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novel approach
valerie clark writes about abuse among wall street affluent
by allison smith, staff
the atlanta news group

valerie clark has a story to tell, and she is determined that her readers get the message. her novel, "tormented without a trace," is an effort to highlight the seemingly unnoticed abuse that occurs in the workplace and home. formerly an investment banker on wall street for more than 15 years, clark has seen firsthand the power and abuse that occurs in a high-pressure environment. after leaving new york, clark moved to atlanta and has found a new career conveying her passion through writing.

in explaining the presence of emotional, verbal and physical abuse and empowerment among professionals on wall street, clark said she was trying to shatter one of the myths about abuse through her book. "1 feel that the majority of people's perception is that abuse is among lower-income levels," she said, adding that her story is based on those of an affluent and well-educated society.

natalie baylor, the composite and fictional lead character, has a collection of traits that clark experienced during her time in new york. baylor is portrayed as an intelligent, attractive and powerful woman moving up the executive ladder on wall street. however, she endured a childhood of abuse and is falling into a similar trap as an adult.

clark, familiar with all that a wall street career entails, added that she included some of her own emotions to better describe baylor's character. within the company she worked for in new york, which she chose to leave unnamed, she claimed that the emotional abuse within the workplace was rampant.

"while working on wall street, i saw people who allowed themselves to become victims like natalie," clark said. "i also saw people transcend their 'victimhood1 and become empowered and that is the message i want the reader to take away. you can make different and better choices."

she explained that 66 percent of the crimes against women are committed by someone close to the victim, such as the father or husband. unfortunately, only 10 percent of these crimes are ever reported. clark also noted that abuse is not always a male-to-female scenario; it can happen just as easily in reverse. clark has been nominated for the georgia author of the year award for her original writing style, character development and dialogue in "tormented without a trace." the winner will be announced in june. other nominations the book has received include the pen/faulkner award, the before columbus foundation book award, the independent book award, and the 2003 writer's digest award.

although clark describes her nominations as flattering, she said the rewards come from those who respond to her book's message. "i cannot tell you of the professionals who said 'thank you,'" clark said. "they felt they were reading their own story.

in describing her profession as an author clarke said, "this is what i have been put here to do, it is fulfilling to express myself through the written word. it changes my life everyday.'

"tormented without a trace" is slated to become a feature film. clark recently computed the screenplay and will star as natalie baylor. clark's book can be found www.1st books.com.

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