We’re thrilled to be talking to Brooke Flanagan from Ashley Warren’s Survivors’ Dawn. It is a pleasure to have Brooke with us today at Pimp That Character!
Thank you for your interview, Brooke. How old are you and what do you do for a living?
I’m twenty-four and a regional director for the A Campus Aware movement, which promotes awareness of the crisis of sexual assault on college campuses. Our organization has a similar vision to that of It’s On Us. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two groups merge someday.
What would I love the most about you?
That I’m alive. Two days after I was assaulted, I tried to commit suicide by walking in front of a speeding car. Luck and the driver’s quick reflexes saved me from being killed. With the help of my mother and some great friends, I went on to become a voice in the war against sexual assault on college campuses.
Where do you go when you are angry?
I run at a nearby track, a habit I picked up in high school. Something about running in loops, the repetition of my feet hitting the ground, and the strain on my muscles and lungs, forces the anger and stress to shrink. The anger never goes away completely, and I know it will return again in its ugly form, but after running for an hour, I can make it through the rest of the day.
What makes you laugh out loud?
My boyfriend, Adam. Adam has a corny sense of humor, but he has great delivery and laughs so loudly at his own jokes that I have to laugh with him.
What is in your refrigerator right now?
Not much. Hey, I’m twenty-four. Some almond milk, blueberries, carrots, leftover stew that my mom made, and a bottle of wine that Adam and I opened last weekend but never finished.
What is your greatest fear?
Not hard to guess this answer, right? I’m afraid of being alone or in the dark or around strange men. I fear being touched suddenly by another person. I’m afraid that tonight I’ll have a nightmare of being assaulted. I’m afraid I will sink into a dark place again.
But despite those fears, I’m better. I’m much better.
Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
There is the before me and the after me. Ashley did a great job of portraying me before Colin Jordan assaulted me. But as Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted. Clearly, Ashley did a ton of research before writing Survivors’ Dawn, and it she got a lot of the feelings right, but there are depths to the darkness that a person cannot know unless they’ve been there.
What are three must haves when shopping at the grocery store?
Bananas, cereal, and pie with whipped cream. That sounds like four items, but pie and whipped cream are incomplete without each other.
Who is your best friend?
Lauren Le. When we first met, we had little in common. Lauren was into cosplay and partying. I ran for exercise and attended church regularly. I was a virgin, and Lauren—well—she was not. But without her, I would never have made it. She saved me, literally, and I will love her forever.
Do you like to cook? If so, what is your favorite thing to cook?
To be honest, I haven’t yet learned to cook. I hope to be a good cook someday, but so far, the most I can manage is making brownies from a box. On the other hand, my mother is an excellent cook. She makes the best blueberry pancakes. After I was assaulted, my mother moved to the college town to be close to me. She provided a shelter for me and Lauren away from campus. It meant so much to be able to get away, eat delicious home-cooked meals, and then lounge around and watch movies and not have to pretend to be anything special.
That was a really big deal, to just be ourselves and forget all the other stuff for a while.
About the Author
The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.
My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.
As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It's On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.
Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors' Dawn.
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About the Book:
A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice
At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing
When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.
Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.
Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.
A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.