I just wanted to address something about why I wrote the Spine Chillers series and to let you know a little more about me. There have been some concerns recently about the amount of bullying in my stories. I feel that I need to address this.
The point of the stories isn't the schoolyard drama. The children are facing something that is more dangerous and monstrous, and through bravery the children endure it. However, there is a lot of schoolyard drama because it is unrealistic for there not to be. In the first two books of the Spine Chillers series there is no bullying. There are some kids that are annoying and even a little mischievous but no bullies. Later in the series, there are three books where the main characters have to deal with bullies. The last book is about a kid who hangs out with the bullies but isn't one himself, but he has to choose who he wants to fit in with in the end.
Two of the characters are "geeky" characters, easy targets for bullies, and one is very quiet and shy. When I was a child, I was bullied quite a bit because I was quiet and shy. Two of my best friends fell into the "geeky" category and had the same problem that I did. We took self defense classes together which worked for my friends, but not so much for me because most of the bullying I endured was verbal. However, it gave me confidence to know that should it come down to shoving I could defend myself at least long enough to get away.
The problem with bullies is no matter how many times you tell on them they usually don't go away. At first I wanted to solve the problem myself, but I finally asked my mom to talk to the principal when things didn't change. For two weeks they left me alone but after that they were much worse. They despised me for getting them in trouble and would passive-aggressively push me in the halls. They went out of their way to make my life miserable in subtle ways, even making sure to arrange it so that they bunked with me during a field trip. (Thankfully the chaperone bunked with us as well, probably realizing what was going on.)
There was another problem at my school that made dealing with the bullies difficult. It seemed whenever they got in trouble it didn't phase them very much. They were given detention all the time, so detention or a scolding from the principal was like getting a slap on the wrist. While they did leave me alone for a short time, they didn't forget that I tattled on them or forgive it.
Even as an adult when I've dealt with scenarios where I felt like I was being mistreated by someone in my job. Telling the boss usually ended with a lecture that I needed to "deal with it." And that is how the real world is. You can tell the authorities when someone is treating you unfairly and usually they tell you basically to suck it up. Children know this from a young age.
Another problem is that sometimes children don't have parents who will help them with bullying. Some parents even tell their children to deal with it, or resort to violence, or any number of things. Also the state of the world we live in is so sad that sometimes the parents themselves are worse than what the children deal with at school. This series isn't meant to appeal to only children with loving, attentive parents, so often in the series the characters have to rely on themselves.
There are also backstories for all of the parents of the characters as well as the characters themselves. Not all of their parents are as kind and understanding as they appear. Ian's mother intimidates him, Duane's parents are accidentally negligent due to their jobs, Leila's mother thought she already dealt with the bully situation and Leila is too proud to tell her otherwise, etc. Basically there are reasons why the kids feel they can't tell their parents but that isn't the point of the stories. The stories aren't about their parents the stories are about the students.
One of the things that motivated me to write this series was to give kids the courage to deal with their own problems. While that can be solved by telling their parents, most kids (at least from my experience) want to handle their own problems and feel embarrassed telling their parents that there is a situation where they are being picked on and they don't know how to handle it. Part of coming of age is learning how to deal with difficult things, and dealing with bullying issues is very difficult problem.
The reason why I wrote this series is to empower children. I wanted to show them that they are more capable and stronger than they feel that they are. Also, there are worse things in the world than schoolyard bullies, some of which children deal with every single day. The problems with the human bullies also is foreshadowing for what is to come later in the story. By the end the children have either handled the problem with those picking on them or have witnessed something so much worse that they are more confident that they can overcome something as simple as a problem with a bully.
I hope this blog entry helps you understand what my motivations were with adding bullying to the majority of the stories. And while there are bullies in four of the six stories, if I write others they won't be prominent in every single story as you saw from the first two. However, right now there are only six stories in the series until I get more readers or more interest. I would love to write more in the Spine Chillers universe, so please if you like middle grade horror pick up a copy of one of my stories today. Thank you for your support!