I am a forty something year old Mum of four. I work as a middle school teacher in Suffolk, teaching mostly English but also being in charge of special needs. I have always enjoyed writing - right from being a child - although I need many more hours in the day to write as much as I want to. It's only in the last three or four years that I have wanted to write for teens. That was because I was fed up of my students, and my own teenage daughters, complaining that there was 'nothing to read'.
Can you tell us a little about your book OTOLI?
OTOLI is a book that combines issues that many teens will relate to (such as bullying, conforming to social expectations and the feeling of not being a part of what is going on), with a touch of the supernatural and mystery to stop it being too miserable and depressing. The meaning of OTOLI is a mystery that the reader has to work out while reading the book - the answer is in there!
Does OTOLI stand or mean anything?
You have to read the book to find out what it means. Some people get it quickly, some don't. I do find that readers who have been bullied work out the meaning quicker than others. The meaning is on the book trailer if you get stuck.
Where did you get the idea for OTOLI?
I got the idea for OTOLI from my experiences as a Mum, a teacher and a teenager (many years ago!). I wanted to show that the effects of bullying are a lot more than just immediate. They can stay with the victim for a long time, and affect how that person gets on in the world. The main character of Alice is based on a culmination of bullying victims I have seen over the years - Jenny is a figment of my over-active imagination!
Bullying is a topic so many of us can relate to. Is this a topic close to your heart?
Bullying is something I absolutely hate! At school, I have a zero-tolerance threshold where bullying is concerned. I feel that children need to be able to distinguish between what constitutes bullying and what is just unpleasant behaviour. I will always give time to children who think they are being bullied, and encourage them to keep talking or possibly keep a diary.
Why should we read OTOLI?
You should read OTOLI because it's entertaining and has a message. I also kept it short to try and keep my readers' attention. That was a reaction to moaning pupils! OTOLI is meant to make you think, but be enjoyable at the same time. You should also read it so you can vote for it in a national competition - the People's Book Prize at this link: http://bit.ly/xLsAUW
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