Why “Fear of Our Father” was originally titled “Sink or Swim”

Fear of Our Father, the book I co-authored with Stacey M. Kananen, is doing extremely well in sales! We’re way up there on the Amazon Best Seller lists (at this moment we’re #10 on the Hot New Releases page) and we’re getting lots of great feedback and reviews from readers.

In fact, we even received this impressive blurb from Marti Rulli, author of Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour: “A gut-wrenching story…Brace yourself…Fear of Our Father reveals one complication after another. If ever a story existed to change your conviction that there’s no such thing as justifiable murder, Fear of Our Father is it.”

Stacey Kananen in third gradeAll of that is very exciting, but I want to take a moment today to talk about the book’s original title. When we first pitched it to Berkley Publishing, the book was entitled Sink or Swim. We were basing the theme around an incident that happened when Stacey was a child. She was in second grade when her abusive father took her by boat to a floating deck at a local lake and left her there—for his own amusement—to swim ashore or drown. He really would have let her die. Of that, there was no doubt.

More than survival instinct was at play here. There was deliberate choice: sink or swim. Six-year-old Stacey defiantly chose to take a chance and swim for shore. She decided, then and there, that he couldn’t kill her, no matter what. This survivor’s spirit is what helped Stacey to carry on through the most amazing true story you’ll read this year.

While Fear of Our Father is an incredible “True Crime” story—really, it’s a stunning page-turner that you won’t be able to put down—our purpose for writing it was to be an inspiration for pretty much everyone who is living through hard times. But, specifically, it’s a story of survival of the most difficult kind—unrelenting domestic violence and abuse, which eventually results in murder and betrayal. It’s because of the story’s readability in the “True Crime” genre that the publisher retitled it.

CassadagaWhile doing research for the book, Stacey and I took a trip to a “spiritualist camp” in Cassadaga, Florida, where her father used to drag her so he could get psychic readings regarding hallucinations he was experiencing. He had been burning a charcoal grill in the house, for heat, and the noxious fumes caused him to feel that he was getting messages about a phoenix bird, rising from the ashes. The psychic told him that he needed to go to Arizona, “to find his people.” That advice, unfortunately, was the cause of one of the most horrific weeks of Stacey’s entire life.

I wanted to see what Cassadaga looks like, so she and her partner Susan and I went for a visit. It’s a quaint little town with a lovely hotel and a cute gift shop or two. Stacey bought me a souvenir in the form of a little tile that says, on one side, “You can change the world,” and on the other, “Your imagination is limitless.” I have it on my desk to this day because that really is the spirit in which we wrote this book. We want to change the world. We want to help people who are still swimming for shore. We have big plans, and our imagination is limitless. Check out the Spectrum of Light Transformation Center’s website to see what I mean.

So please, by all means, pick up a copy of Fear of Our Father. It’s an incredible story. If you want, post a picture of yourself with your copy on our Facebook page, where we’re gathering photos of readers. And be sure to leave a great review on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, Goodreads, or any other place you prefer. Help us get the word out, because “You can change the world.”


Fear of Our Father: http://www.fearofourfather.com
Stacey Kananen’s father violently and sexually abused his entire family. He vanished in 1988 and 15 years later his wife went missing. Stacey’s brother had killed both parents. Stacey cooperated as a witness until he told police that she helped him with the crimes. She was arrested and her trial, which aired on CNN’s In Session, ended with a not guilty verdict after her attorney proved that she had been railroaded. And this paragraph doesn’t even scratch the surface of the whole story.

Spectrum of Light Transformation Center: http://spectrumoflightcenter.com

Emmy nominated BBC Documentary
(featuring an interview with Stacey M. Kananen):
America’s Child Death Shame

Investigation Discovery series Catch My Killer
(an exploration of the Kananen family’s story)
Episode title “The Dearly Departed”

Tampa Bay Times article:
Hudson woman finds new life after years of abuse, allegations of murder

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