About Author A.L Smith
Dr. A.L. Smith read her first full-length novel (The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner) in the third grade and it spawned her passion for reading. According to Dr. Smith,
Dr. Smith is a native Louisianan, graduate of Grambling State University, Major in the Army Reserves, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, practicing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist with a Doctorate in Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) from Texas Wesleyan University. Dr. Smith is also a humanitarian. In 2010, she traveled to Haiti on two separate occasions and provided anesthesia care for a countless number of victims in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. Many of her patients were children. The experience would have a major impact on her views concerning the socioeconomic disparities in America and countries abroad.
Synopsis Behind Closed Doors 2: Dana’s Story
Human trafficking is often considered an international phenomenon and women from third world countries are typically the first images that come to mind. However, "familial human trafficking" is a more intimate crime due to the dynamics of the underlying relationships. Behind Closed Doors 2 is an intriguing urban fiction tale that captures the very essence of this sensitive issue.
"Behind Closed Doors 2" is the riveting tale of one little girl's struggle to overcome circumstances beyond her control. Born and raised on the ruthless streets of East St Louis, Dana Toussaint was accustomed to a life of privilege; thanks to her father, a Haitian-born immigrant and notorious drug lord. Dana's mother; a materialistic southern belle from South Louisiana, is consumed by the good life, as memories of her upbringing in an East New Orleans housing project become a distant memory.
In spite of the similarities between the Haitian and Louisiana Creole cultures, the marriage unravels and the unthinkable occurs when Dana's father abruptly abandons the family. At the age of 12, Dana becomes the ultimate sacrifice and her mother brokers the deal...Why would a mother forsake her own child?
What many will find interesting is that Behind Closed Doors 2 is based on a true story! The real-life “Dana”approached Dr. Smith after she read her first book, which deals with the impact of childhood sexual abuse. She shared her story with Dr. Smith as a survivor of familial human trafficking, and asked her to share it with the world. Needless to say, Dr. Smith was speechless. A few days after her encounter with “Dana”, a human trafficking case was reported near Dr. Smith's hometown in Louisiana. These two events, coupled with the increasing media coverage concerning the growing issue, led to her decision to tell “Dana’s” story. She decided to take the fictional approach to writing Dana’s story because it gave her the freedom to address a number of other prevalent issues that we currently face in the urban community. Like most urban fiction novels, the perils of urban living (poverty, drugs, prostitution, child abuse/neglect, police brutality, Black on Black Crime) are discussed at length. However, Dr. Smith's goal was to explore the potential causes and effects concerning those issues. Here’s her theory:
“In a perfect world, we wouldn't have drug dealers and drug addicts wouldn't exist. Women wouldn't sell their bodies and every child would have both parents. Kids would find value in education as opposed to tennis shoes, the neighborhood kingpin would NOT be role a model and ghettos would become obsolete in the absence of poverty...the love of money is the root to all evil; poverty and wealth is its greatest companions”.
The setting for Behind Closed Doors 2 is East St Louis, Illinois. Because human trafficking is often considered a third world socioeconomic problem, Dr. Smith wanted to choose an American city that was consistent with this perception. In her quest to find the perfect city, her research led her to East St Louis, Illinois. In the 80’s and 90’s, the city was on the verge of economic collapse. Often considered the heart of America's bottom because of its location downstream from the Mississippi River, it is also one of the most impoverished small cities in the country. In light of the poor infrastructure, rampant crime, and poverty, this American city was truly the epitome of a third world country. Case in point, a properly functioning waste management/sewerage system is one of the things that separate third world countries from first world countries. In East St Louis, public schools were forced to shut down on multiple occasions due to raw sewerage in the food prep area of the school cafeterias.This finding alone made East St. Louis an ideal choice for the setting of the story.
Ironically, just a few days after the release of Behind Closed Doors 2, reports of contaminated water in Flint Michigan began to surface in the news. Like East St. Louis, Flint also has a predominately Black population and the city has been hampered by crime, poverty and poor infrastructure. In light of these and other findings, Dr. Smith has to ask the question:
Character development is the most enjoyable step in the writing process for Dr. Smith. Her experiences in Haiti and her fascination with African American history led to the creation of Dana Toussaint’s family. As a native Louisianan, she was completely blown away by the cultural similarities between Haiti and South Louisiana. The characters were created in the spirit of both cultures. In addition, she wanted to share a few lesser known facts concerning Haiti, and its impact on the expansion of American territory after the Haitian Revolution in 1803. After its defeat in the only successful slave revolt in history, France was forced to sell its Louisiana territory to the United States. As a part of the storyline, Dana’s father was extremely proud of this fact and it was also a source of pride for Dana. Even more, he was proud of the fact that his family surname was the same as the given name of the dark-skinned Haitian general who orchestrated the revolt, Toussaint Louverture.
For more on Author A.L Smith visit her website, and follow her on her social media platforms linked below. Also check out an audio interview featured on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.