In writing a novel he hopes focuses greater attention on the problem of human trafficking, former newspaper reporter Christopher Stollar knew he had to walk a fine line.

In writing a novel he hopes focuses greater attention on the problem of human trafficking, former newspaper reporter Christopher Stollar knew he had to walk a fine line.

"My rule of thumb in writing this book was, No. 1, it had to be a good story, and No. 2, it had to be realistic," Stollar, now a resident of Clintonville, said last week. "I wanted it to be graphic, but not pornographic."

The Black Lens, which is set in Oregon and focuses on two teen sisters manipulated and blackmailed into prostitution, is the result of more than three years of research and interviews with survivors of sex trafficking, social workers and law enforcement personnel. Stollar said he will donate 10 percent of anything he earns from The Black Lens to nonprofit anti-trafficking organizations in central Ohio.

The book was published by Boyle and Dalton, a firm that was based in Clintonville but now has offices in Zanesville. The company's website describes itself as a "hybrid publisher, which means that authors share in the cost of producing and marketing their book."

"I think it's a well-written book," Boyle and Dalton owner Brad Pauquette said. "It's entertaining, first of all, but more that that, it has an important message about an important issue. Christopher did a phenomenal job of putting this thing together. He did a great job of researching it and turning that research into a novel. It's one that many survivors have commented on, that it's so accurate in the way it portrays this problem we have in society."

Jennifer Kempton, a local trafficking survivor who was "branded" with a tattoo during her ordeal, is the founder of Survivor's Ink. The nonprofit organization pays for the removal or covering of such tattoos.

Kempton said last week she had some reservations regarding The Black Lens.

"Going in, I will admit that I was very hesitant and concerned that a fiction book was going to continue to add to the misconceptions that society has about the reality of human trafficking," Kempton said.

Her worries quickly dissolved, she said.

"It was a page-turner, and as I went along, those concerns dwindled," Kempton said. "It depicts how some can get pulled into trafficking. I think it's a great book. I absolutely stand behind it."

"The characters in the book were so realistic," said Theresa Flores, another survivor of human trafficking and the founder of the nonprofit awareness organization Traffic Free. "I was just amazed that he would take the time to interview so many people to get it right. The point of his book, and from many of us, is this could happen to anyone. Nobody is exempt from this happening."

Stollar is a native of Oregon who moved with his wife, Natalie, to Ohio seven years ago when both lost their jobs. Her parents live in Marysville, so they had a place to stay, he said.

Both now work for Nationwide.

Stollar said he first became aware of the issue of human trafficking while working as a general assignment writer for The Bulletin newspaper in Bend, Ore. Sources kept advising him to check into a truck stop in southern Deschutes County as a hub of sex trafficking, but he was never able to nail the story down.

"There was still a stigma that that can't happen here," he said. "To me, I was horrified by the thought of underage girls being forced into that situation."

Through Veritas Community Church, which Stollar and his wife attend, they became involved in American Red Cross efforts to help prostitutes and human trafficking victims in central Ohio. That led Stollar to begin reading about the issue.

"I realized that there wasn't a whole lot in the realm of fiction," he said.

The interviews, when he decided to write the book, were "very eye-opening."

"I think just the story of how they got sucked into this world is amazing," Stollar said. "They're not kidnapped into it. It's a complex system of pimps using psychological manipulation."

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