I am often asked why I chose the subjects of bullying and school shootings when I decided to write “He Was Weird,” the answer for me is quite simple.
Nearly every time I read about a school shooting, (Dunblane, Scotland and Newton Connecticut being the exceptions), the first thought that pops into my head is, “This could have been me.” Statistics suggest that seventy five percent of school shooters were victims of bullying and had I carried out a school shooting, I would have been included in that group. For three years, from the October I was in fifth grade until the same month of eighth grade, I lived in a town were I was bullied, humiliated and teased mercilessly almost on a daily basis and only ended when I moved out of that town.
“He Was Weird” is based on the three years of hell I suffered when I lived in that town, the difference being I never shot up the school. Many, but not all, of the things the main character suffers in the story, I suffered when I lived in the town. Although if I included every incident, I could have easily written one hundred more pages. I would have loved to have named and shamed the town where it all happened and named those who put me through so much misery, however, if I did, I would be sued. In that respect, the bullies win again. Saying that, I do leave clues to the identity of the town and individuals and those who wish to do so can probably figure it out. Unfortunately, for legal reasons, I wouldn’t be able to confirm it.
When I began writing the story, I decided right from the start to give the main character Asperger’s Syndrome and a condition known as DAMP (Deficiencies in Attention, Motor skills and Perception.) The thinking behind this is two fold: one) I believe that I have the conditions to a lesser degree. Having worked with adults and children with these conditions, I see myself in many of the things they do. Because of that, the second reason is that I strongly feel that more awareness is needed about them, especially as they go hand in hand. A major common thread with them is that the sufferer tends to think inwardly and become so caught up in their own little world that they don’t perceive social norms and their actions are considered “weird.” This makes them a prime target for bullies and other aggressors. Hopefully, this story will make people more aware and sympathetic to those who have them.
Finally, why wasn’t it me? Why not me? Even though I did move out of the town, I did have three years to plot and carry out my revenge. The biggest reason was that I had no access to guns or any money where I could go out and purchase them. Besides, I can’t think of anywhere, even in America, that would sell guns to a thirteen year old. Additionally, my experiences occurred back in the early 1970s. At that time, school shootings only seemed to happen in large inner city high schools and were almost always gang related. The thought of shooting up a school never entered my head. This is a reason why I set the story in modern times.
While I hope you all enjoy reading “He Was Weird,” I also hope that it will open your mind to the many issues brought up in it. There is much scope for discussion and debate and I hope the story is a catalyst for both.
I realise that those who follow me on Facebook will have already read this. All I can do is ask for your patience. I believe now that I am on wordpress, there is a whole new audience who need to know my reasons for writing such a book and that I am not just jumping on the bandwagon created by such noted authors as Lionel Shriver and Jodi Piccoult. I believe this story needs to be told.