supported by Dark Chapter Press, would be to benefit girls and young women. We’re only a small outfit, but whatever we manage to raise will be devoted with our best intentions and hopes to contribute to change in the lives of children who don’t have the prospects and opportunities that I’m so grateful lie in wait for my own daughter.
In researching charities we could support, I found many that struck a chord with me, and I will seek to return to them in the future and pledge support, but this time, it’s CAMFED the Campaign for Female Education.
We produce books, and what better way to start in our charitable efforts than to support literacy and development for children in Africa who would not normally have access to this level of education. CAMFED’s efforts to tackle, through education, issues such as early pregnancy or marriage, the spread of HIV/AIDS and to inspire young women to become leaders in the future really speak to me. Those are all connected to the worries that parents in the developed world have – we want our kids to reach their full potential – to marry the right person, if there is a right person – through choice not force – to have children when the time is right (and although I love my daughter to bits, I recognise that I was a kid when I had her, only 20!) so that you can provide well, after building up positive life experiences that make you into a knowledgeable, responsible adult, who had plenty of fun to look back on while you’re up to the elbows in shitty nappies!
CAMFED just leapt out to me as such a great fit. I hope that their aims are of as much value to you, as they are to me, because we need all of our supporters to get behind us, so we can make donations to this charity that really count.
How are we going to do it? Well, February being Women In Horror month is the perfect time for us to launch a brand new book, containing stories all written by women, each featuring at its core a strong female protagonist. Edited by myself and David Basnett, Eight Deadly Kisses brings together the amazing talents of many of the female contributors to our anthologies and writing competitions, who kindly donated their time and skills to produce this collection of eight fearsome tales.
There was a very simple guide for the writers to follow: the stories should be dark, and must feature at their heart, a strong female protagonist.
You’ll get to see the results on Valentine’s Day.
Every penny Dark Chapter Press receives as net receipts for the e-book and (coming shortly after the e-book) paperback editions of Eight Deadly Kisses will be donated to CAMFED. In the coming days we’ll make sure you’ve got the pre-order link, please support the great work of this charity, by picking up this fantastic anthology.
Cover art reveal coming soon…
Take a look at CAMFED’s site here.