Someone once told me there is truth tucked into every joke, comment, and piece of fiction. If this is true, fiction and reality go hand in hand.
After releasing Scary Modsters… and Creepy Freaks, getting traction on a new story seemed impossible. I strive to be original, and it felt like every time I sat at my computer, the same old love story popped out. Tried as I might to produce something I could sink my teeth into, the universe had not yet spoken.
Then suddenly the universe screamed.
I was chatting with a friend—a grown woman—who was being cyberbullied over her physical attributes—by a grown man. Worse, the guy thought he was being clever (or maybe he actually wanted to be indiscreet) and bullied her in (an obvious and decipherable) code—on Facebook, right on his wall, using the public setting, for her and the rest of the world to see. He directly mentioned a group she was a part of and the friends she had. He even mentioned their personal activities. Then his friends joined in—friends who were also (alleged) adults. Their childish behavior, and to whom their jokes were aimed, could not have been more obvious.
Little did he know, his target is a survivor who knows how to roll with the punches. She could have fought back, and while I do feel there is a time and a place for that, it was clear these people just wanted to pick on someone in the interest of making them feel superior. In the end, the victim felt it best to ignore the idiots. Naturally, once she decided not to fight back, the attackers called it quits. After all, the hallmark any classic bully is to give up when victims are no longer producing their own bait.
That incident drove me to write, and while it took a lot of other elements to make Something To Dream On more than a book about getting bullied for being overweight, a fire had been lit. I came to see that while bullying hurts, we can teach kindness through bullies by looking at the underlying causes. That is why Something to Dream On is not only a book about recovering from addiction and abuse; it is also a book about forgiveness and the place it holds in our lives. We need to find our paths to understanding both others and ourselves; however, not forgiving someone has its place as well. What is truly important is that in the end, we all have the ability to both overcome our insecurities and to use our passions to make the world a better place.
So in returning to the concept of truth in fiction, Something to Dream On came out of a real event that was brought on by someone being a real jerk to someone who took the high road, thus making the world better by not feeding the bully machine. Sadly, the guy who did the teasing still seems to be an ass; however, his victim taught me how to be a better person. For that, I will always be grateful.