Books·Canadian

Talking to Strangers

A comic by Marianne Boucher.

Marianne Boucher

It was the summer of 1980, and Marianne Boucher was ready to chase her figure skating dream. Fuelled by the desire to rise above her mundane high-school life, she sought a new adventure as a glamorous performer in L.A.

And then a chance encounter on a California beach introduced her to a new group of people. People who shared her distrust of the status quo. People who seemed to value authenticity and compassion above all else. And they liked her. Not Marianne the performer, but Marianne the person.

Soon, she'd abandoned school, her skating and, most dramatically, her family to live with her new friends and help them fulfill their mission of "saving the world." She believed that no sacrifice was too great to be there — and to live with real purpose. They were helping people, and they cared about her... didn't they?

Talking to Strangers is the true story of Marianne Boucher's experiences in a cult, where she was subjected to sophisticated brainwashing techniques that took away her freedom, and took over her mind. Told in mesmerizing graphic memoir form, with vivid text and art alike, Marianne shares how she fell in with devotees of a frightening spiritual abuser, and how she eventually, painfully, pulled herself out. (From Doubleday Canada)

Boucher lives in Toronto and has covered major criminal trials as a court reporter and illustrator.

Why Marianne Boucher wrote Talking to Strangers

"I was at the crossroads of my career in ending a competitive skating career. I decided that I would go to L.A. and try out for the Ice Capades. I imagined a glamorous lifestyle. I wanted to get out of my suburban town and do something more exciting than what I saw around me. I had only a couple of days on my hands before skating started.

"I was approached by a number of people on the beach. This couple started talking to me and they were very engaging. They were smart and they were kind. It seemed very natural at the time. They sat with me and we ended up talking for hours. 

It was like going to African Lion Safari wearing a baloney suit. I was literally prey.- Marianne Boucher

"They were very interested in me. We talked about a lot of things. They were very charming, older and were from different parts of the world. One thing led to another. We ended up not parting ways, but having dinner. 

"This was a process for them. I had no idea that people combed the beaches looking for people like me. I was very vulnerable being away from home. It was like going to African Lion Safari wearing a baloney suit. I was literally prey."

Read more in her interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Marianne Boucher

The artist and illustrator Marianne Boucher on her graphic memoir Talking to Strangers, about being lured into a cult as a teenager.

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