Moss reveals demons
Tara Moss. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

It was a confronting experience for bestselling author Tara Moss to break her silence on a harrowing personal history of rape, miscarriages, eating disorders and depression in her latest work.

Recounting some memories that dated back more than 20 years, the Canadian model and crime writer dug deep into her own past for her first non-fiction novel The Fictional Woman, which examines gender archetypes using real-life stories.

But Moss admitted she "greatly underestimated" the impact that sharing her experience would have, having never even considered the outpouring of support that would come from readers.

"I am heartened by the fact that the simple gesture of sharing my story appears to have had a positive impact on the people I have met along the way," the 40-year-old tells Access All Areas.

"They are now sharing their stories with me and there is great sense of a kind of movement rising up.

"I had a reader who hadn't been out for 13 years after a very brutal crime had been committed against her. She came out to a signing and just wanted to shake my hand."

It was only during the writing process that Moss made the decision to include the element of memoir in the novel, reasoning that she could not be an advocate for the issues she was discussing unless she spoke out about her own encounters with sexual violence and mental illness.

"If I left out my own stories I would have been participating in the same silence I was hoping to break through," she said. "Whilst I would not claim that everyone needs to tell their story, certainly not in this public way, rather I am making the case that there is power in numbers and if we can break through some of these taboos then there are really demonstrable benefits in that."

Moss's refusal to be silent was evidenced recently when she was attacked by social media trolls after an appearance on Q&A, where she was the subject of rape threats over Twitter. The author called out her attackers and their accounts were subsequently suspended but she said it was part of a serious wider issue that needed to be addressed.

Moss has now landed in Perth for a series of events to coincide with the book's launch and revealed WA held a special place in her heart.

"My husband (poet Dr Berndt Sellheim) was born here in Perth and we got married in Margaret River," she said, adding that they return with three-year-old daughter Sapphira at least once a year.

The West Australian

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