Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why I Wrote About Bullying by Tahlia Newland

On the blog today I have a Guest Post by Tahlia Newland author of You Can’t Shatter Me, a new young adult novella with an inspiring and empowering message for solving bullying. I figured after yesterday's discussion on bullying it would be see the alternatives to how authors deal with bullying.

Tahlia writes magical realism and contemporary fantasy for young adults & adults, and in her post today, she explains why she wrote on a bullying theme.

I didn’t start out to write about bullying specifically, but I did want to write something that used analogies to show ways to deal with emotions and issues in a teenager’s life. As well as having a teenage daughter, I’m a casual (substitute) teacher in a local high school and I see the kinds of emotional stuff that kids have to deal with on a day to day basis.

Often they have no skills to help them negotiate their minefield of emotions, and they suffer a lot more than they need to. All they need are a few tricks to help them see things in perspective and their issues become a lot easier to handle. I’ve used the analogies in the book (eg seeing your life as a movie) very successfully with teens, so I wanted to share them with a wider number of people.

Initially, I planned to write a series of short stories about the same people, but as soon as I took my main character into a school setting, a bully appeared and shoved a fat boy against the wall.

Carly, the female lead, decided she had to do something to stop it, but when she stepped in, the bully turned on her. He kept coming back in the following stories and so bullying became the thread that eventually turned the stories into a novella.

I guess the theme came out because I’m very aware that it’s one of the main issues that kids face today. It affects everyone, either as the one doing the bullying, the one being bullied or as a bystander. I can’t stand seeing people being cruel to others, so if there is anything I can do to stop it, I will. I hope this book will encourage bystanders to do their best to stop bullying whenever they see it and also to give both victims and bullies a way to handle the situation in a positive way.

The book follows Carly and her boyfriend’s struggle to deal with a bully, and her triumph shows not only kids but also adults a way that they too can triumph in a similar situation.

Although it’s fiction with a magical touch, it offers real solutions to a real problem. It’s the emotional intelligence approach to life—Emotional Intelligence was a term first used by Daniel Goldman in his book of the same name—and I wanted to write a story that showed people actually using this approach because it makes for happier, healthier and emotionally intelligent people.

These ideas are not only for teens; they’re for everyone, because even adults have to deal with bullies, maybe a boss, a spouse, a coach and so on. I wrote about it because it’s something that impacts negatively on a lot of lives and people are looking for solutions.

Title: You Can’t Shatter Me
Author: Tahlia Newland
Publisher: Catapult Press, June 2012
Genre: Young adult magical realism

Sixteen year old Carly wants to write her own life and cast herself as a superhero, but the story gets out of control when she stands up to a bully and he turns on her. His increasing harassment forces her to deal with flying hooks, giant thistles, deadly dragons and a suffocating closet. Dylan, a karate-trained nerd who supports her stand against the bully, turns out to be a secret admirer, and while he struggles to control his inner caveman, Carly searches for her own way to stop the bully.  An old hippie shows her an inner magic that’s supposed to make her invincible, but will Carly learn to use it before Dylan risks all in a violent confrontation?

This heart-warming story will inspire and empower teens and adults alike. As well as providing real solutions for the bullying issue, the unique magical realism style provides an exciting and unusual fantasy element.

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Author Bio
Tahlia is an avid reader, an extremely casual high school teacher, an occasional mask-maker and has studied philosophy & meditation for many years. After scripting and performing in Visual Theatre shows for 20 years, she is now a bone-fide expatriate of the performing arts. She lives in an Australian rainforest, is married with a teenage daughter and loves cats, but she doesn’t have one because they eat native birds.

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