Author's "Gray Zone" sheds light on dark subject

Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:57pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Daphna Ziman is on a mission to help foster children, and she's picked a novel way to do it -- novel, being the key word.

Ziman, a Los Angeles-based philanthropist and activist for kids placed in foster care, has written a fictional novel, "The Gray Zone," whose protagonist was orphaned as a child.

Now, that kid is a grown woman named Kelly Jensen, and she's on the run from the law following the brutal murder of a Las Vegas politician. But with the help of a sharp-minded, handsome defense lawyer, Kelly could clear her name.

Sound like a fast-paced, breezy crime thriller meant for any summer reading list? Well, it is -- and it isn't.

Ziman's aim is two-fold: get people to read her story like they would any thriller from the likes of novelists James Patterson or Harlan Coben. But she also aims to engage readers in a serious problem in America -- the plight of kids in foster care who, Ziman says, are victims of neglect, abuse, human trafficking and sex slavery.

"You can write a (nonfiction) book and put the facts and statistics in it and nobody will read it, or you can take the public, the readers, on a journey," Ziman told Reuters about why she chose to write the novel.

"This way, I could create something that would stay around forever, and maybe somebody would be interested in transferring it into a movie" or some other medium, she said.

Ziman's approach to raising awareness may be a "novel," but it's hardly new. Fiction has long been used to expose truths that many officials might prefer were better left unexposed.   Continued...