For Rochelle Guiton, going back home and signing copies of her recently published book was among the more surreal experiences of her life – and quite the enjoyable one.
“It was pretty cool to be surrounded by all of these people who have been so important to me my whole life,” said Guiton of her recent book signing event at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. “It was weird to be signing my own book for people I feel like helped me get to where I am today.”
Guiton, a Hahnville High alum, self-published her first book, Fierce and Fearless, in April of this year. The author draws from her life experiences to offer inspiration and encouragement to young women and conveying the message that one does not need to spend life striving to live up to impossible standards set through different media each day – you can find great success by being yourself and applying the strengths that are uniquely yours, Guiton says.
These are things Guiton did not necessarily internalize early in her life – “I was afraid to be myself. I’m finally out of my shell and you know what? It’s finally time to be me,” she says – and her writing is testimony of her own journey toward these realizations.
“I feel like women take so long to realize that you don’t have to be like the person next to you, or be like all of the popular people on social media. You don’t have to have the body type people love from movies and social media. You can be yourself, you can be authentic and you can be successful,” Guiton said.
Part of her inspiration to write a book was born from her career experiences. Guiton served as a prosecutor in Texas for nearly 10 years before moving on to work at a law firm handling sexual abuse cases. There, she worked with victims of abuse and saw firsthand the emotional toll suffered by each.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people experiencing the worst trauma of their life,” Guiton said.
Over the years she’s also worked on cases involving arson, human trafficking, murder investigations and assault.
“I never thought I’d work in criminal law,” Guiton said. “It gave me a love of working with survivors.”
It can also be difficult – it takes empathy and strength.
“I see a lot of things in the world most don’t get to see,” Guiton said. “I have to compartmentalize a lot.”
All of it brought her to this point, however, and is why through her book, she hopes to help empower her readers and not only inspire them to chase their dreams, but to also lift up those surrounding them in their lives.
“I’m doing exactly what I want to do in my life, as an attorney … getting here, it didn’t always go perfectly,” Guiton said. “And this allows me to kind of give that a voice … you really had those trials and tribulations and still reached your goal. I hope for a lot of women, it’s something where they can read this and feel that it’s really nice to know someone has experienced what they’re experiencing, and maybe understands.”
After Guiton began working in her current position, the COVID-19 pandemic led to her working from home. This gave her the time necessary to write. She said there were times she suffered a bit of writer’s block, but her brother Ryan gave her the boost she needed through some solid advice.
“He said, ‘just write, even when you’re not in the mood. Just write every day,’” Guiton said. “So, that’s what I did. And that’s eventually how the book became so personal, because any opportunity I had, I started writing … you don’t know what the product’s going to be until it’s done.”
Fierce and Fearless was also self-published, so there was no experienced hand guiding her through the process or taking care of the details.
It’s one reason why she felt immense pride when the book found its release day.
“It was a speechless moment for me, honestly, because I knew I did it myself,” Guiton said.
She’s not finished, either. Guiton has plans to put together a children’s book to coincide with the message within Fierce and Fearless – the current book, she said, is fit for anyone teenage or up, but this one would be for the younger crowd.