Today my friend and fellow indie author Tahlia Newland joins me to talk about her exciting new novella, You Can’t Shatter Me. Tahlia has visited previously during Indie Week to discuss her experiences and talk about running Awesome Indies, a wonderful site for authors and readers.
You Can’t Shatter Me: A Young Adult Novella With A Point
It’s about a superhero wanna-be called Carly who steps between a bully and his prey, then becomes his next victim. An old hippie shows her a kind of magic that’s supposed to make her invincible, but Carly still has to learn how to use it before the bully strikes again and her nerdish, karate-trained boyfriend resorts to violence.
There are so many young adult novellas out there now. What makes this one different to the others?
It’s Magical Realism and it has a point.
There are probably a few readers who don’t know what magical realism is. Could you explain?
Magical Realism is a genre of fiction in which magical elements blend with the real world, they’re written as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the ‘real” and the “fantastic” in the same stream of thought. In my writing, the magical elements take the form of analogies or extended metaphors for character’s inner experiences.
How is it different to fantasy?
Fantasy uses ordinary metaphors in a magical or fantasy world, whereas Magical Realism uses magical or fantastic metaphors in a real world. The magical aspect is a way of illuminating reality, rather than taking us into an unreal world.
That’s the unusual genre then! What point does You Can’t Shatter Me make?
The point of the story is to share some real and effective methods for dealing with bullying and to empower bystanders to take a stand against it. It also aims to cultivate understanding of the issues involved for all parts of the problem, ie the bully, the victim and the bystander.
That sounds fantastic, Tahlia! What solutions do you offer and in what form?
I use analogies for helpful ways of thinking. For example, when you stir a cowpat it stinks, whereas if you leave it alone, it crusts over and stops stinking. I draw a parallel between this and anger. If you stir up your anger, it’s going to hang around like a bad smell until you stop repeatedly thinking about what caused it. As well as being entertaining, the analogies make the points easy to remember.
Also, the main character, Carly learns to meditate, which helps her to handle the situation more calmly and clearly, and she comes to see her harasser in a compassionate light. This increases her self-esteem and eventually disarms him. Of course, she has a lot of resistance to learning to meditate. My teenage daughter made sure that the characters actions were very realistic.
You said you offered real and effective methods, how do you know they work?
I’ve used the analogies and the viewpoints they represent to help my daughter negotiate the trials of the school ground and also various teens at the high schools I’ve worked in as a teacher. I’m constantly amazed by the immediate positive effect they have. The problem is that the kids forget them. Fear and anger are the natural reaction when someone bullies you but it stops you thinking straight. It takes effort to break the habit and try something more effective.
More effective being?
Replace the fear and anger with compassion and trust in yourself.
That might be a tall order for some people.
It’s a tall order for everyone, and my hero and heroine nearly fail, but if you don’t show people that it’s possible, nothing changes. Every small step we take towards developing compassion and inner strength helps us and those around us, and it’s the only real solution to bullying in the long run.
About Tahlia Newland
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.
About You Can’t Shatter Me
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 in the form of extended metaphors for the characters’ inner experiences.
The paperback will be available via all major book retailers worldwide. If you would like to be notified when it’s released please fill in the form here.
- Juliet Madison: A Novella With Heart – Guest Interview with Tahlia Newland
- Happy Honkers: Introduction to a series of posts on bullying
- Books Worth Reading: Some Preliminary Thoughts on Genre