The victim is a girl who, from age 7 until 10, receives the sexual attention of her father, who tucks her in at night with a bedtime story and a "massage", claiming it will help her calm down and relax before sleep. When Daughter starts to develop, Father ceases to come to her bed at night, which sends her into the arms of a local drug dealer who gives her "treats" in exchange for sex. All this at 10 years old.
Let me back up here and explain that neither of these two characters is a major player in my novel, but both are necessary to tell my bigger tale. So I only have to deal with their story in one, long, painful chapter. It's a side of life that is relevant to my plot, which I believe balances itself out with other fascinating characters like the clairvoyant who can see her own death and the chain smoking Swiss-Russian who can recite quotes from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
My concern comes with the possibility of upsetting readers. Now, now, don't jump down my throat about being such a wimp. What I mean is that since my novel is not a story of incest or sexual abuse, will this one chapter jar my readers, who will have already become accustomed to my beach-book style of writing?
Recently, after having read both of my published novels, a reader compared my style to that of Danielle Steel. Though I wouldn't exactly say I model myself after her, I thought about Steel's commercial success and said to myself, Not so bad. With that in mind, I'm wondering how dark I can get. My prostitute-drug addict, pre-adolescent character isn't about to throw herself in front of a moving train, but on another level, I feel her story is much darker than any Tolstoy tragedy.